You all know I'm a total history dork. It's not dry facts to me - it's life. When we climbed around on the USS Constellation, I was feeling the heaving waves, hearing the screams and shouts and booming cannon of a pitched battle at sea. Likewise, in Colonial Williamsburg I tried to imagine living in a fledgling colony. It was a comparatively well-to-do city by the time of the American Revolution. I'm guessing that it was a hard but generally good life... unless (of course) you were enslaved.
I just finished reading 1776 and loved getting to know General George Washington as a man. The more famous paintings of our Founding Fathers were done late in their lives, but forget the aged, severe geezers we know from school. Mssrs. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, etc were virile young men during the rabble-rousing that led to the birth of America. Take a peek at George in 1774 as captured by Charles Wilson Peale. By all accounts, our first Commander-in-Chief was superbly athletic, charming, and cut a dashing figure at horse. "Founding Father," yeah... more like "Who's your Daddy?!"