Rousseau had identified the driving force in all political activity as something he called “the imagination.” This was what he believed “transported” people out of themselves and empowered them to act on behalf of others. The [revolutionary] events in the Netherlands, in Switzerland and in Poland [in the 1780s] were instances of imagination run wild, but not quite in the sense he meant. The protagonists in these events were inspired more by blind faith in the power of their own will, and this was the enduring legacy of the American revolution.
—Adam Zamoyski, Holy Madness: Romantics, Patriots, and Revolutionaries, 1776–1871



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