From Library Journal
In this intellectual history, Howe (American history, Oxford Univ.) explores how Americans have developed their individualism or, as Jefferson phrased it, their "pursuit of happiness." Howe covers the entire 18th century and the first half of the 19th. In addition to Jefferson, he discusses figures like Jonathan Edwards, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Margaret Fuller. Howe demonstrates that all these individuals agreed that human passions must be controlled by reason and that individualism should retain a sense of virtue and a respect for the community. In the early 19th century, the quest for dignity and self-fulfillment expanded slowly to include blacks and women. An erudite study; recommended for academic and large public libraries.?Thomas J. Schaeper, St. Bonaventure Univ., N.Y.
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"An erudite, original, and often eloquent reconstruction of, and tribute to, a vital and protean tradition in American liberal culture."--Charles Capper, Boston University
"By reinvigorating a vanished past...Howe provides also much to ponder for the present. We have no better historian on broad questions at the intersection of mind and culture in the American past than Howe."--Mark A. Noll, University of Notre Dame
"Howe succeeds triumphantly in linking the cultural gestures of politicos like Madison and Lincoln with the formal systems of thinkers like Edwards, and middle-brow culture brokers like Mann, Emerson, and Fuller. His skill in dovetailing these otherwise angular and resistant minds illuminates landscapes of the American intellect...long closed off to view."--Allen C. Guelzo, Books & Culture