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America’s historians are the stewards of our American history and heritage. We count on them to tell us what once happened and help us understand who we are and how we became what we are.

Historians have probably always written slanted accounts of what once happened. Call it home team bias. The nature of this slant changed, however, as the television age dawned in the 1950s. By then, many leading historians had become politicized and considered it acceptable to use their commentaries to shape public opinion. Instead of reporting what once happened, they used their scholarly authority to promote their ideologies!

This invariably caused them to commit “the Fallacy of Presentism”, which occurs when an historian pretends that the individuals involved in the historic event he/she is remembering have the same optics, values, and concerns as people do today. In reality, not even Thomas Jefferson could think like the politicized historians who wrote two hundred and forty years after his death.

The tendency to misrepresent the past for political purposes bothers James C Thompson. As a graduate student studying Philosophy, Thompson learned to analyze concepts and to evaluate the validity of arguments. During the four years he lived on the farm of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, he became interested in Jefferson himself, what he did, and how he shaped America.

The more he learned about Jefferson, the more dissatisfied he became with the accounts historians were creating about him. Eventually, he decided to tell the story himself. What he has produced is a 21st century history—what happened in America that made it what it is today.

Thompson describes his works as “forensic histories.” He begins with careful research that reveals the key threads of what once happened. He then weaves these threads into fabrics that express the moments and the motives of the individuals who produced them. There is no room in this process for ideology. Nor is there an opportunity to commit the fallacy of presentism. What Thompson reports in his histories are syntheses of documented facts—mostly excerpted from original documents. When Thompson compares his fabrics to the fabrics of other historians, as Shakespeare said in “The Merchant of Venice,” the truth will out.

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Key Details of the Book about the American History

In “The First Revolutions in the Minds of the People,” James C Thompson presents a comprehensive yet readable account of the revolution that John Adams claimed took place in the minds of colonial Americans in the decade preceding the War for American Independence. Thompson studies the men who orchestrated the war and explains their motives, their methods, and where they got their ideas. Not surprisingly, there is a lot of Political Philosophy in this forensic history! Its good to have it explained by someone who actually understands it.

Final Note

In his American Revolutions Series, James C Thompson incorporates three nation-shaping historical events into a single great narrative. Taken together, Thompson observes, they explain how the prophecy Alexis de Tocqueville made in his 1840 masterpiece, “Democracy in America”, was fulfilled. The story Thompson tells is factual and comprehensive. Even though it is highly detailed and fully documented, it is still a good read.

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