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  James Ceaser
  Rick O'Donnell
  James Rees
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Press Releases
»
January 8, 2009 President-elect Obama and the New Congress Must Address the Eroding Sense of American National Identity
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September 30, 2008 Presidential Debates Must Address America’s Identity Crisis
»
August 12, 2008 Over 200,000 Americans Have Joined the Nationwide Conversation on America’s National Identity
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June 3, 2008 The Bradley Project Releases its Report, “E Pluribus Unum.”

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News Release  

January 8, 2009

Contact:xSteven Hofman
301-520-1306 or 970-871-4551
press@bradleyproject.org

President-elect Obama and the New Congress Must Address the
Eroding Sense of American National Identity

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Washington, D.C. The Bradley Project on America’s National Identity (www.BradleyProject.org) released an open letter today urging the new leadership in the White House and in Congress to use upcoming national events like the Presidential Inauguration and the State of the Union Address to strengthen our national unity.

The open letter, signed by a number of prominent historians, political scientists and social commentators, specifically recommends addressing the following:

  1. The challenge of integrating newcomers into America, as well as engaging future generations, so that they participate fully in America’s social, economic and civic life.
  2. The relationship between a strong national identity and the long-term health of American democracy.  As historian Gordon Wood observes, “It’s our history, our heritage, that makes us a single people.”
  3. The direction and character of civic education including the teaching of history that exposes students to America’s great heroes, dramatic achievements and high ideals, and that emphasizes those “mystic chords of memory” that Abraham Lincoln believed held our country together.

 

The open letter follows the release last year of the Bradley Project Report, E Pluribus Unum.  That report found that America is in danger of becoming not “From Many, One,” but, “From One, Many,” and calls for a national conversation on preserving and enhancing our national unity.  Over 250,000 citizens have visited the Bradley Project’s website since the report’s release, and its findings and recommendations have been endorsed by numerous editorial boards, commentators, and political leaders.

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News Release  

September 30 , 2008

Contact:xSteven Hofman
301-520-1306 or 970-871-4551
press@bradleyproject.org

PRESIDENTIAL DEBATES MUST ADDRESS AMERICA’S IDENTITY CRISIS

Bradley Project Releases Open Letter from David McCullough;
 Robert David Johnson, Brooklyn College and Historians for Obama;
James W. Ceaser, University of Virginia; Among Others

 

WASHINGTON, DC (September 30, 2008) — The Bradley Project on America’s National Identity today released an open letter calling on the Commission on Presidential Debates to address the meaning of American national identity and how to strengthen it. The letter is signed by a number of prominent historians, political scientists, and social commentators, including Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, Brooklyn College professor and Historians for Obama member Robert David Johnson, and University of Virginia professor James W. Ceaser.

The open letter follows the June 3 release of the Bradley Project Report, E Pluribus Unum. The report finds that America is in danger of becoming not “From Many, One,” but, “From One, Many,” and calls for a national conversation on preserving and enhancing our national identity. Over 200,000 citizens have visited the Bradley Project’s website, www.BradleyProject.org, since the report’s release, and its findings and recommendations have been endorsed by numerous editorial boards, commentators, and political leaders.

“The debates need to cover a number of critical national concerns—including America’s identity crisis,” said Anne D. Neal, a signer of the letter and the president of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. “Over our history, America’s greatest leaders have been those who provided leadership on behalf of national unity, common purpose, and shared sacrifice. We must see that the president elected in 2008 does the same.”

Speaking to the debate commission, the open letter concludes, “...we believe that the [debates’] goal of raising public awareness on our most critical national issues will only be achieved by including questions on our nation’s identity. The remaining debates are an opportunity to advance this conversation and serve the common good.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

August 12, 2008

Contact:xSteven Hofman
301-520-1306 or 970-871-4551
press@bradleyproject.org

Over 200,000 Americans Have Joined the Nationwide Conversation
on America’s National Identity

Bradley Project Reaching Millions Since its Launch 60 Days Ago

Initial Momentum Continues Through Efforts to Engage the Presidential Campaigns, Members of Congress, and State and Community Leaders Across the Nation.

