American Exceptionalism Essay

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The word ‘exceptional’ or ‘exceptionalism’ is normally used to connote a person or a thing that is above the ordinary, thus, extraordinary. The term ‘American Exceptionalism’ does not stray far from this ordinary connotation. It implies that the United States is a country like no other because of certain qualities that it possesses that is not found in others. This concept has its roots in French historian Alexis de Tocqueville’s observations of America. In the second volume of his book Democracy in America, de Tocqueville wrote “The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one” (de Tocqueville 518). Ironically, it was Stalin that accidentally…show more content…
In the introductory chapter of his book, he wrote “Amongst the novel objects that attracted my attention during my stay in the United States, nothing struck me more forcibly than the general equality of conditions” (de Tocqueville 12). Tocqueville was particularly amaze at the American brand of equality because it did merely exist as a dogma or as a principle, but it was an element of life for the people. Thus, equality existed, according to Tocqueville, on the personal and social level. Today, the reality may be that not all American people are equal, but the equality principle had and has continued to underpin many democratic institutions. The Declaration of Independence, which sets out the foundation of American rights and freedoms, provided that ‘all men are created equal.’ Although this may not be true at all times, American institutions, especially the courts, continue to strive to attain this goal. In Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), the US Supreme Court declared segregation as unconstitutional because it violated the equality clause under the 14th Amendment. To secure that equal protection laws are effectively enforced, agencies and other institutions were created. One of these agencies is the US Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission.
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