American Exceptionalism is the idea that America is founded on a creed. That creed is to spread liberty, freedom, and democracy to the rest of the world. G.K. Chesterton stated, “America is the only nation in the world that is founded on a creed.” The creed he mentions is stated in the Declaration of Independence. In the preamble, it is said that, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In saying this, we affirm that everyone should be treated equally with all of their basic rights. However many countries in the world do not support this view. We, as citizens of the United States of America, are to spread this ideal throughout the world. Many Americans support this theory of American Exceptionalism by fighting for America, supporting or working for the American government, or just going out into the world to underprivileged, developing nations as an American. American Exceptionalism is still thriving today and has throughout the history of America. As Seymour Martin Lipset states in his book, American Exceptionalism: A Double Edged Sword, America is not like the other European nations that our Founding Fathers came from. He states that if you are a Frenchman, it is not because you believe in French values; it is because you live in France. You are American by believing in American values. You can’t be un-French, un-British, or un-German just because you don’t agree with what the nation stands for. However, you can be un-American by not believing in American values or what America stands for. This sets America apart from other nations. America has a national identity. We have a common set of values and beliefs unlike any other nation in the world. These values and beliefs are at the very core of American Exceptionalism. These are that America should be a light to the world. America has a duty, and this duty is to spread freedom and liberty to the oppressed, the poor, the mislead, and the entire world. It is these values that have driven America to take some of the actions it has in its past.
For example, America decided to intervene in the Vietnam and Korean wars. In both cases America intervened to stop the spread of Communism. In The Limits of Power by Andrew J. Eacezich, he argues that the governement is using the idea of American Exceptionalism to cover their own agenda. He says that American Exceptionalism is a false ideal created by the government to get people to go along with the wars supported by the government. The reason that this is a incorrect theory, is that American Exceptionalism was created by the people, not the government. The people believe in American Exceptionalism because they know that it is true and that it exists. If there was no support for American Exceptionalism, then there would be know way that we would still be able to have our troops in the Middle East. American Exceptionalism one of the reasons that we went over and it is the sole reason that we have been able to stay over there without a major outcry from the general public. Most people think about American Exceptionalism being through wars and conquest, however it has a peaceful aspect to it also. For example, the United States Navy has two hospital ships that sail around the world to provide comfort and relief to developing nations and nations in need around the world. They currently have two hospital ships in service, the USNS Comfort and the USNS Mercy. These ships provide relief to people who are desperate for medical attention. These are people in places that would likely not be able to aquire medical treatment if not for these ships. They treat everything from minor bacterial infections, to life-threatening tumors growing inside of people.
This exemplifies American Exceptionalism because it is setting an example for the rest of the world. These ships are quality medical centers staffed by trained medical personnel. The United States also runs multiple other programs around the world to help with relief and support. For example, the United States has multiple relief programs in Africa for refugees. The refugees come from countries where there is civil war tearing apart their communites. They are forced to flee for their saftey, their freedom, and even their lives. The United States helps support refugee camps throughout the world so these people can return to their former lives as soon as possible. However, American Exceptionalism is not limited to just actions of the government. The American people are also spreading the creed of liberty, freedom, and democracy. For example, the American government is not the only source of supplies for African refugees. The Red Cross is also a huge source of supplies for refugees. They accept donations to buy massive quantities of relief foods and other supplies to help people around the world. The Red Cross also provides relief for people affected by natural disasters. An example of this would be the tsunami that affected most of the countries on the Indian Ocean in 2004. Another one would be when the tsunami hit in Japan 2011 and caused the nuclear leaks along with the regular affects. In both of these cases American citizens sent support to the rest of the world through donations and direct volunteering for the Red Cross. Americans also go on many mission trips throughout the world. These people are usually on missions for churches to spread their religion with people in other countries.
However, while they are over there, they also typically help improve the quality of life for the natives as much as they can. This involves building schools, washing them, and many other things like it. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the United States saw a big surge in immigration from other countries. Many people decided to come to the United States because they heard about how great it was. They would come on huge ships from Europe and be greeted by the Statue of Liberty when they arrived. If American Exceptionalism did not exist, then what reason did they immigrants have for taking the dangerous journey across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in a rickety ship? When the immigrants arrived, there were some cases where they were treated rudely, but for the most part, the immigrants were accepted into the society. Most people went into the society and mixed right in. This is the reason that America is called the “mixing pot of the world.” These reasons show how American Exceptionalism is still here today. There are many supporting details that show how American Exceptionalism does exist and that the age of American Exceptionalism is not over. From the government to the people of the United States, everybody helps to spread the creed America was founded on.
Chesterton, G. K. What I Saw in America. New York, New York: Hodder and Stoughton, 1922. Eacezich, Andrew J. The Limits of Power. New York, New York: Metropolitan Books, 2008. Lewis, V. Bradley. “American Exceptionalism.” America 3 10 2011: 19-22. Lipset, Seymour Martin. American
Exceptionalism: A Double Edged Sword. New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1996. National Archives of the United States of America. “Declaration of Independence.” National Archives. 30 11 2012.