What is an American?

Essay by loserlauraCollege, UndergraduateA, December 2013

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Essay #3

An American is a new breed of man separated from his ancestral roots through time, space, and thought. This thesis is supported by three contentions. First, an American has political rights so that he may have a voice in the government. Second, an American is given religious freedom unlike that of any other country in this time period. Finally, an American uses his intelligence to improve the society he lives in.

First, an American has political rights that give him a voice in the government. In the Northwest Land Ordinance of 1787, the ordinance gave new states the possibility of being admitted as states. The states would gain religious freedom and equality in the government, just like states that had been already admitted. In 1803, the Marbury v. Madison case was the first to declare a federal law unconstitutional. This is known as judicial review. In 1824, Marshall's decision of Gibbons v.

Ogden determined that the states have the right to decide commerce regulation unless they interfere with the federal government regulations. By the 1840's, eighty percent of white males were able to vote; this led the world in voting rights.

Second, an American has religious freedom unlike that of any other country. Led by Jonathan Edwards, the Great Awakening guided evangelists to assert religious beliefs in the 1740's. On the contrary, many Americans began to think more rationally; this led to a movement called the Enlightenment. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson wrote the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. He announced that no man shall be pushed into worshipping or holding a religious belief. They were free to worship as they pleased. The Bill of Rights, written by James Madison, stated that an individual has freedom of religion. The Bill of Rights did not apply to women,