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, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 146–152 | Cite as

Richard Hofstadter’s Liberalism Problem

  • Anne M. Kornhauser
Symposium: Richard Hoftstadter and The American Political Tradition

Richard Hofstadter reveled in irony. So he may well have appreciated this one: Hofstadter, one of the great historians of liberal political culture in America, never devised a systematic history of American liberalism. The tide of “consensus” historiography rose after World War II, and Hofstadter’s The American Political Tradition (1948) was a key text in this search for consensual political beliefs.1 But unlike many of his contemporaries Hofstadter did not argue for a comprehensive “liberal tradition” in American history, or, more modestly, connect the two liberalisms he identified in his book.2He clearly rejected the property-worshipping individualistic liberalism that he said dominated American political culture until the 1930s— not only for its values but also for its stifling of alternative ideas (xxxvi). And he declared that in his own day of “cultural crisis” the country required a “new conception of the world.” Instead he found a new liberalism launched by the New Deal that,...

Further Reading

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History, City College of New YorkCUNYNew York CityUSA

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