Wiretap: Your Independence Day reading list

Trying times

Thomas Paine was the man whose words convinced Americans that their cause was not just worthy but destiny. “These are the times,” he wrote, “that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” So how is it that there were 20,000 mourners at Franklin’s funeral and six at Paine’s? Via The New Yorker.

Great inventor

Ben Franklin: The man who turned “American” from an insult into a compliment. Via The London Review of Books.

False truths

Five things that didn’t happen on July 4th (including one that did, just not the way the story is ever told). So we start with the fact that the Liberty Bell didn’t ring. Via The Washington Post.

Advanced placement

So you think you know about a revolution … Buzzfeed offers up what it calls a really tough American revolution quiz. And it is. Like, how many times did Washington cross the Delaware?

Strange facts

Gail Collins offers up a funnier 4th of July quiz on our present-day answer to the Founding Fathers, like, which GOP candidate says he once participated in an exorcism (or did he?). Via The New York Times.

Bleeding heart

Was it principle or pragmatism at the heart of the American revolution? And how did equality, or tar and feathering, enter into it? (Just FYI, Franklin and Washington both opposed the Tea Party, the original.) Via The New Yorker.

Imagining failure

An alternative history: What if the American colonies had lost the revolution? Via The Atlantic.

Infectious holiday

The Fourth of July was always meant to be a raucous and even dangerous holiday. But then there were the years when it became really dangerous, the early 20th century when Independence Day became Tetanus Day. Via The National Journal.

Play ball

Five things to know about baseball and the 4th of July, starting with the most famous speech ever made on an American athletic field. Via Yahoo.

Photo credit: lisa cee (Lisa Campeau), Creative Commons, Flickr.

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