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15 Sep 22

The United States of America is often described as an experiment. Inventing itself as a republic in a world of European monarchies, members of the Founding generation, most notably Thomas Jefferson, saw their novel nation as something “new under the sun.” Indeed, in his first inaugural address, Jefferson promoted the notion of American exceptionalism. Now, as we approach the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Annette Gordon-Reed argues that it is necessary to reassess the state of the American experiment and to reconsider the idea of American exceptionalism. There are serious questions about the continuance of the Republic as constituted since the end of the Civil War. The seeds of America’s current discontent, she argues, can be found in the origins of that conflict and in the failure to deal effectively with the legacies of slavery and racial hierarchy in the United States. How does the country truly move beyond its problematic origins?

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