The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

by Kermit Roosevelt III
The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

The Nation That Never Was: Reconstructing America's Story

by Kermit Roosevelt III

Hardcover(First Edition)

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Our idea of the Founders' America and its values is not true. We are not the heirs of the Founders, but we can be the heirs of Reconstruction and its vision for equality.

There’s a common story we tell about America: that our fundamental values as a country were stated in the Declaration of Independence, fought for in the Revolution, and made law in the Constitution. But, with the country increasingly divided, this story isn’t working for us anymore—what’s more, it’s not even true. As Kermit Roosevelt argues in this eye-opening reinterpretation of the American story, our fundamental values, particularly equality, are not part of the vision of the Founders. Instead, they were stated in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and were the hope of Reconstruction, when it was possible to envision the emergence of the nation committed to liberty and equality.
We face a dilemma these days. We want to be honest about our history and the racism and oppression that Americans have both inflicted and endured. But we want to be proud of our country, too. In The Nation That Never Was, Roosevelt shows how we can do both those things by realizing we’re not the country we thought we were. Reconstruction, Roosevelt argues, was not a fulfillment of the ideals of the Founding but rather a repudiation: we modern Americans are not the heirs of the Founders but of the people who overthrew and destroyed that political order. This alternate understanding of American identity opens the door to a new understanding of ourselves and our story, and ultimately to a better America.
America today is not the Founders’ America, but it can be Lincoln’s America. Roosevelt offers a powerful and inspirational rethinking of our country’s history and uncovers a shared past that we can be proud to claim and use as a foundation to work toward a country that fully embodies equality for all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780226817613
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication date: 06/24/2022
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 189,019
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Kermit Roosevelt III is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. A former law clerk to Supreme Court Justice David Souter, he is the author of The Myth of Judicial Activism, as well as two novels, Allegiance and In the Shadow of the Law.

Table of Contents

1 Stories of America
2 Questioning the Standard Story: Dissenters
3 The Exclusive Declaration
4 The Ambiguous Revolution
5 The Geostrategic Constitution
6 The Story of Continuity
7 The March of the Declaration
8 Why We Tell the Standard Story
9 Why We Shouldn’t Tell the Standard Story
10 Magic Tricks and Revolutions
11 Why, How, and Who We Are
12 Redemption Songs: Inclusive Equality and Exclusive Individualism in Modern America
13 The Better Story
Bibliographical Essay
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