The Federalists of the 1780s had a glimpse of what America was to become — a scrambling business society dominated by the pecuniary interests of ordinary people — and they did not like what they saw. This premonition of America’s future lay behind their sense of crisis and their horrified hyperbolic rhetoric. The wholesale pursuits of private interest and private luxury were, they thought, undermining America’s capacity for republican government. They designed the Constitution in order to save American republicanism from the deadly effects of the private pursuits of happiness.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat, second President; 1735—1826.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence from Maryland, senator; 1737—1832.
Lawyer, politician, writer, militia officer, signer of the Declaration of Independence; 1732—1808.
Philadelphia printer, writer, scientist, inventor, signer of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat to France; 1706—90.
Washington’s aide-de-camp, lawyer, contributor to the Federalist Papers, Secretary of the Treasury; 1755/1757—1804.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Constitutionalist, congressman, Secretary of State, fourth President; 1751—1836.
Soldier, lawyer, politician, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1755—1835.
Merchant, financier; helped draft then stylized the Constitution; 1752—1816.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, “Financier of the Revolution”; 1734—1806.
The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States (2011)