A Comparison between What It Meant to Be an American Three Hundred Years Ago and What It Means Now

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The United States of America was colonized in the 16th and 17th centuries, these vital years laid the foundation for how America would grow into being the country it is today. What started as an early expansion to Great Britain flourished into a small and soon to be powerful republic ran by strong leaders in the 18111 and 19th centuries. Now here in the 215t century the question is posed, “What does it mean to be an American?” Over the the four and a half century history of America, that question has received and reformed its answer greatly. Today being an American means that you are free, you are given the opportunity, you a guaranteed the protection and security of a powerful government, and you also live with a proper balance between civil liberties, and law, and this definition of being an American is not so different than one observed in the 18th century. In the early years ofAmerican colonization under British rule, to be in America mean religious freedom, new lifestyles, pioneered lands, and new opportunities.

To be an American meant these things were given to you That was the primary reason anyone went to the newfound land, These people were groups such as the Puritans and the Pilgrims, Their religions were in contrast to the British church, and they were being oppressed. Since America had its own government, they didn’t have to follow any previous British laws besides things like do not kill, of course. For the colonists and their new homes, life was on the up and up. As an American during the early stages ofAmerica, you were “enlightened”, This is said because of these men, who were essentially colonial philosophers, took their ideas with them to America. Although men like Thomas Hobbes, who thought that the people of the world, were horrible, and life was bad, and that the only way to properly govern these people were to have a strong king were around, they were way outweighed by men by John Locke.

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John Locke believed that everyone was created equal, and that we all have the ability to do the right thing, Voltaire advocated and basically made the first amendment by preaching free speech, and freedom of religion. Cesare Beccaria wanted [0 change how unjust things like punishments for crimes were. He wanted them to be fair, and justifiable, He hated torture and wanted it condemned. Rousseau and his ideals were based off of democracy, and that it was great and needed to be used rather than having monarchs, To be an American in these times, you watched yourself and your country incorporate these ideas and these morals of these great men. You were tolerant, you tried to be equal, you lived in a country in which democracy was a central idea, and you had many new freedoms. Americans stayed democratic, Democracy is the practice of using a vote to achieve getting an end result that satisfies the majority but gives everyone an opportunity to vote for what they want.

Immigrants usually went from having a King overrule everything that happened in their country, whether they enjoyed it or not, they didn’t have much of a say as to what happened in their home and to their families, to coming to America and being able to vote what happens to and around them, their home, and their family. Even if you were born in America of course, you get this right, and all other rights and freedoms, because all men are equal, right? Being an American has always meant being part of a strong country, That statement can be applied in multiple ways. We have always had strong leaders, men like John Adams, General Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, We’ve always had strong citizens, who fights for what they believe in and what their freedoms and rights are. Citizens who have prospered through things like the Great Depression, Wars, and the Recessions.

We have always had a strong military containing men, and now women, who fight for what they believe in as hard as they can. We’ve also gotten to be strong in advancement. We have brilliant minds, and great industry giving us the best manufacturing and an economy that is well ahead if many others. The Submission by Amy Waldman gives the reader an accurate depiction of the United States in a post 9/11 society. People are still entitled to their constitutional rights, but after the 9/11 attacks, some freedoms have to be given up for the greater good. Because of the fact that the 9/11 attacks were committed by the Islamic race, american society has stereotyped all of them for the actions of the few. Its been harder for people of that descent, or suspected to be of that decent, to get 3 Citizenship and to get a visa. Some of their liberties and freedoms written in the Bill of Rights have to be given up to ensure safety The balance between liberty and law has heavily tipped toward the side of law.

Many institutions have been given the right to do almost anything they want in the pursuit ofjusticet “Randomly selected” individuals can be chosen to go through additional security Though 9/11 has changed our perceptions of what an American is, we as a country must still be the open doors to the world This country was built knowing that it would accept anybody that was willing to come to it, and we as a country must stick to the core values that no matter what race, descent, or cultural background they come from, there is a place for everybody here. While we as a country must still keep the threat of terrorism in the back of our minds, we must also remember that we need to stick to the wishes of the founding fathers. Being an American now hasn‘t changed too much. We still live on these principles. We still are enlightened, we still are strong, we still are free. In fact, our rights got even better.

How you may ask? Well that equality ideal that we adopted has been used to give more rights to women, immigrants, and people of other races and cultures. They were always great things but now everybody in America gets to enjoy them Being an American now means being part of a strong community, and a strong country. It means being part of the best country in the world. It means having all these wonderful opportunities, being rich, famous, happy. Yes, the pursuit of happiness is still around, and it is still great, We are secure, we are safe, we are advanced. The standard of living is high, and to be an American now, contains the same morals as way back when we as a country were at our humble beginnings. In conclusion, although being an American citizen has changed, it isn’t by much at all. We still have our liberty, even if some of it has been sacrificed for our safety. We the people, have lived by enlightenment ideals, freedoms, and rights for over 300 years, We have tackled things such as the Great Depression and always came out a winner. America is strong willed, free, and advanced. We went from colonists of Britain to who we are today maintaining all the great parts of being an American.

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A Comparison between What It Meant to Be an American Three Hundred Years Ago and What It Means Now. (2023, May 19). Retrieved from


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