Monday, July 4, 2011

A Revolutionary Bestseller....

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!

Bestsellers!

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:
http://www.ushistory.org/paine/commonsense/singlehtml.htm

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?

49 comments:

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

C'mere Chookie!
I have some fireworks for YOU!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey AC!!! You got the chook!

Do try and keep him from painting himself red, white and blue this year if you can. I know it took months to get the blue out of his feathers. Hahah!

Is it hot out in your part of the west coast, or is Jo the only one in the roaster?

Can I say "roaster" with the GR around? Grins.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

GREAT post, Duchesse!

No, I have not read "Common Sense" (except for the parts I was forced to read in gov't class) and did not know it was such a runaway bestseller. I am IMPRESSED, to say the least!

Yes, I have been to the National Archives in DC and seen the Declaration of Independence and pages from the Constitution. Gotta tell ya, I got goose-bumps just looking at those documents. And I've always thought the Founding Fathers would make EXCELLENT romance heroes. ;-)

AC

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Oh yeah, Duchesse, I remember those blue feathers last year... He will NOT have time for messing around tomorrow. I plan to go over to my BFF's place and pick plums and apricots. Then we might be making jam.

And ROASTER is right! We are in triple digit heat all over NorCal. Last forecast I saw was 100 for the 4th and 102 on the 5th. UGH! Hotter than one of TD's Blazes! ;-)

AC

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Aunty Cindy said: Gotta tell ya, I got goose-bumps just looking at those documents. And I've always thought the Founding Fathers would make EXCELLENT romance heroes. ;-)

I agree on both counts. I too got goose-bumps. There were so many documents and Anna and I had fun perusing them, but the Declaration gave me such prideful shivery goosebumps. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Ac said:And ROASTER is right! We are in triple digit heat all over NorCal. Last forecast I saw was 100 for the 4th and 102 on the 5th. UGH! Hotter than one of TD's Blazes! ;-)

Oh, ugh is right. Try and stay cool if you can, whilst picking the gorgeous fruits. I ADORE plums and for a wonder, my plum tree bore fruit this year. Not enough for jam, but quite sweet and good. I was astounded as I had thought this particular varietal was non-fruiting. Grins. The neighborhood kids were astounded too and enjoyed picking a plum on their way down the street.

And apricots...oh, YUM. Love Apricot jam.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I'm off for sleepyland for now, but will see ya'll in the morning for some fabulous FOURTH festivities!

Maureen said...

Me? I'm going to be watching 1776, the Musical.

"Sit down, John! Sit down, John! For God's sake, John! Sit down!"

Honestly, go to IMDB and look at the lines from this movie and you can't help but fall in love with the founding fathers... ;-)

Donna MacMeans said...

We'll celebrate this holiday as we do all others - with lots and lots of food. Fireworks are already lighting the sky - scaring the kitty. We can see so many from my backyard we don't go to the shows anymore. I have hung my flag banners on the front porch. Put out my red, white, and blue wreath on the front door, and have an Uncle Sam wind ornament hanging in the back.

My son finally finished painting the back porch - my favorite place to write. We put all the furniture back today so tomorrow I'll be celebrating by writing.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Aunty Cindy! This is his second day in the row with a Bandita. He must be feeling homesick.

Jeanne, what a cool post. I remember our day of wandering around Washington so fondly. We should do it again. Do you remember the Hope Diamond? I was telling two Aussies over there for RWA to make sure they went to see it when they go to Washington this week. It was such a thrill to see the Declaration of Independence. I still think those are some of the most stirring words ever written (along with "can I publish your book? I'll pay you real money" - that one always gets my blood pumping!).

Happy 4th July, my American friends!

Helen said...

Well done AC and if he does find the paint it will probably melt of him in that heat stay cool it is really cool here at the moment.

Jeanne

Happy 4th July everyone whatever you are planning have fun

Here in Australia we celebrate Australia Day on January 26th and here in Sydney we have ferry boat races and all the tall ships sail into the harbour. There are lots of BBQs and beach picnics and of course fireworks.

Have Fun
Helen

marybelle said...

We have Australia Day on the 26th Of January. This is also my Mum's birthday, so it's a Summer BBQ & family.

