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The Redemptive SelfStories Americans Live By$
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Dan P. McAdams

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195176933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195176933.001.0001

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The Redemptive Self

Dan P. McAdams

Oxford University Press

The life stories told by many highly generative American adults tend to begin with childhood accounts of feeling special, blessed, or advantaged in some way, while also witnessing the suffering of others. Reflecting a classic and highly contested theme of American identity, highly generative adults feel, on a psychological level, that they are “the chosen people”. This chapter examines the idea of the chosen people in American culture and history, from the Puritan Myth of the 17th century, through the 19th century's notion of American manifest destiny, to 20th-century expressions to be found in the life and legacy of Woodrow Wilson, the Kennedy Peace Corps, and Maya Angelou's recitation at the first inaugural of President Bill Clinton.

Keywords:   Puritan myth, manifest destiny, Woodrow Wilson, Maya Angelou

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