Intelligence is attractive, but so is life experience. You can't amass it just by reading a ton of books. But you can live a lot of life in a short time. Travel. Talk to everyone. Collect adventures, and use them to understand the world. That's how you learn to treat people well. And that's sexy.
What these people were trying to create or re-create here in this new world is beyond me. I can't put myself in their minds or their hearts, but I can sympathize with their struggle for an identity, with their puzzlement, which has troubled Americans from the very beginning - Who are we, where do we fit in, where are we going?