American Identity




Connection to Theme:  American Identity



The House of Burgesses

This represented the first colonial American attempt at a creating a legislative body, and marked an important step in the creation of a more independent colony. It also showed that the Americans were evolving from the English settlers that they had started as, into more nationalistic Americans.



Harvard College is founded

The creation of educational institutions in America bolstered American national pride and created a more prestigious identity for New Englanders. This showed that America was not just another English colony, but a place where higher learning could be conducted with pride. Harvard became a symbol of America’s growing sophistication and religious and educational promise.



The English seize New Amsterdam from the Dutch and rename it New York.

This nation building, helped evolve an American sense of identity by creating a strong central area that the American’s could occupy. Conquering New Amsterdam also helped to foster a sense of pride and promise in the Americans, who could not yet call the area their own, but it was now in their grasp.



The New England Primer is published.

This book for children which taught spelling, religion, and the alphabet became a powerful symbol for American educational and religious identity. America became, in the minds of its colonists, a place for young people to learn, and for some eventually go to college. It showed how Americans valued education in their children, as well as religion, and considered the two subjects interconnected.



The Boston Massacre

This event is tied to American identity because it shows how Americans were becoming fed up with the interference of the British, even going so far as to name this event, which ended in the deaths of five people, a massacre. This name suggests that the Americans had formed very separate groups from the British, even though they had originally come from the same place, developing an Us vs. Them mentality as a nation.



The Revolutionary War

Showed the American value of freedom and liberty, when the Americans left the English. This event also showed the beginnings of political parties, with those like the Whigs and Tories. These contributed to Americans identifying themselves with different groups within the country. This war also came from the many Enlightenment ideals that became the foundation of the country.



The Constitutional Convention

This even marked the culmination of all of the values instilled in Americans both from the Revolutionary War, and lingering values from England. The constitution also represented the Enlightenment ideals that flavored United States government form the beginning.



George Washington is unanimously voted in as the first President of the United States.

George Washington was both a Revolutionary War hero, and a supporter of nationalistic and patriotic ideals. He set a model for the newly freed American people, and represented a new era in the minds of the new citizens of the United States. He was also unanimously voted in, which showed agreement between the north and south states’ delegates, agreements that would prove less common later.



The Supreme Court meets for the first time

The formation of the Supreme court marked a crucial turning point in the evolution of the American identity, in that many difficult decisions regarding the interpretation of the constitution were made by these supreme court justices. Decisions like these affect the way that Americans see the government and how they see their country as a whole, because of the way that the supreme court protects both citizen’s rights and the powers of the government. This first meeting of the Supreme Court showed how American Identity would be shaped in its eventual rulings.



The Bill of Rights are Ratified

The Bill of Rights is very connected to American sense of identity because these amendments signify American values, such as the right to free speech, etc. These changed Americas national character to one that cared about the common man, making the bill of rights a fundamental part of the constitution. It also reinforced the national idea of freedom by the people and for the people, a national ideal not present in the former British colonies of America.