One of the key components of Seven Thunders is its connection to the War of 1812.
As American wars go, there are more obscure wars than this one, but I'm still surprised that it's viewed as insignificant, even though it was basically the second war for independence. True, independence was won the first time, but the revolutions of the 18th century drastically affected world affairs of the 19th, including the ongoing conflicts between England and France. Contrary to how American/English relations seem to have been friendly since forever today (probably best traced to WWII and the epic courtship of Roosevelt by Churchill), they weren't exactly on the best of terms early on. Madison asked for war because the British were constantly disrespecting American maritime rights.
That's the biggest connection between Seven Thunders and the War of 1812, the thing that runs between the brothers at the heart of the story. One brother is impressed into service with the Danab, and the other spends the story trying to get him back.
Now, there are other elements and connections that I could discuss, more details that I only figured out after long years of development (remember that I've said it's a story fifteen years in the making), but I'd prefer to keep those to first readings (though you never know).
The War of 1812, celebrating its bicentennial this year (naturally, but to little public recognition), was just as controversial in its day as the Iraq War and even the Vietnam War are today. That may be why so few people bother to think about it. I happen to have a high opinion of James Madison, so that's one of the reasons I think about it.
Among the famous trivia of the war include Francis Scott Key's composition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and the burning of the White House, not to mention Andrew Jackson's post-war Florida military victory that propelled him to the presidency (over John Quincy Adams, another of my underdog favorites) and America's last effort to add Canada to the country (which is what caused the burning of the White House).
Without the War of 1812, it's doubtful that we'd be an international presence today. It was a crucial time. It was the second generation of the country, when it was time to prove whether the Founding Fathers had created something enduring or that would fall apart. It's an irony that Madison was part of both generations, and was probably considered a part of the mistakes that would eventually lead to the Civil War, and that without the war that was cause for such debate, the necessary galvanization of the second generation would never take place. There was a string of mediocrity that would eventually lead to Lincoln, but Madison wasn't part of it.
Part of what distinguishes Seven Thunders for me is that it attempts to tell exactly that story, but in a way that perhaps explains things better. It is not the War of 1812 transposed into a space opera, but that would not be a bad way of looking at it.