The person who to me most matches the description of a true patriot, whose life was a a real "profile in courage", is founding father of the American republic John Adams of Massachusetts. He was well spoken, humorous, radical when necessary, sensible and prudent when required, brave, honorable and dogged in his pursuit of truth.
I haven't yet seen the HBO miniseries on the august gentleman's life and times, but it is on my summer DVD list, and I strongly recommend it on the strength of all the great reviews it received, to any and all history buffs and anyone interestedin learning more about this great American patriot. Also this biography by David McCullough for the in depth account. McCullough writes that John Adams was "not a man of the world" and not fond of politics; it strikes me that perhaps if more of our leaders displayed these most admirable qualities we should have more of them of Adam's caliber.
Quotes from Adams:
"In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress."
"There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty."
"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
" There is something very unnatural and odious in a government a thousand leagues off. A whole government of our own choice, managed by persons whom we love, revere, and can confide in, has charms in it for which men will fight."
"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution. "
"As to the history of the revolution, my ideas may be peculiar, perhaps singular. What do we mean by the Revolution? The war? That was no part of the revolution; it was only an effect and consequence of it. The revolution was in the minds of the people, and this was effected from 1760 - 1775, in the course of fifteen years, before a drop of blood was shed at Lexington."
"Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers. "
"Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it. "
Happy Independence Day!