 

WASHINGTON, DC (August 12, 2008) — America is facing an identity crisis. That was the conclusion of E Pluribus Unum, a report issued on June 3 by the Bradley Project on America’s National Identity. The Project’s goal was to initiate a national conversation involving Americans concerned about the implications of this growing crisis, and it has done just that.

Award-winning historian David McCullough called the Project’s report “the clearest, most powerful summons yet, to all of us, to restore the American story to its rightful, vital place in American life and in how we educate our children.”

Other notable historians and social commentators have also endorsed the report including Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer Prize winner and professor of diplomatic history at the University of Pennsylvania; James Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia; Harry Lewis, former dean of Harvard College; Amy A. Kass, senior lecturer at the University of Chicago; Sandra Stotsky, professor at University of Arkansas; Lionel Chetwynd, motion picture and television producer; and James C. Rees, executive director of George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

In just over 60 days, the Project website (www.BradleyProject.org) has attracted more than 200,000 visitors, many of whom have spoken directly to the issues and findings in the Project’s report.  Everett Hayes of Suffolk, VA, wrote, “An American is a person that knows that he is free and respects the freedom of others.  It means that you live in a country with many different ethnic, religious and idealistic backgrounds but we are united under one common set of laws that protect us all equally.  It means being willing to do what is right even when it is unpopular.”

Prominent journalists and editorial boards—from a wide range of political perspectives—have been reacting, too.

David Broder of the Washington Post observed that “with Barack Obama and John McCain debating the ‘patriotism issue,’ having a coherent discussion of this matter—and this short pamphlet [E Pluribus Unum] is admirably written and well-researched—is a useful contribution.”  CNN’s Lou Dobbs has said, “This is a frightening, disturbing report because we are failing.  We have demonstrably failed a generation of Americans, my generation and that’s scary.”  Dan Haley of the Denver Post described the report as “cut[ting] across party lines and question[ing] what it really means to be an American in 2008.”  And, a full page editorial in the Detroit Free Press said, “The idea of the National Identity project is not so much to advance a certain concept of who we are as to foster a broad national conversation about what it means to be an American, ‘and to affirm the belief that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.’”

Requests for the report continue and the publication has already gone through its first printing.   E Pluribus Unum has also been featured in prominent publications including The Atlantic, the Savannah Morning News, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Commentary, the Washington Times, and National Journal.  It was also featured on CNN and on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal and on numerous radio talk shows across the country.

Since the report’s release, the Project has sought to engage the Obama, McCain, Barr, and Nader presidential campaigns in the report’s findings and recommendations.  This effort will continue through the fall campaign and the Presidential debates, along with ongoing media outreach.  The Project also intends to advance the conversation by, among other things, enlisting state legislators, policymakers, and educational and community leaders to support the Project’s goals.

The Bradley Project on America’s National Identity is underwritten by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation of Milwaukee, WI.  It is administratively overseen by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, Washington, DC-based organization with a long and deep interest in civic education.  The Bradley Project’s report, E Pluribus Unum, was released at the National Press Club on June 3, 2008.  For more information, see www.BradleyProject.org.

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NEWS RELEASE   June 3, 2008

Contact:xSteven Hofman
301-520-1306 or 970-871-4551
press@bradleyproject.org

The Bradley Project
Releases its Report, “E Pluribus Unum.”
Calls for National Dialogue on America’s National Identity.

Report Finds that America is Facing an Identity Crisis and is in Danger of
Becoming not “From Many, One” – E Pluribus Unum – But its Opposite,
“From One, Many.”

Sixty-Three Percent of Americans Believe our National Identity
is Weakening, and One in Four Believe the Nation is So Divided That a
Common National Identity is Not Possible.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, Washington, D.C.    The Bradley Project on America’s National Identity today released its Report, “E Pluribus Unum,”the product of a two-year study involving a number of our nation’s leading academics, public figures, journalists, educators and policy experts.  The report examines four aspects of American life crucial to American identity: historical memory, civic education, assimilation, and national security.

