To what extent had the US fulfilled its promise to be a City upon a Hill, by the end of the 19th century?
I would just like to know some events (social, political, and economic events that occurred in the 1600's-1800's) that embody the United State's City upon a Hill moment . I believe that by city upon a hill, it means that something that all other nations should look up to and attempt to mimic.
With that interpretation the only events I have are:
- US Constitution & Bill of Rights (Political - 1791): Democracy
- Hamilton Funding Plan (Economic - 1790): Saved the US's credit and secured the US's financial situation. Amazing tool for bad situations.
I think that the starting elements you have featured are fairly good. I would also include on this list the articulation of how the nation came into being. The Declaration of Independence helped to articulate the vision of what America is to stand for and the ideals to which it aspires. In this light, it became the blueprint for the nation in articulating and demanding freedom. Other nations have appropriated this document in their own struggles to be free. Along these lines, the document's implicit demand for rights on both a political and economic level have also played a vital role in the demands of freedom in other social and political settings. I think that the Washington's Farewell Address might also do much to symbolize how the nation could be vaulted to the top of a hill. In reaching out for a political system that is not predicated upon factions and internal division, Washington helped to show that political orders can be heterogeneous, but committed to the overall function of a nation. In this light, political structures are meant to bring people together and not drive them apart.
The original idea of the city on a hill was that the Puritans wanted their colonies to be an example of how to live by God's laws. This promise was clearly not fulfilled.
If that is not what you are talking about then presumably you are thinking of the US as a model of democracy and freedom. If so, then I would also talk about:
- the move to universal white male suffrage that occurred in the Jacksonian Era. This was something that happened in the US before it happened anywhere else.
- The fact that the US had welcomed immigrants from all over Europe by that point -- Germans, Irish, Russians, Poles, Italians, Jews, Catholics.
- The fact that the US had a great deal of opportunities for people to advance themselves -- look at the biography of Andrew Carnegie, for example.