Declaration of Independence

Bobbleheads Agree! Our New Paperbacks are Awesome!

Our new paperbacks came in the mail the other day, and I couldn’t wait to share them with our resident statesmen. Reminder: the books are out April 30, 2019, and you can pre-order them here.

People always ask what the books are about. Here’s the deal: 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence, 39 signed the U.S. Constitution. Our books offer pithy, often-hilarious mini-biographies about every single one of the men, from the famous ones to the most obscure.

Other cool factoids:

* So much of what people know about the Declaration Signers is based on folklore, exacerbated by the Internet about how much they suffered for our freedom. The truth is far more complex. (Example: None of the signers lost his life because he signed the Declaration of Independence.)

* The Signers of both documents are a hilarious mix of great men and scoundrels. A lot of the Signers ended up broke from bad land investments. Two signers of the constitution were outright embezzlers. One was such a crook Congress tried to arrest him—but he skipped town. So their stories are relevant today because they touch on subjects such as political corruption, sex scandals, or being “upside-down” on loans.

* The Signers were fallible men, like our politicians today. Rather than insist on revering them, it’s probably wiser to accept that "imperfect men created a more perfect union.” It is easier to relate to people who had real issues, real faults, and made real mistakes, yet were still part of an incredible moment in history.

* The documents we revere today grew out of debate and compromise. The Signers fought and argued constantly. The Constitution we regard as sacrosanct was viewed as suspect by many Americans in 1787, the year of its presentation to the American public. Modern Americans think that once the Revolutionary War was over, so were our troubles. Not true. The US was a fragile, brand-new country, with serious deficiencies that only a strong constitutional document could resolve.

* Most people can name about five famous signers for each document. For every Adams, Franklin, or Hancock, there’s a Hart, Morton, or Morris that most people have never heard of. History is often made by so many more people than those highlighted in the history books.

I know: The books sound awesome to buy, don’t they? Head on over to this page to pre-order online, or call my local bookstore for autographed copies.


Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your free ebook, go here. Thanks — Joseph D’Agnese

Pre-Order Now: Signing Their Lives / Rights Away!

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Just a quick and dirty reminder that paperback versions of two of our most popular books are out in just 15 days! We’d love to make as big a splash with them as we did when they first came out in hardcover, so please do pre-order them if you’re interested.

I’m pretty proud of this duo. We spent a good chunk of time last year revising both books with some new tidbits and details that came to light after the first series pubbed nearly a decade ago.

A reminder:

  • Signing Their Lives Away was the first in the series, and tells the true story of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence.

  • The later book, Signing Their Rights Away, tells the story of the 39 men who signed the Constitution. Both books are illustrated with portraits of the men.

In its review of the second book, The Wall Street Journal said:

“[The authors]...maintain a refreshing reverence for the Constitution itself. Rather than ask readers to believe that an ‘assembly of demigods’ (Jefferson’s words) wrote the Constitution, Ms. Kiernan and Mr. D’Agnese challenge the notion that the group that crafted this document of enduring genius was uniquely brilliant or visionary. If this raises the question of how exactly the miracle was accomplished, it should at least give readers some hope for our own seemingly uninspired political era.”

To which I respond: Yep. Pretty much. The amazing thing about both sets of signers is how they break down into the famous and the obscure. You have greats like Jefferson, John and Samuel Adams, Hancock, Ben Franklin and so on, and then you have men like John Morton or John Hart who signed the Declaration and went on to do very little else on the national stage.

And you have men like Gouverneur Morris, who wrote that beautiful preamble to the U.S. Constitution and who was a colorful figure in his lifetime—a playboy Casanova with a wooden leg!—but whom I venture to say most people have never heard of.

So that’s the breadth of these men. The bright, the clever, the unknowns—all cheek by jowl with absolute scoundrels, some of whom stole money from Congress or ended up in debtor’s prison thanks to their own greed or stupidity.

And they all founded the U.S. of A.

Both books were written with a good deal of humor, but I hope you can feel the reverence amid the irreverence.

Please do check them out. You can find all your buy options here. If you want autographed copies, please PHONE our local bookstore, Malaprops, and give them the specifics.

Just don’t expect me to sign with a quill pen.


Yes, I am trying to post here more often. Thank you for noticing. If you want to sign up for my newsletter and claim your free ebook, go here. Thanks — Joseph D’Agnese