The long, swift rise of America to absolute preeminence in the world began in the obscure skirmishing of settlers, traders, natives, adventurers, and French and British (and some Spanish) soldiers and militiamen, more or less uniformed, in what is today the western parts of eastern seaboard states of the United States. Surges of idealism and desperation had propelled Quakers, Puritans, organized groups of Roman Catholics, more exotic non-conformists, and the routinely disaffected and abnormally adventurous to strike out for the New World. There was, with most, some notion of ultimately building a better society than those from which they had decamped. There was little thought, until well into the eighteenth century, of constructing there a political society that would influence the world. And there was almost no thought, until near the end of that century, that there would arise in America a country that would in physical and demographic strength, as well as moral example, lead the whole world.
- From Flight of the Eagle: The Grand Strategies That Brought America from Colonial Dependence to World Leadership by Conrad Black