ESTABLISHING THE FIRST AMERICAN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT. Annalisa gave me SIGNING THEIR LIVES AWAY by Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnese. It consists of short biographies of each of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. I was moved by the composite portrait in the book. The men were all, in one way or another, revolutionaries, selected for the Continental Congress because of their positions on eventual independence. Their disagreements about the resolution for independence were matters of timing and tactics. Most of them had had positions of local responsibility and most of them took on substantial committee responsibilities during the war. Establishing a new government had few precedents and they made it work while conducting a war. The achievement of creating the Constitution 11 years later distracts from the accomplishments and difficulties of the years from 1776 to 1787. The Continental Congress is frequently criticized as incompetent, without taking into account the problems of coordinating 13 separate colonies and financing and fighting a war against the best army of the time.

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