The American who emerges from these pages is already - as St. John de Crevecoeur wrote at the time - a new man. He is independent; he is impatient of discipline; he hopelessly mixes up military, economic and social activities. He is equalitarian, and has little patience with those who claim to be his superiors. He is ambitious and avaricious, and much given to speculation and to getting ahead. He is literate, takes an active part in the business of politics, and carries into camp the habits of self-government. He does not like fighting for its own sake, but fights well when he has to; he has little use for the military hierarchy, and bucks like a colt against taking orders.
He is ingenious and practical; prefers a stone wall to an open field, and a timely retreat to a foolhardy advance. He is young and tough, survives hardships and diseases that would wipe out his more vulnerable descendants; he lives simply and unaffectedly. He is on the whole cheerful and good-humored, decent and honest; commits few crimes against person (unless they are Indians [native Americans in this context - Ed.]) and, unless our sources deceive us by prudish silence, has a relatively high standard of sexual morality. He is vaguely religious, and already certain that there is a benign Providence whose chief concern is with him and his country.
~ Introduction, The Spirit of 'Seventy-Six, Commager and Morris, referring to writings, letters and pamphlets of the pre-Revolutionary War period.
Remarkably similar, in many respects, to contemporary conservative Americans, although an unbiased observer might also note that they were ahead of us in a couple of areas. Certainly they endured hardship that most of us would not like to face.
They were also familiar with the classic writings, popular during the Age of Enlightenment, about
life, liberty (the real thing, not the cliche' that it has become in modern parlance), and self-governance. Those who were paying attention weren't about to endure any further depredation from a distant king.
They resolved that the interference from an uncaring, nearly-foreign government was insufferable, and that they would do whatever it took, to remove the shackles (as they perceived them) and govern themselves.
Meanwhile, in 21st Century America, many of the sheeple don't even realize they're carrying a ponderous chain of restrictions, with links forged little by little, over a long period of time (and with apologies to Charles Dickens for the inevitable comparison).
We have a chance, perhaps just this one last chance, to cast some of the weight off, and turn some things around. As with any great undertaking, it will take resolve, and strength of character. And it won't happen all at once. There will likely be push-back from the entitlement class, as well as government workers who feel their high-paying jobs are threatened.
What say you?