In the 1920s a college dropout from Chicago was unloading oil drums from an American vessel on the Congo River when a vision of America came to him and gave him a lifelong mission. He then went back to college to study American history.1 Perry Miller eventually produced a shelf of scholarly books that have shaped the national soul because they provide a convincing explanation of its origins and character. Implausible as it may sound, Ronald Reagan’s invocation of the ‘city on a hill’ would never have happened without Miller’s work.