By Jeanne Adams
First off, HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!!! HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!
If you get a chance, and it won't get you arrested, hug a soldier, sailor, marine, coast guard-er, cop or first-responder and say THANK YOU. Grins. (Here's John Cena playing a very, very hot Marine. Are your glasses fogged up yet?)
I had to wrack my brain to figure out what to write about for the Fourth. So many ways to play it...baseball (did that), fireworks (I think that's been done too)...and then I had it! Voila!
All the Romance Bandits are writers. And readers. So are the Bandita Buddies. Sven and the gang frequently stack up bestsellers and backlists on the counter of the local indie bookstore, order a box full from Amazon, or frequent Barnes and Noble, Borders, or Books-a-Million for a good read. The Lair is allllll about reading and writing great books.
Even Ermingarde the dragon likes to read. (Hence her glasses, which like Velma on Scooby Doo, she frequently loses. However, she can't wear contacts, so the glasses have to stay.)
We're not sure about the Golden Rooster. He claims to know seven languages, including pullet, but he's unwilling to be tested on any of them. Hmmmmm......
That brings up all sorts of interesting questions, doesn't it? But that's not my point, so I'll go back to the whole image of books, bookstores and teetering to-be-read piles. Or, in my case, to-be-read-mountains. Grins.
But what, you may ask, do Bestsellers have to do with the Fourth of July? Well read on!
So most readers going into a bookstore or picking a new read online first check out the front page or the gorgeous stack at the front of the store featuring this week's bestsellers. Any book selling 100,000 copies or more is considered a high-seller or bestseller, whether it hits a list or not. Nowadays that number is BIG, with the economy so slowly on the mend, so you're bound to hit a list selling 100,000 copies.
That makes what I'm about to tell you even MORE astounding! Prepare to be gobsmacked... Did you know that in 1776, there was an amazing bestseller which sold a then-unheard-of 500,000 copies? It sold out every printing of it which they could run.
It's STILL selling more than two HUNDRED years later. Nope, not the Declaration.....Have I got your attention yet?
Ready to know what it is???
It's Thomas Paine's well-reasonsed booklet on governance titled Common Sense. Published in January of 1776, it was THE hot topic in every meeting room, at every pub, stableblock, dinner table, wellpump, and silver shoppe. If they'd had water coolers back then, it would have been the top water-cooler-gossip item for weeks on end.
I'm betting it would have been an Oprah Book Club Read for SURE. Why? Ahh, young Jedi, because it was scandalous! Seditious! Treeeeeeeeeasonous!
Perfect Book Club material!
And then there was it's author the devilishly handsome, hot-headed speaker, writer and revolutionary, Thomas Paine. Could they have caught him at the time - easier to run and hide in 1776, by the way - Thomas Paine would have swung from the gallows for this pamphlet.
The ideas and concepts in Common Sense were partly a response to the first shots, "the shots heard round the world," fired at Lexington and Concord the previous year, and partly an ongoing response to the Coersive Acts of 1774. The Coercive Acts tightly regulated Boston shipping in favor of the monarchy, required colonists to billet troops in private homes and made British officials high and low immune to prosecution, regardless of the nature of their crimes.
Common Sense was about...well....Common Sense. For instance, it posited the brave notion that if a person commits acts otherwise heinous and prosecutable, they shouldn't be immune because of their legal position or the "height" of their birth. Nowadays, we kinda say "Well, duh!" to that, but at the time, if a King or Peer of the Realm killed, raped or generally picked on somebody, they won any contest of right-or-wrongdoing, and the common man lost. End of story.
This is the foundation of that "all men are created equal part" which Jefferson wrote into our Declaration.
(Although I wish TJ, our fair son of Virginia, had written All PERSONS are created equal - making sure we women were included. It would have made that whole getting-the-right-to-vote thing easier.)
Interestingly enough, this bestseller led to another bestseller, and yes, this time I DO mean The Delcaration of Independence. I've always thought that that one parchment - a simple, albeit large, piece of paper - is more of a shot heard round the world than anything ever fired from a gun.
That document is 235 years old. Today.
Happy Birthday, Declaration! WOOT!!! Let's have some fireworks on your behalf. Let Freedom Ring at YOUR house and celebrate that something a group of brilliant, dedicated men created, then preserved in writing and 56 of them bravely signed.
I say bravely because all the signers would have been executed forthwith had we LOST the war for Independence. (And several of the creative minds didn't sign because they died before they could get there to sign it....but that's another blog for another time. Grins)
We writers love our heroes and you have to admit...pretty heroic guys, those Founding Fathers.
Now, hum along with me to the Beatles tune..."You say you want a Revolution oh yeah, you know....we all want to change the world..."
They did change the world. Good for them. Thank you to all of them whether they signed that massive parchment or not, but most especially my husband's ancestors John and Samuel Adams, because it's my blog and I can thank whomsoever I want. Independently. 'Cause I live in the home of the free and the brave. Heehee.
Now, less seriously....are you going to see fireworks tonight? Taking a picnic or having a party first?
Have you ever read Common Sense? It's online now, since it's in the public domain. You can find it at:
It's long and quite tedious in places, but they were allowed more editorial leeway for exposition back then....
Have you ever been to Washington, DC to see the Declaration of Independence?
Bandita Anna Campbell and I went, two years ago when RWA was in DC, stood in line, and got a look at that famous document. It's totally cool, and yes, John Hancock's John Hancock is HUGE by comparison to the others.
Hancock had quite the sense of humor and said if he was going to hang for signing the damn thing, he wanted King George to be able to read John's signature without resorting to his spectacles.
Tell me your plans for the FOURTH!?!?! And for those of you in other countries, when is YOUR country's Independence day? and how do you celebrate it?