American Identity and Unity Essay Example


The speaker describes how a nation arises through shared experiences that unite and drive groups of people to advance their collective interests. To encapsulate the role of history in “sustaining and fostering” the foundations of a nation, the speaker introduces the term “collective memories”, which ground a nation’s citizens in both the triumphs and defeats of their common past. With this strengthened sense of belonging, citizens become aware of the continued need to protect their national traditions and values against a global backdrop → internationalism

The speaker then introduces the idea that internalized patriotism empowers a nation to more effectively assert itself by making “worthier claims” on the world stage. This idea is exemplified by the United States, one of the most predominant economic and military powerhouses today. Its unified identity is rooted in a historical fight for independence during the American Revolution of 1775 to 1783. During this war, thirteen of Great Britain’s North American colonies united through insurrection to violently oppose the loss of their liberties under distant British rule.  Mounting resentment stemmed from external factors, such as the economic issue of taxation without representation, as well as shared indignance at the audacity of a foreign government to neglect its ‘social contract’ and govern without the consent of its colonies. The Boston Massacre of 1770 particularly solidified a new understanding of American identity — one that found strength in numbers to stand against oppression by the British Empire, and in doing so, faithfully preserved its own traditions of autonomy. Though the conflict abounded in American victories, including bold shows of power at the Battles of Lexington and Concord (1775) and Yorktown (1781), and the formal recognition of American independence in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, it was also wrought with crushing defeats against a more experienced and formidable military foe. Such “collective memories” still persist in the minds of American citizens today, actively contributing to civic nationalism, or a shared appreciation for a long-standing heritage of liberty. In emphasizing how history contributes to a nation’s “claims” to power and the pursuit of its own interests, the source best relates to the social and political aspects of nationalism.

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