“Miracles do not cluster. Hold on to the Constitution of the United States of America and the republic for which it stands. What has happened once in six thousand years may never happen again. Hold on to your Constitution, for if the American Constitution shall fail there will be anarchy throughout the world.”
The American experiment stands apart from every other political project in history. What Abraham Lincoln called our “edifice of liberty and equal rights” is predicated on the faith of our founding fathers in human agency and equality, and in a transcendent order governed by the laws of nature and nature’s God. History moves not by chance but by human action; progress emerges not from labyrinthian bureaucracies but from community innovation.
Ours is a precious inheritance. But it is not guaranteed. Popular government can only endure in the presence of popular participation. It requires that we learn our freedoms so we can cherish them, and exercise them in a manner consistent with the order of nature. It also requires that we actively seek the flourishing of our neighbors and communities. In a word, it requires self-government.
These are the duties of citizenship, and this is the radical value proposition of American republicanism: a free people can govern itself.
Want to become a better citizen? Renewing the American Idea is designed to help. Sagamore’s team has curated some of our richest civic resources. The three tracks below provide recommendations for reading, teaching, and exploring citizenship throughout American history.
Click the links below for resources on furthering the experiment in self-government.