American exceptionalism




Accordingto Frederick Jackson Turner, the American national character such asmaterialism and democracy are based on the frontier experience. TheTurner theses emphasizes on the moving frontier line process and itseffect on the founders who underwent the experience. In addition, heemphasized that the main outcome of the frontier line process was theAmerican democracy. However, he also notes that it contributed to thedevelopment of egalitarianism, and lack of desire for high violenceand culture. In the theory, he stated that, “Americandemocracy was born of no theorist`s dream it was not carried in theSarah Constant to Virginia, nor in the Mayflower to Plymouth. It cameout of the American forest, and it gained new strength each time ittouched a new frontier1”.The philosophy asserts that the American Frontier achieved libertythrough freeing Americans from European way of thinking and grindingdown the dysfunctional and outdated customs. The frontier did notrequire guidance and assistance from established armies, aristocrats,established churches, nobles and a class of landowners who heldcontrol over big tracts of land. Besides, European tenants paidexpensive rents to the landowners, but the frontier team acquiredland freely. In respect to the Turner’s theses, stressing on adistinct national identity is appropriate within an increasinglydiverse nation-state and an ever-globalizing world as the environmentas it prevents countries from losing the ethical foundations thesociety pioneers set.

Severalsettlers moving from Europe to the present day United States duringthe seventeenth century had several behaviors that resembled theEuropean characters. However, some European immigrants fought for aunique American culture that could give them special freedom theycould not practice from their homelands. For example, William Pennwas one of the founders of American religious liberty. He iscredited as the founder of the present day Pennsylvania province.Penn was born in England in 1644 in an Anglican family, as it was thesole religion accepted by the English monarch administration2.Penn converted to the Quakers faith at the age of twenty-two, and hewas still living in London. Penn’s father, a senior soldier inEnglish Monarch, both banished his son from their home and withheldhis inheritance because he joined the Quaker religion. In addition,Penn was jailed many times when he was living in England because ofconverting from Anglican to Quaker faith. In 1650s, the turmoil ofCromwellian revolution, several religion sects opposing the Anglicanfaith emerged3.However, after Oliver Cromwell’s demise, the crown wasre-established. The King responded harshly to other religious sects. Penn proposed to the King and the Duke that he should allow theQuakers and other minority religion sects prohibited in England tomigrate to America. The immigrants included other religiousminorities such as the Catholics from Germany and Ireland. Theimmigrants founded the modern day Pennsylvania. Besides, theadministration ethics Penn proposed in the state created a foundationfor the freedom of worship, which is a crucial component ofAmericanism. The distinction of religious freedom alienates theUnited States from several allies that still practice religiousrestriction, but it has promoted growth of the nation towardsglobalization4.

Americanismis also helps to keep Americans accountable of their own ideals, aswell as encourage emulation by other countries.For example, theUnited States has invested heavily in military and warfare technologythat gives it the ultimate authority for preventing countries fromattacking each other. In addition, the United States serves theworld’s hegemony hence, it controls economies, politicaldecisions, government administrations, and democracy implementationacross the world. In other words, it is the benchmark of democraticleadership. A notable historical achievement of the Americanism wastrade abolishment5.Thomas Jefferson, one of the greatest American presidents, scientist,philosopher, and scholar championed the through prohibiting importation of Slaves into the United States. Inhis 1785 book, Noteson the State of Virginia,Jefferson recommended that slavery should be abolished in order toencourage peaceful existence between the whites and the blackcommunity6.In addition, Jefferson portrayed the American exceptionlism ofpatriotism by authorizing the “First Barbary War”. The conflictwas the first war the United States participated in foreign watersand land. It was mainly targeting the North African pirates who wereattacking American merchant ships, enslaving the crew, stealing thecommodity on transit or even demanding for heavy ransoms for freeinghostages. Besides, Jefferson enhanced the ofgaining vast wealth as he doubled the size of the United Statesduring his presidency. On the same note, he portrayed the Americanexceptionalism of the quest for knowledge with his vast education andknowledge background. He was interested in philosophy, religion,architecture, science, and invention apart from being a politicalleader. As Herman Melville once said, “Youcannot spill a drop of American blood without spilling the blood ofthe whole world we are not a nation as much as a world we are theheirs of all time and with all nations we divide our inheritance7.”The statement symbolizes the significance of Americanism as thebenchmark of democracy and peaceful coexistence in the world.

TheAmericans believe they are distinct from other societies in the worldas they are the perfect community presently existing beneath the sun.Americanism ensures that everyone is free and in a position to live alucrative life as long as he or she willing to work hard. TheAmerican constitution contains several laws that enhance capitalismand prosperity for everyone. For example, Oliver Wendell Holmes,Jr., is one of the most popular American jurists associated withforwarding classic arguments that are still used in deciding majorcases. Holmes is famous for his long service in the United Statesjudiciary, as well as aggressive advocacy for the “FirstAmendment8”. He used his experience from the American Civil War to promote totransform American legal thinking into legal realism. He contributedsignificantly to the American jurisprudence after he rejected thenatural law and elaborated the moral skepticism. For instance, the“clear and present danger” was an argument he forwarded during“Schenckv. United States”case that intended to elaborate situations that may qualifyapplication of limitations on First Amendment, which include freedomof assembly speech, or press. The legal realism Holmes wrote in histenure, as a jurist is still applicable even in the modern UnitedStates9.

Insummary, the frontier experience created a foundation for thedevelopment of distinct American characteristics. For example,Americanism introduced religious freedom, equal rights for everyoneirrespective of his or her ethnicity and background. Diversecommunities from miscellaneous races and ethnic background foundedAmerica. This necessitated the founding fathers of America adopt newrules that were different from their countries’ and societies oforigin in order to accommodate the needs of everyone. In addition,America is the world’s superpower because they are guided by that urges everyone to work towardsperfection. This implies that national identity is appropriate withinan increasingly diverse nation-state and an ever-globalizing world asit creates cohesion among the people from varied backgrounds.


Turner,Frederick Jackson, and John M. Faragher. 1994. RereadingFrederick Jackson Turner: &quotThe significance of the frontier inAmerican history&quot and other essays.New York: Holt.

Bernstein,Richard B. 2003. ThomasJefferson.Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press.

Penn,John. 1998. Sternerstuff.Bath, England: Chivers Press.

Gordon,Robert W. 1992. Thelegacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press.

Parker,Hershel. 1996. HermanMelville 1. 1.Baltimore [u.a.]: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

1 Turner, Frederick Jackson, and John M. Faragher. 1994. Rereading Frederick Jackson Turner: &quotThe significance of the frontier in American history&quot and other essays. New York: Holt. P. 28

2 Penn, John. 1998. Sterner stuff. Bath, England: Chivers Press. P. 11

3 Penn, John. 1998. Sterner stuff. Bath, England: Chivers Press. P. 17

4 Penn, John. 1998. Sterner stuff. Bath, England: Chivers Press. P. 29

5 Bernstein, Richard B. 2003. Thomas Jefferson. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. P. 13

6 Bernstein, Richard B. 2003. Thomas Jefferson. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford Univ. Press. P. 18

7 Parker, Hershel. 1996. Herman Melville 1. 1. Baltimore [u.a.]: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press. P. 24

8 Gordon, Robert W. 1992. The legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press.

p. 19

9 Gordon, Robert W. 1992. The legacy of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Univ. Press. P.56