A Proposition

More

The future of the American idea has of course to do with the question of permanency. It is here and there observed that the man who wrote the Declaration of Independence and those who signed it were schooled enough in history to acknowledge, though they did not endorse, the proposition (Lincoln’s word) that the ideals hailed in that declaration were adventitious in our history.

Return to:

The American Idea
Scholars, novelists, politicians, artists, and others look ahead to the future of the American idea.

I would doubt any claim that the American idea is finally validated by historical and human experience. It is, for men and women of my perspective, judged to be secure in warranting perpetual loyalties. But ours are loyalties to an ideal, not to a revelation, and this must have been the reason, even if he was not conscious of it, why Lincoln referred to the American “proposition.”

By the measure of fragility, surely the doctrine of human equality is most at risk. Yet it is that proposition in American ideal­ism that most sublimely transcends science, asserting as it does a distinction that elevates Homo sapiens beyond the reach of science and evolution.

I plead the continuing relevance of the American idea, but acknowledge that I do so moved mostly by proud possessiveness, and of course grounded in the bulwark of Christian faith.

William F. Buckley, Jr. is the founding editor of National Review.
Jump to comments
Presented by
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

A Technicolor Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier


Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Time-Lapse of Alaska's Northern Lights

The beauty of aurora borealis, as seen from America's last frontier

Video

What Do You Wish You Learned in College?

Ivy League academics reveal their undergrad regrets

Video

Famous Movies, Reimagined

From Apocalypse Now to The Lord of the Rings, this clever video puts a new spin on Hollywood's greatest hits.

Video

What Is a City?

Cities are like nothing else on Earth.

Video

CrossFit Versus Yoga: Choose a Side

How a workout becomes a social identity

Video

In Online Dating, Everyone's a Little Bit Racist

The co-founder of OKCupid shares findings from his analysis of millions of users' data.

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

More back issues, Sept 1995 to present.

Just In