The English Complex in America: Would the Venerable Bede please comment? To be an American is of itself almost a moral condition, an education and a career. —George Santayana, Character and Opinion in the United States The question, “What is an American?” was first asked by Crèvecoeur late in the eighteenth century, and a little later by de Tocqueville, both of whom gave much the same answer as Santayana. Since moral imperatives overlap the divine, and vice versa, American “exceptionalism” easily becomes a mission to spread democracy, freedom and belief, or their obverse, American egoism, isolationism and protectionism. The persistence…
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