“Unfortunately for Britain- and fortunately for America the generation that emerged to lead the colonies into independence was one of the most remarkable group of men in history-sensible, broad-minded, courageous, usually well educated, gifted in a variety of ways, and long-sighted, sometimes lit by flashes of genius.  It is rare indeed for a nation to have at its summit a group so variously gifted as Washington and Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Adams. And what was particularly providential was the way in which their strengths and weaknesses compensated each other, so that the group as a whole was infinitely more formidable that the sum of its parts. They were the Enlightenment made flesh, but an Enlightenment shorn of its vitiating French intellectual weaknesses of dogmatism, anti-clericalism, moral chaos, and an excessive trust in logic, and buttressed by the English virtues of pragmatism, fair-mindedness, and honorable loyalty to each other. Moreover, behind this front rank was a second, and indeed a third, of solid, sensible, able men capable of rising to a great occasion.  In personal qualities, there was a difference as deep as the Atlantic between the men who led America and Britain during those years, and it told from first to last.  Great events in history are determined by all kinds of factors, but the most important single one is always the quality of the people in charge; and never was this principle more convincingly demonstrated than in the struggle for American Independence.”

from A History of the American People by Paul Johnson – Harper Collins 1997