The Americans were political revolutionaries but not ethical revolutionaries.
Whatever their partial (and largely implicit) acceptance of the principle of
ethical egoism, they remained explicitly within the standard European
tradition, avowing their primary allegiance to a moral code stressing
philanthropic service and social duty. Such was the American conflict: an
impassioned politics presupposing one kind of ethics, within a cultural
atmosphere professing the sublimity of an opposite kind of ethics.