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Presence Of American Exceptionalism In Colonial Times Throught The Mid Nineteenth Century, As A Source Of Racial Prejudices And Belief In White Superiority. Includes Footnotes

1250 words - 5 pages

The Progression of AmericaSince the colonial period, the concept of "American Exceptionalism" has evolved and shaped the United States into what is become today. Unfortunately it was through extreme trends of exceptionalism that our country has learned the most from and later were responsible for making the U.S. the great nation it is today. Various institutions established in our country's past show strong ambition on the part of the nation's leaders, but also speak volumes for the sense of superiority held by settlers.In 1606 "The First Charter of Virginia" was initiated. It was the legal document allowing the Virginia Company to set up Jamestown. The charter allowed new Jamestown inhabitants to claim any land, as long as it was not "possessed by any Christian Prince or People," (1) indicating no recognition of any land previously inhabited by Native Americans. This also indicates the Indians were regarded, by the Europeans, as being savage, and non-Christian and therefore had no rights. This "we are better than them" attitude was a common display by the new settlers toward anyone other than themselves.Following the Jamestown settlers, the Pilgrims fled to the America's in 1620 to separate from the Church of England. Prior to landing off the coast of Cape Cod they developed the "Mayflower Compact", an abbreviated version of a constitution, which was the first form of organized self government set-up in America. The Pilgrims took every step possible to ensure the success of their Holy mission. The compact states that "having undertaken for the Glory of God, and advancement of Christian faith, and the honor of our King and country...for our better ordering and preservation,"(2) displaying their belief that their mission was supported by God and their King, which instilled in the Pilgrims a sense of righteousness and exceptionalism.John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony comprised "A Model of Christian Charity" in 1630 to inspire and encourage his followers to behave accordingly because they were on a mission to purify the Church of England. Their mission was said to be "commissioned by God" (3) and they believed they were the first of their kind. Winthrop encouraged his people to "consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us. So if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause him to withdraw his present help from us, we shall be made a story and a by-word through the world. We shall open the mouths of enemies to speak evil of the ways of God, and all professors for God's sake." (3) The belief and strong emphasis on the godliness of their mission indicates an intense feeling of exceptionalism and that their intent was to become the model American society.As the new nation continued to flourish, each new colony believed they were designed with some exceptional motive. It peaked after the Mass Bay Colony and then became too intense for their own good. The sense of...

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