By Colin Woodard
The writer of American Nations examines the historical past of and strategies to the main American query: how top to reconcile person liberty with the upkeep of a unfastened society
The fight among person rights and the nice of the neighborhood as an entire has been the root of approximately each significant war of words in our heritage, from the debates on the Constitutional conference and within the run as much as the Civil battle to the fights surrounding the agendas of the Federalists, the Progressives, the hot buyers, the civil rights flow, and the Tea occasion. In American Character, Colin Woodard lines those key strands in American politics during the 4 centuries of the nation’s life, from the 1st colonies during the Gilded Age, nice melancholy and the current day, and he explores how varied areas of the rustic have effectively or disastrously accommodated them. The autonomous streak discovered its such a lot pernicious shape within the antebellum South yet used to be balanced within the Gilded Age by way of communitarian reform efforts; the hot Deal was once an instance of a profitable coalition among communitarian-minded japanese elites and Southerners.
Woodard argues that retaining a liberal democracy, a society the place mass human freedom is feasible, calls for discovering a stability among preserving individual liberty and nurturing a loose society. Going to both libertarian or collectivist extremes ends up in tyranny. yet the place does the “sweet spot” lie within the usa, a federation of disparate neighborhood cultures that experience continually strongly disagreed on those concerns? Woodard leads readers on a riveting and revealing trip via 4 centuries of fight, experimentation, successes and screw ups to supply a solution. His traditionally expert and pragmatic feedback on the way to do so stability and holiday the nation’s political impasse could be of curiosity to somebody who cares concerning the present American predicament—political, ideological, and sociological.
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Extra info for American Character: A History of the Epic Struggle Between Individual Liberty and the Common Good
26 yet Reconstruction eventually failed, and the american attempt to remold accomplice components of Appalachia finally became that area into an best friend of the Deep Southern oligarchs. once the profession led to 1876, whites within the “reconstructed” areas abolished public colleges, imposed obstacles to African american citizens exercise their correct to vote, and murdered blacks who dared run for workplace or forget about the strictures of Jim Crow. yet whereas the Civil conflict did not swap the extra individualistic and libertarian areas of the rustic, their absence from Congress in the course of that interval allowed a flood of communitarian-minded reforms to be followed through the government. the hot social gathering of communitarianism, the Republicans, enacted a lot of the previous Whig schedule: a countrywide banking and forex approach, price lists to guard family undefined, and big spending on infrastructure. in the course of the bleakest years of the warfare, Congress created the 1st federal source of revenue tax, validated the dep. of Agriculture (which helped consultant that sector’s postwar expansion), handed the Land furnish university Act (which supported the production of public universities around the country), the home Act (which inspired yeoman farming within the West), the Pacific Railway Act (which backed the development of the 1st transcontinental railroad, which hooked up Omaha and San Francisco), and the fake Claims Act, which clamped down on fraud through federal contractors. Historian Leonard Curry has acknowledged this battery of revolutionary laws amounted to the “blueprint for contemporary the US. ”27 Abraham Lincoln, who oversaw every one of these revolutionary reforms, was once transparent approximately their goal: “The valid item of presidency is to do for a group of individuals no matter what they should have performed, yet cannot do in any respect or can't so good do for themselves—in their separate and person capacities,” he wrote. govt “is a mix of the folks of a rustic to impression sure items via joint attempt. ” those gadgets of collective motion incorporated “public roads and highways, public faculties, charities, pauperism, orphanage, estates of the deceased, and the equipment of presidency itself. ” Nor used to be he blind to the monetary bills this could entail, writing, “The most sensible framed and top administered governments are inevitably dear. ”28 in the course of Reconstruction, the Confederate-less Congress additionally handed 3 key amendments to the structure, which outlawed slavery, prohibited states from denying humans citizenship or the correct to vote in accordance with race, ensured equivalent safety for every person less than the legislations, and successfully prolonged the protections of the invoice of Rights to all contributors, enforceable by way of the government. (Previously the 1st ten amendments were interpreted to use in basic terms to the government and have been even then neglected. ) even though it will be one other century sooner than they'd be totally carried out, the hot amendments were meant to strike a mortal blow to a lowland southern lifestyle sustained via slavery.