The American Identity

The American Identity

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The American nation was founded in the 18th century, and as it is called the United States of America, it is a union of different states to make one major country under one leadership. Since the foundation of the United States, Americans have continued to find what has been their identification as peoples of America. There have been varying ideas as to what is and what influences the American identity. Some of the Americans have defined their identity not by racial, ethnic, and religious identity but based on their values and beliefs in personal freedom (Smith, 1988). America has been one of the major countries across the globe that enjoys democracy and at the same time provides for the freedom of its citizens, as a result of these every person is entitled to freedom as guaranteed by the constitution of the United States. Therefore, this explains the reason why a person believes to be a New Yorker and not black, white or Hispanic as the American identity is based on values and beliefs and not on race and ethnicity.

America is a nation that has been made up of massive immigrants from various parts of the world. The initial inhabitants of the nation included the red Indians, but since the arrival of the white settlers in the United States, the identity of America began to change. The colonists referred to themselves as settlers and not immigrants, and it is upon them that the great nation of the United States was born. It is then from this point that the American identity can be traced back to in the 18th century. According to the statistics by the United States Census Bureau, by the year 2000, more than 35.9% of the people living in New York City were immigrants, and this is a clear indication that America is a country of immigrants (Lee et al., 2017). As a result of this, the people cannot identify themselves on the basis of race as there are many ethnic groups including whites, blacks, Indians, Hispanics and Latinos, only by looking at their values that a people in a country can trace their identity.

America got independence in 1776, and by 1782, barely six years after independence, America declared its nationhood Benjamin Franklin was one of the founding fathers of the United States. During this time, he offered certain information to those who would remove America. Benjamin Franklin was in many ways the most typically American among the constellation of the American founding fathers. The reason behind this is that all the other three were unapproachable in the sense of understanding Americans. According to Walter MacDougall, If Thomas Jefferson was bookish, George Washington was harsh and in-approachable august and John Adams dour. It was all left for Benjamin Franklin, who was an all-round person. Franklin was a resourceful business person, a practical innovator as well as an ever-busy civic catalyst. It is through his interactions with people that he best understood his fellow countrymen, as the nation of hustlers.

Based on this, Benjamin Franklin instructed the people concerning the immigrants that people do not inquire regarding a stranger of what they are but concerning what they can do. If they have any useful art, they should be embraced and be welcome to the country. Furthermore, if they exercise the art and goes on to behave well, they should be respected by all individuals who know them (Lambert et al., 2019). Based on this, we can identify the identity of Americans as nurturing talents. Any immigrants who visit the country and have skills in doing certain tasks are welcome to stay in America, and this has been the American trend since then. People are granted green cards to go and study in the United States, after which they can offer services to the nation in regard to their subject expertise. Similarly, America welcomes immigrants with already acquired skills and provides them with work visas which they use as they reside in America.

Benjamin Franklin’s remarks were grounded upon his observation in the early 1750s as the German immigrants outnumbered the English stock in Pennsylvania, his home colony. The immigrants were perceived as industrious and law-abiding people. Furthermore, they were skilled farmers, and thus, they helped improve the lands and as a result, helped in stimulating the economic growth of the United States. In 1790, when Congress set the first national standard for the naturalization of immigrants to become citizens. The standard required no religious or ethnic tests, no property requirement, and neither no literacy test, all that was needed was just two years of residence, good character as well as an oath to uphold the American Constitution (Bonomi, 2019). Based on this, the American identity as it was understood by Benjamin Franklin was grounded in actions and attitudes rather than on religious, racial or the ethnic identity of a person. It should be noted that American citizens differ from many other peoples across the globe based on how they define themselves and also in the kinds of lives they chose to live. According to Marc Pachter, membership to the national community demands only the individual’s decision to become American.

Pluralism and the Melting Pot

The American identity is communal and thus embraces pluralism that spans the religious, racial and ethnic divides (Tucker-Raymond & Rosario, 2017). Besides, the communal identity also includes a strong conviction on a civic commitment to personal freedom and to a representative government that is limited and has clearly defined powers that protects and respects the freedom of its people. The American self-image has all the time, harness an innovative tension between assimilation and pluralism. Immigrants, on one hand, have traditionally been expected to assimilate themselves in the American culture often described as emerging themselves into the ‘melting pot’. Based on the explanation of the melting pot, America is understood as God’s crucible, a great melting point where all races across the globe melt and reform.

All the European cultures Irishmen and Englishmen, Germans and Frenchmen as well as the Jews and Russians all fit in the crucible where God is making the American. Through this, America is seen as a country made of different cultures, and this is true as it is the interaction of all these cultures that the American identity is depicted. All these people intermarry and bring along a mixed breed that is neither European nor neither a descendant of a European, hence a strange mixture of blood that is difficult to find in other countries, hence, the melting pot.

Besides the melting pot, there have been other competing models in which each of the immigrants tends to retain a measure of their distinctiveness and enrich the entire American (Donitsa-Schmid, 2017). The immigrants did not get to America to be assimilated in the American melting pot but rather came into the United States to have the freedom to live as they wanted and make a fortune in their newfound land. And this explains why some of the immigrants were not melted down into some kinds of colorless and tasteless homogenous Americanism. Rather than getting assimilated, they added their distinct contributions to the greater whole. As a result of this, the balance between the American melting pot and the transnational ideals tend to vary with circumstances and time. However, none of the models has been able to dominate over the other completely.

