City Upon a Hill: American Exceptionalism in U.S. History
180 years after Alexis de Tocqueville posited that the U.S. was an exceptional case in the history of democratic societies, the idea of “American Exceptionalism” is alive and well. Almost every GOP candidate for president in 2012 has invoked the idea, each suggesting that President Obama doesn’t sufficiently embrace it. And so you might be surprised to learn that 90 years ago, it was American communists who were Exceptionalism’s biggest fans.
In this episode, the History Guys will look at the changing meanings of Exceptionalism. From the Puritan notion of a “city upon a hill” to the 19th century concept of manifest destiny, from Woodrow Wilson’s vision of the U.S. as a worldwide model to Ronald Reagan’s rejuvenation of the Puritans, why have Americans seen themselves as different? Is there something to the idea, do you think, or is it simply a dressed-up version of patriotism?
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