City Upon a Hill Blog

Welcome to Dr. Murnane’s D period history class blog. Here we will post the results to our “City Upon a Hill” project and compare the speeches of former presidents to President Obama. This blog will feature a time line, a spreadsheet with the final tally, video and photos.

Obey-Obama-Progress.jpg picture by feedyourwall


The following graphs are used to demonstrate the number of references president’s during the 20th century made to the “City Upon a Hill” idea, particularly as described by historian Alan Brinkley in an article for the Atlantic called the The Messiah Complex. The data was  compiled by Dr. Murnane’s D period history class, after reviewing presidential speeches found at the Presidential Speech Archive at the Miller Center for Public Affairs, University of Virginia. Students discussed the “ups and downs,” comparing them to a time line of  U.S. History. Students then commented to this post, explaining WHY these “ups and downs” appeared over the course of the 20th century.

Chart 1

Chart 2

Chart 3


President Obama’s Inaugural Address marked the beginning of America’s first black president to take the oath.

Full Text (click here)

Video (click here)

His address to Congress, Feb 2009 (click here)


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  • David: Throughout President Obama's speech he does not make many direct references to city upon hill because of the troubled U.S. economy. Obama understood t
  • Maya M.: The graph shows significant rises and falls in the frequency of "City Upon a Hill" references in presidential speeches. This is directly related to t
  • Gracjan Gajdzinski: The increased and decreased use of the "City Upon a Hill Speech" differed from each president and time period. Sometimes after a crisis the "City Upon