man who is from the former soviet union is trying to eke out a living having left at a very bleak time in eastern europe, and then the second but also takes place in a kitchen and that is called in the kitchen by monica ali. so, i think both-- this one of course is in paper. the road home and the new monica ali is in hardback, which probably makes a difference to people. finally, monica you'll lee segues into my other favorite genre, which is south asian books. i have to hear. one is abraham vergie, cutting
for stone which is about a physician who-- well, it is really hard to describe because it is a very fat epic novel. we have gotten lots of people coming in to the store to say how much they love this book. he is a position in the united states who immigrated here actually from ethiopia where his family or protestant missionaries, and a lot of cutting for stone takes place in ethiopia and a lot takes place in the united states in a hospital in the united states and it is lush, beautiful writing about medicine and about immigration and it is about ethiopia in bad times and it is a wonderful book. the other book that i, south
asian book, takes place in calcutta. it is called sacred games and is about-- by bikram chandra. in the tradition of life imitating art what happened in mumbai last year was almost as though they were following a script from sacred games, and sacred games is dominated by two major characters, an underworld boss who has all kinds of ties to nationalist groups, and so although he is interested in money he is also doing the will of some of the fundamentalist, hindu fundamentalist politicians and then the good guy in the book is a police detective, who is on this side of virtue and goodness and democracy and they
are pitted against each other in this huge novel, which is a wonderful book to take away on a trip. so, those are my recommendations. pike ago on and on and on but i try to narrow it down and thank you for asking me. >> to see more summer reading lists and other program information visit our web site at booktv.org. >> dennis brindell fradin says the 56 men who signed the declaration of independence knew they were putting their reputations, their fortunes and their lives on the line. >> talks about his book on "the signers" at the american philosophical society in philadelphia. this program is about an hour. [applause] >> it is good to be here in philosophical hall, so close to independence park where the declaration of independence was
created. i am thinking it is kind of, i don't know, funny or strange that i am here today talking about a book on history because i was a terrible history student when i was in high school. i remember when my high school u.s. history teachers said to me, dennis, because i was silent enclasp. i did not talk because i didn't know anything. and the teachers said to me, dennis, and yet afscme some question about john quincy adams. i started saying, john adams, i did not know john adams from john quincy adams from samuel adams when i was that age. not only did i not know who they were and really do my work in school with the history because i was not interested, but i did not even care that much in that period. i kind of had an idea that
history was not real. we had a picture in our schools in chicago of george washington and abraham lincoln and everything seemed kind of laid out like it had happened sort of inevitably and have been in such a long time ago. i really didn't get interested in history until i was in my 30's or so and let me tell you how it happened. i was writing a book and doing some research about abraham lincoln, and i read about abraham lincoln having some conversation in a tent. i just don't remember all the details. it seemed fairly interesting and it was from one person's point of view who was there, and then i read another piece of historical writing from another person's point of view, who was there. all of a sudden, you know how like when you have one eye open, you can see depth because one i does not give you depth perception into does?
it was like a sigh abraham lincoln from two different angles and he became like a real person to me. all of a sudden i remember i was in my family room at home and i remember looking out of the window and saying, you know, history was real. it was done by real people who weren't that totally different from myself who had decisions to make and it wasn't always inevitable what would happen. there were choices that people made and that was the moment i got interested in history so i came from being a pretty weak u.s. history student to the point i am writing books about samuel adams. i could tell my high schoolteacher who samuel adams is now. i could for you for two hours about his samuel adams was. he was my hero. you would be surprised at the things you might get interested later on that you don't think he will, so i am glad i paid little attention to u.s. is during got somewhat of a start toward it.
