In Search of the City on a Hill: The Making and Unmaking of an American Myth
In Search of†the City on a Hill challenges the widespread assumption that Americans have always used this potent metaphor to define their national identity. It demonstrates that America's 'redeemer myth' owes more to nineteenth- and twentieth-century reinventions of the Puritans than to the colonists' own conceptions of divine election.
It reconstructs the complete story of 'the city on a hill' from its Puritan origins to the present day for the first time. From John Winthrop's 1630 'Model of Christian Charity' and the history books of the nineteenth century to the metaphor's sudden prominence in the 1960s and Reagan's skillful incorporation of it into his rhetoric in the 80s, 'the city on a hill' has had a complex history: this history reveals much about received notions of American exceptionalism, America's identity as a Christian nation, and the impact of America's civil religion.
The conclusion considers the current status of 'the city on a hill' and summarizes what this story of national myth eclipsing biblical metaphor teaches us about the evolution of America's identity.
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American exceptionalism American history American identity Arbella Bancroft Bay Colony become Bible biblical metaphor blessing Boston Bulkeley called Christ Christian Charity church city set civil religion colonists context covenantal deﬁne Democratic destiny divine doctrine document earthly Edwards’s England faith ﬁgure ﬁnd ﬁrst fulﬁll Geneva Bible George Bancroft God’s godly Gospel governor Harvard hill historians idea Iesus inﬂuence interpretation Iohn Iohnson Israel John Winthrop Kennedy Kennedy’s later liberty light Lincoln’s Lord Massachusetts Historical Society Matthew meaning metaphor mission Model of Christian modern Morison narrative national covenant national myth never New-York Historical Society Northampton ofjonathan Edwards ofthe Palin pastors Perry Miller phrase city Pilgrims political president Puritan quoted reﬂection Reformation religious Republican Ronald Reagan Samuel Eliot Morison Sarah Palin Saye secular sermon settlers shining city signiﬁcance speech story Testament theology things United University Press warning Winthrop’s discourse Winthrop’s Model words wrote York