Faith in the People
I just finished listening to Empire of Liberty, American history from 1789 (the beginning of the Federal Government) to the end of the War of 1812. Listening to this award-winning book, I keep thinking that Americans should know about this period of our history – but unfortunately, they are not interested, it seems to me, in anything so real.
‘Empire of Liberty’ was one of Thomas Jefferson’s favorite phrases, and he took it seriously. For him, and many others, America represented the hope of mankind, and was fulfilling that hope. At the end of his life, he was beginning to realize that America had become a parody of those hopes.
The belief of the Enlightenment in the innate goodness of people was sadly misplaced. America became just another example of human folly and destructiveness – and on a grand scale. It now leads the world – but in the wrong direction.
We could learn a lot from studying this period of our history, when everything started to go wrong. But we are incapable of doing so.
We do not want to know how everything went wrong – it is just too awful to think about.