so, i got to love history. i got absolutely love it and i got to love it in a special period of history because with history you have so much to choose from. as far as history is concerned what happened today, tomorrow will be history. there is always knew history and i got intrigued by the colonial and the revolutionary period. we used to belong to another country. we were ruled by another country. who knows what the country was that rule does? yes, england. the world does for a couple hundred years. then of course we revolted in 1775 and fought the revolutionary war to free ourselves. i got intrigued by that period from colonial history and especially the revolutionary war, because here is why i think i got so interested in it. no matter how long our country
last, should it last for a million years, that will always be the beginning. that will always be important. the other things in between may fade, may get eclipsed by new events but always the formation of our country was won it all began. it never-- and it is so intriguing how it happened because we were such underdogs. england was the mightiest country in the world. the 13 colonies had a small population of a couple million. and, i just love that story and how you know, the guys get together in independence hall and they weren't quite sure about whether they wanted to declare dependence or not. it was somewhat, some did and some didn't. anyway, so i am intrigued about the declaration of independence and the revolution and women writers are intrigued by
something they want to write a book about it. so, i thought i could write it really good book. i want to tell you a little bit now about how the book comes about. i wanted to write a book about the declaration of independence and i should tell you that everybody that rights history feels that they alone can do the greatest job on whatever the subject they are interested in so if only they gave me a chance to do with it would be better and different than anybody else. so i am sending out letters. this is what an author does for goats you either make phonecalls are sent out letters to different editors to try to sell them your idea because it is easier to sell the idea before you write the book because sometimes otherwise he might write a book and have no place to sell its do you try to see if someone is interested. emily easton, who i have been sending the ideas for years, and
she had rejected me so many times. i have to tell you, you were looking at, when you hear i have 100 books are 200 books published, this guy comes easy. oh, no. i am probably the most rejected author in the western or northern hemisphere's. i have gotten thousands of rejections. at one time my wife said, savior rejections and we will paper our bathroom, we will put them up as wallpaper, your thousands of projects in its. i said no, they are going in the garbage. i have sardeson of jetsons when it came in the mail. i don't want to see them in the bathroom again. so i send this idea to emily houston and she said well there have been so many books on the declaration of independence and she did some research. how about doing a book on the signers of the declaration of independence? and, focusing instead of on the
document and how it came about, the people who did it and i went to the library and i found only one in two books on the subject like that. being a writer, are you going to do a book? yes, yes, yes, i finally broker down after ten years of rejections and she asked me to do a book. so, you know then i started doing research on the book. i would get at least one or two books on each of the signers and read them. i had read a number of books so i was familiar with my hero, samuel adams. i have written and number of books on benjamin franklin and thomas jefferson so i did a lot of reading research and have fun. picture making your living-- most people read for fun, for recreation. i am reading books on the signers of the declaration of independence for my work.
so, i am having a great time doing that, but it to other kinds of research also. for example one of the new hampshire signers i have a question about so i called my friend, bill coakley, at the new hampshire ceasar-- historical society in he answered my question. i the question about one of the pennsylvania signers, or one of the pennsylvania representatives at the continental congress and i call the pennsylvania historical society. they did not know the answer and that gives me-- sometimes people are very apologetic when an author like myself calls and asks questions and i say no, you help me even when you say you don't know it because then i know even the experts don't know the answer. i will say something like, i will qualify it in some way. i did mostly reading but i did other kinds of research to write the book. they have got a wonderful artist
for the book, michael mccurdy, and an interesting thing is he is also an author so he made some suggestions from time to time. for example there is a signer named alf career wilcutt and oliver walcott was in new york, going home to connecticut because he was ill and the new york patriots kind of had it right basically and knocked down the statue of george iii that was in a place called bowling green. they took that statue which wait a couple of tons and they put it, i said a wagon and they took it home to oliver whoa cut's home in connecticut where his daughters made them into bullets. they were used against the british in battle and the americans joked that we use melted majesty against the british. you know, his majesty melted into the bullets and i had said something like, he put it in a wagon and michael mccurdy very
wisely said, you can't fit into one wag in a statue that is gigantic and weighs and number of tons. there must have been a buy-ins. it might seem like a little thing but i am trying to write inaccurate book and a look back at some of the sources and no one is exactly sure. there was no cnn their video taping it, so you just have to use your common sense sometimes. in short i changed it to what michael said, wagons. he was helpful in a number of ways in the history part because i'm trying to get it accurate and sometimes you know it is not that easy. i thought it would be an interesting thing because i want to talk about some of my favorite signers in making listen to some stories about them. can you guys named the 13 colonies? i don't want one person to name them all but let's go like one person. can someone write them down?
let's start with one. new hampshire. say it real loud. she says new hampshire. massachusetts. yes? >> new jersey. >> maryland. >> virginia. >> pennsylvania. >> connecticut. >> north carolina. i hope someone is keeping track. >> risk. rhode island. who else? south carolina. >> new york. >> georgia. >> how many have we got? i think i know the one-- delaware. and you guys know your colonies. you guys know your colonies.
[applause] let me tell you about some of my favorite from a few of the-- you are going to have to hear about samuel adams. i have got what you call a captive audience. i used to talk about samuel adams because i worked on a book on samuel adams for five years and at the dinner table i would make my children listen to samuel adams stories and i would see them rolling their eyes. we would go out with a couple that were friends of ours and they thought i could see it but the other couple, my friend l manning whig look at judy and go like this and say, how was the samuel adams book going? it was kind of a family joke because i was working on a year after year after year and once i get started talking about samuel adams-- he was whom thomas jefferson called turley the man of the revolution, and another signers said all americans should erect a statue to him in their hearts. he was the one when the british
started taxing us, who wrote thousands and thousands of letters to different leaders across america trying to get them to band together to defy the british. basically, samuel adams had no money. he didn't care one bit about the taxes. he wanted to form a new country. the two guys who most wanted to purely form a new country and warned angry about the taxes so much but were real rebels were probably patrick henry in virginia and samuel adams in massachusetts. samuel adams plan the boston tea party. the bostonians were having a big meeting in a hall and talking about what to do about the tax on tea. samuel adams said this meeting can do more to solve this problem and that was the signal to some men in the back of the building who were dressed as american indians, they were really american indians but they were using it as a custom, to go
to the boston harbor in dump the tea in the harbors said he planned the boston tea party. he named the boston massacre, which was really a street fight between british soldiers and bostonians but he was a propagandist the my kala today. he made what he could have out of the events. he said mr. revere, pop revere who did drawings and was a silver worker, why don't you make a drawing of this street fight and call it the boston massacre, which he did. he was the one who recruited-- samuel adams was the one who recruited john adams and john hancock to join the revolutionary cause. as a matter of fact john hancock was the richest man in new england. they joked around boston. samuel adams writes the letters and john hancock pays the postage. now, when samuel adams went to the continental congress, there
was a carpenter's-- the first one which was also in philadelphia. he had no clothes to wear, he was so porous of his friends took up the collection and bought him a new suit. one day he was eating dinner and a hat maker came in and measured his head, a soup maker came and they measured him. so that he would probably represent massachusetts at least looking good. all he ever thought of, all he ever thought of was american independence. he did not care about how he dressed. i absolutely love the picture that michael did. it caught his spirit. i put him first. i did my own order for the signers and they did samuel adams first. i don't know if you can see back there but there he is writing a letter. that is what he is noted for. people go to boston to nathanial hall with they have their meetings.
they look in there is a statue of samuel adams out there and if you listen people will say he was not a president, why don't they have john adams there? because samuel adams as everyone in the revolutionary times knew, was the man. he was the guy that wrote the letters to organized everybody. it wasn't a spectacular, not is a spectacular is firing a gun. he would write to people in different colonies and helped organize the continental congress that produce the declaration. i could go on with him. i had better stop because i have got some others. another one of my favorites is john hart from new jersey. here is a guide that is in his 60s because as emily told the these fellows but their lives on the line. john hancock said, we must all hang together, and benjamin franklin said yes, we must all
hang together or surely we shall all hang. you get the joke. another guy was a real big, benjamin harrison and another guy, albert sherry, was real small. benjamin harrison said to albert sheri with me will be all over this second because he will hang real quick because he is so big. with you, you will be dangling on air for a while so they had this gelles umar. it was real-- no joke really because the british have caught the leaders, the penalty for treason was then death, and they certainly would have executed the leaders like samuel adams and there was a price on samuel adams and john hancock's heads. i was telling you about john hart. when the british came to new jersey and the sign and that they could capture would be a big catch for them.
