If history teaches anything it is that religious freedom isn’t always free and some men and women must risk all to preserve it.
That was the case for Robert Aitken, who defied King George III, discounted the danger of the hangman’s noose, hid from patrols of British soldiers searching him out, and sacrificed his own fortune to illegally print Bibles badly needed by America’s revolutionary troops.
His indeed was “A Cause Most Splendid,” the title of my new book which has been named Best Fiction of the Year by the American Family Association.
The genre “fiction” can be oblique. Indeed, A Cause Most Splendid: The Battle for the Bible is more fact than some of the “non-fiction” books sold at your favorite bookstore. Do you think you can trust any politician, actor, performer’s “autobiography” to be totally factual?
The basic story in A Cause is true. That’s what makes it special: that one man and his family would run straight ahead into danger in order to share God’s word. The Royal Family owned the copyright to the Bible and had hanged people for breaking that law.
Many of the characters were real, walking, talking, living, loving people. Well, some of those British soldiers hunting down the heroes and heroines were darn hateful.
My intrepid lead researcher Loy and I dug and dug for historical details to fill in “blanks” in the narrative.
Yes, Congress whole-heartedly wanted Aitken — the publisher of the Congressional Journal and Thomas Paine’s Common Sense — to publish Bibles for troops and families, but didn’t have the money and declared the necessary special materials weren’t to be found in America.
Yet, Aitken in 1777 did indeed print the first Bibles created in America. So how did he finance the printing, where did he get the materials, and where did he print them when the British were so adamant to stop the printing?
I worked out a scenario that answered — you might say “solved” — the problems. Another author might write it differently. Just as another biographer might write about John Adams contrary to David McCullough’s version. The differences between one author’s thinking and another’s can turn nuances into chasms. A liberal author versus a conservative. A person who grew up in a democracy versus communism. A child versus an adult.
However you want to categorize A Cause Most Splendid, I do hope you enjoy the read. I’m sure you never before have heard about it.