History Essays - American Exceptionalism

Explain what is meant by North american Exceptionalism and consider how valid and useful a thought this is to anunderstanding of the thirteen colonies at 1760.

It's been theprevailing idea driving American overseas policy for the last century andprovided the impetus for the building of an land over two ages back. As anideology, it's survived and reinvented itself numerous times since itsintroduction to academia in the mid-20th century. As being a termtypically tossed about cynics providing tongue-in-cheek commentary oncontemporary politics and America's foreign affairs, it's rarely used anymorein the nature that it improved. To critics of North american foreign coverage overthe previous half-decade and also to those who oppose American intervention world-wide, theterm translates as North american superiority-complex, but to those who study theconcept and can track its beginning back again to the very root base of American society, it means something else entirely.

Any discussionof the concept of American Exceptionalism will include an analysis of wherewe as a country have been and where we are. The very description ofthe term implies that America differs, or can be an exception to the others ofthe world. This difference means various things depending on what point onAmerica's 229-season timeline one cares to apply it to. If this is of theterm is referred to from it's very beginning and put on America not longafter (in the entire year 1760), we see an emerging nation desperate for itselfas a people and since a nationality, but we also start to see the beginnings ofexceptionality and we come to comprehend America before it was the UnitedStates. The origins of this term are almost entirely traced to its colonial originand to one colony specifically.


Early English colonists whosettled the Eastern seaboard of North America were part of what RobertRosenbaum called a Great Migration of English Puritans who by their verybeliefs were already exceptional for the reason that they saw themselves as differentfrom the Roman Catholicism which pervaded the Church of Britain. The heart of the Puritandoctrine was essentially that God got already pre-ordained individuals forsalvation, and it was simply up to the given individual to know it through theauthenticity with their alteration experience and through lives of sober, piousand successful work. These Puritans settled the Massachusetts Bay colony led by John Winthrop whoadmonished his supporters that we will be as a city upon a hill and the eyesof all peoples are after us.

It was Winthrop and hisfollowers, who by their trust in God and trust in what He had called those to, already noticed themselves as exceptional. Alan Brinkley points out that so greatwas their own sense of purity and of single-mindedness in this belief thatthese British colonies weren't seeking to isolate themselves from the others ofthe world, they looked for to serve as a model for this --- expecting, by example, toinspire a transformation of English modern culture into something resembling theirown. .

While other parts of theEastern seacoast were settled by people with differing motives, whether religiousor commercial, it would be Massachusetts and the Puritans who make thebiggest imprint on Colonial America during the 17th century:

Although it was in Virginia thatEnglishmen got founded their first everlasting colony, it was in New Englandthat English settlement most rapidly disperse and flourished in the first 50 percent ofthe 17th century. In this particular, the future of the region was shaped lessby the Pilgrim separatists, than by the Puritans

Brinkleygoes on to further describe the way the Puritan attitude was spread throughout NewEngland and to other areas of English America because of this of the eventualexodus out of Massachusetts because of the unproductiveness of the stony soilaround Boston and the oppressiveness of the Massachusetts administration.

So from seeds sown in the stonyMassachusetts ground during the early area of the 17th century, outgrows this berry of self-realized exceptionality so when allowed to develop andspread, would provide to create this moral and intellectual foundation, asWilliam Pfaff represents, that could help construct the rational conclusionAmericans have drawn that the entire world is eventually destined to be integratedinto an elaboration of the American system. Pfaff summarizes the impact that these early Puritans got on the eventualcourse of america by proclaiming that right from the start, the Americannation has managed on the conviction that it is destined to lead just how forhumanity. It has been important to the American conception of the nation'shistorical role.

After anothercentury, colonial America has flourished, both in quantities and in quality oflife. In 1760, colonials appreciated a position unlike any people on the planet. Inthis admiration, they certainly observed themselves as privileged if not exceptional. AlanTaylor observes that the 13 colonies before the revolution of 1776, searched for topreserve their special devote the English Empire as almost untaxedbeneficiaries of imperial trade and coverage. They didn't seek independence, but occasions that started out in 1760 would pressure themto suppose the mantle of these calling, and find out themselves for what these were.


American colonies at 1760 werebeginning to formulate a broader concept of exceptionalism, which got its rootsin a century's-worth of growing and refining of this notion helped bring tocolonies like Massachusetts in the form of Puritanism. It had been there where apeople with pre-conceived notions of divine-right used their beliefs as amechanism for creating a political and interpersonal structure which would soonpermeate the whole New England region beyond the simple scope of these smallcolony. Already with a perception in a future for themselves higher than that oftheir ancestors, colonials began to see themselves diversely from theirEnglish brethren across the ocean. As time passes, colonials would seek to maintainboth North american and English ties which allowed those to benefit from that uniquemix, both politically, economically and spiritually. However, combinedAmerican-British victories over French forces in 1760 restored the Britishcommitment to its colonial pursuits, and not in an optimistic method for thecolonies. Soon later on, English control was increased and its own grip tightenedto the point where the 13 colonies got to produce a choice between left over tiedto its English homeland or taking that role which their predecessors in theNew World realized they were divinely-endowed to fulfill. That choice was basedupon a innovative concept comprised of modern socio-political forcesand Puritan ideals espoused by revolutionaries in New Great britain and throughoutthe colonies through the period before 1776 and past.

Nobody evoked the spirit of thecolonies at the moment much better than Thomas Jefferson, referred to this uniquecalling that People in the usa believed themselves had in the Declaration of Independenceclaiming the different and equal train station to which the Laws of Characteristics and ofNature's God entitle them. This reference point and belief in Natural Laws in conjunction with God was a whollyunique notion in Western politics ideology and best summarizes what thecolonials' politics and social self-esteem was like at that time. They clearlysaw themselves in an exalted position, completely justified within thatposition by the sophistication of God and his Natural Regulations.

AmericanExceptionalism as an early American notion was introduced as Puritan religiousbelief and advanced into an idea which helped colonials visualize a life asexclusively Americans and not the British/American mixture that they had loved tothat point. Knowing that in 1760, colonials got an idea of AmericanExceptionalism, even if it was merged in with satisfaction as a United kingdom citizen, allowsfor someone to know how in the years following, that strategy would drive thespirit of revolution that would express itself as a land free from Britishinfluence and dignified by God.


Brinkley, Alan, et al. A Survey-AmericanHistory, NJ: Stratford Press 1983.

Onuf, Peter S. , Jefferson's Empire, TheLanguage of American Nationhood, Charlottesville: University or college Press ofVirginia 2000.

Pfaff, William. AmericanDestiny, Commonweal, 5/17/2002, Vol. 129 Concern 10,

Rosenbaum, Robert A. , The PenguinEncyclopedia of North american History, NY: The Penguin Group 2003.

Taylor, Alan, North american Colonies, NewYork: The Penguin Group 2001

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