American ideals of heroism have been historically inseparable from ideals of masculinity. While heroism has been tied to such masculine ideals as gallantry, chivalry, nobility, and courage, the basis of American notions of both heroism and manliness has been a tension between virtuous devotion to a higher cause and the quest for personal achievement. Various heroic types have emerged and captivated the American imagination.

The earliest model of heroic masculinity in American culture was the patriotic citizen-soldier. Emerging at the time of the American Revolution, this figure embodied ideals of republican citizenship, particularly fraternalism, public virtue, and self-sacrifice on behalf of a national cause. But in a society already beginning to embrace a liberal-democratic commitment to individual liberty, the public spiritedness of the youthful soldier-patriot set ...

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