Friends of Liberty

Friends of Liberty : Thomas Jefferson, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull

3.43 (48 ratings by Goodreads)
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Friends of Liberty tells the remarkable story of three men whose lives were braided together by issues of liberty and race that fueled revolutions across two continents. Thomas Jefferson wrote the founding documents of the United States. Thaddeus Kosciuszko was a hero of the American Revolution and later led a spectacular but failed uprising in Poland, his homeland. Agrippa Hull, a freeborn black New Englander, volunteered at eighteen to join the Continental Army. During the Revolution, Hull served Kosciuszko as an orderly, and the two became fast friends. Kosciuszkos abhorrence of bondage shaped histhinking about the oppression in his own land. When Kosciuszko returned to America in the 1790s, bearing the wounds of his own failed revolution, he and Jefferson forged an intense friendship based on their shared dreams for the global expansion of human freedom. They sealed their bond with a blood compact whereby Jefferson would liberate his slaves upon Kosciuszkos death. But Jefferson died without fulfilling the promise he had made to Kosciuszko-and to a fledgling nation founded on the principle of liberty and justice for more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 157.48 x 236.22 x 33.02mm | 589.67g
  • The Perseus Books Group
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0465048145
  • 9780465048144
  • 1,648,039

About Gary Nash

Gary B. Nash is Professor of History at University of California, Los Angeles, and author of over a dozen books, including The Unknown American Revolution. Graham Russell Gao Hodges is Professor of History at Colgate University and the author of numerous books and articles, including Taxi! A Social History of the New York City more

Review Text

The entwined lives of two Revolutionary Era giants and another man who made a less well-known contribution to liberty.Tadeusz Kosciuszko's engineering skills proved invaluable to the Continental Army, and he later became internationally famous for his efforts to liberate his native Poland. African-American Agrippa Hull, Kosciuszko's orderly for seven years, lived a life far less grand than Jefferson and less adventure-packed than Kosciuszko, but he earned an honorable place in his small Berkshire society, becoming known as a model citizen and a kind of village sage, always ready to tell tales of his wartime service. Nash (The Unknown American Revolution: The Unruly Birth of Democracy and the Struggle to Create America, 2005, etc.) and Hodges (Taxi!: A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver, 2007, etc.) concede at the outset that the thin historical record makes recovering Grippy's life "unusually challenging," and it's a difficulty they never satisfactorily overcome. The authors are too often forced into hazy constructions - "likely," "must have," "may have," "surely," "perhaps" - that unbalance the narrative and make Hull's inclusion feel forced, except insofar as he serves to demonstrate Kosciuszko's utter lack of racial bias. The authors' more rounded, better-grounded discussion of the Jefferson/Kosciuszko friendship centers on a remarkable footnote to American history: As the executor of the freedom fighter's will, Jefferson was directed to purchase and educate "from among his own or any others" as many slaves as the monies would allow. How and why the aged Jefferson, author of some of history's most stirring words about liberty, declined to seize this relatively pain-free chance to free his own slaves - some, we now know, his own children - retreated from the Enlightenment goals of his youth and failed, finally, to honor his friend's wishes, makes for fascinating, if depressing, reading.A provocative discussion of an opportunity missed, where inspired moral leadership by one of the greatest of Americans could have made a difference. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

48 ratings
3.43 out of 5 stars
5 17% (8)
4 33% (16)
3 33% (16)
2 10% (5)
1 6% (3)
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