“The Nation That Never Was”
Kermit Roosevelt III of the Carey Law School at the University of Pennsylvania is the author The Nation That Never Was, Rebuilding America’s Historya book that deals with the perception of American values over time.
From the publisher:
Our idea of Founders America and its values is not true. We are not the heirs of the Founders, but we can be the heirs of Reconstruction and its vision of equality.
There is a common story we tell about America: our core values as a country were set forth in the Declaration of Independence, fought against in the Revolution, and made law in the Constitution. But, with the country increasingly divided, that story no longer works for us – what’s more, it’s not even true. As Kermit Roosevelt argues in this revealing reinterpretation of American history, our core values, especially equality, are not part of the Founders’ vision. Instead, they were spelled out in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and were the hope for reconstruction, when it was possible to envision the emergence of a nation committed to freedom and equality. .
We face a dilemma these days. We want to be honest about our history and the racism and oppression that Americans have both inflicted and endured. But we also want to be proud of our country. In The Nation That Never Was, Roosevelt shows how we can do both of these things by realizing that we are not the country we thought we were. Reconstruction, Roosevelt argues, was not a fulfillment of Foundation ideals, but rather a repudiation: we modern Americans are heirs not of the Founders but of the people who overthrew and destroyed that political order. This alternative understanding of American identity opens the door to a new understanding of ourselves and our history, and ultimately to a better America.
The America of today is not the America of the founders, but it may be the America of Lincoln. Roosevelt offers a powerful and inspiring retelling of our country’s history and reveals a shared past that we can be proud to claim and use as the basis for working toward a country that fully embodies equality for all.
As a professor, Roosevelt specializes in constitutional law and conflict of laws. He is rapporteur for the reformulation of the third law, Conflict of laws.