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.
Political philosopher, Boston revolutionary leader, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1722—1803.
Boston merchant, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Massachusetts governor; 1737—93.
Lawyer, politician, Boston revolutionary; 1725—83.
Artisan, Boston revolutionary, militia soldier, foundryman; 1735—1818.
Boston doctor, revolutionary, militia general; died at the Battle of Bunker Hill; 1741—75.
Playwright, historian, sister of James Otis, Jr, wife of James Warren; 1728—1814.
The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States (2011)