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The American Spirit

Who We Are and What We Stand For

By David McCullough
10-minute read
Audio available
The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough

The American Spirit (2017) is a collection of five speeches given by historian David McCullough on various occasions, including graduation commencements, Independence Day and the anniversary of the White House. Taken together, these speeches capture the American spirit, and offer a fond look back at its troubled history, as well as the people who have fought to make the nation a better place.

  • Politicians, political science students and news junkies
  • Historians fascinated by the growth of the United States
  • Anyone chasing their own version of the American dream

David McCullough is a historian and successful author and narrator. He has received two Pulitzer Prizes, one for his writing about the thirty-third US president, Harry S. Truman, and the other for his biography about the second US president, John Adams.

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The American Spirit

Who We Are and What We Stand For

By David McCullough
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough
Synopsis

The American Spirit (2017) is a collection of five speeches given by historian David McCullough on various occasions, including graduation commencements, Independence Day and the anniversary of the White House. Taken together, these speeches capture the American spirit, and offer a fond look back at its troubled history, as well as the people who have fought to make the nation a better place.

Key idea 1 of 6

The achievements of Congress and John Quincy Adams, despite his size, are worth remembering.

Are you familiar with the Car of History? It’s a sculpture by the Italian artist, Carlo Franzoni, and it can be found in the United States Capitol, the home of the US Congress in Washington, DC.

The sculpture portrays Clio, the Greek muse of history, in a winged chariot. The wheel of the chariot is a clock made by Simon Willard, a legendary clockmaker from Massachusetts. This sculpture, with its emphasis on time and its unique location, should serve as a reminder of all that’s been achieved in the United States by its many formidable politicians.

One of the most significant of these formidable politicians was John Quincy Adams, the sixth president of the United States, in office from 1825 to 1829. His legacy should always serve as a reminder that a person is more than his appearance. After his four years as president, Adams served another 17 years as a Massachusetts congressman.

Despite being short and appearing quite frail, Adams was no less afraid to speak his mind and fiercely defend his beliefs. As a result, he achieved a great many things.

Adams was an especially strong voice on behalf of science, and he was an important figure in the creation of the Smithsonian Institution. Founded in 1846, the Smithsonian has become a beacon of science and knowledge for curious minds around the globe.

Adams was also a determined ally in the fight for equal rights, and played a vital role in the repeal of the Gag Rule, a regulation meant to quiet anyone who protested against slavery.

However, while the legacy of Adams is strong, we must not forget the many other men and women of Congress who battled to improve the lives of their fellow Americans.

With their help, child labor was eliminated in the early twentieth century and, in 1862, the Homestead Act was passed, helping poor farmers buy land and stopping the expansion of slavery.

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