Magazine July 27, 2020, Issue

America, Nation of Misfits

Luther Martin (Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
From Luther Martin to Bob Dylan

In a short, punchy biography, the writer Bill Kauffman hailed the Anti-Federalist Luther Martin as our “Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet.” The historian Clinton Rossiter designated Martin “an influential pricker of egos and consciences.” A farm boy who got a good education at the College of New Jersey (later Princeton) and became Maryland’s attorney general, Martin never internalized the inflated ambitions of his peers. According to the future chief justice Roger Taney, Martin showed “utter disregard of good taste and refinement in his dress and language and . . . manner of eating.” He was a serial small-debtor, forcing creditors to

This article appears as “A Nation of Misfits” in the July 27, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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