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With ‘Johnny Tremain,’ a bit of history for young readers

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Posted: Sunday, July 6, 2014 7:00 am

Having read Esther Forbes’ 1943 historical children’s novel, Johnny Tremain, as part of my seventh-grade English class, I can recall that my classmates’ responses were negative. Boring, uneventful and weird were a few of the words that arose from time to time as my classmates discussed the book. My seventh-grade self, obsessed with the realm of the Harry Potter stories, agreed with the majority. However, revisiting the book nearly six years later, I carry an opinion without the bias potentially created by a middle-school English class and the foolishness of a callow 11-year-old.

On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress held a meeting in Philadelphia and adopted the Declaration of Independence, which officially renounced the control of the British crown over the 13 original colonies. Just a year earlier in Lexington in 1776, “the shot heard around the world” had initiated the American Revolution, the beginning of the great struggle for independence. Following the closure of the Seven Years’ War (1756-63), the British government commenced a series of unfair tariffs, taxes and proclamations that incited rage in many of the colonists. Amplified by salutary neglect and the philosophies of many Enlightenment thinkers, these actions eventually led to the American Revolution.

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