The United States : The Philosophy Of American Superiority

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American exceptionalism is a belief that the United States is different from other nations around the world and as such superior; the term was coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in 1831, yet the philosophy of American superiority can be traced all the way back to the days before the United States was even an idea. They saw their new culture as “A city upon a hill” and sought to achieve moral and spiritual perfection. With this moral superiority the colonists, later Americans, saw a duty presented upon them by God and nature to instill such superior values into other cultures and the world. One such example can be clearly seen in the work of St. John de Crèvecoeur in Letters from an American Farmer where the narrator “Farmer James” states his belief that America is a new culture compromised of the exchange of ideas, religions, cultures and democracy. In this we see the belief that this new world is in fact the future and an idyllic society meant to revolutionize the world and become a beacon of hope and change. In Letter III. What is an American these ideas are fully expressed from the start as Crevecoeur states, “a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what had hitherto seen.” (605), thus showing that America is a new land never seen before that is worthy of contemplation and admiration. This belief shows the idea of a better place free of old European social divides and stratification and the promise of a better place. Crevecoeur further expands on this going as far as to call America an asylum, a true place of recovery and safety, for European immigrants and their descendants. These early ideas bring forth the foundation for modern beliefs of moral superiority and thus the right for the United States to ... ... middle of paper ... ...f the ideal in itself. American exceptionalism and the air of moral superiority it brings thus leads to the belief that the new merged culture is in fact better than others, consequently; leading to a society plagued by the same prejudice and discrimination the authors and idealists abhorred and sought to escape. Such hopes and demise can be seen in John de Crèvecoeur’s Letters from an American farmer from the idolization of American culture and belief of superiority to the same evident demise such thoughts provide. Is it wrong to be proud to be an American? I think not, yet literature has shown that to practice the true ideals of an American we must not let vanity cloud our minds and accept that an America is the constant evolution and addition of new thoughts and change coming from all sorts of backgrounds and cultures and as such we must not impose but embrace.

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