john hart had to leave his home and he is in his 60's already, older than i am but a few years and he is having to hide in case. and hide in the woods and sleep outside, so the british should not capture him. a very brave man. they call him on is to john hart, long before they called abraham lincoln on the state. there was another guy you don't hear about much, honest john hart and while he was gone his wife died, trying to survive in the in-- under heart conditions. as did a number of the wives and family members of the signers. that is another of my favorite. a guy named caesar rodney. ceaser rod knees was from delaware and he was very important when they voted on the declaration of independence on
july 2nd, 1776 which is the real birth the of our country. not july 4th because they voted on independence july 2nd. delaware was stuck in a 1-1 tie, and it had to be unanimous. if it got found that in great britain that three colonies word for independence, it would make it look like the americans were divided and we didn't want to be divided. samuel adams was furiously arguing with people saying, you have got to change your vote, you've got to vote for independence. john adams was helping doing that are doing. one thing that happened with delaware was they were stuck in a 1-1 votes of thomas mckeon, one of the delaware delegate, sends a message to the dover, newcastle delaware area about 80 miles from philadelphia. ceaser, you are needed to break the tie for the vote for delaware, otherwise delaware is not going to vote for
independence. ceasar according to tradition of the go-to wilmington there's a statue of him on a horse. i have talked to some historians there and they say he probably made part of his right in a carriage but anyway part of it on the force. he rode the 80 miles an got here to philadelphia jit to that hauled there. he had gone through a rain storm. we know that because he wrote a letter to his brother bought it in because thomas mccain said that he arrived just in time and it was something he wrote. jit foradil were to vote 2-1 in favor of independence. the most remarkable thing about his 80-mile journey is that he had cancer of the time. he actually had cancer of the face. he had a growth and they said the only place in the world who had the surgeons that could have saved his life were in britain, and so he actually gave up his life because he died a few years
later by siding with america, because they would have taken off his growth on his face. they would have taken not the sole head. it is not funny, but-- you know i am so impressed by a guy like that in he is such an unknown hero. people really don't know caesar rodney. that ride was six times as far as paul revere's ride. another one of my favorites is-- button, how would you like your name to be button? he was named after his godmother, barber button and he was from georgia. button, if you had a signature of his would be worth $100,000. the reason being he didn't get to sign very many things after you sign the declaration. he wanted to leave the georgia troops in battle and they assign
someone else to lead the georgia troops in battle. he want to be a general and he didn't get to be a general. he had a big fight with the guy who got assigned to be the general and they have a tool. button, they challenge each other to a duel and outside savannah, georgia one day not long after signing the declaration button was shot to death, and so he was one of the first signers to die. he led his own, i don't know, ambition or in the of someone else who got the job of being the general get the best of him and alphie should ever run across the button quintin de jure this tremendously valuable because he did not get to sign very many things. he is an interesting character to me because he shows that all the human qualities, jealousy, hatred, envy, and all the signers exhibited those
qualities. they were human beings like this. we shouldn't think of them as being beyond us or perfect or without flaws. another guy we must talk about here is benjamin franklin. i want to talk about it said story about benjamin franklin because you have probably heard he was an inventor. he was a tremendous writer, scientists, statesmen, all kinds of things that he did. a sick leader, first fired department, insurance company, everything-- lighting for the city of philadelphia, all kinds of civic improvements but the sad part of his story that always strikes me when i read it is he had one son named william. he and william did everything together. you probably heard this story, don't ever do this yourself because they are lucky they didn't kill themselves.
