What Makes America Great Essay

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What Makes America Great Essay


This “what makes America great” essay will look at three aspects of American culture and character that help to explain American exceptionalism. America is unlike any other nation in the world.  Its critics like to point out its flaws.  But those who appreciate it for what it is recognize that America is and has always been the “land of opportunity”—more so than any other country in the world (Keuilian).  From the conquistadors to the colonialists to the Founding Fathers to the Fathers of Industry, America has been the stage where the world’s imagination has flourished and found the most food for thought and fuel for innovation.


The fact that America is largely an accident is a footnote in history by now.  It was accidentally discovered by Columbus.  (He was shooting for India).  It was considered a Great Experiment by the Founding Fathers.  Washington called it as a much and historian Paul Johnson has remarked that “the creation of the United States is the greatest of all human adventures.  No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind” (3).  America has been called the New Rome, the New Jerusalem and the New World.  It, more than any other nation, has been at the heart of the modern world for the past four centuries.  Its exploits have shaped, determined and impacted the rest of the population on the globe as though it truly were the light shining on the hill.  What is it about America that has made it so great, so powerful, so bright, so big, and so magnificent?  If one had to boil it down to just three things, one could say it is America’s individualism, ingenuity, and all-out toughness.

American Individualism

No “What Makes America Great” essay could be complete without first discussing the idea of American Individualism.  America is truly the birthplace of Freedom.  Paris gets all the credit for its own emphasis on “liberty, equality and fraternity” and its French Revolution—but the American Revolution preceded the French one by a good decade at least.  America set the stage for Revolution.  It wrote its defiant open letter to the King of England and dared to call it a Declaration of Independence, well before doing so was a trend among much smaller nations attempting to throw off the yoke of neo-colonialism.  The colonists wanted the English Crown out of the New World.  The War for Independence won them the right to rule themselves and, ever since, American Individualism has been a force to be reckoned with.

The 31st U.S. President Herbert Hoover declared that “Individualism has been the primary force of American civilization for three centuries. It is our sort of individualism that has supplied the motivation of America’s political, economic, and spiritual institutions in all these years.”  The first colonialists were individuals, branching out on their own in the New World, cutting themselves off from their European roots and making a new, fresh start for themselves and their people in a foreign land.  The pioneers pushed the boundaries of the frontier and blazed the trail westward, facing the challenges and dangers that went hand in hand with expanding the territory.  The Founding Fathers stood their ground against not only the English crown but against the very government of monarchy itself at a time when monarchy was still the accepted form of government.

American Individualism was so great that its individual states refused to accept a single government that was centrally controlled:  in order to pass the Constitution, the states wanted guarantees that state governments would not be run over by the federal authorities.  The states even went so far as to fight a civil war over whether or not the individual states had the right to decide for themselves if they wanted to be part of the Union any longer or not—that is how fiercely protected and cherished the…

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…the American government’s willingness to get out of the way and allow producers to innovate and design new concepts and create new breakthroughs in technology.

Today, Americans honor that same spirit of mental and physical toughness by supporting their favorite teams and professional athletes.  From the NBA to the NHL, Americans love sports and love to see their teams win.  Whether it is the World Series, the Super Bowl, college games, or amateur competitions, Americans in general will stop what they are doing to watch a good contest.  Skill, agility, toughness and persistence are all traits that Americans admire because they know that to make it in this world one cannot rely on anyone but oneself.  They know that in order to succeed, one has to be tough.   And that is what America has always been about.


In this "what makes America great essay" it should be abundantly clear that what makes America great is the character and vitality of the American people.  It is not a specific ideology or a specific way of life.  America is filled with all sorts of people from all over the planet.  Yet what makes them all similar is that when they come to America they all share the same vision of what an American should be:  an American should be tough, innovative and individualistic.  America is about reaching one’s potential and not letting anything get in the way of one’s goals.  It is a country where everyone is allowed to dig down and reach up.  That is why America has always been attractive to people, no matter where they are from.  It has always been seen as a land of golden opportunity.  It is a land where one’s mettle will be tested.  It is a land where people find out what they are made of.  It is a land where the ordinary can become extraordinary, where men like Ray Dolby can change the way a person experiences sound.  It is a land where anything…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

The Heritage Foundation. “How Strong is the United States Military?”  Heritage, 2019. https://www.heritage.org/defense/heritage-explains/how-strong-the-united-states-military

Hoover, Herbert. The Future Of American Individualism.  Hoover Institution, 2011.  https://www.hoover.org/research/future-american-individualism

Johnson, Paul.  A History of the American People.  HarperCollins, 1997.

Keuilian, Bedros.  “Why America Is Still the Land of Opportunity.”  Entrepreneur, March 14, 2018.  https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/310208

Sherman, Andy.  “Long Live American Ingenuity.” The Hill, October 19, 2018. https://thehill.com/opinion/finance/412211-long-live-american-ingenui

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