Lighting the Beacon: Presidential Discourse, American Exceptionalism, and Public Diplomacy in Global Contexts

Jason Gilmore, Charles M. Rowling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The idea of American exceptionalism has shaped American politics and captivated audiences for centuries. This study examines the global contexts in which U.S. presidents have invoked the idea of American exceptionalism when addressing foreign audiences since the end of World War II. Our results reveal: (a) differences in how U.S. presidents invoke American exceptionalism when speaking to a global audience (e.g., the United Nations) versus more localized, foreign audiences within individual states; (b) significant variation regarding which countries are more likely to be targets of American exceptionalism in U.S. presidential discourse; and (c) the profound impact that the end of the Cold War had on these dynamics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)271-291
Number of pages21
JournalPresidential Studies Quarterly
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • American exceptionalism
  • international relations
  • national identity
  • presidential discourse
  • presidential rhetoric
  • public diplomacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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