By Martin O'Connor
Whole biographies of all forty nine brave aces of the twin Monarchy.
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While New England was a region of small towns and farms, the South was dominated by large plantations. The middle colonies, particularly the commercial centers of New York and Philadelphia, were relatively densely populated places of enormous racial and ethnic diversity. Yet such diﬀerences were ultimately less important than some crucial similarities. Though not universal, Protestant religion was one. The English language was another. The most important similarity of all, though, is that these were among the most lightly governed people on earth.
Once a form of distraction or comfort while awaiting the implacable hand of fate, becoming healthy, wealthy, and wise had gone beyond an instrument of salvation into being a practical end in its own right. This emphasissome might say maniafor self-improvement, cut loose from its original Calvinist moorings, remains a recognizable trait in the American character and Dream of the Good Life (I): The Puritan Enterprise is considered an indispensable means for the achievement of any American Dream.
Yet it is also true that some of the most important reforms in American life, from the end of slavery to the creation of the nation’s great universities, derived from conceptions of community and morality central to the Puritan worldview. In the Puritans one could ﬁnd refuge in the faith that one of the most important things that makes us humanthe capacity for ideasmight actually be a basis for living one’s life, not as a matter of brute self-interest or of self-abnegation from worldly concerns but rather as a possibility that one can simultaneously be intellectually and emotionally engaged with contemporary life even as one always remembers that something lies beyond it.