The report finds that America is facing an identity crisis and calls for a national dialogue on America’s national identity.  According to James Ceaser, professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a participant in the project, America’s understanding and appreciation of diversity is important but must be balanced by an emphasis on what we share.  “In selecting the title E Pluribus Unum, the Project embraces the conviction that plurality and unity are not necessarily in tension with one another, but are supporting ideas of the same national experiment,” Ceaser said.  “Plurality is only made safe when it when it is grounded in a deeper commitment to national unity.  Unity is the precondition for healthy diversity.”

To inform its work, the Bradley Project asked HarrisInteractive to conduct a study on Americans’ views on national identity.  The good news is that most U.S. citizens believe there is a unique national identity that defines what it means to be an American.  The troubling news is that over six in ten believe our national identity is getting weaker.  And “even more troubling is that younger Americans – on whom our continued national identity depends – are less likely than older Americans to believe in a unique national identity or in a unique American culture.” Indeed only 45 percent of 18-34 year old Americans believe that the U.S. Constitution
should trump international law in instances where there is a conflict.

According to Professor Ceaser, “The weight of all this evidence suggests mounting confusion about the meaning of American national identity and a loss of commitment to its promotion.”

“The findings from the report are sobering and significant.  They raise subjects that are vital to our future, transcend partisanship, and clearly resonate with the American people,” said Rick O’Donnell, Executive Director of the Bradley Project.  O’Donnell continued: “Our intention is that the report be the starting point for a national conversation on these important issues.  Silent Spring in 1962 started a conversation that brought about significant changes in our environment.  A Nation at Risk in 1983 launched an ongoing national conversation that continues to reshape American education.  It is in that tradition that we release E Pluribus Unum.

A number of notable scholars have already joined this conversation and commented on the Bradley Project report.

Walter A. McDougall, Pulitzer-prize winning historian and professor at the University of Pennsylvania calls the report: “An eloquent defense of America’s intellectual, civic, and moral identity that deserves wide circulation, especially among American youth.”

Harry Lewis, former Dean at Harvard College, says of the report: “A stirring reminder that America is more than the union of our differences, and a rational program for preserving the nation by passing American ideals on to the next generation of citizens.”

Amy A. Kass, of the University of Chicago, writes: “The Bradley Project’s report addresses the urgent problem of American identity in our global and multicultural age, and its wise recommendations for promoting civic consciousness and civic understanding couldn’t be more timely or more fitting.”

James C. Rees, Executive Director of Mount Vernon, said: “This report confirms what we experience at Mount Vernon every day – that most Americans know precious little about their own history.  George Washington’s face is still familiar to most Americans, because we see it each day on the dollar bill.  But when asked about Washington’s character and leadership, which made all the difference in the world to the founding of our nation, the average citizen is rendered speechless.”

The report makes clear that we didn’t get to this point overnight, and that addressing our challenges is a long-term imperative.  In addition to its call for an immediate and comprehensive national dialogue on America’s national identity, it recommends:

  a renewed focus on the teaching of American history,
  embracing America’s heroes and historic landmarks,
  affirming the benefits of diversity, but not adopting policies that perpetuate divisions or compromise our national identity,
  inaugurating an initiative to ensure immigrants learn English, understand democratic institutions, and participate fully in the American way of life,
  and creating an annual Presidential Award for American Citizenship for students and new citizens who demonstrate exemplary understanding of and commitment to American ideals and institutions.

Professor Ceaser concludes: “The report speaks of a nation ‘founded not on a common ethnicity,’ but ‘on an idea.’  And it argues that ‘a nation founded on an idea starts anew with each generation and with each new group of immigrants.’”  “Knowing what America stands for is not a genetic inheritance,” said Ceaser.   “It must be learned, both by the next generation and by those who come to this country.  From this premise follow many of the recommendations to strengthen the serious study of American principles and the American founding at all levels of education, including college.”

 

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Note: a clarification was issued on June 10, changing the language in the press release to read as now noted.

Copyright 2008 The Bradley Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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