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An essay on the American contribution and the democratic idea by Winston Churchill
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By Winston Churchill

Failure to recognize that the American, is at heart an idealist is to
lack understanding of our national character. Two of our greatest
interpreters proclaimed it, Emerson and William James. In a recent
address at the Paris Sorbonne on "American Idealism," M. Firmin Roz
observed that a people is rarely justly estimated by its contemporaries.
The French, he says, have been celebrated chiefly for the skill of their
chefs and their vaudeville actors, while in the disturbed 'speculum
mundi' Americans have appeared as a collection of money grabbers whose
philosophy is the dollar. It remained for the war to reveal the true
nature of both peoples. The American colonists, M. Roz continues, unlike
other colonists, were animated not by material motives, but by the desire
to safeguard and realize an ideal; our inherent characteristic today is a
belief in the virtue and power of ideas, of a national, indeed, of a
universal, mission. In the Eighteenth Century we proposed a Philosophy
and adopted a Constitution far in advance of the political practice of
the day, and set up a government of which Europe predicted the early
downfall. Nevertheless, thanks partly to good fortune, and to the
farseeing wisdom of our early statesmen who perceived that the success
of our experiment depended upon the maintenance of an isolation from
European affairs, we established democracy as a practical form of

We have not always lived up to our beliefs in ideas. In our dealings
with other nations, we yielded often to imperialistic ambitions and thus,
to a certain extent, justified the cynicism of Europe. We took what we
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