Twilight of the RepublicEmpire and Exceptionalism in the American Political Tradition

Twilight of the RepublicEmpire and Exceptionalism in the American Political Tradition

Justin B. Litke

Print publication date: 2014

ISBN: 9780813142203

Publisher: University Press of Kentucky

Abstract

Taking issue with the way scholarship on American exceptionalism has been conducted for the past few decades, Litke argues that examining the term and idea reveals a profound shift in Americans’ self-conception since the Puritan and founding periods. The dominant social scientific approach to the topic has missed, he argues, the chief elements of its importance to Americans as citizens, namely the reasons America might be unique in the world or in history and what practical ramifications such uniqueness might have for its conduct both at home and abroad. “Imperial American exceptionalism” is thus seen as a development in the American political tradition, a development that has led—with its domestic cognate of centralization, to the erosion of the republican character of the American people. Moving through the most important texts of the colonial, constitutional, Civil War, and Progressive periods, Litke adds to the scholarship in political theory, American political thought, American history, American foreign policy.