American History Essay

1169 Words5 Pages
In the historical study, American Crucible: Race and Nation in the Twentieth Century, author and historian Gary Gerstle argues “that the pursuit of these two powerful and contradictory ideals—the civic and the racial—has decisively shaped the history of the American nation in the twentieth century” (5). In his study, Gerstle attempts to prove his argument to the American liberals of the twentieth century. Some of the American liberals Gerstle writes to include: presidents, congressmen of the 1920s and 1930s, government agencies, artists and reformer of the civil rights era. Gerstle believed that these American liberals were the most influential people of the twentieth century and they were the ones who fought for equal rights among minorities and also believed in the tradition and values of the civic nation. Also in this study, Gerstle is most interested in how these American liberals battled the two contradictory ideas of America and how they were capable of following both ideas at the same time. In this study, Gerstle centralizes his argument, stated in the introduction, around three terms – civic nationalism, racial nationalism and Rooseveltian nation – which he uses throughout his study. Gerstle defines civic nationalism as being an inclusive idea of America, where everyone is treated equally and fairly. Everyone is also given the opportunity to obtain the civic ideals promised in the Declaration of Independence – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Contrary to civic nationalism, racial nationalism is an exclusive idea of America where racial superiority is not only accepted, but also practiced. Gerstle also focuses on the idea of ethnorace; ethnorace is the combination of race, which is one’s physical ancestry, and ethnicity, which is one’s cultural ancestry. The third term Gerstle uses in his argument is Rooseveltian nation. The Rooseveltian, most

More about American History Essay

Open Document