"E Pluribus Unum" was the
motto proposed for the first Great Seal of the United States by John
Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson in 1776. A latin phrase
meaning "One from many," the phrase offered a strong statement
of the American determination to form a single nation from a collection
of states. Over the years, "E Pluribus Unum" has also served
as a reminder of America's bold attempt to make one unified nation of
people from many different backgrounds and beliefs.
The E Pluribus Unum Project is designed for the use of students,
teachers, and other researchers who wish to explore the American experiment
in three critical periods in our national life: the revolutionary period
of the 1770s, the antebellum years of the 1850s, and the tempestuous
1920s. The site is structured in this way to allow visitors to assess
the distinctive nature of the American experiment in each of these periods,
as well as to analyze the way in which the national debate has changed
or remained the same over time. The collection also has several other
Resources will typically be arranged in topical clusters. In most cases,
a topical cluster will include: an introductory essay highlighting a
specific topic; questions and project proposals designed to promote
discussion, writing, and research; and a set of links and primary resources
(including e-texts, documents, and other digitized artifacts) intended
to facilitate on-line inquiry.
This site will also offer an extensive listing of links to on line
versions of works and speeches published in America in the 1770s, 1850s,
While many of the materials available here will relate to widely-studied
individuals, texts, and topics, this collection will also seek to illuminate
new issues for consideration.
Rather than simply celebrating the national ideal of making "one
from many," the resources on this site will document the kinds
of concerns and critiques Americans have voiced concerning the practice
of this principle over the years. While some have worried that the tensions
between the "many" will lead to chaos or even violence, others
have criticized America's failure to live up to its pledge.
Finally, this collection is designed to invite visitors to consider
both the content of our national debates and the rhetorical practices
and appeals used in each case. Who were the "many"; what differences
mattered in each period and why? And how did the many seek to become
one? What arguments did they use, and which appeals were most effective
in persuading the many to become one? In what forums did the debate
take place: in the pulpit, the press, the platform, the meetinghall,
the street? And what can these debates tell us about what it means to
be an American?
The E Pluribus Unum Project is
funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and
directed by Dr. John McClymer, Department of History, Assumption College.
Visitors are encouraged to send
inquiries or suggestions.