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What to Write in an Americanism Essay

Like every nation, the United States has a diverse and complex culture. There’s been an enormous amount of cultural, political, and demographic change in America since its founding, even for such a relatively young nation. It can be intimidating to try to write an essay about what defines America as a culture. Fortunately, however, a few key themes have dominated discourse about what it means to be an American, from its early days under British rule until now. Here are some themes you can write about in an Americanism essay:

  • The American Dream: This was defined when Thomas Jefferson wrote than man had inalienable rights to “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It has long been thought that with such freedom, anyone can become anything they want in America if they only work at it.
  • The Melting pot: Even though America has always been a nation of immigrants, it has a unique and identifiable political culture centered on the idea of democracy. Any group can be considered “American” if they adopt these same ideals. Recently this notion has been challenged by the idea of “multiculturalism,” which states that differences in values among distinct cultures should be preserved.
  • American Exceptionalism: this is the idea that America is a “shining city on the hill,” and that it has a mission to spread its values of democracy, liberty, and individualism to the rest of the world.
  • Suspicion of government: America is in the unique position of being founded upon rebellion, when they rejected British rule that they thought had become tyrannical. The U.S. constitution is based on the idea that a government should have limited and defined powers.
  • Capitalism: for better or worse, America has historically been devoted to free markets and private property, an economic philosophy known as “laissez-faire.” Communism or socialism has historically been considered “Un-American.”
  • Rugged individualism: this is closely related to the idea of American Dream, in that it focuses on the achievements of the individual. It asserts the values of self-reliance, independence, personal liberty and individual rights. The founders of the American republic were influenced by natural rights philosophers such as John Locke, who argued that human beings had an innate right to their own person and property that was the result of their labor. This has deeply informed the American ideal of the individual.