We Hold These Truths...: And Other Words that Made America


We Hold These Truths. . . . presents 54 historically powerful quotes from the country's founders and founding documents and provides rich narratives that highlight their astounding, and generally unknown, origins.

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We Hold These Truths. . . . presents 54 historically powerful quotes from the country's founders and founding documents and provides rich narratives that highlight their astounding, and generally unknown, origins.

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Editorial Reviews

Gordon Wood
An entertaining and educational romp through Revolutionary history. Paul Aron uses the words and phrases as starting points for the telling of dozens of interesting and delightful stories, and in the process he has created a colorful tapestry of life in the Founding era of America.
Vincent Carretta
Fast-paced and engagingly written, Paul Aron's We Hold These Truths. . . . is a concise and reliable guide to the making of the American Revolution and its legacy. The book traces the entertaining and often surprising sources—from Abigail and John Adams to George Washington and Phillis Wheatley—of the words, phrases, and ideals that have come to define the American identity.
Harvey Kaye
All too often books of quotations become little more than lists that are more entertaining than enlightening. This book, however, is both fun to read and highly informative, not to mention diverse in its range of voices. One can enjoy it all out or piece by piece at night before bed.
Carol Sheriff
A lively, eye-opening exploration of our cherished national aphorisms and the myths that surround them. Along the way, Paul Aron treats his readers to a wonderfully succinct and insightful overview of the pressing social and political concerns of the Revolutionary era.
Joyce Appleby
With crisp and informative introductions, Paul Aron has culled the most memorable lines from the founding fathers, one wife, two slaves, and two anonymous contributors.
Brent Tarter
The generation of the American Revolution made a revolution and a nation and a Constitution with a Bill of Rights, and it also created a remarkable body of quotable language, as familiar to us today as the choicest morsels of Shakespeare or the King James Bible. . . . Now, with We Hold These Truths. . . ., we can sort out the genuine from the legendary and understand how the power of the words, even the legendary ones, brings the meaning of the American Revolution down to us today.
Roger Kennedy
We Hold These Truths. . . . invites us into a world in which words mattered because ideas mattered. The Founders . . . united around principles and perceptions they were at pains to express precisely and thus to share without confusion. . . . Aron has bravely situated their eloquence and elegance in explanatory prose of his own, which shows that he has no fear of formidable neighbors, that he has read them and learned from them about how to write, which he does earnestly but not heavily, clearly and with verve.
Jack Rakove
Just as popular culture has its urban legends, so history has its famous quotations. Some were never uttered, but many others were—not always quite as we imagined, or for the reasons we think. We Hold These Truths. . . . is a fascinating and handy compendium of the real origins of many of the best known quotations from our Revolutionary era. Sometimes you'll be surprised, and more often, delighted.
Bruce Chadwick
All of those who love history must read this book and remember that what people said and wrote was just as important as what they did.
Richard Brookhiser
How did the founders do it? Paul Aron lays out one way: by writing, talking, and arguing. These verbalists changed their world more than two centuries ago, and they can still provoke, explain, and inspire today.
September 2008 Booklist
We Hold These Truths is a skillful, ingenious work that is entertaining to read.
Jerry Ridling
Brings a critical historical perspective to some of the most popular writings that have shaped our national culture....Those who understand the nature of the myths that shape all nations, the everpresent desire of those in power to form and control popular opinion, and the fallibility of human nature will find a book like this one both enlightening and mildly entertaining.
Roy E. Perry
Our patriotic lore suffers from accretions, exaggerations, and inaccuracies...Aron demythologizes these legends and uncovers the real stories behind them....Paul Aron provides revelations that surprise, delight, and entertain.
November 2008 The Free Lance-Star
Paul Aron, a senior editor and writer for Colonial Williamsburg, has researched the famous words and the stories. . . . And what fascinating stories they are!
March 2009 American Reference Books Annual
Interesting to read and readers will learn much about the history of our founding fathers.
The Free Lance-Star
Paul Aron, a senior editor and writer for Colonial Williamsburg, has researched the famous words and the stories. . . . And what fascinating stories they are!
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742562738
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 712,263
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Table of Contents

Part 1 Abigail Adams Chapter 2 "Remember the Ladies" Part 3 John Adams Chapter 4 "Facts are stubborn things" Chapter 5 "the most insignificant office that ever the invention of man contrived" Chapter 6 "The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people" Chapter 7 "Thomas Jefferson survives" Part 8 Anonymous Chapter 9 "E pluribus Unum" Chapter 10 "Yankee Doodle went to town" Part 11 John Dickinson Chapter 12 "By uniting we stand, by dividing we fall" Chapter 13 "United, we stand - Divided, we fall" -Virginia Gazette Part 14 Olaudah Equiano Chapter 15 "The shrieks of the women, and the groans of the dying" Part 16 Benjamin Franklin Chapter 17 "Early to bed, and early to rise" Chapter 18 "Let the experiment be made" Chapter 19 "Join, or Die" Chapter 20 "Don't tread on me" - Christopher Gadsden Chapter 21 "We must ... all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately" Chapter 22 "A republic if you can keep it" Part 23 Nathan Hale Chapter 24 "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country" Part 25 Alexander Hamilton Chapter 26 "I never expect to see a perfect work from imperfect man" Chapter 27 "Your people is a great beast" Part 28 John Hancock Chapter 29 "I write so that King George III may read without his spectacles" Part 30 Patrick Henry Chapter 31 "If this be treason, make the most of it" Chapter 32 "Give me liberty or give me death" Part 33 Thomas Jefferson Chapter 34 "We hold these truths to be self evident" Chapter 35 "a wall of separation between church and state" Chapter 36 "I like a little rebellion now and then" Chapter 37 "a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government" Chapter 38 "We have the wolf by the ears" Chapter 39 "Is it the Fourth?" Part 40 John Paul Jones Chapter 41 "I have not yet begun to fight" Part 42 Francis Scott Key Chapter 43 "O! say can you see" Chapter 44 "In God is our Trust" Part 45 James Madison Chapter 46 "If men were angels, no government would be necessary" Chapter 47 "Congress shall make no law" Part 48 John Marshall Chapter 49 "An act of the legislature, repugnant to the Constitution, is void" Chapter 50 "The government of the Union is, emphatically and truly, a government of the people" Chapter 51 "The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it" Part 52 George Mason Chapter 53 "All men are by nature equally free and independent" Part 54 James Otis Chapter 55 "Taxation without representation is tyranny" Chapter 56 "No taxation without representation" - Jonathan Mayhew Part 57 Thomas Paine Chapter 58 "We have it in our power to begin the world over again" Chapter 59 "These are the times that try men's souls" Part 60 William Prescott Chapter 61 "Don't fire until you see the whites of their eyes" Part 62 Paul Revere Chapter 63 "One if by land, and two if by sea" Chapter 64 "The British are coming" Part 65 Tachnedorus Chapter 66 "Who is there to mourn for Logan? Not one" Part 67 George Washington Chapter 68 "I can't tell a lie" Chapter 69 "I heard the bullets whistle" Chapter 70 "their marches might be traced by the blood from their feet" Chapter 71 "If their citizens should not be completely free and happy, the fault will be entirely their own" Chapter 72 "My movement to the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike these of a culprit who is going to the place of his execution" Chapter 73 "entangling alliances with none" Chapter 74 "First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen" - Henry Lee Part 75 Phillis Wheatley Chapter 76 "In every human breast, God has implanted a principle, which we call love of freedom" Part 77 James Wilson Chapter 78 "We the people"
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