The Values of an American

Sydney Morris


Global Studies 9

May 22, 2013

The Values of an American

     The act of making a difference is a goal that many attempt to peruse. However, few follow through with the necessities to create a difference; no matter how brilliant the change would be. Nevertheless, there are those brave few individuals who take up the challenge and are the great minds that will leave their mark on the world forever. The early colonists of the United States of America are perhaps one of the magnificent when it comes to making a difference, and they did so much more than just that. While fighting for freedom from the King of England, the rebellious colonists persevered through the hardest of times and the roughest of battles. The Founding Fathers exemplified these traits, and the evidence lies in America’s texts by which we live our lives. Today we still fight for these values and lead by example for other nations, a city upon a hill. The United States fights for, and practices, the principles of liberty, justice, and equality amongst the nation.

     Freedom from a government, controlling of others, and the ability to stand up for one’s self is liberty. This very idea is feasibly the most important value of the United States because it stands for whom we are and have been as people since the beginning. The Founding Fathers thought it to be particularly valuable to have a separation between the state and the church, which allows religious freedom across the board without any interference of the government. Patrick Henry once said, “give me liberty or give me death!” This quote sets the stage for America's mindset, and even while enforcing a government the people still have the ability to have a say in the decisions made due to these freedoms. If the government begins to show too much control in an area that causes disruption amongst the people, the people have the right to come together and protest against the situation in some way: “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people” (Alan Moore, V for Vendetta). The liberties Americans have are all interrelated and support each other, which truly allows the United States to have a government ran “by the people, for the people” (Abraham Lincoln). The citizens are able to speak about what they feel are appropriate laws, what would be the most efficient way to solve problems, and vote for others who have the same ideals as them to be in office. Conversely, the importance of liberty is not only a goal for the United States to have within its own country: “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty” (John F. Kennedy).

     As well as liberty, Americans fight for what is morally right, justice. “Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby a man does what he ought to do in circumstances confronting him” (Saint Thomas Aquinas). It is obvious this is exactly what John Adams did for the trial following the Boston Massacre In the spring of 1770, eight British soldiers had been accused of murdering innocent people and if proved guilty would face the death penalty. This incident was not the first involving an uprising between the soldiers and the colonists, so these soldiers not only had prior enemies but also had quite a few more afterwards; therefore, no lawyer was willing to defend them. This was until John Adams came to represent the British soldiers with the thought that all men are permitted to a fair trial (The Boston Massacre Trials). John Adams was a well-acknowledged man of this era for his studies of law and work in politics (John Adams). Involved in the events taking place with America becoming it’s own country, John Adams helped build America to be the best it could be. For this reason, having John Adams represent this ethic of justice is important to the foundation of America. This ideal has carried on throughout history, and the United States still sees justice as an important American value.

     Equality is when no person is greater or worse than another and is simply in a state of being equal. This value has been important to the United States, and we can see this because there is evidence of the Constitution evolving to fill the need for equality of all persons. For example, the 14th amendment supports equal citizen rights for “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.” This amendment decreed, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” From this point on, all citizens of the United States have their equality legally protected and ensured, and years later it became apparent that all citizens, including women, should have the right to vote. The women’s rights movement went on for roughly one hundred years, but in 1920 “millions of American women excised their right to vote” (The Fight for Women’s Suffrage). The voting was possible due to the 19th amendment which clearly states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.” Equality has managed to become achievable in numerous aspects of American history. Perhaps the first most visible example is the 13th amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which completely abolishes slavery: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been dully convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction” (U.S. Constitution). By putting this revision of the Constitution forth, all slaves in the States are since forth freed and any and all slavery will not be tolerated. However, it is quite clear that America not only aspires to demolish slavery within it’s own land, but also to enforce this law in other lands that seem to view slavery as an unjust action, as well. Hence, the United States fights for equality in several aspects, potentially including several locations.

     The United States of America has managed to continue fighting for the values of liberty, justice, and equality across the land since the beginning of the country’s time. Building the original foundation of the idea of liberty, Americans remain fighting with the same familiar slogan, “Give me liberty or give me death!” However, at the same time protects the freedoms of others by fulfilling the act of justice and doing what is right no matter what the situation is. Then last, but certainly not least, the fight for equality not only is one of the key symbols for America, but is also a way of documenting the growth as a country by learning about the amendments added to the U.S. Constitution. The United States has been fighting for the values of liberty, justice, and equality, and will continue to fight for them for years to come.




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