Founding Fathers

Give Me Liberty! The Story of the Declaration of Independence

By Russell Freedman

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Describes the events leading up to the Declaration of Independence as well as the personalities and politics behind its framing.

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The Hatmaker's Sign

By Benjamin Franklin; retold by Candace Fleming

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To heal the hurt pride of Thomas Jefferson as Congress makes changes to his Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin tells his friend the story of a hatmaker and his sign.
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Will You Sign Here, John Hancock?

By Jean Fritz; pictures by Trina Schart Hyman

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A biography of the first signer of the Declaration of Independence outlining all that he did for himself as well as what he did for Massachusetts and his new nation.
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George Mason and the Virginia Declaration of Rights

George Mason, future patriot, spent part of his childhood in Stafford County. His father died by drowning when he was very young, so he sometimes stayed with relatives including his uncle, John Mercer who lived at Marlborough Point. His uncle was a lawyer and landowner. He had a large library for the time—more than 1,500 books—and 11-year-old George enjoyed the library, including law commentaries his uncle had written. 

After studying at a private school in Maryland and with tutors (including his uncle), George Mason took control of his family’s lands. He was the second largest land owner in Fairfax County—the largest being George Washington. When Washington went to serve as head of the Continental Army, George Mason took his place in the Virginia legislature. 

Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War

If your early education taught you something about Thomas Jefferson, it likely included facts on his part in authoring the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, and the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. Jefferson was an ideas man—a deep thinker. Well-educated in the classics at the College of William and Mary, he stayed out of the usual undergrad troubles by keeping at his studies and socializing with the professors while classmates spent their time drinking, gambling, and racing their horses through the streets. As historian Michael Kranish relates in Flight from Monticello, he made plenty of friends, but they were from the same landed gentry class as himself.

He first encountered an upstart farmer named Patrick Henry at a friend’s dinner party. Jefferson was not impressed by his dress, candid manners or frank speech, which drew a crowd of admirers. Not so much the classical scholar, Patrick Henry was already a practicing attorney while Jefferson was still in school.  While Jefferson carried on learned conversations with his professors, Henry was winning cases—not with references to Greek and Roman scholars but by spelling out the plain merits of the case and the rules of law. Jefferson found his courtroom arguments crude but admired his ability to turn a phrase and set a crowd on fire.

James Madison

By Jeremy Roberts

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A biography of the fourth president of the United States, who helped ensure ratification of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

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Heroes of the Revolution

By David A. Adler

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Ethan Allen -- Crispus Attucks -- Lydia Darragh -- Nathan Hale -- Mary "Molly Pitcher" Hays -- Thomas Jefferson -- John Paul Jones -- Thomas Paine -- Paul Revere -- Haym Salomon -- Deborah Sampson -- George Washington.
32 pages.

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Big George: How a Shy Boy Became President Washington

By Anne Rockwell; illustrated by Matt Phelan.

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Portrays George Washington as a shy boy who wasn't afraid of anything except talking to people, but who grew up to lead an army against the British and serve as president of the new nation.

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Liberty or Death: A Story About Patrick Henry

By Stephanie Sammartino McPherson

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A biography of the Virginia lawyer, politician, and patriot whose great powers of speech helped inspire colonists to support the cause of American liberty at the start of the Revolutionary War.

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A Picture Book of Patrick Henry

By David A. Adler

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Chronicles the life of Patrick Henry from his childhood on a tobacco plantation in Virginia to the American Revolution, when he spoke the famous words "Give me liberty or give me death," one month before the first shots rang out.

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