A City on a Hill: Remembering America’s History

By Matthew Nicaud
October 8, 2021

On practically every level, America has been a shining display of freedom and prosperity. According to the vision of its Founders, the nation has shined as a beacon of hope to a world full of tyranny and hardship. Despite these successes, America’s legacy has been under attack over the last several years.

With a focus on the failures of an imperfect but inspiring history, revisionist historians have attempted to paint the nation as a society that was ultimately built on oppression and evil. Yet, such claims do not hold validity when you look at the track record of the country.

In 1630, the world was filled with empires and monarchs. In Europe, several wars overwhelmed a continent plagued by imperial rivalries. The Ottoman Empire stretched from Turkey to Sudan with the rule of an iron fist. Spain and Portugal imposed a reign of terror over Latin America. The nations existed for their rulers. Meanwhile, far from the centers of world activity, a few dozen settlers quietly sailed up the Charles River into Massachusetts, led by John Winthrop. With a vision for a righteous society of liberty and justice, Winthrop proclaimed his aim that the settlement they established be a “city on a hill” and that “the eyes of all people are upon us.”

That settlement would become the city of Boston. One hundred forty-five years later, the War for Independence would begin 10 miles away with “the shot heard around the world.” In the wake of American victory and the founding of the nation, 245 years of history have shown that America has indeed been a “city on a hill” placed prominently in the view of the whole world.

In January 1989, President Ronald Reagan spoke of America in his farewell address as a “city on a hill.” True to its legacy, America had recently stood up to the might of the Soviet Union and led the free world in the fight to preserve freedom from the tentacles of Communism. Less than a year after Reagan’s farewell address, the Berlin Wall came down in November 1989. By 1992, the Soviet Union itself had collapsed and America still stood as “the shining city.”

The year is now 2021 and most of the tyrannical regimes of the last 245 years have been resigned to the dust bin of history. Direct assaults on Winthrop and Reagan’s shining city have all proved to be futile. But the enemies of liberty have not yet given up.

Instead of trying again to attack the shining city directly, new ideologies have instead questioned whether the shining city ever existed in the first place. Defining America as a nation of racism, oppression, and subjugation, this revisionist history threatens the very foundation of America through philosophies such as Critical Race Theory. The opponents of liberty know that the only way the nation can ever lose its exceptional legacy is by the destruction of its history. This is why so many advocate for the deconstruction of history.

The fact that America has truly been “a city on a hill” stands firm. The success of the nation refutes any claims to the contrary. The nation that is called “the land of opportunity,” the nation that countless scores have built their lives in, the nation that has stood for freedom of religion and speech, this country’s historical legacy cannot be changed.

Yet, this legacy can only continue if America looks back to the foundations of former days. Americans must teach their history so that future generations can know the nation’s exceptional story. Efforts must be made to push back against the revisionism of those who assault the nation’s legacy as a city on a hill. The future of the nation depends on it.   


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