How Moses Shaped America

From the Revolution to the Cold War, the Old Testament hero has been the country's defining religious symbol. What we can learn from Moses today

Alinari Archives / Corbis

The Ten Commandments teach that freedom depends on law.

"We are in the presence of a lot of Moseses," Barack Obama said on March 4, 2007, three weeks after announcing his candidacy for President. He was speaking in Selma, Ala., surrounded by civil rights pioneers. Obama cast his run for the White House as a fulfillment of the Moses tradition of leading people out of bondage into freedom. "I thank the Moses generation, but we've got to remember that Joshua still had a job to do. As great as Moses was ... he didn't cross over the river to see the promised land."

Eight months into his presidency, Obama might...

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