The story we learn of the American Revolution is one of tea parties, Paul Revere, taxation without representation, all men created equal, Patriots against Loyalists, heroes without self-interest.
The reality, for those interested and willing to dig a little deeper, is a little different – most easily understood if one accepts that the men of the revolutionary generation were not saints. They were men with different interests, different reasons for desiring independence, and different interpretations of what independence meant for them and for their fellow travelers on the continent.
Believe it or not, many of the key players saw revolution as an opportunity to secure political advantage for themselves in place of the crown. Shocking, I know….
There was one person in a position to do a completely thorough job of telling the story of the revolution, as he had first-hand knowledge of every political action taken and attempted by the principle actors of the time:
The one figure who, more than any other, represented continuity throughout the Revolution was Charles Thomson, the Irish-born “Sam Adams of Philadelphia.” He was elected secretary of the First Continental Congress by the radical element which had immediately sensed in him a fellow spirit. (Page 361, emphasis added)
What does Jensen mean by “radical element”? Throughout the book, Jensen describes a key philosophical divide between two factions of revolutionaries – and it is the divide that played out throughout the period of the Confederation, to the drafting and ratification of the Constitution, and through the first half of the nineteenth century – finally culminating in complete victory for one side.