As Alexander Hamilton put it, the American Experiment puts to the test the question ” . . . of whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice . . . or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”
This question surfaces throughout Jill Lepore‘s brilliant new history of the United States: These Truths. Our conversation took place during the live-streamed, virally-watched Senate Judiciary hearing on allegations that nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault while in high school. Jill comments on this historical moment and much more.
As she puts it in the book’s epilogue:
A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history.