Thomas Jefferson

What Is American?

2 mins read

I’ve seen lots of Americans recently decrying the destruction of the United States by our countrymen. One friend shared a post that said, “Watching our country being destroyed by our own people is the saddest thing I’ve ever seen.” I’ve seen many other comments sharing a similar sentiment.

The people tearing down statues, the people burning and looting stores, the people erasing the names of American heroes are not our people. They are not our countrymen. They may been citizens, but they aren’t Americans.

I touched on this subject in my post titled “Many Nations.” Theophrastus addressed the problem in his recent post titled, “Last One Out, Hit The Lights.”

What does it mean to be American? I’ve thought about that a lot in recent years. First, Americans are the posterity of the founding stock of the nation. Second, Americans affirm specific beliefs and hold specific values.

For example, Americans affirm the beliefs expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

God has created all men equal in His eyes. We are not all the same. We do not posses equal gifts or talents, nor will we all follow the same path, but God created us all. “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” Genesis 1.

God gives us our rights, not other men, not the government. Government can’t grant rights. At some point, government will always try to take away rights. It’s up to us to defend our community, our American way of life.

Americans want the liberty to live life in a way that makes us happy. We want the freedom to do what we want to do, to worship the way we want to worship, to raise our children among our countrymen.

Americans believe in and love God.

Most Americans believe in the God of the Bible. But those who don’t believe in the Christian God generally affirm that there is a Creator whom we must respect. Practically every American president has affirmed their belief in God, or a Creator, or Divine Providence.

Some American presidents were more vocal about their faith than others. It’s easy to find references to God in various presidential speeches, inaugural addresses, or farewell addresses.

Time has an interesting piece titled, “These Are the Bible Verses Past Presidents Have Turned to on Inauguration Day.”

Americans believe in the Ten Commandments.

Americans affirm the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights.

Americans love their family and want a family of their own.

Americans value hard work and merit.

Americans know it’s our personal responsibility to care for and help our neighbors.

Is America a nation of ideas? Yes. Our Founding Fathers affirmed certain ideals. The majority of Americans ascribed to those ideals at the founding.

Are Americans a nation descended from a particular people? Yes. I am the posterity the Founding Fathers talked about. My fellow Americans are that posterity.

Can immigrants from any country become an American? No. I don’t think so. I think immigrants can believe what we believe and affirm those ideals; they can be “American.” But I don’t think they can be an American.

Are immigrant children born on our soil Americans? No, I don’t think so. Immigrant parents may hold American ideals, but that doesn’t mean their children or grandchildren will. It may be that, although we can nurture certain values, we can never escape our nature.

What I know for certain, is that I’m an American, and there are a lot of people living in my country who are not.

American son of the Appalachian mountains. Happily married father of several and devoted man of God. Hold fast.


  1. […] I encourage you, my fellow Americans, to celebrate this Independence Day as an American should, by ignoring frivolous rules and edicts from a government far away. Read the Declaration of Independence to your children. Talk about the Bill of Rights. Talk about what it means to be an American. […]

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