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Tammy's All Things History

Bringing the Past to Life!

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September 2013

History on Saturday: American Exceptionalism


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American exceptionalism became a hot topic of debate this week when President Obama referred to it in his televised speech to the American people on his stance on the escalating violence in Syria. Russian President Putin countered the remarks about exceptionalism by basically saying America is not exceptional and that on a world view everyone is created equal and should be recognized as such. Thus, the debating began. Debate about American exceptionalism is not new. It has been visited a number of times in the past. So, what is American exceptionalism anyway.

Ronald J. Schmidt explains the background for the term and how it came to be in the book The Oxford Handbook of Political Theory. He also explains about the significance of the term and how it relates in history to current American identity.

You can view an excerpt here:

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The debate about American exceptionalism is still important but I wonder if the idea is flexible to changing times and if so, how do we reconcile it. Is America really exceptional?

History on Saturday: Vermont C. Royster


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Researching for a paper topic for class, I found an interesting character. Vermont C. Royster was important in history because he appears on a couple different levels. First, he used writing to persuade society on different ideas of cultural transformation as it grappled with how to accept conservatism, libertarianism and modernism. Second, his access to important people and events such as being a reporter in Washington, D.C., after WWII, his influences to an editorial board with ability to persuade decisions in the high profile case Brown v. Board of Education (1954), and his success at becoming editor for the Wall Street Journal, an influential magazine in intellectual circles all placed him at the right place and time to contribute and make his mark in history. By looking at his career and his ideas a sense of atmosphere of the time can be seen. For example, how people felt about media, war, the New Deal and progress.

Another place to look is the book Ideas Have Consequences, by Richard M. Weaver, which also shows people questioning old ideas and the direction the country was going at the time. Richard’s ideas about morality, interpretation of western history and conservatism were hot topics of the early nineteen twenties. It also gives ideas about American’s reaction to modernism, morality and ideas of the past they held sacred and how they should deal with these issues in the current time and future.

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