they flew a kite in a storm to prove that lightning is electricity and actually it is not known, they usually show benjamin flying it. it was william hcfa the kai them benjamin who took the string after they got it up. there is alliance story about how they were writing to maryland one day and the site tornado and together the father and son gallup on horseback after the tornado and, because benjamen was curious about everything. don't go toward a tornado come and go away from a tornado. benjamin went toward it with his son and he helped us actually, one of the first people to understand what it tornado is because it is great description after he sought from pretty close. what happened was he raised william to be an english gentleman. he brought william to england with him where he himself had spent some time, quite a bit of time as the young man and he wanted william-- you know how americans are in love with the
>> benjamin franklin and his son had such a fierce fight, so many arguments, such a family battle that they never spoke again. as a matter of fact, franklin was in europe and his son time to meet him just before franklin was going to sail to america. at this time frankland would have been 74, 75 years old and his son tried to make up with them. and benjamin would not talk to him. he was so hurt and so wounded on the fact that his own son had sided with england. by the way his son had been arrested by the patriots in new jersey and spent some extensive time in jail because of it. and franklin didn't help get him out either, he was so angry at him. so these are very human things because families all the time have disagreements over politics and different things that lead
to, you know, big, big arguments. how much time do we have before questions? 15 more minutes for questions? okay, good. then i can tell you about a couple more, one or two more. i love talking about these guys. since we are in pennsylvania, john morton. how many of you have heard of john morton? some of you have heard of john morton. that's great. because i was probably guessing in the country probably very few people have heard of john morton. remember i said it was important that the colonies be unanimous? if it looked like one colony was against the war, if one colony was against the war, it would be that americans were divided. pennsylvania was in a real pickle because in pennsylvania there was a strong loyalists
tendency of a lot of people to side with the british. the loyalists would decide with the british. and it wasn't the only state. north carolina had a lot of loyalist. south carolina had a lot of loyalist. new york had a lot of loyalists. new jersey had a lot of loyalist. as a matter of fact john adams estimated at the beginning of the war a third of the people are for the revolution, a third of the people are on the british side, and have beige and the other third don't care one way or another. you know people have they just want to live their lives. so there were a lot of loyalist. and so pennsylvania, which is called the keystone state, keystone is a stone that is very important in a bridge. and in the same way pennsylvania was the keystone of the colonies because they were in the middle. besides which was the place where they were having the vote, where the congress was meeting. pennsylvania, the truth was,
that most of their delegates were against voting for independence. so imagine what britain would have made of that, to have light in the papers would have said pennsylvania was the so-called condo congress is meeting is against the declaration of independence. here's what happened. it was almost like a miracle. and one of those things that make people even feel that america somehow has always had miraculous things happen to help in times of trouble. the vote would have been 4-3 against independent. but to delegates, i think it was robert morris and john dickinson who were against it at the time decided not to vote on the day, on july 2, 1776. if they had voted it would have been 4-3 against an pennsylvania would have gone against independent. what would you do then?
have 12 states you are a new country and still that is one on britain's side? it would have been a mess. today, seeing that everybody else is going for independence did not want to be one to hold up even though they thought america was not ready. that would make it 3-2 for pennsylvania if john morton voted for independence. and he was undecided. he couldn't make up his mind because he came from a countryside, not in philadelphia, but i think, i don't know, chester county. i can't remember. his constituents, the people around where he lived, a lot of them, or against independence her.and so how would he vote? he was born. he didn't know what to do and he got the people where he lives including his own family to vote against independence, we're not ready.
vote against independent spirit he has sam adams coming up to him saying, john, this is the way things are going. the country is going to go for independence. you've got to swing pennsylvanian, it's so important that he has john adams sang the same thing. finally he decides. he goes for independence. so he swung by a 3-2 go. this is closer than the last election with the florida vote for president. because it is dependent upon one person who was the delicate for that state. and so pennsylvania went for independence. here's what happened. he was the first signer to die. he only lived another year or so. and when he got back to his home, after voting for independence, his relatives and his friends gave him a hard time. because they were personally against it, and his dying words were tell them this will go down
as the greatest thing i ever did. you know, tell all the people that this was the greatest thing i ever did was voting for independence. and then he passed on. and i read that story and i just find it so touching because the whole state depended on his boat. i should say whole colony became a state when he made that vote. and here's what happened. here's white pennsylvania had eight or nine ciders. the pennsylvania legislature was so angry that their state had almost gone against independence, that john morton had voted the other way, that they sent a whole new delegation and kicked out about five other members and they appointed about five, or elected five new members. and they stacked it with independents now. and so pennsylvania has eight or nine ciders because the legislature wanted it to the gun industry, which has.
pennsylvania has all the signers. the fact is it's not for this guy that was pretty much forgotten, john martin. the actual official vote would have been against it. i'm not sure what they would have done then. i don't know if they would have beige i don't know. i'm sure somehow it would have worked out because pennsylvania could not have stood alone. i just think it's, you know, an interesting story. i just love, i love john morton. i often think of him and how tough it must have been to stand up, you know, sometimes you go against your friend and all the people you know in your neighbors because you know you're going to have to face them. it's not the easiest thing to do. it's a tough. well, i would like to answer any questions you might have, either about the declaration of independence book, or anything about being a writer, or anything at all really. just ask that you ask it real loud.
