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Hanging Together: Unity and Diversity in American Culture by John Higham

By John Higham

How has the United States, with its many ethnic, category, and ideological divisions, allowed divergent teams to "hang jointly" as americans? during this e-book, a unusual historian explores the ways that american citizens have conceived of a countrywide id and demonstrates that an appreciation of America's kaleidoscopic variety should be reconciled with an confirmation of its universal nationwide tradition.

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Both systems of belief posited a national mission to realize the hopes of humankind. Like the patriotic clergy of the Revolutionary era, secular leaders construed America’s character and promise in universalistic terms. On a secular plane, the Founding Fathers grounded their independence in the laws of nature. They ransacked historical experience in framing institutions suitable to the universal tendencies of human nature; and they conceived of their enterprise as a new beginning for humankind.

While Liberty remained a vital symbol, its capacity to blur distinctions between nation and humanity was one of its special strengths. Yet the supranational persona of Liberty was also a handicap. By herself, without concrete associations such as those that Jennings supplied, she presented a bland, generalized image that was ill suited to rouse and unite a particular people. In much early American symbolism the goddess of liberty does not seem to belong to any specific setting. Throughout the nineteenth century Americans strove to attach their goddess to the reality of a place and the identity of a people.

Yet cultural nationalism, in the sense of a deep popular consciousness of being a single people, hardly existed. ≥ In Germany we see the opposite: a strong ethnic tradition frustrated by political fragmentation. The resulting contrast between the ideological identity of the Americans and the ethnic identity of the Germans is summed up in the language of the people. The United States was not, and was never called, a fatherland. Until sometime in the mid-nineteenth century, there was even considerable reluctance to label it a nation, although George Washington and others occasionally did so.

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