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447 pages, Paperback
First published January 14, 1992
The revolutionary generation was the most cosmopolitan of any in American history. The revolutionary leaders never intended to make a national revolution in any modern sense. They were patriots, to be sure, but they were not obsessed, as were later generations, with the unique character of America or with separating America from the course of Western civilization. As yet there was no sense that loyalty to one's state or country was incompatible with such cosmopolitanism.(p. 222)
At the time of the Revolution most of the founding fathers had not put much emotional stock in religion, even when they were regular churchgoers. As enlightened gentlemen, they abhorred "that gloomy superstition disseminated by ignorant illiberal preachers" and looked forward to the day when "the phantom of darkness will be dispelled by the rays of science, and the bright charms of rising civilization." At best, most of the revolutionary gentry only passively believed in organized Christianity and, at worst, privately scorned and ridiculed it. Jefferson hated orthodox clergymen, and he repeatedly denounced the "priestcraft" for having converted Christianity into "an engine for enslaving mankind, ...into a mere contrivance to filch wealth and power to themselves." Although few of them were outright deists, most like David Ramsay described the Christian church as "the best temple of reason." Even puritanical John Adams thought that the argument for Christ's divinity was an "awful blasphemy" in this new enlightened age. When Hamilton was asked why the members of the Philadelphia Convention had not recognized God in the Constitution, he allegedly replied, speaking for many of his liberal colleagues, "We forgot."(p. 330)