Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness


‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness’ is the best-known phrase from the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents of the eighteenth century and the whole Enlightenment Age. Written by Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the text, it is frequently evoked today as a shorthand for that idea we call the ‘American Dream’. Rather than being uniquely American, the vision it encapsulates – of a free and happy world – owes a great deal to British thinkers too. Centred on the life of Benjamin Franklin, featuring figures like the cultural giant Samuel Johnson, the ground-breaking historian Catharine Macaulay, the firebrand politician John Wilkes and revolutionary activist Thomas Paine, this book looks at the generation that preceded the Declaration in 1776. It takes us back to a moment in the foundation of the West, a time full of intent, confidence and ideas.

In stock