The first English settlers of North America knew they were making history. New Englanders in particular were so sure of it that they started writing their own accounts of themselves as soon as they got here.
It was not necessary and might even have been disadvantageous for a government to claim a direct personal commission and communion of the kind God had given some rulers in the Old Testament. A working government might need the support of the Church but not of God Himself in a voice from on high.
Apart from the intrinsic interest of the complex system of beliefs the Puritans carried with them, their lives give a clue to what it meant at the beginning to be American. And the level of scholarship dealing with them has reached a point where it can address the human condition itself.
The famous convention of 1787 met in Philadelphia to define the additional powers needed to enable Congress to do its job effectively. Instead, the convention proposed a brand new national government.
By 1892, enlightenment had progressed to the point where the Salem trials were simply an embarrassing blot on the history of New England. They were a part of the past that was best forgotten: a reminder of how far the human race had come in two centuries.
Franklin was the best known of the Founding Fathers. His death could not go without some sort of official notice. The House of Representatives, after listening to a brief tribute by James Madison, voted to wear badges of mourning for two months and then got on with business.
To make a successful film from a successful play is probably much more difficult than making one from scratch, just as any carpenter will tell you that it is more difficult to restore an old house than to build a comparable new one.
Washington presided at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and is often credited with its success. But he had no known part in drafting its provisions.
The men and women who occupied the east coast of North America between 1607 and 1800 have been more closely scrutinized than any other collection of people in American history.
There is something about guns that inhibits understanding. It is not just that they can put an end to argument. They somehow generate beliefs that are obviously contrary to observable fact.