With all those guns and scandals popping off every time you turn around, it's not easy to keep a bead on the activities of the U.S. Bicentennial Society, of which Virginius Dabney is chairman and which is marking this nation's 200th birthday ""by authorizing the issuance of tasteful objects of artistic and historic significance. . . ."" This, then, is one of those tasteful objects, being comprised of fifty thin (500-700 words) hagiographies of Revolutionary heroes accompanied by portrait illustrations. Henry Steele Commager, a trustee of the Society along with thespian Gregory Peck and needlepointillist Erica Wilson, provides an introduction of high patriotic sentiment, as well as contributing profiles of Joel Barlow, John Hancock, Tom Paine and Noah Webster. Other historians in evidence: Morison, Catton, Foote and Flexnet. Alistair Cooke is a bit more stylish than the run of this bowdlerizing mill. William Buckley gets in his ""patrician republican"" digs with Philip John Schuyler; ""Invisible Man"" Ralph Ellison sketches in the dark features of a slave turned spy who was recommended for ""every reward his situation could admit of"" which wasn't much as you can imagine. Three token women are included--but Abigail Adams is styled as a ""patriotic housewife and mother"" who displayed courage by drying the president's laundry with a roaring wood fire in the East Room. '76 is going to be a long, depressing year. . . .