“Then and there the child Independence was born"

Long before Lexington, James Otis’ fight for civil liberties gave heart to the rebel cause. But why did he behave so strangely as the Revolution neared? Which side was he on?

Few freedoms are more fundamental to our way of life—and few so clearly differentiate our democracy from the rival system which seeks to bury it—than the freedom from the midnight knock on the door, from the arbitrary invasion of a man’s home by soldiery or police. Enshrined in ihe Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, the right is nevertheless still a matter of contention: almost every year that passes sees cases based upon it coming before the United States Supreme Court.

Read more »

“Whatever You Write, Preserve”

All that the Adamses saw they were schooled to put down and save. The result is a collection of historical records beyond price and without peer.

In Philadelphia, just five days before the Virginia delegates to the Continental Congress moved a momentous resolution of independence, John Adams sat writing a letter to Mrs. Adams in Braintree, Massachusetts. The day before, he told her, it being the first day of June, he had dined with a friend. “We had Cherries, Strawberries, and green Peas in Plenty. I believe the Fruits are three Weeks earlier here than with you—indeed they are a fortnight earlier on the East, than on the West side of Delaware River.

 

Read more »

The Constitution: Was It An Economic Document?

A leading American historian challenges the long-entrenched interpretation originated by the late Charles A. Beard

By June 26, 1787, tempers in the Federal Convention were already growing short, lor gentlemen had come to the explosive question of representation in the upper chamber. Two days later Franklin moved to invoke divine guidance, and his motion was shunted aside only because there was no money with which to pay a chaplain and the members were unprepared to appeal to Heaven without an intermediary.