[applause] >> thank you. >> what made you write a book on the ciders? >> what may be right a book on the signers? what made me want to write? i just got fascinated about 10 years ago with the declaration of independence, the document itself and all the stories and how it came about. and so being a writer i'm always making proposals. i'm always trying to sell my books. that's how i make a living. so i sent letters, and now i want to write a book about the u.s. constitution i hope because that's just a natural progression. yes. [inaudible] >> when did i start to write? when i was about seven years old, i used to make up stories and ask my mother to type them
for me. i like everything. i liked reading. library time was my favorite time in school. my mother was take me to the library near our house a couple times a week. i like looking at books. you know each luger has an insignia? i like looking at the little insignias. i like looking at the dates of the books were published. i just liked everything about books. so there were times when i wanted to be something else like a baseball player, archaeologist. but i also want to be a writer. that's another interesting thing. you can be a writer and something else. there's a lot of people who are doctors and writers. or, you, they have one job because if you have an interesting job. let's say you are and explore. now you have something to write about. because you are making some explorations or you're an astronaut. so a lot of a lot of people combined being a writer with their other job. >> yes.
>> how old was benjamin franklin when he suddenly was in jail? >> as i recall, benjamin franklin was born in 1706, and this would be 1776 or 1777. he would be in his early 70s. he would be in his early 70s. he was not a young man at that time. i'm always surprised at how close to the 1600 benjamin franklin was born. he was the oldest delegate by the way that signed a declaration of independence. he was the oldest one. and the most world-famous of all of them. >> do you know why benjamin franklin sun -- >> she asked why i don't benjamin franklin's son got put in prison.
when they were changing the governments from states to colonies, they kicked out the royal governors. they arrested them. one guy i think the one from new york went out on a boat, a british boat in the ocean because he knew they were going to come after him and arrest him. because they were overthrown british rule. they're at war. and the royal governor represents an 18. so one of the first things they do, and each column is go to the governor's house the -- and if he hasn't already beat and arrest him and at the very least put him in prison. the royal governor was a symbol of the british authorities. they would be going against. and he was usually very influential and wealthy person to start with. it came from britain or with strongly pro-british in their
views. yes? [inaudible] >> what made me determined to become a writer? well, i always like to write when i was a kid. i was a teacher for about 12 years. i taught second grade. and i used to tell my class stories. you now they say that sometimes you can't see right in front of your nose. it's pretty hard to do when you have a nose like mine, but nonetheless i like it because i would tell my children that i taught stories and they would listen and they loved them. i think anyway. and so all this time i'm writing adult stories. this was about 25 years ago, i was in my early '20s. i'm writing adult stories and i'm writing articles for
newspapers. and it's not occurring to me, and if i'm telling my second greatest story and they like them, i should type up the stories and send them to publishers. it took me quite a while to figure out that's what i should do. i finally did it. all the stores were rejected. all the stores were rejected. like i said, i have the most rejections in the western, northern hemispheres. but finally i started -- actually what happened and editor asked me to write a book on the state of illinois about the state of the one. i said to myself, dennis, arthur 49 other states besides illinois? if i do a good job in illinois maybe she will asked me to do books of all the states. that's exactly what happened. and that's how i became a writer. i got the assignment to write 50 books about the 50 states. yes? >> what would you say was the most important signer? >> i love the question.
he asked who would i say was the most important site of. most people would say george washington. but why wasn't it george washington? [inaudible] >> he didn't sign because he was off fighting the revolutionary war. a lot of people don't realize that. they think washington signed the declaration of independence. because in june of 1775 he was sent off to take charge of the continental army in cambridge, massachusetts. so who do you think i think is the most important signer? see if you were paying attention. who was a? [inaudible] >> he came way later. he came oilier. he came in civil war time. [inaudible] >> he was an important one but that's not who my favorite was. [inaudible] >> say it loud.
