In Pursuit of Liberty


In Pursuit of Liberty

Coming of Age in the American Revolution

Emmy E. Werner

192 pages


May 2009


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

The voices of the children and teenagers who witnessed the colonies’ transformation to an independent nation have seldom been heard. This historical account of the American Revolution tells the story of the “forgotten” youngsters who engaged in the boycott of British goods and the battles that led up to the Declaration of Independence. It recounts their courageous exploits in eight years of warfare on land and sea and amid changing social forces that shaped and transformed their postwar lives. While the Revolution disrupted and risked their world, it also gave them an unprecedented degree of autonomy and sense of responsibility.Emmy Werner researched eyewitness accounts—diaries, journals, letters, and memoirs—of a hundred boys and girls between the ages of five and sixteen. Her account reflects reports from black as well as white boy soldiers, from teenagers imprisoned on land and aboard ships, from slave children and youngsters held hostage by Indians, and from children of loyalists and pacifists who opposed the war with Britain for political or religious reasons. She also weaves in the viewpoints of Hessian teenagers who fought for the British.In Pursuit of Liberty sets the experiences of the children and teenagers who lived and wrote in that time in a historical context. It follows the chronology of the American Revolution across two decades from 1770, when the boycott of British goods throughout the American colonies gained momentum, to 1789, when George Washington was sworn in as the first president of a new and independent nation. While focusing on the Revolution’s major milestones, Werner highlights the contribution of young people to its progress and ultimate success.

Author Bio

Emmy E. Werner is the author of In Pursuit of Liberty: Coming of Age in the American Revolution, A Conspiracy of Decency: The Rescue of Danish Jews During World War II, Through the Eyes of Innocents: Children Witness World War II, and Reluctant Witnesses: Children’s Voices From the Civil War. She currently lives in Berkeley, California.


"Werner provides a fascinating primary angle on the Revolution."—Library Journal


“This is a really interesting contribution to the history of children, showing individual young people as active agents, of various sorts, during the American Revolution. Children were also acted upon during the Revolution, and this testimony is revealing as well; but the extent of active involvement, and the sources this involvement generated, provide the most telling analysis.”—Peter N. Stearns, provost, George Mason University

“In this book, Emmy Werner, a lifelong student of human resilience, tells a remarkable story of the Revolutionary War from a much-neglected perspective—that of young children and youth from the colonies. . . . This memorable book will alter views of the Revolutionary War by highlighting the many contributions of ‘boy soldiers’ to winning America’s independence.”—Glen H. Elder Jr., Howard W. Odum Distinguished Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill

“A history of children’s participation in the American Revolution [using] children’s eyewitness accounts—letters, diaries, and memoirs—drawn from printed published sources as well as U.S. and German archives.”—Choice

"A compelling history that is both clearly written and a riveting experience for both adults and young people who are interested in Revolutionary War history from a different perspective. . . . Read this book before you pass it on to a young friend."—Washington Times

“The cumulative effect of the many and varied young persons’ accounts of the war is a fresh perspective, and one which should inspire further exploration of its implications.”—Journal of Social History

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