The definition of what it means to be an American has changed dramatically throughout the history of our country. The founding fathers brought forth the idea of a new nation; that made sovereign the supremacy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. America has changed drastically over the last two hundred years, and the definition of what it means to be an American has changed with it as well. In class for the last several weeks, the question was raised of what it means to be an American at the end of the twentieth century. The America of the twentieth century is not as far off from what the founding fathers intended; as some people might be led to believe.
We have looked at several different works and articles that have given their perspective on what it means to be an American. Although American citizens are shown in Hollywood movies such as Kids, the film does not depict what the true meaning of being an American is. Our country was founded on the principals of there being no borders between us as a nation. Whether it be a difference of race or heritage, we as a people are all Americans. Being an American means setting aside your biases or prejudices, and living side-by-side with other religions, races, and cultures in a society with the absence of a single ethnic origin.
Two works that mainly caught my attention were Letters from an American Farmer, written by Hector St. Jean Crvecoeur, and The Disuniting of America, written by Arthur M. Schlesinger. Crvecoeur focuses greatly on the American as a person with the drive and ambition to distinguish themselves from the others that are around them. Crvecoeur’s views show a great sense of individuality among Americans. Schlesinger’s excerpt attempts to show that our country has failed to create the society that our nations founders originally wanted. A new society in which being an American does not mean you are white and your ancestors were from the or…