The Promise of American Life eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 620 pages of information about The Promise of American Life.


Chapter II
the federalists and the republicans

Chapter III
the democrats and the whigs

Chapter IV
slavery and American nationality

Chapter V
the contemporary situation

Chapter VI
reform and the reformers

Chapter VII
reconstruction; its conditions and purposes

Chapter VIII
nationality and democracy

Chapter IX
the American democracy and its national principles

Chapter X
A national foreign policy

Chapter XI
problems of reconstruction—­part I

Chapter XII
problems of reconstruction—­part II

Chapter XIII
conclusions—­the individual and the national purpose





What is the promise of American life?

The average American is nothing if not patriotic.  “The Americans are filled,” says Mr. Emil Reich in his “Success among the Nations,” “with such an implicit and absolute confidence in their Union and in their future success that any remark other than laudatory is inacceptable to the majority of them.  We have had many opportunities of hearing public speakers in America cast doubts upon the very existence of God and of Providence, question the historic nature or veracity of the whole fabric of Christianity; but never has it been our fortune to catch the slightest whisper of doubt, the slightest want of faith, in the chief God of America—­unlimited belief in the future of America.”  Mr. Reich’s method of emphasis may not be very happy, but the substance of what he says is true.  The faith of Americans in their own country is religious, if not in its intensity, at any rate in its almost absolute and universal authority.  It pervades the air we breathe.  As children we hear it asserted or implied in the conversation of our elders.  Every new stage of our educational training provides some additional testimony on its behalf.  Newspapers and novelists, orators and playwrights, even if they are little else, are at least loyal preachers of the Truth.  The skeptic is not controverted; he is overlooked.  It constitutes the kind of faith which is the implication, rather than the object, of thought, and consciously or unconsciously it enters largely into our personal lives as a formative influence.  We may distrust and dislike much that is done in the name of our country by our fellow-countrymen; but our country itself, its democratic system, and its prosperous future are above suspicion.

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The Promise of American Life from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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