McCullough makes clear that there was a vitality in action to the year that made it so defining for the Revolution. One theme that is linked to this is how the Colonists seized the moment the year 1776 presented as their own. From the meeting in Philadelphia of the Second Continental Congress in which the declaration of "these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states" was made to victories on the battlefield at Trenton and Princeton, the Colonists did not fail to grasp the moment that the year provided them in catapulting them to victory.
Another theme that is developed is the strength of individual leadership. Men like Washington and Greene were vital in the Colonists' success because they were able to capture the imagination and will of Colonial fighters. Given the immense difficulty of the task in front of them, it would have been unilkely that any other nondescript leader would do. McCullough makes it clear that the American Revolution fared so well for the Colonists because they havd the dynamic leadership quality that inspired soldiers who fought for the cause. For McCullough, “often circumstance, storms, contrary winds, [and] the oddities or strengths of individual character had made the difference.” The development of these themes are vital to the narrative laid out for the reader.