the triumph of nationalist Progressivism was a change in thennature of American leadership. The old gentry, which hadnevolved leaders from the locality, had been supplanted by annational, even international, class of politicians, publicists,nexperts, intellectuals, and professionals who acted in manynrespects together, had, broadly speaking, common goals,nand who considered themselves to be the natural masters ofnthe nation. To a considerable extent the new nationalismnwas not a product of the grass roots but an ideology of thenmasters.nAnother internal aspect of the new nationalism was “thenMelting Pot.” The Melting Pot was the American answer tonthe immense changes brought by the New Immigration. Itnhad many aspects and could change its character dependingnupon which angle it was viewed from. It was amorphousnenough to provide comfort both to the old stock Americannuneasy with the changes sweeping over his country and thenimmigrant uneasy with his place in the New World.nTo the immigrant the Melting Pot offered opportunitynand assimilation: Americanization, which would bring withnit prosperity and full participation in democracy. To the oldnAmerican it offered the prospect of melting down an aliennmass into a form compatible with what he valued. It was anlittle unclear whether the immigrant would become in timenan Anglo-American or whether all would become togethernsomething new. In this very vagueness was its strength.nThere was about it something of the aspect of the oldnAmerican imposing his culture on the newcomer as ancondition of acceptance; this was to be accomplished chieflynin the time-tested ways that New Englanders had alwaysnproposed to tame wild Southerners and Westerners —nthrough the public school, disciplined labor, economicnprogress, moral exhortation, and appeals to an idealism ofnAmerican uniqueness. There was also about it an aspect ofnthe immigrant himself contributing to a newly emergentnculture. These ambiguities were not and never have beennresolved. The power of the Melting Pot ideal is not in itsnlogic but in its art, its ability to command common consentnfrom diverse groups.nThere were a number of concrete results of the process.nCatholics and Jews, from being small tolerated minorities,nbecame equal partners with Protestants in the Americannreligious commitment. The British Protestants went from annoverwhelming to a bare majority. Inherited differences innvalues, however, would inevitably complicate many areas ofnAmerican life and politics — the form and function of cityngovernments, the role of the public schools, the relationshipnof church and state, and perhaps most importantly, thennational stance toward other nations, many of which werentraditional homes or traditional enemies of large groups ofnvoters. The debacle of Prohibition was one example of thenensuing mess. The politics of ethnic coalition was another.nBoth the old American and the new American, to thenextent they valued their own culture and religious forms,nwere bound to feel a certain uneasiness with the compromisenthat bound them together. Yet America provided angenerally high standard of living, economic opportunity, vastnelbow room, and freedom from the pressure for conformitynthat results from external threat. The nationalism thatnemerged from the Melting Pot was a resounding success ofnwhich Americans were justly celebratory. At its best itnprovided a graceful surmounting of problems such as nonlarge society had ever faced and in the larger things showed anremarkable tolerance and cohesion. World War I revealednsome, but not insurmountable, tensions. World War IInconsolidated the success of Americanization. A regiment ofnJapanese-American volunteers piled up an impressive combatnrecord, and the Allied forces in Europe were led tonvictory by a German-American, Eisenhower. Americansnwere massively united, first in their reluctance to enter thenwar and then in their determination to win it.nMoreover, World War II, in the expansion of federalnpower and the mobilization of egalitarian senhment againstnfascism, laid the basis for another major movement—thenextension of de facto equality to the black Americans whonhad emerged from slavery some generations before. (It isnwrong to say, in the often-used phrase, that the Civil Rightsnrevolution was a completion of the long-deferred commitmentnto equality, because there never really had been anynsuch commitment before, except in a very rhetorical,nlimited, and expedient sense.)nAmericans used to be unified by thenConstitution—viewed largely asna negative restraint on government.nBut the Constitution now meansnwhatever the most powerful and adeptnpolitical forces want it to mean.nDuring and after World War II, American society for thenthird time made a perilous leap into the cauldron of history,nboiling down its existing consensus in the optimistic prospectnof moulding itself into a newer and more daring form.nThe Civil Rights revolution and a radical alteration of thenimmigration laws were simultaneously undertaken in thenI960’s. It was as if the Melting Pot, having proven itself ablento boil down all of Europe, was now to test its capacity to donthe same for the whole world. So natural and inevitable annext step in the progress of the success of Americanndemocracy did this seem, that it was hardly noticed. Thenalmost complete triumph of the Melting Pot ideal isnindicated by the fact that Americans, with no noticeablendemurrer, celebrated the centenary of the Statue of Libertynnot as a memorial to liberty but as a memorial to ethnicndiversity.nThe attempt to create a third form of American nationalismnalso had an external as well as an internal aspect.nFrom an actor on the world stage America perforce becamenthe leader of the world. Its prosperity, its security, itsnfreedom from major internal stress, its tolerance, its confidencenthat the present is always better than the past and thenfuture will always be better than the present, provided thenmodel for the world, at least in the minds of its leaders.nFor the first time the American leadership class, thenpoliticians and intellectuals who were the inheritors of thenProgressive era’s belief in elite and expert rule, in technique.nnnNOVEMBER 1990/19n