A highly recommended article on what set American apart from Myron Magnet in the City Journal.
A key reason the [American] revolution succeeded was its strictly limited scope. The Founders sought only liberty, not equality or fraternity. They aimed to make a political revolution, not a social or an economic one. Their Lockean social-contract political philosophy taught them that the preservation of individual liberty was the goal of politics. Its basis was the surrender of a portion of man’s original, natural freedom to a government that would protect the large remainder of it better than any individual could do on his own—the freedom to make your own fate and think your own thoughts without fear of bodily harm, unjust imprisonment, or robbery