Frankly, before 2012 I was reluctant to attempt a Top Ten or Top Five list. I maintain what I consider a healthy sense of proportion regarding my modest efforts as a commentator on the history of the Founding Period, American political culture, and the link between the nation’s past and contemporary politics. However, thanks to you the reader 2012 was the year that “The Shout Heard ‘Round The World” gained modest but respectable attention. Some of my most-read posts generated several hundred views a day. That hardly puts me in the same realm as the Internet’s most popular bloggers, but the stats made me sit up and take notice. Apparently, I was joined by more than a few of you.
So, here are 2012’s Top Five — half as many as on Dave Letterman’s show, but twice as interesting:
No. 1: The provocatively titled “Is Slavery Really America’s ‘Original Sin’?” led the pack, a surprising result to me simply because the post was more of an effort to inform readers about independent scholarship rather than offer my opinion on the topic. The article directs readers to the an essay by Baylor University professor historian Thomas S. Kidd, who examines the question of whether the Founders needed moral perfection in order for us to respect their accomplishments during the American Revolution and the early Constitutional period.
No. 3: Could 2012 pass me by without a comparison between the zombie apocalypse, the dueling notions of the social contract in the United States, and the U.S. presidential election? I’d rather be eaten alive. Considering the average American’s taste in political news, I really thought this would be the No. 1 post, but numbers never lie. By the way, a hat tip to the nice people at ThirdRailers.com for picking up this piece for re-publication.
No. 4: My musings on Mr. Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address and how Lincoln’s rhetorical power is repeatedly based on the norms of rights, equality, and consent of the governed that he accepted as the basis for a civil society called the United States of America.
N0. 5: The world-wide influence of the Declaration included an admirer that might surprise most Americans: Ho Chi Minh drew his ideas (at least in part) from the document when he drafted the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence in 1945.
Finally, I will play favorites: My own pick for what I consider the best post of the year was my essay on Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln and its importance as the best cinematic explanation of how radically this nation needed to change in order for Jefferson’s promise of equality to take hold in the lives of all Americans.
Once again, Happy New Year! Soon, I get past the post-holiday sloth that has plagued me recently, and you will see even more posts during 2013. I am grateful for each and every one of you, the real reason why I write “The Shout Heard ‘Round The World.”