>> samuel adams? >> yes, samuel adams. that's the one i think is most important. he was the man. they used to call some of these -- now you have me started again. they used to call some of these other guys, there was a guy named harnett from georgia i think. they called him the samuel adams of george. there was the secretary of the convention, i think his name was william thompson. and they called him the samuel adams of philadelphia. one other guy was the samuel adams of north carolina. i think that was harnett. he was so known as the leading revolutionary that they would call people, call people the samuel adams of this place or that. there's another guy i like an awful lot that is growing on me that i didn't mention. his name was george with. and he was from virginia. he was a warrior and george would not take a case if he thought his client was wrong and he thought that a client was
lying to him, he would quit the case and return any money that he was given. he was known as a great lawyer and he was thomas jefferson's law professor. part of thomas jefferson's writing the declaration one of the things in the back of his mind was he wanted george with. you know how you want to pressure teacher to grow up and come something big you want to impress your teacher. that's how he was tour de georgia. george had an interesting into his life which was very unpleasant. he freed his slaves, most of them or many of them anyway. that took a lot of guts. not too many people did that and it took a lot of everything good. it was a good decision. he had a housekeeper who i've been a former slave, and a young man who had been a former slave that they saying they had been his son. there's some discussion over that. and anyway, what happened was he had a nephew who was deeply in
debt from gambling. and his nephew needed money real bad and he forged george's name on checks. he got some money, got in trouble that ways but he still needed more money so he poisoned this very, very famous lawyer who at this time was about 82 years old he poisoned him to death along with this young man, michael brown i think his name was that george had been raising as if he was his son. whether or not he was. he had thought this young man latin and greek and he also poisoned the woman whose name was lidia braude necks. the nephew puts poison in their coffee. george wythe dies. lidia braude necks lives but michael brown dies. and here's this sad part.
a black person was not allowed to testify in court in virginia at the time, about 7090 or 1800, whenever that was. so even though she knew that this nephew, and she had evidence that this nephew had poisoned him, she couldn't testify in court. because she had been a former slave. she was a black person. so the nephew got away with poisoning this great signer, this great lawyer, considered the greatest lawyer in the united states. which is really something at that time. because there were a lot of lawyers and he was just a great character and his life is interesting. until i did the book on the signers i had hardly heard of george wythe as a matter fact, i thought his name was white. we rented a video on him and found out how to actually pronounce. who else has a question? yes? >> who is your favorite officer when you were a little?
>> favorite author? well, my favorite book is a children's book is the wizard of oz. i used to read it to my students when i taught. that's always been my favorite children's book. i just love that book. i could watch the movie over and over and i could read the book over and over. yes? >> where did you grow up? >> chicago. chicago, illinois. yes? >> did you become a writer because your friends were one? >> because of family members? i have my aunt who took me to a children's get-together of children's authors when i was in my '20s. back when i was getting nothing but rejections. nothing but rejections and she took me to a get-together of children's authors and i got to see that they were regular people. it really helped me because i had sort of thought it was something out there that was hard to achieve.
but i listened carefully to these offers, and one thing they did that i did not do was they talked to actors on the phone and they met with them and they had more of a personal touch. i was struck the guy who did it through the mail. and so i started talking to editors, for example, remember how i told you i got started. i actually called the editor, one day i had about six rejections and i was so down and downs because i had so many rejections. this editor at children's press had said only in a few months i might have a project for you. and i was so down in the dumps that i called before the six months were over you and she said oh it's good that you call today we are looking for someone to do a book on illinois. and so that's how i got my career started. i called emily. please, would you do my book, emily? you rejected me so many times already. personal touch is good. because people respond to people.
sometimes people want to be, authors are a little afraid of editors because editors seem so official. and i think, you know, if you realize everybody in the book is just a person like you is that if for everybody involved there to give you a better chance to connect with the book. who else has a question? >> which one was your favorite? >> ben franklin, which was my favorite? you know what they call these kind of classes? [inaudible] >> bifocal. this kind is spectacles. you're right. when you've look at one part you can see long and if you look at another part you can read a book because it's too kind of glasses in one. benjamin franklin invented bifocals. and so that's one of my favorites because i use them every day. to look far, though the close.
