|Image courtesy of NYPL Digital Gallery|
Ten days after the British flooded the river with their ships, news that the Congress had declared independence arrived in New York. The Declaration was read to the troops from the steps of City Hall. The men cheered so loud it seemed to shake the whole island. I hurried from the egg seller to see the cause of the commotion.
The cheering men danced and marched down Broadway, tossing their hats into the air and shouting across the river at the silent ships of England. They gathered into a mob on the Bowling Green around the massive statue of King George III. [...]
The men made short work of King George. When the statue was reduced into pieces that could be easily carted off, they did just that. The plan was to melt down all the lead into bullets.
As the crowd marched off to make bullets and celebrate liberty and independence in the taverns, I realized dark was fast falling, and I had tarried overly long. I picked up a sliver of lead that lay in the street. It was fringed with gilt; my own piece of majesty. Tyrants beware, I thought as I put it in my pocket.
~ from Chains,
written by Laurie Halse Anderson
I like learning about history from the perspective of someone who was there (or someone who could have been there, as is the case in historical fiction). It makes history more interesting and meaningful, at least for me. In Chains, readers watch the forming of a new nation through the eyes of Isabel, a young slave. Before reading this book, I hadn't given much thought to what it was like to live through the birth of our country. Anderson's story about Isabel made me feel as if I were there, however, and I found the history of it fascinating! From now on, whenever I celebrate the 4th of July, I believe the occasion will seem even more momentous to me than it did before.