I’m from Maryland, but about 14 years ago, I fell in love with historic Williamsburg. There is a sacred spirit there, one felt also in other places that welcomed the great patriots—Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Franklin, Key, and others—cities like Philadelphia, Washington, and Georgetown; and places like Fort McHenry, Hampton, Craney Island, Fort Monroe, and dozens more.
I believe it’s because God’s hand was over the events that happened in these places, moving people where they needed to be in order to accomplish His purposes for this land.
The past eight years of my research and writing have focused on an incredibly fascinating, and rather forgotten, generation of Americans. Most of us know a bit about the Revolution, and we have some basic understanding of the issues that drove us into the Civil War, but far fewer know anything concrete about the War of 1812, and yet historians will tell you that it was this period and these events that finally forged us into The United States of America.
The idea for a historic novel began back in 1998 after my first visit to Williamsburg, but I set it aside and moved on to another project. After 9/11, my heart, like most Americans', turned more tenderly to America and her history. By 2004 I submitted the first draft.
The original manuscript was set in the late 1840’s, but after much soul searching, many hours buried in American history, and a small mention in Lucy Mack Smith’s “Biography of Joseph Smith,” I knew I needed to back the books up a generation.
It was Lucy’s reference to her brother Stephen Mack’s service during the War of 1812 that was the deal-breaker. I had never before made the connection between the Smiths and the War of 1812, but there it was! Joseph Smith grew up during that war. He and his generation were affected and shaped by the critical historic events of the tragic burning of Washington, the critical Battle of Baltimore, Key’s rallying of a broken nation with his writing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The generation that would take on Britain’s war machine in the War of 1812 was already unique in that they were the children of the Founding Fathers’ generation. They were the heirs of the great patriots’ vision, those charged to build a nation founded on the lofty principles of liberty and freedom, and now they would experience the great religious reformation and the Restoration led by Joseph Smith.
After eight years of research and rewrites, it is this generation’s story that I tell in my FREE MEN and DREAMERS books where we wind six fictional families—three American, two British, one slave—through carefully researched American history to illustrate the courage, sacrifice, and vision of this extraordinary group.
Here’s the promo copy for this series:
The Founding Fathers' vision of "One Nation Under God" was not left to chance.
But what if yours was the generation tasked with forging that nation?
And forced to defend her once again. .
Just before the heavens were about to open. . .
And a new dispensation was about to begin?
These were the challenges facing a choice generation.
They were. . . FREE MEN & DREAMERS
Preview chapters from each book are available on my website at http://www.laurielclewis.com/books.htm, but I’d like to share an excerpt from my recently released volume 5, IN GOD IS OUR TRUST. Our protagonist in the series is Jed Pearson, a moral but logical man who has aligned his course upon the strength and stability of government. But new, illogical, religious concepts threaten his tidy world, and despite his efforts to dismiss them, he cannot, setting the stage for a spiritual awakening that will test his faith in both God and the Constitution.
From chapter 29:
The Pearsons arrived in Washington City in July, well before Jed
was scheduled to be seated in the Senate, but not too early to receive
his first assignment from his friend, Senator Timothy Shepard, who
had been asked to assist Washington’s Mayor Weightman’s Jubilee
of Independence Committee, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the
signing of the Declaration of Independence. Timothy quickly secured
“First things first,” Timothy began. “Congress commissioned four
paintings by John Trumball which will be hung in the Rotunda for the
celebration. The capstone of the celebration is his grand mural titled
The Declaration of Independence, depicting the five writers of the
declaration presenting the draft to their colleagues. Here’s a sketch.”
Jed studied the five images in the center of the sketch. The first
three were easily recognizable—Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, John
Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania—but
the last two required greater thought. “I’m embarrassed to say I can’t
remember these two members of the drafting committee, nor some
of the other signers.”
“Roger Sherman of Connecticut, and Robert Livingston of New
York, but I can’t name some of the signers anymore. I wonder if
future generations will learn their names and know the risk they
took when they mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their
Jed grew wistful at the thought. “So few of them are yet alive.”
“Charles Carroll is well, but Presidents Jefferson and Adams are
in failing health.”
“It’s remarkable to consider what that generation achieved in
fifty years, and yet the cost has been high. Two hundred and fifty
years ago the Indians roamed free in virgin forests and welcomed the
settlers. Now we are at war with them in many corners.”
“We fear them and they don’t trust us, often with good cause,”
“If only we could share the land and live in peace, but we each
have very different visions for America. It’s rumored Andrew Jackson
will relocate the Indians west if elected president. As much as I love
what we’re building here, I can’t feel good about that.”
“It was a primitive new world when the first settlers arrived, as
if God hid it in His hand for millennia for a special purpose. I think
His hand has ever been and still is over this land.”
“And what do you think His purpose is? Even the Founders
couldn’t agree on religion.”
“They differed on the details, but they all believed in Christ.
Religion was and is still evolving here since the break with Europe.
Perhaps they purposely kept the language vague in order to
accommodate what might yet be.”
“Like a visit from God?”
Timothy scowled at Jed. “What?”
Flushing red, Jed wished he could retract the comment. “Don’t
“No, tell me. Who claims to have been visited by God?”
“A young man named Joseph Smith. Hannah is quite taken with
“But you doubt him?”
Jed leaned back slightly. “Do you believe God would condescend
to come to earth and visit a young man today in response to a
Timothy pondered the question a moment. Jed watched his face
soften as he thought. “I don’t know, but if God wanted to do such
a thing, I think this is where He would choose to do it. Religion
needs freedom to flourish, Jed, and I believe God helped us establish
and preserve ours. Now He’s blessed us with a decade of relative
prosperity and peace. If He wanted to open the heavens and speak, I
think He would do it here, and this might be the time.”
* * *
Once again, thank you for sharing this post with your readers, Ranee! They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Laurie LC Lewis