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Nearly two and a half centuries have passed since Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence. Independence Day 2024 is approaching so it’s a good time to remember America’s patriots and why they undertook to sever their political ties with England.

The story is now folklore. But in “The First Revolutions in the Minds of the People,” author James C Thompson adds back its forgotten details and shows that what really happened was markedly different from what we learn in our folklore abridgements.

Thompson presents a causal stream that begins with John Wilkes’s campaign to gain a political voice for working class people in England. It continues through meetings of Sam Adams’s cronies in Tom Daws’ Boston garret and into the patriotic network he unleashed to subvert the King’s colonial government. The patriotic movement changed into an independence movement, Thompson notes, when Lord North closed the Port of Boston on 1 June 1774. The War for American Independence started on 19 April 1775 with the shot fired “heard round the world” at Concord Bridge. Fifteen months later, the Continental Congress ratified Thomas Jefferson’s world-changing declaration.

In his four-book American Revolutions Series, Thompson reconstructs three American Revolutions that show how the prophecy Alexis de Tocqueville made in “Democracy in America” (1840) came true. By replacing the politicized histories of the 20th century, Thompson’s carefully documented narratives provide a new, interesting, and factual history of America—an American history for the 21st century!

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What was the American Revolution?

John Adams claimed that the American Revolution was “in the minds of the people” and was over before the first shot of the war was fired.

Thompson agrees that Adams’s description is clever, but he shows that it was also false. When John Adams’s cousin Sam Adams launched the patriotic movement in 1765, loyalists outnumbers patriots by large majorities. Sam tried to change this with a propaganda campaign filled with rights rhetoric like the rhetoric John Wilkes was using in England. When this failed, Cousin Sam turned to public violence and intimidation to silence the King’s loyal American subjects. Thompson argues in spite of Cousin Sam’s effort to suppress opposition to his cause, a large majority of colonial Americans remained loyal to King George III through the war.

Thanks to the heroism of George Washington and his courageous soldiers, the American colonies defeated the professional armies of King George III and gained their independence. The story of America was just beginning, however. Three years after the war ended, Washington shared his concern about the nation’s future with James Madison. “No morn ever dawned more favorably than ours did,” Washington observed, “but no day was ever more clouded than the present!…We are fast verging to anarchy and confusion!” Read the legacy of Madison.

Thompson continues his narrative with “The Second American Revolution.” Here, he reconstructs Thomas Jefferson’s insurgency against the federal system Alexander Hamilton implemented as President Washington’s first Treasury Secretary. Jefferson finally won this rebellion by defeating Aaron Burr in a sudden death vote in the House of Representative in February 1801. With this victory, he became the nation’s third president. This surprising narrative serves as an introduction to Thompson third book, which is entitled “Faux Thomas Jefferson: A 20th Century Fiction.” Thompson concludes his series with an account of a third American Revolution in which Alexis de Tocqueville’s 1840 prophecy is fulfilled. The title of this book is “The Third American Revolution: The Rise and Fall of America’s Imperial Hierarchy.”

Final Note

James C Thompson’s interpretation of these American revolutions is interesting, factual, and new. “The First Revolutions in the Minds of the People” sets the tone by eliminating the politics that slanted the histories written by the 20th century’s leading historians. Readers of Thompson’s books find out what really happened—and why it did.

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