The Journal of William Thomas Emerson: A Revolutionary War Patriot, re-titled A True Patriot, is the first book in the My Name Is America series. It was written by Barry Denenberg and published in September 1998 by Scholastic. The book was republished in December 2012 under a new title.
- "This book is dedicated to Phillip J. Gomez and Alicia N. Gomez"
- "My Conversation with Mr. Wilson
Mr. Wilson said that it was most important not to tel anyone about our talk or anything that has to do about our talk or anything that has to do with the activities of the Committee.... He said that he has observed me carefully since I came to work at the tavern. He said he thought I was a boy who could be trusted.... He is aware that I can hear everything that goes on during the Tuesday night meetings and he knows that I have never betrayed him.... I asked him how he knew this and he laughed. "There is no need to go into details," he said. Certain things had been discussed at the meeting purely to test me. To see if I was a true patriot. He asked, "Are you ready for your first assignment, William Thomas Emerson?" "I am sir," I replied."
- ""War is just around the corner."
In the years leading up to 1776, the rumblings of rebellion are spreading throughout the colonies, and William Thomas Emerson finds himself in the midst of it. Orphaned by a fire that took his family, Will now works at a local Boston tavern, where he is drawn into a circle of rebels who seek freedom from British rule. Using his position at the tavern, Will gradually earns the trust of those loyal to the king, often overhearing their secrets and plans—information that's important to the rebels' cause. However, as the conflicts between the Boston colonialists and the British lobsterbacks escalate, Will is confronted with an impossible question: Which side is he really on? Struggling to decide how much he is willing to sacrifice for a revolution and his fellow citizens, Will must find his place in a divided country. In the pages of his journal, Will captures the patriotic spirit of his countrymen, the losses and victories of a revolution, and the beginning of a nation."
At the age of ten, William "Will" Emerson witnessed the deaths of his parents and younger sister after they were struck by a lightning bolt. William then lived with the Marsh family for two years. He eventually runs away and heads for Boston, after being beaten repeatedly by Mr. Marsh. Mr. Wilson picks Will off the side of the road and brings him to the Seven Stars Tavern, owned by Mrs. Thompson.
Mrs. Thompson allows William to stay, because she needs help around the tavern. William cleans, waits on the customers, takes care of Mrs. Thompson's infant daughter, Becca, and her dog, Queen George. Meanwhile, Mr. Wilson heads up a "Committee" with several local men to support the patriot cause and combat the British. He eventually trusts William enough to give him an assignment, helping a British soldier escape.
Days later, William follows a chimney sweep to a warehouse, where he sees Mr. Palmer. William, believing Mr. Palmer to be a spy, retrieves a letter that he left behind, which Mr. Wilson confirms to be a coded message from the Brits. That Winter, Mr. Wilson sets up a test for Mr. Palmer by leaving behind a "important" document for him to find. Mr. Palmer takes the bait, and William follows him to the harbor, where Mr. Palmer boards a ship called Viper.
Tensions rise, when Henry Moody, William's best friend, is badly beaten by a British soldier and dies a day later. Soon, Mr. Wilson sends William to follow Mr. Palmer to Roxbury. However, William is caught by a British soldier and runs away, after defending himself with a knife. The patriots begin to leave Boston, including Mr. Wilson and his friends, but William resolves to stay with Mrs. Thompson.
- Main article: List of A True Patriot characters
- William "Will" Thomas Emerson, a twelve-year-old orphan, who works at the Seven Stars Tavern in Boston, Massachusetts. He helps Mr. Wilson's resistance against the British.
- John Wilson, a writer and boarder at the Seven Stars Tavern. He is a patriot, who supports America's independence, and speaks out against the British.
- Main article: Barry Denenberg
Barry Denenberg (born in Brooklyn, New York) is an author of several non-fiction and historical fiction novels. Denenberg began writing biographies at the age of forty. He has written books for Dear America, My Name Is America, and The Royal Diaries. Denenberg is currently living in Bedford with his wife.
Denenberg read biographies of Thomas Jefferson and Sam Adams, while researching for this book. He had hoped to "bring the revolution to life by showing how it affected ordinary people and how they affected it."
- IRA Young Adults' Choices Reading List (2000)
- "The author would like to thank Chris Kearin and his fellow "book people" for their help."