American Identity

The Founding generation recognized the importance of cultivating a national character, by which they meant the formation of “a people” dedicated to the principles of the American Revolution and the great experiment in self-government. Today, Americans are fragmented, disunited, and unclear about what, if anything, they hold in common. The 2019-2020 Benson Center Theme, American Identity, seeks to explore and identify principles and purposes that Americans do or might in the future share, and to discover how to provide a way forward for republican self-governance in America.  

In keeping with the Center's "American Identities" theme, prominent academics examined the present state and future prospects of an American national character. Known as the "American National Character Project," the Center hosted conservative thought and policy scholars from a variety of disciplines to examine this theme. The series reflected a response to the repeated directions provided by George Washington at the founding of the United States that "we have a national character to establish."