Pauline Maier, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), discusses several aspects of her book American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence. She reveals that the most stirring ideals for us today were an expression of the will of the people and the embodiment of the historical experiences of Americans, rather than the work of a single individual (Thomas Jefferson). She focuses particularly on the meaning and evolution of the phrase, "all men are created equal."
Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities and Director of the American Studies Program at Columbia University, Andrew Delbanco examines the evolution of the American Dream--the idea that anyone may rise above his or her station, regardless of birth. Beginning with the Puritans, Professor Delbanco traces the origins of the American Dream from the Calvinist fire-and-brimstone of Jonathan Edwards, to the swelling optimism of Emerson and Melville, to the present day.