As Americans celebrated Independence Day on Tuesday, “we tend to want to remember the ideal promised by the new nation: that the United States would be a place where high-minded people led virtuous citizens in a spirit of well-ordered liberty,” says Associate Lecturer of History David Head.
Thomas Paine and the Founding Fathers envisioned a noble and virtuous society, characterized by well-ordered liberty. However, not all of their contemporaries shared the same ideals. There were individuals like William Blount, Aaron Burr, and James Wilkinson who fought for independence from Britain but also pursued personal gain and ambition. Despite being denounced as scoundrels, these self-interested men played significant roles in shaping the United States. Their stories provide a fuller understanding of the founding era we celebrate each Independence Day.