Since the first European ships appeared on her shores the idea of America’s exceptionalism existed.
In John Winthrop’s dream of a shining “city upon a hill” through Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote that “the position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one,” Americans have assumed an important place on the world’s stage.
The idea of American Exceptionalism has of late been under attack by luminaries of the left from Howard Zinn who dismisses the idea as a jingoistic lie, to Zbigniew Brzezinski who scoffs that the idea is an ignorant and fearful boast. Famously President Barack Obama has made quite clear his skepticism about exceptionalism.
Accepting that the notion of an exceptional America has been around for some 400 years is enough to merit serious credence to the idea. I will begin here and intend to comprehensively and thoroughly enter the fray. The below entries on American Exceptionalism will likely be longer and more frequently revised than any other category of entry.
You are invited to provide comments as I mold and explore this rich subject.
Part One – Introduction to Exceptionalism – January 3, 2012
Part Two – Historiography – January 4, 2012
Part Three – Promise of the Frontier
Part Four – Immigrant Nation