The United States is a diverse nation of immigrants and their ancestors. With such diversity, and no one origination point for its people, how do we describe what the United States is and what its people stand for?
What is the underlying ideological current that links Americans together regardless of their ancestral or regional diversity?
Today, we explore “American exceptionalism” and the ideas it embodies with John D. Wilsey, author of American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.
About the Show
Ben Franklin’s World is a podcast about early American history.
It is a show for people who love history and for those who want to know more about the historical people and events that have impacted and shaped our present-day world.
Each episode features a conversation with a historian who helps us shed light on important people and events in early American history.
In this episode, we explore the history of “American exceptionalism” as an idea with John D. Wilsey, author of American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea.
During our exploration, John reveals how he and others define American exceptionalism; The Puritan origins of American exceptionalism; And, how the ideas of American exceptionalism fit within the concepts of patriotism and nationalism.
What You’ll Discover
- How John defines American exceptionalism
- Theological underpinnings of American exceptionalism
- Closed and open American exceptionalism
- Who uses American exceptionalism and its ideas
- How American exceptionalism fits with the concepts of patriotism and nationalism
- Definition of civil religion
- The Puritan origins of American exceptionalism
- John Winthrop’s ideas about starting a “City upon a hill”
- Non-Puritan religious contributions to the ideas of American exceptionalism
- “Manifest Destiny” and how it ties in with ideas of American exceptionalism
- Whether early Americans used American exceptionalism to justify slavery
- Origins of the term “American exceptionalism”
Links to People, Places, and Publications
- John D. Wilsey
- John’s website
- Follow John on Twitter: @JDWilsey
- American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea
- One Nation Under God?: An Evangelical Critique of Christian America
Time Warp Question
In your opinion what might have happened if the Puritans had not settled in North America? Would the ideas of American exceptionalism have developed?
Questions, Comments, Suggestions
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Get in Touch! Send me an e-mail, tweet, or leave a comment.
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