In a Raucous Country, Our Sense of Unity Has Often Emerged Through Conflict

A Diverse Nation, Built on Waves of Immigration, Has Found That Getting Along Is Not Always Easy

Americans of wildly disparate backgrounds have managed to find common ground over the course of the country’s history. But the process of cohering has been haphazard, raucous, messy and cruel, said distinguished scholars at a Zócalo/National Steinbeck Center event.

The panel discussion—titled “Did Americans Ever Get Along?” and held before a full house at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, California—took as its starting point the essay “E Pluribus Unum,” by the Nobel laureate and author John Steinbeck, from his 1966 collection America and the Americans.

Zócalo founder and publisher Gregory …