The Revolutionary leaders never intended to create an original and peculiar indigenous culture. Despite all their talk of American exceptionalism and American virtue in contrast with European corruption, they were seeking not to cut themselves off from Europe’s cultural heritage but to embrace it and in fact to fulfill it. It is a mistake to view America’s post-Revolutionary emulation of Europe as a legacy of helpless dependence passed on from colonial days. Americans imitated European styles and forms not because in their naïveté they could nothing else but because they wanted to.... Their revolution was very much an international affair, an attempt to fulfill the cosmopolitan dreams of the Enlightenment.
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.
Signer of the Declaration of Independence, vice president under Madison; 1744—1814.
Washington’s aide-de-camp, lawyer, contributor to the Federalist Papers, Secretary of the Treasury; 1755/1757—1804.
Lawyer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, CT governor; 1731—96.
Constitutionalist, congressman, Secretary of State, fourth President; 1751—1836.
Politician, author, political philosopher, Anti-Federalist; 1725—92.
Merchant, financier; helped draft then stylized the Constitution; 1752—1816.
Soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention, congressman, South Carolina governor, senator; 1757—1824.
Lawyer, soldier, delegate to the Constitutional Convention; 1746—1825.
Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009)