Fighting Over the Founders: How We Remember the American Revolution, by Andrew M. Schocket (New York University Press, 2015)
What It's About
Fighting Over the Founders examines the ongoing clash over the meaning of the American Revolution. Schocket sorts the camps into "essentialists," who view the Founders as visionary "demigods," creators of "a legacy from which straying would be treason"; and "organicists," who "believe that Americans are ever in the process of trying to complete a Revolution that the founders left unfinished." He then details how this tug-of-war over our national origin story plays out in politics, entertainment, academia, and institutions such as museums.
Target D.C. Audience
Historians, speechwriters, museum curators, tour guides, documentarians, constitutional law experts, dog-whistle decoders, plus self-reflective tea-party activists and anyone else who might claim the mantle of the Founders.
"Let's not fight, they suggest, let's share the nation's founding symbols. But I think that we should continue to debate the nation's origins. At least the American Revolution gives us a common set of characters, settings, and events. That civic vocabulary allows for debate through a rhetorical shorthand. The point in a democracy is not for us to agree on everything. But we can have discussions if at least we're speaking the same conceptual language."