One-third of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence were not of English stock. Eight were first-generation immigrants. It was in recognition of the mixed European background of so many Americans that John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson proposed that the seal of the United States bear the national emblems of France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, and England, thus “pointing out the countries from which these States have been peopled.”
Many came, as Thomas Paine stated, in search of asylum. But they also came with an intent to preserve and refresh aspects of life in their homelands.
In 1776, Europe boasted a rich civilization, alive with dynamic ideas, flourishing arts, and promising concepts in science. The foundations of industry and business were established, and social reforms were being undertaken, which Europeans took with them as they colonized and traded. They had come in contact with Eastern civilizations, above all, China. Here, from award-winning historian Marshall B. Davidson, is the story of the world of 1776.