AN02d_Reforming the Nation’s thoughts on Exceptionalism
Timeline: 19th C.
F.Q.: From where does the nation’s exceptional nature originate and in what way are we exceptional?
The first half of the 19th C. witnessed the effects of a 2nd Great Awakening. Revivals, the social experiments of Transcendentalists, and fiery sermons doled out at Sunday services all converged on one national issue: Slavery. That institution was either attacked or praised depending on the ‘section’ of the nation in which the discussion was held. Fervently, the opposing sides on the matter would tap into their interpretation of American Exceptionalism to defend their stance. At stake, the special place the United States holds by divine providence as “the city upon a hill”.
What could John Winthrop have meant when he delivered his City Upon a Hill speech to his Puritan brethren at the start of their ordeal as Plymouth colonists? (1)
I. What does it mean to be Exceptional?
Let’s look at what President JFK said in 1961 (R03_American Exceptionalism- JFK 1961) (2)
- What does JFK think has been Massachusetts’ role, and his new role, for the nation?
- What, if anything, is similar between Winthrop’s and JFK’s ‘City Upon a Hill’ reference?
II. American Exceptionalism vs. American Slavery: The 1844 AME National Election
First 15 minutes of “God in America: A Nation Reborn”
- What is the problem plaguing the American Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church as the 1844 national election approaches?
- How does this problem reflect the wider, national, divisions of that time?
- Can we be exceptional with or without slavery?