Eric Thompson

Echoes of the Cold War: Edward Merrill Root’s Enduring Vision of America

Edward Merrill Root and ‘America’s Steadfast Dream’: A Timely Reappraisal

Edward Merrill Root, an often overlooked yet profoundly insightful writer of the mid-20th century, has seen his work “America’s Steadfast Dream” reemerge as strikingly pertinent in today’s socio-political climate. Amid the ideological fervor of the Cold War, Root’s writings provided a robust defense of American values, emphasizing liberty, individualism, and national integrity. These themes resonate anew as contemporary America navigates its own complex ideological battlegrounds.

Born in 1895 in Baltimore, Maryland, Root lived most of his life in New England. He attended Amherst College in Massachusetts, where he took poetry classes with Robert Frost. One of Frost’s most talented disciples, Root thoroughly absorbed his master’s style, avoiding the learned obscurities of modernism.

Root’s Intellectual and Patriotic Foundation

Root, a staunch advocate for classical liberalism, infused his work with a passionate defense of America’s foundational principles. His intellectual rigor and unwavering patriotism were hallmarks of his literary contributions, especially during the height of the Cold War. Root’s work was characterized by a deep-seated belief in the moral and philosophical superiority of American democratic ideals over the collectivist doctrines that were gaining traction globally.

Root’s reflections on American exceptionalism are particularly noteworthy. He articulated a vision of America as a beacon of freedom and opportunity, grounded in the values enshrined by the Founding Fathers. Root posited that the United States, with its unique blend of personal liberty and collective responsibility, stood as the antithesis to the oppressive regimes of the Soviet Union and other authoritarian states.

 A man sits at his typewriter, peering at his work, circa 1955.

Relevance in Contemporary Discourse

The themes explored by Root in “America’s Steadfast Dream” have regained relevance in today’s socio-political discourse. The ideological dichotomies that defined the Cold War era find echoes in the current polarization within American society. The tension between individual liberties and collective governance continues to be a central issue, underscoring the timelessness of Root’s arguments.

As noted in a recent Epoch Times article, Root’s emphasis on the inviolability of personal freedoms and his critique of overreaching governmental control resonate strongly in an era where debates over civil liberties, state power, and national identity are increasingly contentious. Root’s assertion that “the essence of America lies in its commitment to the principles of liberty, justice, and the rule of law” serves as a poignant reminder of the enduring values that underpin the nation’s ethos.

Root was best known for educating the public about the evils of communism. He published many studies on this subject during his 40-year tenure as a teacher at Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana.

In the 1955 “Collectivism on the Campus: The Battle for the Mind in American Colleges,“ Root examines an issue that is familiar to everyone today. In the book’s opening chapter, he describes the battle being fought over “man’s timeless spiritual war to affirm the freedom of the individual, the dignity of the person, against the flattening pressures of the group.” Root describes profiles of communist professors who negatively influence students’ attitudes and critical thinking; the socialist bias in textbooks across the spectrum of disciplines; purges of conservative faculty members; and academic conferences that, ostensibly about world peace, occur “under the shadow of hammer and sickle.”

A photo of E. Merrill Root that appears in the back of his book “America’s Steadfast Dream.”

The Cold War Context and Beyond

During the Cold War, Root’s writings were a bulwark against the encroachment of communist ideologies. He argued that the collectivist ideologies of the East were fundamentally incompatible with the individualistic spirit of the West. Root’s critiques were not merely political but also deeply philosophical, challenging the moral underpinnings of collectivist thought.

Root’s body of work, including his essays and speeches, underscored the importance of cultural and intellectual resistance to totalitarianism. He believed that the battle for hearts and minds was as crucial as the geopolitical struggle. This perspective is particularly relevant today, as the United States faces internal and external challenges that test its ideological coherence and commitment to democratic principles.

Root’s poems, straightforward and easy to understand, have been compared with the “primitive” paintings of Henri Rousseau. “View of Bievre-sur-Gentilly,” 1895, by Henri Rousseau. Oil on canvas.

A Conservative Perspective on Root’s Legacy

From a conservative viewpoint, Root’s unwavering defense of traditional American values offers a counterbalance to contemporary progressive narratives. His work advocates for a return to the foundational principles that made America a global leader and a bastion of freedom. Root’s critique of collectivism and his championing of individual rights align with the conservative emphasis on personal responsibility and limited government.

Root’s insights are a clarion call for a renewed appreciation of the principles that have historically guided American progress. As political and social debates intensify, Root’s writings provide a framework for understanding the importance of maintaining a balance between liberty and order, individual rights and communal responsibilities.

The Timeliness of Root’s Vision

Revisiting Edward Merrill Root’s “America’s Steadfast Dream” invites reflection on the enduring relevance of his vision for America. His articulation of a nation steadfast in its commitment to liberty, justice, and individual dignity serves as a guiding light in turbulent times. Root’s work, though rooted in the context of the Cold War, offers timeless insights into the values that continue to define and challenge the American experiment.

As the nation confronts new ideological battles and strives to uphold its democratic ideals, Edward Merrill Root’s writings stand as a testament to the enduring power of America’s steadfast dream. His legacy, marked by intellectual rigor and patriotic fervor, provides a critical lens through which to view the ongoing struggle to preserve the essence of American democracy.


Huge Spring Sale Underway On MyPillow Products

Use Promo Code FLS At Checkout

Inflation Buster: Freedom From High-Cost Cell Plans (50% off first month with promo code: FLS)

Freedom From High-Cost Cell Plans Same Phones, Same Numbers, Same Coverage For About Half The Price.


About The Author

More Posts

Send Us A Message