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My Thomas is about the American Revolution. It is a true story of the kind of love that few of us ever manage to find, and a carefully researched examination of the formative years of one of America’s Founding Fathers, but at its heart it is the tale of a group of people who mutually pledged “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor” to the fight for their freedom. They risked it all.

It is difficult for us now to imagine what a new thing that fight for freedom was. The American Revolution was the first time in history that any colony had attempted to throw off its parent country, and the grievances on which the Revolution was based were by most standards slight. Those at the front of the fight – the young Jeffersons included – were proud to consider themselves to be Englishmen. So why did they risk their lives and everything they had to throw off what was such a modest yoke that two other British colonies – Canada and Australia – are still sort-of members of the British Commonwealth today? Why did the American Revolution happen?

I wondered about that more and more as I researched Thomas Jefferson’s early life and wrote My Thomas. The public words that Thomas speaks in the novel are from his contemporary writings, and as you read them you can see that at first he didn’t expect bloodshed. He saw the colonists as simply claiming their natural rights as Englishmen when they decided to throw off a relationship with England that they had outgrown. As the colonists begin to claim their rights, and as the parent country objects, you see the Revolution developing as a kind of colossal misunderstanding. More than once I wanted to tell them all just to sit around a table and work this out!

Read more of this Roberta Grimes blog article.


Roberta Grimes

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