The Backside of the Universe: “Throes of Democracy” by Walter McDougall

By |2016-08-06T17:33:53-05:00March 19th, 2014|Categories: Books, History|Tags: , , , |

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1852 novel, The Blithedale Romance, has been overshadowed for many years by The Scarlett Letter and The House of the Seven Gables. Perhaps its unsparing analysis of the psychology of utopian reformers still strikes a little too close to home for it to make its way onto reading lists at most schools [...]

American Identity

By |2014-03-12T14:42:11-05:00March 9th, 2014|Categories: Immigration, Politics|Tags: |

Defining the essential attributes of being an “American” is a dangerous undertaking. Although I’m hardly a member of a marginalized minority, it wasn’t too long ago that my Irish ancestors were considered by many to be not-quite-American by virtue of their Celtic heritage (and often their Catholic faith). Faced with a nation not only [...]

Questioning American Exceptionalism

By |2016-07-26T15:44:12-05:00November 7th, 2013|Categories: American Republic, Politics|Tags: , |

“Never to be roused is to forget what honor demands.”–Cicero As of this moment, the American Left no longer carries sole imprimatur to publish recursive screeds dispelling American exceptionalism. The American Right is hereby officially in on the act (from an opposing angle, naturally) with a single noteworthy reservation: the sui generis manner of [...]

Reconsidering American Exceptionalism

By |2016-10-06T21:10:27-05:00October 8th, 2013|Categories: Politics|Tags: , , |

Illustration by Michael Hogue The old kept us out of conflict; the new leads to empire. In 1765, John Adams unwittingly penned one of the proof texts of American exceptionalism. “I always consider the settlement of America with reverence and wonder,” the young lawyer wrote in his diary, “as the opening of [...]

The Challenge Confronting Conservatives: Sustaining a Republic of Hustlers

By |2013-11-24T20:49:25-05:00April 15th, 2013|Categories: Conservatism, Foreign Affairs|Tags: , , |

At our 2009 annual meeting, the Scholars Council of the Library of Congress was exposed to some surreal juxtapositions. First, the Librarian James Billington described the cultural impact of the global financial meltdown. University and public libraries lost a third to a half of their endowments or budgets, forcing them to lay off staff, suspend [...]