Friends of Liberty
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. Kosciuszko’s 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 Kosciuszko’s 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 all.
What Teachers & Educators are saying about Friends of Liberty: Thomas Jefferson, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, and Agrippa Hull
By interweaving three lives of the American Revolution, Nash and Hodges offer a fascinating account of that era from the 'top down' and 'bottom up' and make clear the way the struggle for independence unleashed radical hopes yet failed to solve the gravest contradiction in American life, the coexistence of slavery and freedom.
- Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University, and author of The Story of American Freedom and Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution
At the intersection of three remarkable lives, Gary Nash and Graham Hodges have pieced together an extraordinary tale of heroism and tragedy, trust and betrayal. Friends of Liberty is telling history with deep meaning for anyone interested in the burning question of slavery and race in the early American Republic.
- Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor of History, University of Maryland, and author of Many Thousands Gone and Generations of Captivity
Revolutionary fervor, patriotism, and heroism are not limited to one particular race, class or nation. After reading Nash and Hodges's account of the intersecting lives and ideas of Jefferson, Kosciuszko, and Hull, it is difficult to believe that anyone could have ever thought they were. This is a dazzling account of three colorful figures whose lives are emblematic of all the many-colored threads that run through the American tapestry, and whose lives were devoted to the service of the ideals that founded our nation.
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
With the energy, adventure, and rich prose of a picaresque novel, Friends of Liberty explores a deep politics of race that shaped the early American nation. Nash and Hodges have written an honest, painful, and gloriously good book about 'Founding Fathers.'
-Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History
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