I have been focusing on Old America in the mid-20th century because that was the apogee of her creativity and power. It is important to understand that getting to that pinnacle was a process that had it’s beginnings before the founding of the country, before the Constitution and the Revolutionary War. Old America was founded on the ideas of the Enlightenment, and the men who led the fight for independence and the subsequent work of establishing a new country were educated in those ideas.
Let’s start this with a man you likely have never heard of. His name was Abraham Alfonse Albert Gallatin. He was born in Switzerland and came to Old America in 1780 when the American Revolution was still underway. He was educated in Europe, studied philosophy and the Enlightenment (there it is again), and believed in the rights of the individual. He was politically active. Elected to the Senate, then the House of Representatives, and served as the Secretary of the Treasury longer than anyone in history. He was involved in politics at a pivotal time in the early years of the United States, and this post cannot begin to cover his vision and accomplishments. The Wiki article is a start and the Park Service article about his life is worth reading. His home is a Park Service museum now.
What prompted this post was a quote by Albert Gallatin that speaks volumes about him and the times in which he lived.
The whole of the Bill [of Rights] is a declaration of the right of the people at large or considered as individuals… It establishes some rights of the individual as unalienable and which consequently, no majority has a right to deprive them of.
— Albert Gallatin, Oct 7 1789
Unalienable rights. Rights no majority can deprive a individual of. There’s an idea to found a country on.