Magazine February 22, 2010, Issue

Back to Basics

The Statue of Liberty (Adrees Latif/Reuters)
We Still Hold These Truths: Rediscovering Our Principles, Reclaiming Our Future, by Matthew Spalding (ISI, 288 pp., $26.95)

For many today, the American Revolution was primarily a mil­itary campaign. But the “real American Revolution,” John Adams insisted, “was in the minds and hearts of the people,” transforming their “principles, opinions, sentiments, and af­fections.” According to Alexander Hamil­ton, America was to be the experiment that revealed “whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

Perhaps this is why Benjamin Franklin, when asked what type of government the Founders had created, quipped in reply: “A republic,

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