I have explored this question with students in some of the classes I teach, and I believe it is an important one. Americans have a different set of values and priorities than the Europeans who live in countries that have contributed the bulk of immigrants that make up the population of the United States. Why is this? What shaped the American character? I have my theories, which I'll contribute in a bit, but let's get the discussion going.
One alternate theory is that Americans actually are not different. However, statistics tend to counter that, as does politics. Americans tend to be less in favor of socialism, more religious, and more violent than their modern-day counterparts in Europe.
Of course, the fabric of American society is changing, and there are more influences coming in from Asia and Latin America. But the record seems to indicate that the patterns that we see in American society were already in place by the time that the Revolutionary War happened, and at that point the only people living in the British colonies of North America were either from Western Europe or Africa, and the African slaves in the colonies did not at that time contribute a significant cultural influence to have distinctly shaped the society. Perhaps the fact that chattel slavery existed at all had an influence, but the slaves themselves did not yet (in the 1770s) contribute enough to have made a difference.
So, what makes Americans different?
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