An Alexander Hamilton
may urge with passionate force the adoption of the Constitution
, without any firm conviction as to its permanence.
The most clear-sighted American of the Civil War
period recognized this element of uncertainty in our American adventure when he declared: “We are now testing whether this nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
More than fifty years have passed since that war reaffirmed the binding force of the Constitution
and apparently sealed the perpetuity of the Union
Yet the gigantic economic and social changes now in progress are serving to show that the United States
has its full share of the anxieties which beset all human institutions in this daily altering world.
“We are but strangers in an inn, but passengers in a ship,” said Roger Williams
This sense of the transiency of human effort, the perishable nature of human institutions, was quick in the consciousness of the gentleman adventurers and sober Puritan
citizens who emigrated from England
to the New World.
It had been a familiar note in the poetry of that Elizabethan period which had followed with such breathless interest the exploration of America
It was a conception which could be shared alike by a saint like John Cotton or a