Janga said...

I have read Common Sense, and I have seen the Declaration of Independence, definitely a goosebumpish moment. I happily celebrate today, but I'm also glad that 72 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments, penned mostly by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, at the first Seneca Falls Convention, a document based on the Declaration of Independence, which did include the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal."

We're having a family cookout tonight with lots of good food and togetherness. We can see the big fireworks show at a local park from our back yard, and so we'll limit our own fireworks to sparklers for the little ones.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Maureen said: "Sit down, John! Sit down, John! For God's sake, John! Sit down!"

Hahahah! What a treat! I presume you've seen it since you know that it both reveres and makes fun of all the "gang" who got the job done. Isn't the "Sit DOWN, John," a reference to the 2 hour speech he made during the storm?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Donna said: My son finally finished painting the back porch - my favorite place to write. We put all the furniture back today so tomorrow I'll be celebrating by writing.

That's cause for celebration too, for all of us who love your books! :> Can't wait for this latest delicousness. Grins.

As to scaring the kitty, one of the area here popped fireworks last night and one of the dogs hid in the bathroom for an hour.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Anna said: I still think those are some of the most stirring words ever written (along with "can I publish your book? I'll pay you real money" - that one always gets my blood pumping!).

Hahaha! Yes, indeed! That trip was SO fun, Anna. And the stirring words, "I'd like to buy your book" are so immediate and thrilling they pretty much trump a 235 year old document, no matter how stirring and impactful. Ha!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Helen said: Here in Australia we celebrate Australia Day on January 26th and here in Sydney we have ferry boat races and all the tall ships sail into the harbour. There are lots of BBQs and beach picnics and of course fireworks.


How cool! I love the tall ships. They are so silent and elegant and graceful. And of course, BBQ is always good.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Marybelle! You said: We have Australia Day on the 26th Of January. This is also my Mum's birthday, so it's a Summer BBQ & family.

It's both fun and annoying to have your birthday on a national holiday, isn't it? BBQ for birthday every year isn't a bad deal though. Did you have a big, fun clebration this year?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Janga! I love the image of a backyard celebrations, sparklers and sitting down in my own lawn chair in my own back yard to see the big fireworks. Grins.

Doesn't happen in MY backyard because there are too many trees to see the fireworks. We have to drive to a neighboring park.

You also said: I'm also glad that 72 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments, penned mostly by Elizabeth Cady Stanton, at the first Seneca Falls Convention, a document based on the Declaration of Independence, which did include the words "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal."

MOST excellent! Now I've learned a new thing today and won't, as the professor said, "go to bed as ignorant as I was when I got up."

I'll be looking that up and reading it as well. :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

I'm off to a ball game...see ya'll in a bit!

Debra Key Newhouse said...

Loved the post Jeanne!! I've been to DC too many times to count. We broke our daughter's first stroller outside the Space and Science Museum. We swear that's why she picked GW for college. I've seen the Declaration of Independence and appreciate it more each time I see it. Today it's just hubby and me, and we're going to pack some sandwiches and goodies and go to the fireworks here in York, PA...aka The First Capitol.

Enjoy your ballgame! Love ya!

Maureen said...

Jeanne - It's the rest of the guys tired of his constantly bringing up the debate for independence, which the rest don't want to touch yet...and it's hot and there is no air in the room and there are flies...

"John, you're a bore, we're heard this before...for God sakes, John! Sit down!"

He just wouldn't let go of it. Love this musical. And William Daniels is a superb John Adams!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Debra!!! You said Today it's just hubby and me, and we're going to pack some sandwiches and goodies and go to the fireworks here in York, PA...aka The First Capitol.

Oh, the York fireworks are good ones! I've been to them. My BIL lives not too far from there.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Oh, forgot to say, Debra that the ballgame was outstanding!!! They won the 4th of July championship and got enormous trophies. Grins.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Maureen wrote: "John, you're a bore, we're heard this before...for God sakes, John! Sit down!"

He just wouldn't let go of it. Love this musical. And William Daniels is a superb John Adams!


I love it! Oh, for God's sake, John...SIT DOWN!!! Heeheeeheee. Did you see the McCullough book turned into a mini series, John Adams? Really excellent

Deb said...

