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Illinois Wesleyan University

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From Exceptionalism To Imperialism: Culture, Character, And American Foreign Policy, Meghan A. Burke, Laura Langman Jan 2006

From Exceptionalism To Imperialism: Culture, Character, And American Foreign Policy, Meghan A. Burke, Laura Langman

Meghan A. Burke

Arthur Schlessinger (1983) suggested that the contradictions and paradoxes of American foreign policy reflected contradictions and paradoxes in the underlying character of the people. We would go further to suggest that the early years of colonial life, much like the early years of a person's life, had major consequences ever since. The intersection of Puritanism, available land, and eventually the rise of a commercial culture would forge a unique trajectory of what would be called “American Exceptionalism”, reflecting an “American character”, which itself is subject to three paradoxes or polarities, individualism vs. community, toughness vs. compassion, and moralism vs ...