The Cranky Historian: The “Shining City”

Just for the record, and for what it’s worth: Last night during the debate, Governor Palin appeared to credit Ronald Reagan for coining the phrase “shining city on a hill.”

The phrase is not original to Reagan, as he himself noted when he used it during his “Farewell Address” of January 11, 1989. Indeed it’s one of the most-quoted phrases in American literature and politics and rightly so.

The quotation originated in “A Model of Christian Charity,” a sermon John Winthrop delivered in 1630 shortly before he and his fellow Puritans disembarked from their vessel Arabella and settled in North America.


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