Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

The United States of America is an extraordinary accomplishment. It is the richest, most powerful nation that has ever existed. From a handful of farmers and merchants on the edge of the known world, it has grown, endured, agonized and prospered. Millions have flocked to its shores, and millions more continuously hope to come. Saying that this has become some­thing of a cliché does not make it any less true. Nor does the fact that some people in other parts of the world have come to resent the way America asserts its wealth and power make America's rise any less remarkable or significant. Even America's fiercest critics don't argue that.

But why did this success visit itself on the United States? Certainly it is a land blessed with enormous resources and intrepid people. They have been celebrated many times. But there are other nations with great resources and excellent people. Our purpose is to focus on something so apparent it is often underappreciated. America's extraordinary success is directly related to its unique form of gov­ernment. Not just to its freedom or its democracy, but to its singu­larly American form of democracy.

Indeed, one of America's first and greatest inventions was the United States of America itself. This was something wholly new in the annals of government. There had been democracies before. There had been republics before. But what the framers invented was something no one had ever seen before.

Comments

This is a pre-publication version of the Introduction to The Genius of America: How the Constitution Saved Our Country--and Why It Can Again by Eric Lane and Michael Oreskes.

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