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American Exceptionalism

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Anthony Galvan

on 20 May 2013

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Transcript of American Exceptionalism


Puritan Roots
Colonized by religious pilgrims, America was intended to be a "City upon a Hill."
The moralistic values of the Puritans remain important to modern American culture.
The religious freedom that allowed Puritans to practice freely became a cornerstone of American democracy.
Cotton Mather was an important Puritan minister in the American colonies.
Republican Government
The founders believed that sovereignty lies with the people and not a ruling class.
The war for independence was a war for representation.
While other nations are defined by race, ethnicity, or religion, America is defined by a dedication to republican ideals.
The extended or large republic defied the conventional beliefs of republicanism at the time of the founding.
The refrain of "No Taxation without Representation" continues today in Washington, DC.
The American Frontier Spirit
The American identity is closely tied to the "taming of the frontier."
From the Pilgrims to the Gold Rush and Manifest Destiny, America's history is one of expansion and adventure.
Previous empires expanded through conquest of nations. The American conquest is perceived as one against a vast expanse of unsettled land.
The settling of the frontier is thought to be the foundation of American individualism.
Historian Frederick Jackson Turner's Frontier Thesis suggests that the American frontier experience shaped its spirit of democracy and innovation.
What is American Exceptionalism?
The belief that America is substantively and significantly different from other nations in history.
The first new nation, one that was "conceived in liberty."
The belief that what makes America different, also makes it great.
Alexis de Tocqueville is often credited as the first to decribe America as "exceptional" in his book Democracy in America.
What makes America different?
Immigration & Assimilation
Founded by Pilgrims from Europe, America has been a nation of imigrants from the start.
The American identity is a unique one that has developed over time from the traditions and characteristics of many nationalities.
The inscription at the base of the Statue of Liberty serves as a reminder of America's imigrant roots.
President Ronald Reagan embodied the frontier spirit and described America as a "Shining City on a Hill."
Is America Really Exceptional?
Are all of the components of American exceptionalism unique?
Are some of them exagerated?
Exceptional or Not...
All of these things are base components of an American Ideology and culture.
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