Hi, Jeanne. We saw fireworks last night, but may go again tonight to another nearby town.

I have been to DC, but didn't see the Declaration of Independence, but I do have a copy of it that is printed on parchment paper and looks aged. My students think it looks cool. I make a copy of it, have them sign it, then stain it with a tea bag to make it look old during our Revolutionary unit in Reading.

I've never read COMMON SENSE, but seems to me some people of today need to read it.

I made noodles yesterday and have a roast in the crockpot, so we are having beef and noodles for supper. Mother and Dad are coming down for supper and they are also bringing my grandmother's round oak table for my kitchen.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Jeanne!

Lovely post. I didn't realize how many copies the original Common Sense had sold way back when! 500,000! No wonder all the colonists were all stirred up.

I have to confess...I've read it. Can you believe it? An American History nut read this? Yep. Mrs. Norman, my 11th grade history teacher recommended it to me. But it's been years, Oh hell, decades. I think I'll read it again!

I think this year we're going to have a quiet celebration. (RWA National wore me out!)Baseball, (Indians are playing the damn Yankees at home) Swimming, (it's going to be 102 again today) and BBQ chicken (coz I like it). Maybe a child or two and maybe some grandkids will show up!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Hey Maureen!
"Sit down, John! Sit down, John! For God's sake, John! Sit down!"

Loved that movie, too! Saw it in school. I was a graduate in 1976, the bicentennial year!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Deb! You said: I've never read COMMON SENSE, but seems to me some people of today need to read it.

Amen, sister! :>

I love that you do that project in your reading unit. How COOL! :>

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Suz said: But it's been years, Oh hell, decades. I think I'll read it again!

Heehee. I had the same thing. I read it eons ago, but I remembered my teacher saying something about it being one of the biggest selling pamphlets at the time. I also remember what a rake Thomas Paine was, from her lectures. :> So I dug that out of my reluctant and very tired brain for today's blog. Ha!

I went and read it again. And now, I've also read the Declaration of Sentiments which Janga recommended. VERY cool.

Pissenlit said...

Happy Fourth of July to those living in the States! I've heard of the pamphlet but I've never read Paine's Common Sense, nor have I ever visited Washington DC.

I wouldn't say that we have an independence day but we've got a birthday. :) July 1st is Canada Day, which is the anniversary of the British North American Act(now the Constitution Act) where the 3 British colonies of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada were turned into 4 provinces(Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec) and united into a country in the British Empire.

About half the time, I go out to see one of two big fireworks displays in town when it gets dark but this year, I stayed in and watched the coverage of Canada Day celebrations at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, what with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge being on their royal tour of Canada. Actually, both my mum and I have been sort of glued to the TV what with all of the royal tour coverage...in fact, the tv's on right now, even. :D

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Pissenlit! Wow, Happy Canada Day! (a bit late)

You said: Actually, both my mum and I have been sort of glued to the TV what with all of the royal tour coverage...in fact, the tv's on right now, even. :D

Ooooh, how fun! I'm loving that we have a new princess. And she seems to be a level-headed modern woman with good, solid common sense. And they really seem to know and LIKE each other. I predict a long, happy marriage. :>

Nancy said...

AC, congrats on the bird!

Jeanne, I have no big plans for the holiday. The boy is out with friends, and the dh is homeward bound. The dog and I will zap some leftovers, read, and prep for Patricia Rice's visit to the Lair tomorrow.

I have not read Common Sense, though I suspect I may have been exposed to parts of it in some long-ago American History class. I had no idea it was selling so well.

I don't think I've seen the Declaration in the National Archives. I have seen a copy in Philadelphia. What impressed me the most about that trip was not the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall (which was being repainted or some such, so we were actually able to go into the emptied-for-painting-or-whatever room where the Continental Congress met. I like standing in the space, not just staring at it from outside.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah--What impressed me the most was the number of people at both places, hordes of people, who were speaking languages other than English. I knew why I was there, these places being part of my heritage and all, but I was a bit gobsmacked that these people from around the globe cared enough to show up and listen to the park rangers' presentations.

Nancy said...

Maureen, 1776 is a fabulous movie!

Nancy said...

