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Myths America Lives ByWhite Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning$
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Richard T. Hughes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042065

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.001.0001

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The Myth of the Millennial Nation

The Myth of the Millennial Nation

The Early National Period

Chapter:
(p.130) Chapter Five The Myth of the Millennial Nation
Source:
Myths America Lives By
Author(s):

Richard T. Hughes

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.003.0005

The myth of the Millennial Nation held that the United States, grounded as it was in the natural order, would shine its example around the globe until all nations of earth had abandoned despotic rulers and claimed the natural order of freedom and democracy for themselves. White Americans in the early national period, therefore, stood with one foot in the mythic age of creation and the other in the mythic, golden age to come. History became irrelevant. Early in the nineteenth century, white Americans imagined that the millennial transformation of the globe could be wrought solely through America’s moral example. But moral example gave way to force and violence as the myth of the Millennial Nation gave way to the doctrine of manifest destiny. By the early twentieth century, manifest destiny morphed into the American Dream. If manifest destiny had turned the millennial vision outward, inspiring the acquisition of both land and opportunity for economic investment abroad, the American Dream turned the millennial vision inward, inspiring new visions of opportunity at home. As the nation transitioned from millennial vision to manifest destiny to American dream, the myth of White Supremacy was the constant connecting factor that underpinned all three.

Keywords:   millennial nation, natural order, golden age, freedom, democracy, manifest destiny, American Dream, moral example, White Supremacy, early national period

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