previous next

Chapter 9: Union and Liberty

“There is what I call the American idea,” declared Theodore Parker in the Anti-Slavery Convention of 1850. “This idea demands, as the proximate organization thereof, a democracythat is, a government of all the people, by all the people, for all the people; of course, a government on the principle of eternal justice, the unchanging law of God; for shortness' sake, I will call it the idea of Freedom.”

These are noble words, and they are thought to have suggested a familiar phrase of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, thirteen years later. Yet students of literature, no less than students of politics, recognize the difficulty of summarizing in words a national “idea.” Precisely what was the Greek “idea” ? What is today the French “idea” ? No single formula is adequate to express such a complex of fact, theories, moods — not even

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Theodore Parker (1)
Abraham Lincoln (1)
Gettysburg Address (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1850 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: