Sean Wilentz: The Politicians and the Egalitarians: The Hidden History of American Politics

Oct 17, 2016


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Wilentz studies U.S. social and political history. He teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses on U.S. history, focusing on the 19th century. He has also taught courses on American literature and 20th-century American culture and politics. His book, “The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln” (2005), was awarded the Bancroft Prize and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. According to Wilentz, “There are two keys to unlocking the secrets of American politics and American political history.” First, America is built on an egalitarian society—the belief in the equality of all people, especially in political, economic or social life. Second, the author asserts, partisanship is a permanent fixture in America, and America is the better for it.