This chapter is a free excerpt from Quicklet on Jack Rakove's Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America.
- “Franklin’s Autobiography and Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia remain the two great literary monuments of the American Enlightenment” (Rakove, Revolutionaries).
- Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and Henry Laurens were all severely grief-stricken when their wives passed away. Widower’s grief put their political doings on hold for significant periods of time.
- Hot-air balloons were the toast of Europe in the 1780s while Franklin and other American diplomats were posted there. “Coming months after the signing of the definitive peace treaty, the balloon craze symbolized a hopeful transition from the needless destruction of war to the promise of peace” (Rakove, Revolutionaries).
- George Washington attained the rank of colonel in the Virginia militia and served under British command in the 1750s during the Seven Years War against the French. He sought but was never granted a commission as an officer in the British Army.
- Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born out of wedlock.
- Abigail Adams in 1776 admonished her husband John “...to remember the Ladies...”, stating that American “...women ‘will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation’” (Rakove, Revolutionaries).
- At the outbreak of the War for Independence, James Madison “...received a commission as a colonel in the [Orange] county militia” due to his father’s standing as militia commander, Rakove wrote. “...[I]t is difficult to imagine Madison, bookish, slight, and soft-spoken, as a candidate for military adventure” (Revolutionaries).
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