What defines the American spirit?

When I asked for discussion topics, Marica had an interesting idea (Thanks, Marica):


One more specific thought along those lines would be quotes– written or spoken– from first generation businessman, of any era, although that may be a bit too specific. Another thought would be discussing what we think defines the American spirit. I’m thinking here of this quote from a piece Andrew McCarthy had up at PJMedia a few days ago.

“One of the many great things about Paul Johnson’s magisterial “http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B004IDQRY8/pjmedia-20” A History of the American People is that he begins that history in the Sixteenth Century. There was an identifiable, culturally distinguishable American People long before there was a Revolutionary War, a Constitution, or a central government. The American People, by their industry and ingenuity, didn’t just build successful businesses… they built the most successful nation in history — and all, somehow, without HUD, Fannie, Freddie, the EPA, OSHA… ”
So, what defines the American Spirit?


Be Sociable, Share!
  • http://thoughtyoudneverask.blogspot.com/ zabrina

    Freedom and energy. Unleashed, in the free market system, they equal innovation and creativity.

  • Old Buckeye

    I always like the idea that Americans exhibit “rugged individualism.” To me, that is the antithesis of the “it takes a village,” “spread the wealth around” kind of mentality that the left lives by.

  • Caped Crusader

    Freedom to follow YOUR dream and the liberty to do so!!!

  • JKB

    Well, it’s a bit frayed of late, but it lingers in the American heart

    A man (or woman) is their own master and must suffer no other leave to pursue their self interests, subject only to the infringement upon the liberty of others.  That they may freely negotiate with others where cooperation is required and retain the profits of their ventures for their own use.

    Sadly, the siren song of the socialist for an easy life at the cost to others has lured many Americans into dangerous waters placing all at risk of being wrecked up on the shallows of materialist equality.

    “Liberty is, and always has been, the cry of the capable, the clever, the brave, of the men who were destined to be prosperous. Equality is the demand of the ignorant, the incapable, the foolish, and the cowardly. Those who cannot deal with the conditions of the times so as to raise themselves above their fellows, desire, and naturally desire, to have the conditions of the time shaped and modified to their incapacities.”

  • http://photoncourier.blogspot.com David Foster

    Some time in the late 1800s, an English aristocrat visited a ranch in the American West.

    “Where is your master, my man?” the Englishman asked a cowboy.

    “Son-of-a-bitch ain’t been born yet,” was the response. 

  • Gringo

    One part of the American spirit is initiative.  Two tales from my  time working in Argentina.
    I was hitchhiking during my time off the drilling  rig. A truck slowed down after it passed me. I ran after the truck. The truck didn’t stop. Its slowing down was apparently not related to my hitching.
    The next vehicle stopped for me. The driver and his passengers, who were all students in medical school, informed me that they  stopped for me because they had seen me run after the truck. He liked my showing that initiative. When he found out I was [North] American, he said that an Argentine wouldn’t have run after the truck.
    From work. Part of  my job involved keeping equipment in repair, which occasionally involved going 90 feet up to the top of the rig- usually simple cable replacement. As you were strapped in, it wasn’t dangerous. Just don’t look down too much. One time a Peruvian member of our crew, who had the same job description and similar level of experience as me, refused to go up to the top of the rig to repair the equipment. He said that as a professional, he wasn’t going  up to the top of the rig. One of the roughnecks- not our employees- could do it.
     My attitude as a [North] American was that you did what you needed to do to get the job done. As a professional, if I had to get my hands dirty to get the job done, I would get my hands dirty. Literally and figuratively.
    In a conversation in a nearby city with some Argentines about the [North] American way of doing things, they also praised the initiative, can-do attitude of Americans. Another thing they praised was the ability of Americans to  self-criticize – and improve from there. Unfortunately, many lefties think that if self-criticism is good, then self-abasement is better.

  • http://bigfoodetc.blogspot.com Marica

    This is the quote I had in mind when I offered the suggestion for discussion topics:

    Years marked by wars, religious controversies and persecutions, political disputes, and royal despotism lay behind the decision to leave Europe and migrate to the English colonies. But there was something in the spirit of those who made the break– a force of character not simply determined by economic, political, or religious conditions— that made them different from their neighbors who remained in the turmoil and poverty of the Old World. 

    From The Beards’ Basic History of the United States.

    IMHO, everything that’s already been said here is part of that force of character.

    DQ: Thanks for taking up the topic. (Over in my own little corner of the blogosphere I’m working on those first generation American businessman quotes. When I’ve finished, I’ll let you know, in case anyone is interested.) 

  • http://www.dixiebonespost.com NHHead

    I can show you what the American spirit is and what it is not in this video from the American Future Fund.
    It is not what the President is saying. It is the look in the peoples’ eyes when he is speaking and the commentary after he closes.


  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live. For neither in war nor yet in law ought any man use every way of escaping death. For often in battle there is no doubt that if a man will throw away his arms, and fall on his knees before his pursuers, he may escape death, if a man is willing to say or do anything. The difficulty, my friends, is not in avoiding death, but in avoiding unrighteousness; for that runs deeper than death.

    “‘He either fears his fate too much,
        Or his desert is small,
    Who fears to put it to the touch,
        And win or lose it all.’

    Two points if you can figure out who said those two paragraphs.

  • http://bigfoodetc.blogspot.com Marica

    #1: Socrates

    #2: James Graham Sir James Graham, 1st Baronet, of Netherby (1761–1824), MP for Ripon 1798–1807

  • http://bigfoodetc.blogspot.com Marica

    I should add two things. I cheated & searched. And I think they are both filed under ‘courage’ at Bartletts.

    I think Courage is in the background in several comments above. 

  • jj

    If it’s broke – fix it.  Don’t expect somebody else – or the government – to do it for you.  (The government, of course, is famous for fixing things that aren’t broken.)