By Philip Abbott
The assumption that the USA is not just various yet «exceptional» is a imperative element of yankee identification that looks within the speeches and writings of John Winthrop to Martin Luther King Jr. to Ronald Reagan. but how and why the USA is outstanding has produced broadly varied solutions. Philip Abbott alters this debate by means of arguing that american citizens are the best way they speak. He examines American exceptionalism as a preoccupation with «newness» in either politics and tradition and strains its impact in a chain of significant American political texts, together with the Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, Democracy in the United States, Walden, The Souls of Black Folk, and diverse novels and speeches.
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Additional info for Exceptional America: Newness and National Identity
27 Ibid. 28 “Periodizing the Sixties,” 208. ” 30 Mather, Magnalia, 90–92. , 165, 207. , 55, 56. , 116–23. ” (117–18). , 4. 13) as if the characterization of America as a liberal society constitutes the only definitional boundary of American Exceptionalism. 36 Shklar, “Redeeming Political Theory,” 3–4. , 4. 38 Jon Roper, Democracy and Its Critics: Anglo-American Democratic Thought in the Nineteenth Century (London: Unwin Hyman, 1989), argues that, in addition to the slavery question, the arguments over democratization were 44 Contemporary Critiques different in England, where culture was regarded as a defense against democracy, and liberty contained strong aristocratic resonances rather than individualistic or republican ones.
Jefferson’s speculative anthropology permitted him to draw a framework in Notes on the State of Virginia that determined that what was not new was not American, conflated European Americans and Native Americans as “young” peoples and refused to analyze African Americans in terms of their original culture, insisting that “we will consider them here. . where the facts are not apocryphal. ”46 But if Shklar’s reading of the founders’ political science requires a revision when American Exceptionalism is added, her reluctance to acknowledge the theory leads to a serious misreading of political thought in Jacksonian America.
In Mather’s first detour, the Great Migration is interpreted in terms of the mistaken actions of “certain Little-Soul’d Ceremony-Mongers” in the Anglican Church. ” But despite Mather’s restrained employment of the exodus trope, Magnalia leans heavily upon the American churches as constituting a new Israel. 31 In this second detour America’s newness is drawn in terms of its replication of Israel. America as Israel provides Mather with the core structure for his Jeremiadic periodization. If New England were an efflorescence of the English reformation, its history was tethered to the rise and fall of Protestant politics abroad.