Americans are cultureless gun fanatics, they only eat fast food and are basically superficial – some of the common stereotypes about the USA. Those who complete a semester abroad or a full course of study in the United States will be taught better.
Just a look at the multiethnic population structure of the USA gives an indication of the multitude of cultural influences that shape the country. The US Census Bureau predicts that more than half of all Americans will be ethnic minorities by 2044.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the US was still referred to as a “ melting pot ”, but today the metaphor is considered out of date. The idea of the melting pot, in which all cultural influences merge into a unified national structure, leaves no room for cultural differences. Therefore, with “ Salad Bowl ” and “ Quilt ”, concepts followed that deal more closely with the various cultural influences and ethnic groups in the USA, a country located in North America according to aceinland.
Origins of American Culture
The beginning of US history is often equated with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492. However, Native Americans lived in what is now the United States of America thousands of years earlier. The Vikings are said to have discovered the American continent around 500 years before Columbus.
Regardless of where the origins of American culture lie: Columbus’ voyages of discovery marked the beginning of the conquest of the American continent by the Europeans and marked the start of the age of colonialism.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the first major wave of immigration from Europe to North America began. Three large groups in particular settled in what is now the United States:
- Spaniards in what is now California
- French in what is now Canada and Louisiana
- English in Virginia as well as in what is now New England.
The successful tobacco growing in Jamestown led many impoverished farmers from Europe to leave for America. They hoped for a better life in the new world. In order to be able to finance the crossing, many settlers came to America as ” indentured servants ” and signed up as workers for a fixed period of time. In addition, African slaves were first brought to Jamestown from 1619, marking the beginning of slavery in the United States.
American founding myth
Religious communities were also among those leaving for Jamestown. In the middle of the 16th century a Protestant religious community was formed with the Puritans in England, which was opposed to the Anglican state church. The Puritans saw themselves as chosen by God, valued hard work, and sought a “pure” church. Their ideas made them unpopular with the state Church of England and soon found themselves exposed to religious persecution.
Some of them traveled to America on board the “ Mayflower ” in September 1620 to implement their philosophy of living a godly and self-determined life. While on the ship, the so-called Pilgrim Fathers drew up the “ Mayflower Compact ”, which is considered the first document of American self-government. The Pilgrims agreed with the non-Puritan fellow travelers to build a self-governing community in the new colony and agreed on a common set of rules.
By the way: The American tradition of Thanksgiving supposedly goes back to the Pilgrim Fathers. With the first winter approaching, the pilgrims turned to Native American people for help upon their arrival. They brought the pilgrim fathers through the cold winter months and showed them the cultivation of maize and native plants. In thanksgiving and in view of the abundant harvest the following autumn, the Pilgrim Fathers celebrated, according to myth, a harvest festival on November 21st.
The Puritan way of life and thinking has had a lasting impact on the USA. To this day, US presidents speak of the United States as a God chosen nation in their speeches. Faith is an important part of US cultural identity. It served immigrants from all over the world as a connecting element.
To this day, religion plays an important role in public life – despite the constitutional separation of church and state. The idea that every individual can achieve a better life and economic success through hard work is reflected not least in the “ American Dream ”.
Establishment of the United States of America
Due to the increasing number of colonies, conflicts between the European powers were inevitable. After the end of the French and Indian War (1754-1763) between England and France and Spain, most of the colonies were in English hands. However, the colonies increasingly sought economic independence.
The attempt by the British Crown to give the settlers a share in the war debts by introducing duties and taxes also caused growing tensions. The so-called Boston Tea Party in December 1773 is considered to be the key event that initiated the American War of Independence.
The following documents are of fundamental importance for the establishment of the United States of America:
- Declaration of Independence: Declaration of independence of the 13 colonies of England and thus the birth of the United States of America. In the Declaration of Independence of July 4th, 1776, the principle of equality and the right to “ life, freedom and the pursuit of happiness ” are formulated for the first time. To date, July 4th is the American national holiday (Independence Day).
- Constitution: In the American Constitution of 1787, the separation of powers is proclaimed as a political program for the first time and the organs of government and their responsibilities are named.
- Bill of Rights: The 12 amendments to the constitution passed in 1791 give Americans important freedoms. These include freedom of speech, religion, press and assembly, as well as the right to own weapons and due process.
In the course of American history, additional amendments were passed, such as the abolition of slavery (1865) and the introduction of women’s suffrage (1920).
The right to pursue happiness, the gold rush, and the prospect of religious and political freedom led millions of people to make their way to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. The development of the United States of America is thus inextricably linked to the country’s history of immigration and explains why the country has always been considered an immigration nation.