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American Inspiration Author Series

Peter Moore with Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Britain and the American Dream

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Date and time
Monday, September 18, 2023

Explore the origins of the most iconic words and concepts in American history with English historian Peter Moore. His spirited group biography provides a richer understanding our country’s colonial past and current ideology.

The most famous phrase in American history once looked quite different. “The preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness” was how Thomas Jefferson put it in the first draft of the Declaration. Then came a series of deletions and a long chain of revisions stretching across the Atlantic and back. In making these words into rights, Jefferson reified the hopes (and debates) not only of a group of rebel-statesmen in the colonies, but also of an earlier generation of British thinkers who could barely imagine a country like the United States of America.

Peter Moore’s Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness tells the true story of what may be the most successful import in U.S. history: the “American dream.” Profiling the generation that preceded the Declaration in 1776, this fascinating work reveals the influence and impact of the day’s leading figures including Benjamin Franklin, the British publisher William Strahan, the cultural giant Samuel Johnson, the ground-breaking historian Catharine Macaulay, the firebrand politician John Wilkes, and revolutionary activist Thomas Paine. Moore shows why, and reveals how these still-nascent ideals made their way across an ocean and started a revolution.

Peter Moore
Peter Moore  is an English writer, historian and lecturer. He is the author of Endeavour (2018) and The Weather Experiment (2015), which were both Sunday Times bestsellers in the United Kingdom. The Weather Experiment was also chosen as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2015. He teaches at the University of Oxford, has lectured internationally on eighteenth century history, and hosts a history podcast called Travels Through Time.
Richard Cohen
Richard Cohen is the author of Making History, By the Sword, Chasing the Sun, and How to Write Like Tolstoy. The former publishing director of two leading London publishing houses, he has edited books that have won the Pulitzer, Booker, and Whitbread/Costa prizes, while twenty-one have been #1 bestsellers. He has written for most UK quality newspapers as well as for The New York Times Book Review and The Wall Street Journal, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

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