Suspected of Independence: The Life of Thomas McKean, America’s First Power Broker

David McKean. PublicAffairs, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-1-61039-221-1
McKean (Tommy the Cork), director of policy planning for the Department of State, reaches back into his family’s history to tell the story of revolutionary-era America through the eyes of a lesser-known founding father. History may have left Thomas McKean behind, but in his lifetime he was a well-known and influential politician. Born in modest circumstances in Delaware in 1734, McKean built a reputation as a lawyer by age 20—though “technically still a legal apprentice”—and at 24 he began serving in the Delaware state assembly. Such a hard-working and ambitious man would likely have done well anywhere, but the extraordinary circumstances of the 1760s and 1770s catapulted McKean into the political limelight. He joined the Stamp Act Congress of 1764, which was convened in protest against a despised parliamentary tax; served as a delegate to both Continental Congresses; became chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 1777; and later served as Pennsylvania governor. McKean signed the Declaration of Independence and joined the Pennsylvania militia to fight for his new country. The author efficiently alternates between politics and military developments, keeping the cradle-to-grave biography moving briskly. As interesting as McKean’s life was, however, his descendant doesn’t quite make the case for his enduring importance. Illus. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Release date: 05/01/2016
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-61039-222-8
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