The Diplomatic Relations of the United States with the Barbary Powers, 1776-1816

By Arthur Alphonse Ekirch Jr. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER II
THE PROMISE OF THE AMERICAN POLITICAL EXPERIMENT

THE philosophy of progress developed by early European and American writers proved especially adaptable to the American faith in the idea that the United States were destined to carry out a political experiment in democratic government. The roots of the idea of a unique American mission extended far back in its history. From the time of its discovery America had been celebrated as a land of destiny. With the success of the American Revolution a sharp break seemed to be made with the past. The feudal remnants of primogeniture and of an established church were overthrown. Launched on its new course, the confidence of the young Republic in the future progress of democracy was strengthened by the host of patriotic orators and writers who reminded the American people that the Revolution and the Declaration of Independence had made possible that freedom and liberty which would henceforth be the guide-star for the future progress of democracy.1 This idea of the promise of the American political experiment received one of its best expressions in the writings of the patriotic and popular historian of the Middle Period, George Bancroft. Bancroft, who felt that, in 1776, "the hour of revolution was at hand, promising free

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1
See for example: J. H. Hammond, "An Oration delivered in the Presbyterian Church on the Fourth of July, 1829, Columbia, South Carolina," unpublished Ms. in the Hammond Papers, vol. I ( Library of Congress); A. H. Everett An Oration . . . on the 5th of July, 1830 ( Boston, 1830), pp. 31-35, and passim; Philip Lindsley, "An Address on the . . . Centennial Birthday of George Washington" ( 1832), Works ( Phil., 1866), III, 227-262; J. R. Ingersoll, An Address . . . Lafayette College ( Phil., 1833), passim; F. H. Hedge, An Oration . . . before the Citizens of Bangor ( Bangor, 1838), passim; Parke Godwin, "The Course of Civilization," Dem. Rev., VI ( Sept., 1830, 208-217; "The Progress of Society,"ibid., VIII ( July, 1840), 67-87; O. A. Brownson, An Oration before the Democracy of Worcester ( Boston and Worcester, 1840), passim; James De Peyster Ogden, Lecture on National Character ( New York, 1843), passim.

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