This weekend is the 4th of July, celebrating the passage of the Declaration of Indepence by the Continental Congress. With the adoption of the document by all thirteen colonies, America declared its independence from British authority and became its own nation. Learn more about the history of the United States by starting with some of the following books:
DB 67564 The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed
African American professor chronicles four generations of the mixed-race Hemings family of Virginia in the context of slavery. Begins with Elizabeth (1735-1807), the daughter of a white man and a slave. Discusses Elizabeth's children, including Sally Hemings--Thomas Jefferson's mistress and his late wife's half sister. Nat'l Bk.Award, Pulitzer. 2008.
DB 79692 Thomas Jefferson: president and philosopher by Jon Meacham
Pulitzer Prize-winning author recounts the life of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the third president of the United States. President Jefferson was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence, but was also a lawyer and an ambassador, an inventor, and a scientist. Commercial audiobook. For grades 5-8. 2014.
DB 89581 Friends divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood
Jefferson and Adams came from extremely disparate backgrounds, but they forged a close relationship thanks to their work during the American Revolution. Discusses that friendship, the differences that later tore them apart, and their ultimate reconciliation. Commercial audiobook. 2017.
DB 52275 John Adams by David McCullough
Award-winning author chronicles the life and times of America's second president, New Englander John Adams (1735-1826). Examines his pivotal role as revolutionary, diplomat, and politician as well as his friendship--and rivalry--with Thomas Jefferson. Primary sources detail his relationship with his wife, Abigail, four children, and notable contemporaries. Bestseller. 2001.
DB 65631 Fallen founder: the life of Aaron Burr by Nancy Isenberg
Biography of Revolutionary War veteran, lawyer, and vice president Aaron Burr (1756-1836). Portrays the lies, slander, and factionalism of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century American politics. Details rival Alexander Hamilton's subversion of Burr's career before their 1804 duel. Analyzes Burr's involvement with General James Wilkinson and Burr's 1807 trial for treason. 2007.
DB 87091 Abigail Adams: letters by Abigail Adams
A collection of 430 letters, written between 1763 and 1818, by Abigail Smith Adams (1744-1818), wife of the second president of the United States and mother of the sixth. Offers engaged commentary on the Revolution and the emergent American nation as well as everyday life in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 2016.
DB 82383 An Indigenous peoples’ history of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
A history of the United States exploring the perspective of its indigenous peoples. Dunbar-Ortiz analyzes how native tribes actively resisted national expansion and examines the systematic destruction of the lives and cultures of the native civilizations present in North America before European colonization. Violence. 2014.
DB 62119 The unknown American Revolution: the unruly birth of democracy and the struggle to create America by Gary B Nash
Professor from UCLA contends that the American Revolution was actually a chaotic civil war and portrays the conflict through the eyes of common folk--immigrants, slaves, farmers, women, and natives. Depicts George Washington's efforts to defeat the British-allied Iroquois and discusses the post-war plight of African Americans. 2005.
DB 77782 Book of ages: the life and opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore
Chronicles the life of Benjamin Franklin's beloved youngest sister Jane (1712-1794), whom he taught to read. Highlights the differences in their lives due to cultural assumptions about the sexes and portrays their relationship through letters. Includes Jane's journal of the twelve births and eleven deaths of her children. 2013.
DB 93794 The first conspiracy: the secret plot against George Washington by Brad Meltzer
An account of a treasonous plan by George Washington's bodyguards, working together with New York City mayor David Mathews and New York governor William Tryon, to kill the commander in the months leading up to the Revolutionary War. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2019.
DB 83942 Igniting the American Revolution: 1773-1775 by Derek W. Beck
Examination of the three years preceding the American Revolutionary War, drawing on previously unpublished documents, letters, and diaries. Details the perspectives, ambitions, people, and events on both the British and American sides that eventually led to the 1776 convention in Philadelphia. 2015.