Welcome to Wednesday Writers. Today’s guest is Lynne Tagawa. Lynne will be talking about the historical characters that were part of the inspiration for her newest release The Heart of Courage. Welcome, Lynne!
Who doesn’t love Thomas Jefferson? When I started plotting my recent release, The Heart of Courage, I plotted to include this man. But unlike George Washington, who also has a cameo part in this story, he doesn’t actually have a role in the French and Indian War.
He was too young. He was in school at the time, first under a tutor, then at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, where part of my story takes place. But my story is the second part of a trilogy ending with the American Revolution. There are ideas I wanted to foreshadow in this book that would only be fully realized in the next. And then there’s the whole struggle for religious liberty, taking place over the whole of the 18th century and finally culminating with both the Bill of Rights and the Virginia Statute of Religious Liberty of 1786.
Thomas Jefferson wrote that second document, and thought it his greatest lifetime achievement.
You see, “dissenters” were harassed and persecuted to some degree until this time in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Pennsylvania and Rhode Island were notable safe havens for all denominations, but they were the exception, not the rule. In Virginia, Presbyterian and Baptist ministers needed a license to preach, and everyone owed tithe to the Church of England, the official or “established” church. Baptists in particular weren’t too tractable. Given the way folks were spread out, especially in the backcountry, dissenting ministers took to the saddle and sometimes preached outside their jurisdictions.
Some were fined or jailed. Others were threatened or beaten by mobs. I included both scenarios in Courage. Patrick Henry was incensed that a man could be charged with the “crime” of preaching the gospel, and he appears briefly in the book.
Thomas Jefferson was also a Virginian, and I wondered how his thinking developed on this issue. He was (as far as we can tell) not a Christian, but rather some form of deist. He seemed to esteem His Creator as such, and like others of his day, upheld moral virtue. I suspect that not only was he troubled like his friend Patrick Henry, he probably also desired religious liberty for his own sake. He was, after all, a free-thinker.
In Courage, I introduce young Thomas as a lanky adolescent, then a couple of years later he appears as a student at the College. But I had to fudge a little—he was born in 1743, so I made him a few years older than he would have been, so he could escort my character Susanna to the governor’s gala!
The Heart of Courage
By Lynne Tagawa
It’s 1753, and troubling news comes to Russell’s Ridge . . .
Susanna Russell longs to escape her valley home. When war breaks out, she gets her wish to study in fabulous Williamsburg. But she realizes she’s lost something important along the way. Something—and someone.
James Paxton is studying for the ministry. But when violence threatens the valley, his path becomes clouded. What is God’s will for his life? The answer is alarming—and impossible.
Red Hawk spies white surveyors near his home, a harbinger of trouble to come. Shawnee chiefs go to Philadelphia to treat for peace, but the unthinkable happens, and Red Hawk loses all he once held dear. Then he has a strange dream. What can it mean?
War, romance, and gospel truth unite in this remarkable sequel to The Shenandoah Road.
Tom crooked his arm in invitation, and she accompanied him outside where two vehicles waited, one looming large in the moonlight, the Randolphs’ coach; the other only a riding chair pulled by a single horse.
“I apologize. I have no grand carriage. Only my friend’s riding chair—rather chilly in winter, but I have a lap blanket.”
She gathered her skirts and stepped up inside. “The moonlight is grand, Mr. Jefferson. See how the snow and ice twinkles?” They sat close together in the tiny open carriage, but she didn’t mind. The remnants of the snowstorm were ugly in daytime, mixed with the soot of many fires and the mud and manure of the road, but the filth was cloaked by the evening darkness, giving rise to a fairy-like landscape. Above them, stars were scattered like silver dust across the darkened canvas of the sky.
Tom urged the horse to a brisk walk. “I should have known a valley lass would not consider creature comforts.”
She settled back. Tom was easy to be around. “How are your studies faring?”
“My mathematics professor is a gem.”
“Mathematics? You jest.”
Tom waxed eloquent about the subject until they reached Palace Street. He reined the horse right. “I have heard this professor is in accord with Montesquieu with regard to religion.”
He replied in French. “Montesquieu says all forms of religion should be equally tolerated under the law.”
Interesting thought. “My father pays tithe to the Church of England though he worships elsewhere.” Everyone in Virginia did. It was the law.
“I have heard of Baptists beaten for their faith.” He shifted to English. “Susanna, your French is better than mine. Who is your tutor? You sound like a Frenchwoman.”
They were approaching the Governor’s Palace, illuminated windows looming high above street level. “A painter’s apprentice, actually. His maman was born in France.”
Tom glanced at her but made no reply.
Susanna’s heart quickened as she studied the grand building. Was Philippe already here?
About the Author:
Lynne Tagawa is an author, editor, educator, and best of all, grandma to four. She loves to write quality fiction with solid gospel content. Her debut novel, A Twisted Strand, is contemporary romantic suspense, but she thinks she’s found her true home in historical fiction.