Americanism (ideology)

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Ideals of Americanism vary widely...
Example 1: A colorful red, white and blue decorated 1919 document by the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, declaring itself to be patriotic and barring people viewed as unpatriotic from membership.
...from patriots, assimilation, monoculturalism, or centrality of a right to property...
Example 2: Labor strikers of the Industrial Workers of the World holding American flags, held back by a militia bearing rifles and bayonets. more classical liberal conceptions believed to be represented in the American Revolution, human rights, or democracy.

Americanism is "an articulation of the nation's rightful place in the world, a set of traditions, a political language, and a cultural style imbued with political meaning".[1] According the American Legion (a U.S. veterans' organization), Americanism 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.[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] Some organizations have embraced Americanism but have taken its ideals further: The Ku Klux Klan believes that Americanism includes aspects of race (purity of pioneer American stock) and of Protestantism.[4]

Unlike the patriotism 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 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 become more than what Tom Paine called "an asylum for mankind".[5]

The years from the end of the Civil War to the end of World War II brought new meaning to the term "Americanism" to millions of immigrants. 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.[6]

According to Wendy L. Wall in Inventing the "American Way", Americanism was presented by a national propaganda campaign to contrast with Communism and Fascism, during the Cold War. The benefits of Americanism were promoted through the ideals of freedom and democracy.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Kazin and Joseph A. McCartin, eds. Americanism: New Perspectives on the History of an Ideal (U of North Carolina Press, 2005) online
  2. ^ Americanism report American Legion 2012
  3. ^ Kazin and McCartin, Americanism: new perspectives on the history of an ideal (2006)
  4. ^ Evans, Hiram Wesley (March–May 1926). "Klan's Fight for Americanism" (PDF). North American Review. 223 (830): 33–63. JSTOR 25113510. 
  5. ^ Paine, Thomas (January 10, 1776). Wikisource link to Common Sense. Wikisource. 
  6. ^ Kazin and McCartin, Americanism

Further reading[edit]