Identity and Destiny in American Ideation

Dobos, Benjámin
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The history of the United States has been marked by an ongoing endeavor to arrive at a meaning of what it is to be an American. In approaching the question concerning the essence of American credentials, one may set off from a number of different directions, examining what made America rise from the humble beginnings in 1607 to be a world leader by the end of the 19th century. I believe that in order to draw closer to answering this question, it is crucial to understand how the American social consciousness came into being by way of ideological and mythical constructions, which helped to explain, legitimize and justify the actions of the US. In this thesis I will focus my attention on these important aspects of the development of American culture, concentrating mainly on the time period of the 19th century by examining the possible connotations of the “old” Manifest Destiny; how it was used and how it cemented the belief in chosenness and Divine favor. My main questions of concern will be: how the American mind developed since the arrival of the Pilgrims; how the Pilgrims affected the social consciousness of the nation and its idea of exceptionalism, which gained a more secularized interpretation resulting in a civil religion; how the political propaganda of the Manifest Destiny justified the occupation of foreign lands by the aid of myths.
identitás, Amerika, társadalmi tudat