The musket, always a muzzleloader, took minutes to reload; an archer could aim and fire up to a dozen arrows in a minute. Muskets required continual cleaning and repair; bows were quickly made and easily maintained.
Between 1776 and 1789, Americans replaced a government over them with a government under them. They have worried ever since about keeping it under. Distrust of its powers has been more common and more visible than distrust of the imperial authority of England ever was before the Revolution.
Americans, perhaps more than most people, have pondered the question of who they are and what their country is.
No one escapes from the past without bearing some of its burdens.
The preoccupation of American historical and literary scholars with the New England Puritans must seem to outsiders like an obsession.
The American world had – seemingly, at least – become a Jeffersonian world by the election of 1800, which placed Thomas Jefferson in the presidency. Jefferson had been Hamilton’s rival in the new government’s early years, and Hamilton has figured in the public memory almost as much for that rivalry as for his positive achievements.
It is hard for anyone who discovers George Washington not to write about him, perhaps because he is so hard to discover and such a surprise when you do.
In France, where Franklin had lived from 1776 to 1785, he had won an extraordinary place in the public mind. The French had lionized him to the point of absurdity – or so at least his colleagues in the American mission thought.
Throughout his long career, Washington earned the adulation not merely of ordinary people but of the other luminaries whom we now hail as ‘founding fathers.’
Everybody knows that Alexander Hamilton was a founding father of the United States, a young father to be sure: only thirty at the time of the Constitutional Convention and just turned thirty-eight when he left behind his brilliant career as Secretary of the Treasury.