Time Essay: The Morning After the Fourth: Have We Kept Our Promise?

British Critic Sir Denis Brogan liked to tell about an incident that happened just after President Andrew Jackson died. A visitor attending his funeral asked one of Jackson's slaves whether he thought the general would go to heaven. The slave replied, "He will if he wants to." Brogan added the moral: General Jackson was and is a symbol of the typical American.

Perhaps not so typical any longer. The belief that America can go to heaven if it wants to, indeed that it has created a kind of heaven on earth, has been badly damaged lately. Last week's Fourth of July rhetoric...

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