It’s not news that Americans are a very patriotic nation. Their pride of their homeland is well known around the globe, and it plays a deep role in their culture. It is no surprise that Americans have seen themselves and their country as possessing a special moral dignity. Americans have viewed their country as an exemplar for the world, as a shining city on a hill that stands to inspire and attract millions of like-minded individuals. But what is the basis of America’s particular patriotism and civic virtues?
I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.
American patriotism refers to patriotism involving cultural attachment of Americans to the United States as their homeland. American patriotism has been identified by some as distinct from American nationalism because of the emphasis of American patriotism upon values rather than a commitment to a nation. Ralph Waldo Emerson described the United States as an “asylum of all nations”. Official American values were laid out in the Declaration of Independence that emphasized human rights, such as declaring:
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.
This has been called “one of the best-known sentences in the English language”, containing “the most potent and consequential words in American history”. The passage came to represent a moral standard to which the United States should strive. This view was notably promoted by Abraham Lincoln, who considered the Declaration to be the foundation of his political philosophy, and argued that the Declaration is a statement of principles through which the United States Constitution should be interpreted.
It provided inspiration to numerous national declarations of independence throughout the world. Historian David Armitage, after examining the influence of the American “Declaration” on over 100 other declarations of independence, says:
The American Revolution was the first outbreak of the contagion of sovereignty that has swept the world in the centuries since 1776. Its influence spread first to the Low Countries and then to the Caribbean, Spanish America, the Balkans, West Africa, and Central Europe in the decades up to 1848…. Declarations of independence were among the primary symptoms of this contagion of sovereignty.
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July or July Fourth, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, family reunions, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States. Independence Day is the National Day of the United States and one of the most important holidays in the country.