Virtuous Republic
In the post-war years, Americans were rightly proud of their wartime accomplishments, and proud of the new republic they had created. In defeating Great Britain and gaining their independence, Americans felt that they had also defeated a corrupt, European set of social, artistic and political values. They were very conscious of the need to build the new republic on a new set of values in which virtue would be the guiding principle.

The example of George Washington resigning from the army and returning, like the Roman leader Cincinnatus, to his farm was perhaps the most notable display of the values of this virtuous society. Washington's life in general became a shining example of proper behavior in the new republic with the publication, in 1800, of the Life of Washington, by Parson Weems. It was here that first appeared the story of young George confessing to chopping down his father's cherry tree.