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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

It's Not That Simple

Feb 28th, 2012

While highlighting the works of Gordon S. Wood at his "bookclub," David Frum makes a fine point:

"I’ve long chafed at the phrase, “The Founders,” to refer to the revolutionaries and Constitution writers of the 1770s and 1780s.

The phrase seeks to cut the history out of American history. In 1776, the bigger American colonies were societies more than 150 years old. Those societies in turn carried with them the cultural DNA of even older societies, both European and African.

What was founded between 1775 and 1789 was the American Republic, not the American nation. But even for that new polity, there was no “year zero.” The American Republic was built out an inherited past. The process of detachment from that past was long, traumatic, and still incomplete as of 1789."

In my view, it's no more complete as of this writing.

America wasn't immaculately conceived. Neither was it fully formed at conception. The "founders" (a phrase I have been known to use if only to irk the Tea Party set) understood that the nation would evolve constantly even if their idolaters do not.

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