The Unique Character of American Innovation: The Men Who United The States

The Men Who United The States- Simon Winchester
Leave it to an Englishman to point out to us the importance that was early  on placed in uniting the American citizens into one nation, the idea always  being to connect. Simon Winchester’s new book, “The Men Who United the  States”  praises the uniqueness of Americans to persevere in establishing a  united country across the continent, unlike what happened in Europe and South  America.  It wasn’t an easy road to follow, nor was it always understood  that it would be accomplished.
But familiar names like the explorers Lewis and Clark and men like John  Wesley Powell, who surveyed the Grand Canyon proved to Americans what a rich  heritage in the land they had and encouraged appreciation and pride in holding  it together.
Some of the more interesting chapters in the book shed light on lesser  known names who were equally important in the work they did to bind the nation  together.  There were men like Ferdinand Hayden, who led a team of  scientists and artists in doing the first geological survey of Yellowstone  National Park, showing us the true value of the land on which we lived.   There was Theodore Judah, who dedicated himself to the construction of a  transcontinental railroad.  Thomas MacDonald was an interstate highway  visionary.  Inventions like the telegraph, the telephone, radio, and TV  similarly brought us together.  Then, of course, there was the  internet.
These were inventions that couldn’t have been done without the tremendous  role played by the government,  financing of the projects and seeing them  through to competion.  The government always stepped in as the  unifier, with the intention of establishing a  commonality that  assured our identity.
Winchester has eclectic interests, choosing subjects for his books that  most of us would overlook.  We’re fortunate in these fractured times to be  reminded of one of the qualities that has sustained us over the years, that of  choosing unification over balkanization, and remembering that without government  help and guidance, few of our successes would have been accomplished.   Winchester lauds a people and a government that work together, and does so in a  convincing fashion.
-Steve Corrigan
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