American Exceptionalism Isn’t a Modern Idea


Alexis de Tocqueville concluded in the 1830s: “The situation of the Americans is entirely exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be put in the same situation.”

Regarding Juliana Geran Pilon’s “Let’s Take Exception to the Term ‘American Exceptionalism’” (op-ed, April 29): Abraham Lincoln, when searching for meaning in the midst of the tragedy of the Civil War, invariably returned to his belief that the U.S. “shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.” Alone among the world's nations, Lincoln believed the U.S. had succeeded in preserving liberty and democracy.