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George Bancroft (1800-1891) The Progress of Mankind (1854)

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George Bancroft (1800-1891)

The Progress of Mankind (1854)

Transcendentalism: A literary and philosophical movement, associated with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Margaret Fuller, asserting the existence of an ideal spiritual reality that transcends the empirical and scientific and is knowable through intuition.

George Bancroft

The Progress of Mankind (1854)

Point 1: Americans and their political system have discovered how to bring to bear the Divine mind, and thus we are destined for greatness.

…the condition of our race is one of growth or of decay. It is the glory of man that he is conscious of this law of his existence. (We great Americans choose growth.)

The progress of man consists in this, that he himself arrives at the perception of truth. The Divine mind, which is its source, left it to be discovered, appropriated and developed by finite creatures.

In this great work our country holds the noblest rank…. Our land extends far into the wilderness, and beyond the wilderness; and while on this side of the great mountains it gives the Western nations of Europe a theatre for the renewal of their youth, on the transmontane side, the hoary civilisation of the farthest antiquity leans forward from Asia to receive the glad tidings of the messenger of freedom. The islands of the Pacific entreat our protection, and at our suit the Empire of Japan breaks down its wall of exclusion….

George Bancroft

The Progress of Mankind (1854)

Point 2: In order to progress, each individual must contribute to the whole, and the whole of society is more intelligent than the wisest individual.

In order to advance human progress, it is every individual’s responsibility “to contribute some share to the general intelligence. The many are wiser than the few; the multitude than the philosopher; the race than the individual; and each successive generation than its predecessor….”

Point 3: “The human mind tends not only toward unity, but UNIVERSALITY.”

The world is just beginning to take to heart this principle of the unity of the race, and to discover how fully and how beneficently it is fraught with international, political, and social revolutions.