Janga, it's kind of hard to believe, sometimes, that women have been able to vote for less than a century.

Nancy said...

Pissenlit, happy belated Canada Day!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Nancy!!

You said: I knew why I was there, these places being part of my heritage and all, but I was a bit gobsmacked that these people from around the globe cared enough to show up and listen to the park rangers' presentations.

You know, that really surprised me too. There were people from EVERYWHERE when Anna and I went and I heard multiple languages whilst standing in line. Pretty darn cool.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Nancy said: Janga, it's kind of hard to believe, sometimes, that women have been able to vote for less than a century.

It is hard to believe. 1920, I believe, gave us the right to vote. 91 years.

One of the many reasons I always, always vote.

Louisa Cornell said...

Oooh, Aunty !! He is definitely in for it at your place! There will be fireworks aplenty I am sure!

Great post, Duchesse! I have read Common Sense and taught it when I was a high school history and English teacher. I had no idea it was such a phenomenal bestseller, but then again - sedition sells!

And I LOVE the movie 1776! I forced my students to watch it because I wanted them to understand just how daring and risky the signing of the Declaration (which I've seen) was.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Lousia!

You said:And I LOVE the movie 1776! I forced my students to watch it because I wanted them to understand just how daring and risky the signing of the Declaration (which I've seen) was.

Of all the things you could make students do, this was pretty easy goings, I'd think. Wish my history teacher had been that fun! :>

Maureen said...

Nancy - When I was in Turkey a few years ago the woman tour guide was talking about how women could vote in Turkey before they could vote in the US...

*shakes head.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Maureen said: Nancy - When I was in Turkey a few years ago the woman tour guide was talking about how women could vote in Turkey before they could vote in the US...


I was looking it up in Wikipedia and it had a list of the dates when women could vote in different countries. Now I know that some of those countries SAY their women can vote, I'm not so sure they actually can/do. :> We were, however, embarassingly late to the game.

Maureen said...

I remember taking a bus to the movie theater where three of my best buddies met me to see the movie when it came out. I was always a big Rev. War fanatic.

I recently hired a publicist and we hit it off immediately when she made a reference to the song 'Cool, Cool Considerate Men' and I knew it and quoted the lyrics back at her!

Kismet!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Now there's a great way to hit things off!

You said: I recently hired a publicist and we hit it off immediately when she made a reference to the song 'Cool, Cool Considerate Men' and I knew it and quoted the lyrics back at her!

Caren Crane said...

Oh, no, what did AC strap the GR to now?! I hope you both didn't melt out there today. Jealous of the plums and apricots! They are two of my favorites.

Jeanne, I will be home and, hopefully, asleep when the fireworks are going off here. We usually hear at least two different shows going on where we are. When the kids are home, we drag up to the corner to see them. No kids this year, so we will stay out of the crowds. I'm happy to do so!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Caren said: Jeanne, I will be home and, hopefully, asleep when the fireworks are going off here. We usually hear at least two different shows going on where we are. When the kids are home, we drag up to the corner to see them.

We're not going tonight because it's stormy and we have severe storm watches up.

Nancy said...

Maureen, that's interesting about Turkey.

Jeanne, I looked up the 19th amendment since I wasn't absolutely certain when it was ratified. I should be, considering I used to teach the 1920s. According to the our documents site, it was August 1920.

I do remember that the presidential election of 1920 was the first in which women could vote and people have blamed us for Warren Harding ever since. Hardly fair since he had some pretty heavyweight MALE backing from bankers, oil barons, and the usual politicos, but the legend persists that women put him in office.

Pat Cochran said...

I'm sitting here trying to keep my
eyes open, we've been home from DS2
& DIL's home in The Woodlands for an
hour or so. We're home early today
due to the cancellation of the annual
fireworks display, all because of the
drought and burn ban. I don't mind
missing the display, rather be safe
than sorry! We enjoyed a great lunch,
ending our meal with a cake, plus candle, and singing Happy Birthday to
the USA! The grandchildren loved it!

Pat Cochran

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Pat said:We enjoyed a great lunch,ending our meal with a cake, plus candle, and singing Happy Birthday to the USA! The grandchildren loved it!

Oh, I love it too! That's great!