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1770s America
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1920s America
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"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 distinctive characteristics:

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, and 1920s.

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.