What ultimately convinced Americans that they must revolt in 1776 was not that they were naturally and inevitably republican, for if that were truly the case evolution, not revolution, would have been the eventual solution. Rather it was the pervasive fear that they were not predestined to be a virtuous and egalitarian people that in the last analysis drove them into revolution in 1776. It was this fear and not their confidence in the peculiarity of their character that made them so readily and so remarkably responsive to Thomas Paine’s warning that the time for independence was at hand and that delay would be disastrous. By 1776 it had become increasingly evident that if they were to remain the kind of people they wanted to be they must become free of Britain.
Soldier, politician, New York governor, vice president under Jefferson and Madison; 1739—1812.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, vice president under Madison; 1744—1814.
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Lawyer, orator, Virginia governor; 1736—99.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, CT governor; 1731—96.
Lawyer, diplomat, Continental congressman, first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; 1745—1829.
Lawyer, architect, drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Virginia governor, diplomat, third President, founder of the University of Virginia; 1743—1826.
”Light Horse Harry”; Continental Army officer, Virginia governor; 1756—1818.
Soldier, lawyer, Virginia governor, diplomat, Secretary of State, Secretary of War, fifth President; 1758—1831.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
The Creation of the American Republic, 1776—1787 (1969)