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Idea of America

Debate keeps America vibrant.
Debate over what course America should take.
Debate over our shared, democratic values.
Debate over the extent that our shared values influence public policy—and in which direction

Far from being a sign that our democratic republic is failing, this raucous, controversial, enduring debate—this Great Debate—indicates our republic is healthy.

Americans continually seek, in the words of the Preamble to the Constitution, “to form a more perfect union.” Not everyone agrees on how best to do that—and that’s where civic and civil debate comes in. Americans have debated what course the nation should take since before there was a nation.

Where do you stand? Take our American Values Quiz and find out.



The Idea of America™ is a digital U.S. history program that presents our nation’s rich history, from pre-contact to the 21st century, through an original framework that views America as an enduring “Great Debate” between citizens based on four pairs of values.

Unity and diversity, freedom and equality, private wealth and common wealth, and law and ethics, fuel the continuing debate that is the essence of our democratic republic.

For adult learners as well as students, The Idea of America is a suite of resources that prepares learners for active citizenship.

Explore teacher professional development for The Idea of America.