Exceptional beginnings for an exceptional country. In his book, American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History, Charles Murray stresses that America’s unique setting, ideology, civic culture, and politics made America exceptional, but he also points out this exceptionalism being eroded over time. Murray showed that America was born exceptional, completely different from the rest of the world, not necessarily superior, but entirely distinctive. When the United States of America was formed it was set up to be exceptional. Many of the elements of early America such as the frontier, the exploration of new lands, the ideology, the traits of an exceptional civic culture, freedom, and especially politics were a part of the ideals of the founding fathers. They believed America’s success was solely in the people’s ability to maintain the freedom of the republic through courage, industry, egalitarianism, religion and community. These circumstances in the early years of America, practically screamed exceptionalism. However, American exceptionalism has deteriorated in the recent century, especially in ideology. Richard Hofstadter, a historian, once said, “It has been our fate as a nation not to have ideologies, but to be one.” (Murray, 12) America as an ideology was to our advantage for two centuries. Even though the Founding Fathers didn’t agree on everything, they formed the United States of America. They were united with a common cause. Now with the Republican and Democratic parties, neither of whom subscribe to the Founding Fathers original ideas, America has become obsessed with having many different conflicting ideologies, instead of having one united mind. However, America is still a place viewed in awe as the land of opportunity by many around the world, because although our exceptionalism has eroded somewhat, it is not gone. Many American citizens and immigrants embody the traits that started this country with its best foot forward: courage, industry, and close knit families. Throughout the evolution of this blog, I will be sharing many stories of exceptionalism throughout history, from America to the rest of the world. The great American melting pot is still the exceptional “land of the free and the home of the brave.” (Key, 8)
As I share some of the exceptional stories of history, I hope to take you on a journey to both the well-known and unusual stories of those who lived before us.
Key, Francis Scott. “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 1814.
Murray, Charles A. American Exceptionalism: an Experiment in History. Print.