By Colin Woodard

ISBN-10: 0698181719

ISBN-13: 9780698181717

The writer of American Nations examines the heritage of and options to the most important American query: how top to reconcile person liberty with the upkeep of a loose society

The fight among person rights and the great of the neighborhood as an entire has been the foundation of approximately each significant war of words in our historical past, from the debates on the Constitutional conference and within the run as much as the Civil conflict to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the recent purchasers, the civil rights circulation, and the Tea celebration. In American Character, Colin Woodard lines those key strands in American politics throughout the 4 centuries of the nation’s life, from the 1st colonies in the course of the Gilded Age, nice melancholy and the current day, and he explores how diversified areas of the rustic have effectively or disastrously accommodated them. The autonomous streak chanced on its such a lot pernicious shape within the antebellum South yet used to be balanced within the Gilded Age by means of communitarian reform efforts; the hot Deal used to be an instance of a profitable coalition among communitarian-minded japanese elites and Southerners.

Woodard argues that preserving a liberal democracy, a society the place mass human freedom is feasible, calls for discovering a stability among maintaining  individual liberty and nurturing a unfastened society. Going to both libertarian or collectivist extremes ends up in tyranny. yet the place does the “sweet spot” lie within the usa, a federation of disparate neighborhood cultures that experience regularly strongly disagreed on those matters? Woodard leads readers on a riveting and revealing trip via 4 centuries of fight, experimentation, successes and screw ups to supply a solution. His traditionally trained and pragmatic feedback on how one can accomplish that stability and holiday the nation’s  political impasse may be of curiosity to someone who cares concerning the present American predicament—political, ideological, and sociological.

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Extra info for American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good

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If this sounds tautological, that’s because it is. America is built on a tautology: Indians must have disappeared because we’re here now; we’re here now because Indians must have disappeared. The cyclic reasoning of this racist formulation overlooks the facts of Indian presence and American pluralism— because of a contradiction prior to the tautology: American history is unique among modern nations, following on the Iroquois model, in the Constitution’s originary claim, if not its achievement, of uniting diverse states and, by extension—by incremental legislation—uniting diverse immigrants, freed slaves, and original Indigenous inhabitants of this land.

10 Although it defines America’s self-concept, the frontier is more of a myth than race itself. The frontier is a fantasy built upon a fantasy. ” To borrow from Rennard Strickland, an Osage/Cherokee scholar, professor, and former dean at the University of Oregon School of Law, this is a historiography of justification (“The Eagle’s Empire” 261). Other historians have summarized Turner’s thesis as they critiqued it: “Euro-America’s frontier expansion into ‘free land’ explained the development of American democracy” (Klein, Frontiers of Historical Imagination 13), and “the frontier experience had a lasting if not permanent impact on the American character and society” (Ridge, “Turner” 1090).

My rationale for choosing these five writers is both historical and thematic, both diachronic and synchronic. Each writer speaks to and from his or her time to ours and to each other. Each is both representative and unique. Apess and Winnemucca bracket the nineteenth century. McNickle and Silko bracket the twentieth, though the lines begin to blur as McNickle also moves chronologically into the later twentieth and Silko crosses into the twentyfirst century, and both write of earlier periods as well.

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American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good by Colin Woodard


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