Essay on The Definition of an American

Essay on The Definition of an American

Length: 1322 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Throughout the course of history the definition of the term “American” has changed repeatedly. The changes in the definition of the term between 1865 and 2011 coincide with political, social and economic trends during any specific time during this period. Originally the term “American” was not an inclusive term and even though the Constitution states that all men are created equal, many “Americans” did not practice what they preached. However, it is a common phrase today that America is a “melting pot” where peoples from many different countries and cultures come to live a better life. Although certain groups in the United States still struggle with being ostracized by some citizens, they are still “Americans” as the term is now inclusive.
The subtle shift in the view of the term “American” from a non-inclusive term to an inclusive term can be tracked through the mindset of citizens of the United States through many periods leading up to the present. For example, African Americans gained their freedom at the end of the Civil War but they were not really considered Americans until years later during the Civil Rights movement and immigrants were not often included in the term “American” as they were not the “ideal” candidates to represent America; ie, they were often not white, middle class, and/or Protestant. Over time, however, these stigmas were dropped and now many Americans are proud to be part of a nation that is so diverse. To properly analyze this shift, we have to examine the time periods surrounding the subtle changes and in order to do that we must first start with the period after the Civil War.
When the Civil War ended, African Americans were freed from slavery with the enactment of the Thirteenth Amendment. Of the ro...


... middle of paper ...


...
Progressives also continue to exclude immigrants after the war and into the 1920s by putting severe restrictions on the immigration process as they did not want anyone coming to the United States that did not fit into their ideal mold of who an American should be. They start implementing these restrictions after multiple publicized issues with immigrants turning into criminals, etc. as in the case of the Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti. The Progressives use the American populace’s fear of these people to further their own agendas and create the National Origins Act of 1924 which basically eradicates immigration from Asia, Africa and other undesirable places but allows immigration from desirable countries such as England and Germany.
World War II sparks a fresh shift for the term “American” due to ethnocentric views of other countries and their inhabitants.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

An Definition Of An American Family Essay

- ... Blended or reconstituted family is when a women or men who don’t have kids married someone else. Extended family is another common type of family in the United States. The mother or the father with children living with and other member of the family it could be the grandmother or the grandfather. In my culture people do that a lot. After reading Family schools and community, chap 3. I realize how time has change the way we think about family and what we consider the “proper” family. Now we have family headed by gays and lesbians....   [tags: Family, Nuclear family, Mother, Father]

Strong Essays
800 words (2.3 pages)

Native American Voices Know the Definition of Native American Essay examples

- Many school children celebrate a cliché Thanksgiving tradition in class where they play Indians and Pilgrims, and some children engage in the play of Cowboys vs. Indians. It is known that some died when colonization occurred, that some fought the United States government, and that they can be boiled down to just another school mascot. This is what many people understand of the original inhabitants of America. Historical knowledge of these people has been shallow and stereotyped. The past 150 years has given birth to a literate people now able to record their past, present, and future....   [tags: American History, Oral Tradition]

Strong Essays
1821 words (5.2 pages)

Essay about Examining the American Identity

- Examining the American Identity “Americans aren’t idyll daydreamers; they take the initiative.” (Cato.org) In his statement, Edward Hudgins, the director of regulatory studies at the Cato Institute, captures the essence of “Americaness.” Since the publishing of Ben Franklin’s Autobiography in 1790, this definition of Americans as go-getters and self-made-men has become stock. While Franklin’s life story helped define the American identity, the discussion of what an American is began decades before, as can be seen through J....   [tags: USA American Identity Definition Essays]

Strong Essays
829 words (2.4 pages)

Essay Definition Of The Term Race Relations

- ... When we first became a sovereign country free from British control there were three major ethnic and racial groups. These groups included Caucasians, Native Americans and later African Americans. These groups were the ones around the time when the constitution was written as well. Even though these were the three major races, the white rich men wanted a set of laws that they saw the fit during that time. African Americans were only seen as objects and property to these rich people they were at a very huge disadvantage from the start in receiving equal rights....   [tags: United States, African American, White American]

Strong Essays
1763 words (5 pages)

Definition Essay - The Evolved Definition of Community

- Definition Essay- The Evolved Definition of Community The definition provided in The American College Dictionary from 1964 says “a group of men or women leading a common life according to a rule.” I never really viewed community in this manner. Many of us think of the word “community” as a group of people who live near each other. We forget that a community is actually just a group of people with common interests or characteristics who often happen to live near each other. Communities can be bound by race, religion, economic standings, political standings, and most commonly, location....   [tags: Definition Essays]

Strong Essays
507 words (1.4 pages)

What Is An American Essay

- Since this great country was first established many intuitive minds have tried to answer the question; "What is an American". This country is full of individuals of many backgrounds, and diversities and each person has a different opinion on this question. In my opinion, an American is someone who values freedom and equality and pursues the "American dream." Every American exercises these rights and these are great adjectives to describe our country. Each of the seven readings, and the one image I compiled help mold this broader definition into a more precise description of an American....   [tags: Definition Essys Expository Papers]

Strong Essays
1664 words (4.8 pages)

Definition Essay - The Meaning of Private

- Definition Essay - The Meaning of Private Freedom and confinement, contradictory as they seem, are both integrated into the description of what it means to be private.  The meaning of private is even further dual in nature when interpreted personally or in community contexts.  On a smaller scale, individual people classify private as an expected amenity, intended to be a confined to oneself.  On the other hand, communities perceive private as the quality of being independent or free from any public organization or institution.  In reference to dictionary definition, there is a dual understanding and common usage of the word private, each derived from the context in which it is used, either...   [tags: Definition Essays]

Strong Essays
454 words (1.3 pages)

Being An African American Woman Essay examples

- As stated in Webster's II Dictionary, a woman is defined to be an adult female human. In today's society being an African American woman is a rigid task to live up to. It means to reside to what their ancestors have left behind, which means to be stronger than ever. Rosa Parks was strong, Harriet Tubman was also strong, and Jezebel was even stronger. So what exactly does it mean to be a woman. It means to stand up for what is right, even if that means sacrifice, it means to be strong whether it be physically, emotionally, or mentally....   [tags: Definition Woman Female ]

Strong Essays
893 words (2.6 pages)

Definition Essay - Defining the Word Private

- Definition Essay – Defining the Word Private As time progresses, so does the English language.  We use many words out of context.  But depending on the person, time, and maybe the location a new meaning may be adopted for any word.  As well as actual definitions of words.  Since 1913, when The Merriam- Webster dictionary was published, the meaning of the word private has changed, but not drastically. Since the earliest publication of the three dictionaries, the use of private and its context has not changed much.  There are not many different ways the word private can be used that would not be different from when the word was first published in dictionaries.  Everyday conversations that in...   [tags: Definition Essays]

Strong Essays
479 words (1.4 pages)

Essay on Marketing Definition

- Introduction In this paper I will define marketing in my own words and also research what the definition is using two different sources. While supporting my answers with three examples from the business world, I will show the importance of marketing. Marketing applies to many different areas of an organization and after close review I will make it clear on how it relates. Personal Definition Marketing is how a company or organization promotes the service or product the company uses to create revenue....   [tags: Research Paper Marketing Definition]

Strong Essays
938 words (2.7 pages)