I am currently enjoying a biography on John Adams entitled "A Party of One." The theme is how Adams, despite being a fairly devout Whig, was not afraid to do his own thing and follow his principals, despite public opinion perhaps weighing against him. For example, he successfully defended the British officers charged in the Boston Massacre. Not that he wasn't a Revolutionary - he actually did tons of the dirty work (the paperwork and legal stuff) that helped pull off the Revolution. However, he felt the officers were being railroaded and that they were merely acting in self defense.
One of the underlying themes of the book is that Adams was a pretty serious guy, with Puritan values grounded in hard work. And while Franklin, Hancock, and even Couzin Sam may be more celebrated, John Adams' nose to the grindstone approach, along with his intelligence and truly Revolutionary spirit, helped get a lot done.
As I may have mentioned, I remain fascinated by the Founding Fathers of our Country. These were mostly well-to-do men (except for maybe Sam Adams, who was a rabble rousing radical), who risked everything to make this revolution succeed. Perhaps, they were just keen enough to sense that the American people were pushing toward a Revolution and smart enough to get in front of it, so as not to be swept under- but nonetheless, there were great risks involved and the Revolutionaries managed to triumph over one of the greatest powers in the world at the time.
It was a great upset, which today, I think still resonates in Americans habit of cheering for "the underdog" in a sports match. Which, of course, brings us to Iraq.... I'll let you draw your own parallels or paradoxicals, if you will