New York: Encounter Books, 2019
584 pp. $32.99 (hardcover)

The history of the world cannot furnish an instance of fortitude and heroic magnanimity parallel to that displayed by the members, whose signatures affixed the Declaration of American Independence. —James Thacher, soldier in the Continental Army (335)

Each year, more than a million people travel from all over the globe to the National Archives Museum in Washington, D.C., home of the Declaration of Independence. People of all nationalities—not only Americans—are fascinated by this faded, smudged, parchment because, however ironically, it represents a doorway to modernity. Prior to the American Revolution, most people throughout most of human history had suffered under one form of monarchy or another. The founding fathers, however, broke with that past, laying a foundation for freedom and flourishing.

Understanding the principles of the Declaration is essential to sustaining what scientist Jacob Bronowski called “the ascent of man,” and for preventing the world from sliding back into tyranny and oppression. For well over a century, though, those principles have been distorted and attacked by many of those entrusted to relay the story of the Revolution: namely, academic historians. That’s all the more reason, then, for lovers of liberty and human progress to cheer the publication of C. Bradley Thompson’s America’s Revolutionary Mind. The first in a two-part series on the country’s fundamental ideas, this book is not a narrative of events but a systematic re-creation of the philosophy that led colonists to, in the words of Thomas Paine, “begin the world over again.” . . .


1. “Lyceum Scholars Program,” Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism, (accessed March 10, 2020); also see C. Bradley Thompson, “The Lyceum Scholars Program Is Changing Higher Education at Clemson,” FEE, November 16, 2017,

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