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247 years since the foundation of the United States of America

Photo: Unsplash

The emergence of the United States of America was marked by a set of historical and cultural factors. The foundation of a country is mainly triggered by the desire of a group of people to become independent and to decide their own destiny. The first traces of civilization in the Americas date back to two millennia before the Great Geographical Discoveries. After repeated voyages initiated by the Vikings and ended with the legendary voyage of Christopher Columbus and other great navigators, the great European powers wanted to dominate the new territories.British rule in North America began in the 16th century, so British civilization and culture prevailed over native cultures and civilizations. People who came to the New World came called to freedom and the desire to control their own fate. From the Lost Colony – Roanoke, to the Mayflower vessel and the Tea Party was a predictable historical step. People wanted to establish a New World based on values and norms different from the old continent’s ones.  Based on a strong Enlightenment heritage but also on the influence of great British philosophers (John Locke especially), the new elite of Anglo-Saxon culture, the American elite, laid the foundations of a modern and democratic state. A state proclaimed independent on July 4, 1776, and which gained its independence after hard struggles and sacrifices.

The work of asserting the sovereignty of the new state was agreed in the drafting of the American Constitution, the most democratic constitution in history. A constitution consisting of seven articles and twenty-seven amendments stating that human rights and freedoms are sovereign and immutable. According to us, the US history can be divided into three great periods. The first period is the one which lasted from the Declaration of Independence until the end of the American Civil War, 1776-1865. The second period is the one between the end of the American Civil War and the end of the Second World War, 1865 -1945. The third period can be set after the end of the Second World War, from 1945 until the present day. The first period was marked by significant turmoil and violent internal confrontations. A period in which the American state went through several wars, the Independence war (1775-1783), the American-English one (1812-1815), the American-Mexican one (1846-1848), and the American Civil War (1861-1865). The intensity of the clashes was defining for the American state’s desire to endure on the stage of history. The second period is that of power restoration and strengthening. In the aftermath of the Civil War, the United States remained a union to focus on economic development, quick industrialization, cultural diversity, and active diplomacy. During the same period, the 1898 American-Spanish war endorsed the new international status of the United States on the international stage. The third period, lasting from the end of World War II until now, can be called the superpower period. After the Allied victory, the United States helped Europe recover through the Marshall Plan, laid the economic and financial foundations of the world we currently live in, while the American culture shaped the whole world. After the implosion of the communist bloc, the United States remained the only worldwide superpower. 245 years after the country’s founding, the United States still remains the most powerful state in the world in economic, financial, military, diplomatic, and cultural terms. What precisely has shaped American history? Why has a newly established state gained such power and influence globally? The answer we are trying to provide here is based on the three pillars of American history. In addition to these, we must also emphasize the geographical position of the US.  In our opinion, the three fundamental pillars were the manifest destiny, the American spirit, and the American exceptionalism. All these pillars, based on a strong foundation – the geographical location, can explain the current position of the United States of America. The United States has proven that it can keep up with history and that the American people can face life. The US history was born with a legend and ended in immutable truth. The greatest power known in the world history has fulfilled a well-established path with clear rules. The manifest destiny was the creed of the American people, complemented by historical truth and by geostrategic reality. The Founding Fathers felt the potential of the area between the two oceans and thus they became the greatest power within 150 years’ time. It obviously had competitors and powers around it that wanted to stop its glorious evolution. What is the spirit of a nation? It is the aggregate factors and ideas that help shape a mentality, a state of mind, a national will. The American spirit must find its sources in the gigantic New York, in the America of cities forgotten and hidden under hills, in the America of harbors, in the America of culture (in Boston and Philadelphia) or in the America of innovation (Los Angeles). The American people, a unique melting pot at the end of the Enlightenment and the beginning of the modern era, has built a future by referring to a deification of the historical act. Everything that was done was related to God and to His will. The very motto In God we Trust is the affirmation of fervent religiousness and the faith of a unique destiny, perhaps unrepeatable in history. So what is American exceptionalism? It is the expression of a people’s will to build its own path while relying of the tools and resources available, but also to continue on the same path with the resources it had at that point in time. It is the pure expression of the becoming of a people in itself. 245 years after its founding, the United States of America remains a symbol for becoming a people in itself and for the birth and development of a country. We will end with President George’s famous wish and prophecy. I hope, some day or another, we shall become a storehouse and granary for the world.  – George Washington

Happy Independence Day!

 

By Alexandru Cristian, PhD – historian


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