By Philip Abbott

The idea that the US isn't just diverse yet «exceptional» is a imperative point of yank identification that looks within the speeches and writings of John Winthrop to Martin Luther King Jr. to Ronald Reagan. but how and why the USA is phenomenal has produced broadly diversified solutions. Philip Abbott alters this debate through arguing that americans are the best way they speak. He examines American exceptionalism as a preoccupation with «newness» in either politics and tradition and strains its effect in a chain of significant American political texts, together with the Declaration of Independence, The Federalist Papers, Democracy in the USA, Walden, The Souls of Black Folk, and numerous novels and speeches.

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He once recommended that young men not study abroad lest they be corrupted by European society. His great foray into partisan politics in 1800 was occasioned by his belief that Federalist “monocrats” plotted the Europeanization of America. Disturbingly ambivalent on the slavery question, Jefferson is also the utopian exceptionalist par excellence. None of the founders held a more jaded view of the American experiment of 1787 than Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton, in fact, brilliantly and covertly sought to Europeanize the American constitution through his emphasis on judicial review and the presidency as saving remnants of aristocracy.

53 See, for example, Philip Abbott, The Exemplary Presidency (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1990), ch. 8 on the policy implications of FDR’s use of Lincolnian political science. 54 William Graham Sumner, ”The Conflict of Plutocracy and Democracy“ in The Essays of William Graham Sumner, eds. Albert Galloway Keller and Maurice R. Davis (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1934), vol. II, 230. 55 Adolph Berle, “The Social Economics of the New Deal,” New York Times Magazine, October 29, 1933, 19.

It is difficult to present adequately, even in outline, Lincoln’s conception of political science. He certainly grasped the nature and significance of ambition, as had Hamilton, and he certainly grasped the cultural power of Jeffersonian natural right. He also grasped the nature of the institutional limitations on leadership advanced by Madison. But Lincoln radically transformed all these visions of political science. While he claimed “all power to Jefferson” and paid extravagant obeisance to the founders, Henry Clay was Lincoln’s exemplar.

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