there is almost nothing that you can mean that he wasn't involved in. he was interested in everything you know another thing he did? he didn't like getting real old so when he reached 70 years of age, he started counting backwards. so when he was 71 he told everyone on 69. when he was 80, he said he was 60. and so he died at 84, which i guess according to him was what, 66 or 67. yeah, he was such a character. he always had something that he was thinking about. such a wisely mind. who else has a question? yes? [inaudible] >> how long did it take to complete the book? i was talking to michael about that. how long it took him to do the pictures. because he did 112 pictures for the book, two for each side. because i wanted to see, i was
curious how long it took him and took him to do the pictures, because i said i think it took me about six months of continuous time if you put it together because what i would do his work on it for a month and then maybe do something else and then go back to it. if you put it all together i would say six months. he said it took him longer than that. may be close to a you or something i think he might've said. so to do a book can take quite a while. and then if the publisher puts it together, you know, they put the artwork together with the word you have written. it takes then maybe another year to put the book together. so between the time you have written the first word and when you actually have a finished book could be a couple years, emily? >> two years maybe. yes? [inaudible] >> into a movie? evening "the signers"? any other? i have never had one of my books
turned into a movie. it would be a great thrill, something to look forward to one day. but not yet. not yet. yes? >> if you had a chance to make another book about the declaration of independence, would you? >> gets. i just love the topic. i could sit in my chair. he asked if i had a chance to do another book about the declaration of independence, would i. sure. as a matter of fact i think i am going to get that chance. but i will find out about that later in the week. i am always trying to make deals, i am always trying to write new books. and you will see when you look at a list of an authors of books, a lot of books are on the same subject. that's common. because they are interested in those certain subjects. here's the key if you want to be a writer. write about what you know about. if your hobby is soccer, maybe you will grow up to be a soccer
writer for a newspaper or a magazine. if you know about something it makes you enthusiastic. when you are enthusiastic. not only that it makes you know what you're talking about. 's authors who like about certain subjects can to write about them repeatedly. [inaudible] >> it was about two years ago. i would say about two years ago. someone else here? [inaudible] >> you know, i feel great. how do i feel great about being a writer. one of the things about having a job is if you want to feel like you are doing something worthwhile in the world, and i never doubt that. i might get down in the dumps if i get a bad review. and that happens. sometimes they say this book is boring. or, i don't know. you might get down in the dumps if your book doesn't sell as much as you think. but when you're a writer, just like a teacher, you never feel like you're doing something that isn't worthwhile.
a lot of times i drove home friday afternoon as a teacher, i was really tired and kind of sad, the weekend and up. but i never felt i was wasting my time. i always felt i was doing something important. the same with being a writer. you know that you're doing something worthwhile. that means a lot to a person, to feel that you are doing something that's worthwhile. yes? >> when you wrote "the signers" d. to imagine that you were inside of the book? >> i love that question. oh, my goodness. what a question. she asked when i wrote "the signers" did i ever imagined i was a sign of myself. i have horrible feeling about myself that i would have been a loyalist. [laughter] >> i try to be honest about myself. everyone is sort of the hero of their own story, and i just, i'm
not in school anymore so i can look at things just like i want to. and the way i feel is that any of the signers that helped slaves, i hold a grudge against them. i don't read it and say, well, it was 1775, 1776, that was the time when they did that. you know, i think somethingsome things are just wrong, and i don't care when they are. you are taught right from wrong and holding slaves was wrong. and magazine some other spec, more respect for those who were born into having slaves and then freed the slaves. such as george wythe because that was really something. such as george washington who wasn't a sign of that who provided his will to be free of slaves. and i try to be honest about myself. and i'm a guy who likes things the way they are. by real slow to change. and i have to say about myself, i really wonder if i would have
been on the british side just because i would have been kind of reluctant to change. and i ask myself that question, and i'm not sure what the answer. i would like to think i would have been with samuel adams, but i., you know, i can't say. i just don't know. yes? [inaudible] >> i always wanted to be a writer but sometimes, you know one problem i had with the history. i told you that i was a bad history student at i guess i didn't tell you with my history teacher after he asked that question about one end of the ads into the aside and said, dennis, you don't really belong in this level class, you're not quite good enough because you're not real good at history. here's one of the problems i had with history. i think in looking back because when you are older you get different ideas. i didn't con