November 7, 2014 / by admin / American History / No Comments

A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic

A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic

Language: English

Pages: 576

ISBN: 0195159241

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


It was an age of fascinating leaders and difficult choices, of grand ideas eloquently expressed and of epic conflicts bitterly fought. Now comes a brilliant portrait of the American Revolution, one that is compelling in its prose, fascinating in its details, and provocative in its fresh interpretations.

In A Leap in the Dark, John Ferling offers a magisterial new history that surges from the first rumblings of colonial protest to the volcanic election of 1800. Ferling's swift-moving narrative teems with fascinating details. We see Benjamin Franklin trying to decide if his loyalty was to Great Britain or to America, and we meet George Washington when he was a shrewd planter-businessman who discovered personal economic advantages to American independence. We encounter those who supported the war against Great Britain in 1776, but opposed independence because it was a "leap in the dark." Following the war, we hear talk in the North of secession from the United States. The author offers a gripping account of the most dramatic events of our history, showing just how closely fought were the struggle for independence, the adoption of the Constitution, and the later battle between Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. Yet, without slowing the flow of events, he has also produced a landmark study of leadership and ideas. Here is all the erratic brilliance of Hamilton and Jefferson battling to shape the new nation, and here too is the passion and political shrewdness of revolutionaries, such as Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry, and their Loyalist counterparts, Joseph Galloway and Thomas Hutchinson. Here as well are activists who are not so well known today, men like Abraham Yates, who battled for democratic change, and Theodore Sedgwick, who fought to preserve the political and social system of the colonial past. Ferling shows that throughout this period the epic political battles often resembled today's politics and the politicians--the founders--played a political hardball attendant with enmities, selfish motivations, and bitterness. The political stakes, this book demonstrates, were extraordinary: first to secure independence, then to determine the meaning of the American Revolution.

John Ferling has shown himself to be an insightful historian of our Revolution, and an unusually skillful writer. A Leap in the Dark is his masterpiece, work that provokes, enlightens, and entertains in full measure.

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Framers that they had miscalculated. The Constitution ignited a firestorm of dissent in Congress. In three days of furious debate, attempts were made to add amendments prior to sending the document to the states, and some congressmen even urged another convention to reconsider the constitution. Richard Henry Lee, among others, proposed the inclusion of a Bill of Rights, as well as amendments that would have eliminated the vice presidency and created a privy council to “advise and assist” the

Washington’s health remained excellent throughout the year, and in fact he was planning another arduous business trip in the spring of 1800 to what in his youth had been called the Ohio Country. But on the morning of December 13, Washington awoke with a sore throat. He was concerned, but not alarmed, and went about his routine managerial chores throughout the day. During the ensuing night his condition worsened drastically, and the first of three physicians was summoned at daybreak. Their

invective in the press. During that month, moreover, a town meeting adopted resolutions, prepared by the Boston committee of correspondence, that excoriated the tax. Nevertheless, Boston’s radicals faced a tougher go than their counterparts. In Philadelphia and New York, for instance, the merchants—who trafficked in illegal Dutch tea to an extent unknown in Boston—were far better organized against the Tea Act, which they saw more as a commercial threat than a constitutional challenge.38

also possessed the authority to summon the legislature into session, but he too acted precisely as the radicals imagined he would. A steadfast foe of boycotting the mother country, he refused to call a special session of the legislature that would meet for the purpose of sanctioning a congress to contemplate nonimportation. The radicals had guessed correctly, and they had maneuvered the Assembly Party into appearing foursquare against any resistance to the Coercive Acts. The odds seemed

single congressman.60 Thus, the duel between Samuel Adams and Galloway was a desperate struggle, with the fate of the colonies, and the empire, hanging in the balance. Samuel Adams, who already had been active in the colonial protest for a decade, and who would sit in Congress until 1781, subsequently remarked that Galloway was his most dangerous and formidable foe throughout the entirety of the American Revolution. For his part, Galloway described Adams as a man who “eats little, drinks little,

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