Americanism (ideology)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Not to be confused with Americanism (heresy).

Americanism, according to the veterans' organization the American Legion, is an ideology or belief in devotion, loyalty, or allegiance to the United States of America or to its flag, traditions, customs, culture, symbols, institutions, or form of government.[1]


The term is closely related to the Americanization movement of the 1910s that sped up the assimilation of millions of recent immigrants into the values, beliefs and customs of American society. This process typically involves learning English and adjusting to American culture, and customs, while keeping the old foods and religion. Over 30 states passed laws requiring Americanization programs; in hundreds of cities the chamber of commerce organized classes in English language and American civics; many factories cooperated. Over 3000 school boards, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, operated after-school and Saturday classes. Labor unions helped their members take out citizenship papers. The movement climaxed during World War I, as eligible young immigrant men were drafted into the Army, and the nation made every effort to integrate the European ethnic groups into the national identity.[2]


Americanism has two different meanings. It can refer to the defining characteristics of the United States and can also signify loyalty to the United States and a defense of American political ideals. These ideals include, but are not limited to self-government, equal opportunity, freedom of speech, and a belief in progress. This collection of ideals that forms the modern Americanism ideology holds an enduring appeal to people from lands throughout the globe.[3] Unlike the patriotisms associated with other powerful countries, Americanism is rooted less in a shared culture experience and more in shared political ideals. The concept of Americanism has been around since the first European settlers moved to North America. John Adams, a New Englander, once wrote that the new settlements in America were "the opening of a grand scene and design in Providence". This transformed type of Americanism was common thinking throughout the New World after the war for independence. The newly independent nation would end up becoming more than what Tom Paine called "an asylum for mankind".

The years from the start of World War I to the end of World War II brought new meaning to the term "Americanism". Those were times of great economic growth and industrialization, and thus brought forth the American scene consisting of "industrial democracy" and the thinking that the people are the government in America. Since then, the success of the American nation has brought tremendous power to the notion of Americanism.[4]

With the arbitrary role that America often takes with poor third world countries also comes a form of hatred for the accused oppressor, known as "Anti-Americanism". This international sentiment towards the roles and decisions that the United States makes when involved with other countries' conflicts is derived from a foreign perspective that Americans believe their ideals and goals are more important than those of any other people. Thus, Americanism and Anti-Americanism are intertwined. While the traditional ideology behind Americanism holds that the nation has a moral obligation to take whatever measures necessary for the sake of global justice. Whether intentional or not, this supposedly good-minded way of thinking has given seed to the Anti-American sentiment. This sentiment holds that America has no business with the affairs of other nations, and that when they do; they do more bad than good.[5] Though there is much controversy over modern American power thinking, Americanism remains true to its roots in patriotism, family, faith, duty, service, fraternity, and democracy. In a sense, Americanism represents the good that capitalism, hard work, and democracy can do when properly combined. This basis in truth gave birth to the American Dream, which has brought many individuals seeking for a better life filled with purpose and opportunity. Though all may not agree with the role or extent that Americanism should influence the patriotisms of other countries, most do agree with the value of its core principals.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Americanism report American Legion
  2. ^ John F. McClymer, War and Welfare: Social Engineering in America, 1890-1925, (1980), pp 79, 105-52
  3. ^ Kazin, Michael; McCartin, Joseph A. (2006.) "Americanism: new perspectives on the history of an ideal." The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3010-9
  4. ^ Kazin, Michael; McCartin, Joseph A. (2006.) "Americanism: new perspectives on the history of an ideal". The University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0-8078-3010-9
  5. ^ Rand, Ayn (1946) "Textbook of Americanism" The Vigil AISN B0007H447Q

Further reading[edit]