Individualism and Tolerance as an American Identity

The American identity can also be termed as being tolerated in the sense that it embraces all kinds of people, affording them the vast menu of opportunities that are found in the United States. Through this, different people are able to make and remake themselves. The United States Constitution in Article I prohibits the government from granting any title of nobility and those who cultivate an air of supremacy upon their fellow Americans. The reason behind this is that America has a history of scorning efforts to trade on accidental births that include such cases of inherited wealth or social status. America is built on the foundation that every person has to work to attain their social class, and it is through hard work that a person can gain recognition for the government. As a result of this, the Americans do respect the self-made man or woman, especially if their journey to success has been filled with obstacles. The Americans believe a person can be regarded as noble is their journey to success can be described as from rags to riches. For example, the journey through which the shoeshine boys or any other street person would rise, by dint of their talent, fortitude and ambition to fame and wealth.

In America, individuals tend to craft their own definitions of success in which it may be a financial breakthrough. Many of Americans tend to define success in this way since society has defined success through material wealth. Based on this, many people have disregarded education, dropping out of school and not because they wanted, but because they lacked the tuition fees that could drive them through the education system. As a result of this, most of the college dropouts are working in their parent’s garages in the hope of getting a financial breakthrough. Others prize their joy in the sporting arena, art and music, or even raising a loving family back at home. Due to this, success has no specific definition and considering that the Americans spurn limits, the national identity cannot and can never be bounded by their skin color, religion or the percentage of wealth they have acquired.

We all exhibit varying political beliefs, embrace divergent lifestyles and at the same time, insist on broad personal freedoms. However, we do so with the remarkable degree of mutual tolerance. In regard to politics, every American is entitled to a fee choice of the political affiliations and ideologies which they may join (Janmaat, Vickers & Everett, 2018). An example of tolerance can be seen in the American representative form of government through which many Americans are represented by a single person in government. There is no citizen in the United States that conforms to every government’s decision, and there is a possibility that the government can reverse the policies made through the persuasion of the fellow Americans to vote for change at the next election. Through this, the American identity can be depicted by the Americans ability to influence the government based on their perceptions of what is right for them.

Another key identity of the Americans is the powerful guarantees that do protect the rights of the American people for the government overreaching (Kim, 2017). Upon the ratification of the constitution, the American citizens demanded and were given the Bill of Rights. There have been ten constitutional amendments that have been done to safeguard the basic rights of the American citizens. Every American is equal to the others, and this is by the fact the case in America that there is no typical American. From the powdered-wigged founding fathers of the American nation to the sports champions such as Tiger Woods and Kobe Bryant. All Americans do share a common identity that is grounded in the freedom, which is always consistent with the respect for others freedom, conforming and tolerating them, implying living as they live. It is through this that the Americans are able to intrigue, bemuse and also inspire each other.

In conclusion, the identity of the American people is not based on their religion, racial or ethnic definitions, but rather in their values and beliefs. All Americans believe in equality for all, and this is an aspect that is guaranteed in the constitution. There are many immigrants into the United States that have come to search for a better life, and this is in conformity with the American belief in the American Dream for the pursuit of happiness. Success is one of the values and to which is attained through hard work. All persons in the United believe in working hard through the legal means to achieve a financial breakthrough as it has been since the founding of the nation by the forefathers. America has been a great nation as it has a culture of embracing talents and skills, a cultural identity that has been persistent until now.


Bonomi, F. (2019). The United States immigration laws: history of a nation set up by migrants. Revista de Investigación de la Cátedra Internacional conjunta Inocencio III, 1(9), 253-277.

Donitsa-Schmidt, S. (2017). Social, educational, and linguistic models of immigrants’ integration into society. In Beyond Bystanders (pp. 157-167). Brill Sense.

Janmaat, J. G., Vickers, E., & Everett, H. (2018). Understanding Tolerance. In Faith Schools, Tolerance and Diversity (pp. 17-81). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

Kim, J. (2017). Development of public health in America: ‘Guaranteed Issue’mandates. Journal of Public Health, 39(3), 433-439.

Lambert, J. R., Basuil, D. A., Bell, M. P., & Marquardt, D. J. (2019). Coming to America: work visas, international diversity, and organizational attractiveness among highly skilled Asian immigrants. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 30(15), 2293-2319.

Lee, J., Bean, F. D., Batalova, J., & Sandhu, S. (2017). Immigration and the Black-White color line in the United States. In The impact of immigration on African Americans (pp. 27-58). Routledge.

Smith, R. M. (1988). The” American Creed” and American identity: The limits of liberal citizenship in the United States. Western Political Quarterly, 41(2), 225-251.

Tucker-Raymond, E., & Rosario, M. L. (2017). Imagining identities: Young people constructing discourses of race, ethnicity, and community in a contentious context of rapid urban development. Urban Education, 52(1), 32-60.

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