Israel Potter, a wanderer. Brought up in the rugged New England hills and immersed in their austere virtues, he quarrels with his father and leaves home. He wanders about, the innocent American, for fifty years, and in the course of his many adventures, he becomes the spokesman through whom the author satirizes various ideas and institutions, among them war, patriotism, and so-called civilized behavior.
King George III
King George III, whom Israel Potter meets in London. The mad king, realizing that Israel is an American, is ineffectually kind to him after the many snubs Israel has received because of his nationality.
Squire Woodcock, a secret friend of America who befriends Israel Potter and sends him on a mission to Benjamin Franklin.
Benjamin Franklin, who gives Israel Potter lessons in proper behavior based on maxims from Poor Richard’s Almanack. The lessons, carefully learned, are quickly forgotten.
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones, with whom Israel Potter engages in piracy and in the sea fight between the Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis.
The earl of Selkirk
The earl of Selkirk, whose home is plundered by the pirate companions of Israel Potter and John Paul Jones. After receiving a large sum of money from another exploit, the two captains buy back and return the earl’s possessions.
Ethan Allen, whom Israel Potter tries unsuccessfully to help escape from England.