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Where to find exceptional America
The Lincoln Memorial is one stop on our tour of exceptional American sites.
July 4th, 2012
11:39 AM ET

Where to find exceptional America

By Katia Hetter, CNN

(CNN) - This week, CNN is exploring American exceptionalism - the concept that the United States is exceptional when compared to other nations and is uniquely destined to bring democracy to the world.

That notion of American exceptionalism was promoted by the nation's founders and earliest leaders. It's especially evident in the places where the Puritans first landed and built their first settlements, where explorers traveled westward to fulfill the country's manifest destiny, and to purchase or take land by force.

"The American sites that evoke a sense of American exceptionalism are many; they include places that mark the history of our struggles to secure and protect liberty, and places that evoke the promise and opportunity that generations have found in America," says Thomas S. Kidd, a Baylor University history professor, a senior fellow at Baylor's Institute for Studies of Religion and author of "Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots," "God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution" and other early American history books.

We asked several American historians where they enjoy exploring the history of the United States. Here are some of their favorite spots:

Washington, D.C. There's nothing wrong with enjoying some of the United States' more well-known monuments to its history. A trip to Washington could include a visit to the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial and the National Archives. The National Archives Building Rotunda displays the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. (If this history lesson bores the children, promise them a visit to the International Spy Museum later.)

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