The Hidden Story Behind "America The Beautiful"

I’m sure you’re familiar with America the Beautiful, America’s most popular anthem. But you may not be aware of the hidden history behind the song and the remarkable story of the feminist, suffragist, teacher, social reformer and lover of nature and beauty who wrote it.


You may not have heard the lines “May God thy Gold refine,” a comment on the injustice and false values of the Gilded Age, or “God mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control,” a comment on both American imperialism in the Spanish American war, and a call to restrain our greed for money.


When she wrote AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL on top of Pikes Peak in 1893, Katharine Lee Bates celebrated America’s glorious beauty “from sea to shining sea,” but wanted us to correct its flaws—racism, exclusion, inequality, imperialism and the lack of rights for women, so that our social and economic civilization might match the beauty of our landscape, and “crown thy good with Brotherhood.”


Bates’ song and her dream can bring Americans together again in this polarized time, as a politics of beauty might also do. It is certainly America’s most popular song, and Ray Charles and others have tried to make it our national anthem.

Now, I hope you’ll considering supporting our new film through our Kickstarter campaign.  


Please consider support now.  Thanks so much.

John de Graaf


John de Graaf

John de Graaf is an author, award-winning documentary filmmaker and president of Take Back Your Time, an organization fighting overwork and time poverty in America.

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