Business journals across the country carried an open letter from the Bradley Project on America’s National Identity, which called on the Commission on Presidential Debates to address the meaning of American national identity and how to strengthen it. Dr. Wilfred M. McClay, SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities at the University and professor of history, is one of a host of prominent historians, political scientists, and social commentators, who signed the letter.
The open letter follows the June 3 release of the Bradley Project Report, E Pluribus Unum. The report finds that America is in danger of becoming not “From Many, One,” but, “From One, Many,” and calls for a national conversation on preserving and enhancing our national identity. Over 200,000 citizens have visited the Bradley Project’s website, www.BradleyProject.org, since the report’s release, and its findings and recommendations have been endorsed by numerous editorial boards, commentators, and political leaders.
Speaking to the debate commission, the open letter concludes, “…we believe that the [debates’] goal of raising public awareness on our most critical national issues will only be achieved by including questions on our nation’s identity. The remaining debates are an opportunity to advance this conversation and serve the common good.”
McClay has been with the University since 1999. He made history when he became the first person to ever be appointed by the President of the United States for a second term to the National Endowment for the Humanities advisory board.
He has received the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Letters, awarded annually by the Ingersoll Foundation. He has also received the Fulbright Scholar Award.
McClay’s book The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America (North Carolina, 1994) won the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history published in the years 1993 and 1994.