life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

I had just finished reading David McCullough’s John Adams when I began my Jane Austen journey and was always a bit intrigued by the fact the biographies of the iconic author and the history of Adams began the same way. December 1775.

John Adams left his home in that month and year to attend the second continental congress in Philadelphia. It may not have been the actual shot heard round the world (that being the musket fire at Concord) but the result of that convention was most definitely heard round the world.

At the same time across the Atlantic in the English countryside a baby girl was born at Steventon Rectory. Her cry may have only been heard by those in the house but in the years to come her pen would have an impact on the world to match Thomas Jefferson’s.

It may seem a stretch and some may even consider it a trivialization of Jefferson’s words but I believe that Austen’s impact on the world is no less important than Jefferson’s. The effect of Jane’s writing maybe more subtle than that of the Virginian and Thomas Paine but it is no less influential.

Jefferson’s and Paine’s words instigated and promoted a revolution, a war of independence. Jane’s words had no such excessive consequence. Still in her own, quiet, genteel yet powerful way she declared and promoted the same principles of freedom and self-regulation as our American forefathers.

In all her novels Jane advocates independence of person and thought, the rights of all and acceptance of responsibility of those rights and actions.

Jane Austen may not have incited military actions as Jefferson did but even as an avowed royalist I doubt not that Jane Austen firmly believed in his declaration of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.







7 thoughts on “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

  1. Maria Grazia says:

    Happy Independence Day! I’ve posted a link to this post on Twitter and Facebook :-)

  2. It’s so easy when reading Austen’s novels to forget what was happening in the rest of the world. She barely even mentions the war with Bonaparte which had significant ramifications even on country society. I tend to forget that she also lived through the French revolution and how fundamental the questions of independence and equality would have been to her. Thanks for a thought-provoking post.

    • That she is still so popular after all these years is a testament to her wrtings. as they are constantly being redone in films and on television. Also other authors (such as yourself) write stories about her and mix fact with fiction! Never really compared her to other historical figures
      which is intriguing. I enjoy reading stories from that period and the customs and social status of the people during that time.

  3. In both “Christmas at Pemberley” and “The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy,” the reader finds Colonel Fitzwilliam has served on both the American continent and the European front. As a descendant of Thomas Jefferson, it seemed only appropriate to bring the American issues into an Austen story line. Yet, Abigail is correct. In Austen’s “compacted” setting, we sometimes forget how the world was in turmoil.

  4. Suzeja says:

    Happy Independence Day, interesting connection between JA and JA.. Some initial’s.. Interesting

  5. Linda Wells says:

    It only makes sense that Jane Austen’s writing would be impacted by the world around her. It may not necessarily be what was happening in the United States, but certainly as an interested observer of people, she would see how times were changing and let her characters give voice to hopes that she might hold for the future.

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