What It Is To Be An American

Essay by pherbHigh School, 11th gradeA+, April 2004

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What is an American? Is an American merely a person who is native to the United States? Belonging to, inhabiting, coming from, or forming part of the America's? How does one go about defining an American? Writers such as Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine believed that freedom, work ethic, and patriotism were (and still are) some of the most important and only a sample of the many things that make up an American.

An important interpreter of Americana is Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine believed that an American is someone who is patriotic. He believed that, "He that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman." To be patriotic means to have a devoted love, support, and defense of one's country. When defining a patriot it is important to look beyond the cliche jingoism and chauvinism that has infested many countries. A person who is patrotic is appreciative of everything their country has to offer and is in some cases, willing to die for it.

Patrick Henry is quoted as saying, "If there must be trouble let it be in my day, that my child may have peace," and also, "No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilites, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the house." Patriotism itself, is one of the most notable traits of an American.

Another important trait of being an American is hard work. Benjamin Franklin, a strong supporter of work ethic, wrote various aphorisms on the subject. "No gains without pains," and "God helps those that help themselves." These are a few examples of his belief that one will reek benefits if he or she is only willing to work for them. Patrick henry suggested his by...