© 2013 William Murchinson
William Murchinson takes readers through the pivotal early years of the Revolution, where Dickinson takes the lead. His Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania not only gave strength to resistance against the Tea and Coercive acts at home, but generated popular support in England. Dickinson was never one for rabble-rousing, urging mobs to commit violence against the authorities, but he did argue passionately for civil resistance. Dickinson's fall from grace came in 1776 when the American temper was so aroused against Britain that war had already erupted. Dickinson continued to hope that changes might be effected cautiously, still in connection to England, but the blood shed at Lexington and Concord lit a fire under the king, as well. The rebels would pay for their defiance, and so the path of reconciliation was ignored by both the patriots and the king, to the dismay of men like Dickinson in America and Edmund Burke in Britain.
After the war, Dickinson would continue to lead at the local level in both Pennsylvania and Delaware, but he would not assume great office and his name has faded with the ages. Murchison's reappraisal of this man of peace, prudence, and principled resistance is a welcome balm.
In the words of his friend, Thomas Jefferson...
"A more estimable man, or truer patriot, could not have left us. Among the first of the advocates for the rights of his country when assailed by Great Britain, he continued to the last the orthodox advocate of the true principles of our new government and his name will be consecrated in history as one of the great worthies of the revolution."