American Identity Essay, Research Paper
For hundreds of years, people have been immigrating to the United States in search of freedom, better living and the fulfillment of the American dream. Being an American means to uphold values of independence, responsibility and freedom. Patriotism and unity are main agents for a nation s identity. These values have been forged by our forefathers, and still remain vibrant in the American culture from east through west. As we will see, the existing American identity has been influenced by many factors, such as the Frontier, the Melting Pot and the political thoughts on this nation.
America represents the New World , where immigrants can do things they had thought beyond their capabilities. That s the reason why we find in here this great mix of backgrounds, and why America has been called the Melting Pot of cultures. A large part of American history involves the struggle of ethnic groups against the mainstream population in order to obtain respect and independence. Because the founding fathers were white males, many used to think that this should be the case with all citizens. In these days, with the varying backgrounds of American residents, this status can no longer be defined in terms of skin color. Although all these different races are living in the same country, not all of them are united only those who have been oppressed for centuries (blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc.) are finding commonalties in their struggles, and these are the people who are redefining the standards. Sometimes is the minority itself who holds the country s belief system in high regard, while the traditional Americans take them for granted.
A person can have pride in his own culture and still respect and adapt parts of another. This is the essential principle behind America: holding on to one s own beliefs while learning and accepting others. A simple example of influence of the Melting Pot in this country are the Mexican and Chinese restaurants, which are found all over the nation. Many of the foreigners that have come to the United States have managed to keep their culture and even contribute to a common American one. One single group cannot define this nation; it is all the ethnic groups and their cultures combined that make this country so unique.
Another contributing factor for the American identity was the Frontier. As the East Coast of America was the frontier to Europe, the West was the frontier to the Americans it was their place to take hold of and develop communities based on American values and beliefs. The West was also a place to get farther away from the European influence on the East Coast.
In general, the West was considered a wild place that has not seen the work of human being. Many people moved there because of the idea of free land that was waiting to be taken. Because the West was thought to be wild, Americans believed that if they could survive there, they would be able to survive almost any conditions or problems. Thus, the West became a place to prove oneself. Since not everyone was likely to move there, a sense of individualism emerged. People there didn t always have to worry about who was higher up in command; they were only concerned with their family and members of their community. Because this was a society of individuals, where everyone had a saying in what happened, democracy was the only possible solution to some sort of government.
Some distinguishing features of the Americans is that they re always growing, expanding and developing new things, and the Frontier was a good illustration of that. I believe that the settling on the West brought the American people strength and innovation. The strength came from the travelers having to move right into an undeveloped land and do very hard labor in order to make it look like a settlement. The innovation came from thinking how they would settle an area and with what materials.
Political thoughts on this nation also contribute to make America what it is today. Our forefathers have introduced politics in the early days. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and the Puritans were important figures that gave Americans the political state of mind that they have nowadays. Through the writing of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson clearly puts forth this country. This document served as a constant reminder that the civil liberties we enjoy today proceeded from the bond that our forefathers formed several centuries ago. Abraham Lincoln served his duty by given us the Gettisburg Address and the preamble of the Constitution. Lines like, We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect union, provide justice, insure domestic tranquility are lines that all politicians must think about before performing their duties. The Puritans are people who struggled working their theology into their everyday life. They have many paradoxes in their world and through these conflicts they have contributed to the American political thought. An example of their paradox is the idea of political liberty Vs- theocracy. Federalist papers, anti-federalist papers, and The Bill of Rights are documents that also influenced the political way of thinking in America.
As any human being can see, it takes more than just baseball, blond hair, and blue eyes to have the American identity. Americans today are people of fair skin, white, black, yellow, and many different colors of skin. They have blond, brown, black and red hair, and they do not have a specific body size or shape. What makes them American is all the knowledge and freedom that was given by our great ancestors. The Melting Pot, the Frontier, and political thoughts are ideas that run inside every American who is living today. It can be said that these are the foundations of becoming an American. This thought is true because all the different components fall into these broad categories. Having the American identity is something that any person can be proud of.