Posted: November 27th, 2013
What it means to be an American citizen
What it means to be an American citizen
Being an American citizen means having freedom to express ones beliefs, ideas, religion, and the drive for change through the federal government assembly. Being an America also means having opportunities, which people from other countries hope for such opportunities. It also means being more modernized in terms of technology and industries. These changes are often necessitated by the organization of people or groups of people who seek reforms and reactions on certain issues. The advanced technology citizens in America, have access to and enjoy is because of rise in modernization over a period of time and through the innovation of people’s ideas. These are just some of the reasons that being an American citizen means, though they vary from one individual to another. Through the following different themes, the meaning of being an American citizen is explored in this essay.
The rise in opportunity is the chance granted to a person or group of people to have access to a certain right and opportunity denied. Throughout the America history, a big part of the population had been marginalized and denied political liberty, freedom and economic opportunity. These marginalized groups included women, immigrants, African Americans, Native Americans and workers. They lobbied for inclusion in the American life through social, economic, and legal adjustments and alterations of the constitution. An example of an opportunity that arose was during the great depression when people were faced with a big economic crisis. President Roosevelt came up with programs that offered opportunity to the unemployed and poor by offering them jobs in the government sector. He also passed legislations that ensured that Americans would not loose their savings when banks closed due to financial crisis. In the 1860, Women in America formed a convention that called for equal voting rights for women since according to the law only white men were eligible to vote. This women rights convention fought exclusively for the voting rights of women, which they did by foremost focusing on each state amending its state constitution to allow them to vote (Wheeler &Becker, 2007). This was slowly achieved over a period of twenty years, as one state after another allowed women to vote. The biggest battle was won when the constitution was amended and women were granted the right to vote in national elections
The federal government and its various institutions have been called upon to bring about and effect changes that Americans have needed with time. These changes result from domestic events or changes that are aimed at causing large-scale changes. On the other hand, some Americans believe that the federal government should be limited while passing laws that directly affect the well being and economic development of the citizens. The government was called upon by the social reformers who were leading the abolitionism movement, to abolish slavery in America. This abolitionism resulted in the American civil war, when the southern states felt their lively hood was threatened since they were the majority slaves’ owners. The victory of President Abraham Lincoln who opposed slavery saw the senate pass the thirteenth amendment to the constitution that abolished slavery and freed them in 1865 (wheeler & Becker, 2007). The federal government was called upon to give all American citizens the right to vote despite their race, color or previous condition of servitude. This was because of the abolition of slavery, which gave the African American their freedom. They fought for this right and in 1870; the fifteenth amendment was enforced, which allowed African Americans, chine’s immigrants and all Native Americans to exercise their right to vote.
The open door policy is a theme, which refers to how America relates internationally with other countries through diplomacy. America has strengthened its foreign policies, through its diplomats who are deployed through out the world. The list of countries has increased over time and involves many countries regardless of their religion, political stand and region. Through this, open policies they advocate for the rights of people, the freedom to travel over seas without any restrictions and the independent of every country without any control or forced occupation. In 1918 president, Wilson helped broker a deal that saw an early end to the World War I. He drafted fourteen points that characterized the American war aims, which included the abandonment of secret international agreements, freedom of seas, free trade between nations, reductions in national armaments, self-rule for subjugated nationalities, adjustment of colonial claims for the sake of the inhabitants affected and the association of nations to enable political independency and territorial integrity. These fourteen points reflected the way to achieve open policy and hope for a better future (Henretta, 2008).
Modernization is another theme that explores the meaning of being an American citizen. American citizens are more advanced in terms of technology and in culture. This was achieved through urbanization and industrialization in technology, inventions and ideas. Modernization in America was influenced by the constant wars America was involved with over a period. After the 1941 World War II, major growth of federal and state highways emerged because of quick development of suburbs. When the military men came back from the war, they settled down and started having families that made the city over crowded. This resulted in the demand for housing, which saw the rise of suburbs in areas close to the cities. People moved out to the suburbs, though most jobs remained in the city and they had to commute between the suburbs and the city. This in turn required proper infrastructure to facilitate this new trend and lifestyle and this gave way for the rise of federal states roads (Henretta, 2008). After the war, reconstruction was underway. This reconstruction resulted to rapid growth, industrial development and urbanization. Urbanization was because of the soldiers who returned from war and were moving to towns in search of better opportunity and employment. Expansion of the infrastructure in the transport, housing and communication sectors, were the drive behind industrial growth. During any war, the economy prospers due to the increased productive activity, new investment opportunities to exploit and increase in prices of commodities. This characterized the economy of America during the Second World War, where it emerged as the wealthiest country because of an increase in order of munitions from its allies.
Organization is a theme that brings together a force of people who have the same beliefs, values and tastes. They form organizations and groups that bring about historical change through preserving and expressing their beliefs. These organizations with time have played a big role in bringing about freedom, equality and opportunities for American citizens. An example is the organization formed in the 1950’ to fight for the rights of the minority. This organization was formed following the successful Montgomery, bus boycott by the civil rights movement. This was activated by the arrest of Rosa parks a black woman, who sat and refused to yield the seat to a white male. The southern Christian leadership conference organization that was headed by martin Luther king Junior, held peaceful demonstration and protests through out different states (Wheeler & Becker, 2007). The movement lobbied for equal treatment of Americans regardless of the color of their skin, end to oppression, equal opportunity for all and civil rights. Though it took several years, the organization was instrumental in some national legislation like the civil rights act of 1964. Organization to American citizen means the freedom to fight for what they believe in and to do so without being restricted.
The rise of America as a super power after the cold war put it as the most powerful, influential and dominant country in the world. The determining factors which put America as the leading super power was due to its political influence. It has a permanent seat in UN council together with its two allies; this ensures that it protects its interests and controls threats issued against it (Henretta, 2008). In addition, it holds strong ties with Western Europe Latin America and East Asia. The other factor is its geographic and demographic size, which makes it the fourth largest country and the fourth in terms of the population in the globe. Another factor is its cultural practices that allow its citizen the freedom of speech and press. In addition, its rich cultural influences, that ranges from music, films, fashion, food and art. They have an impact in most parts of the world. The last factor and the most important is its large economy, which is determined by its GDP, huge industrial base, modernized farming, exports and imports in large volume and its many resources. The dollar that is its currency dominates the reserve currency for the whole world. All these factors coupled with the availability of manufactured goods, makes the living standard of the Americans high.
In conclusion, the essay has explored what it truly means to be an American citizen through the various themes. It is evident that the American citizens have been through so much to gain the freedom, modernization and opportunities that make life for Americans meaningful. Through the themes discussed in the essay, it shows that for citizens to enjoy civil rights that the Americans do it takes organization to push for the reforms and reaction. It also requires zeal, determination and patience because it is not easy to lobby for a change and achieve it easily. These qualities are what the American people have and what truly makes life meaningful for the American citizens. In addition, the knowledge that the federal government and its institutions, when called upon to act on issues affecting the people will do it makes the citizens of America proud to be Americans. Lastly the opportunities afforded the people ensures they enhance themselves, through civil rights, education, ownership to property and the constitution.
Henretta, J. A. et al. (2008). America‘s history. Boston, MA: Bedford/St Martin’s.
Wheeler, W. B., & Becker, S. D. (2007). Discovering the American past: A look at the evidence. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co.
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