What Makes America ‘America’?

Have you ever wondered what makes America unique among all the nations of the earth?

Have you ever wondered why a relatively young, upstart nation on the backside of the known world could rise to international prominence in just a few short decades?

Have you ever wondered why a new nation, started from scratch, could become the world’s most powerful nation in less than two centuries?

Have you ever wondered why the United States has enjoyed prosperity and domestic tranquility unparalleled in the world and throughout history?

Historian David Barton points to something that makes us unique among all the nations: the recognition of certain fundamental truths.

We find these fundamental truths–truths that form the foundation of who and what we are as America–articulated in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.

In the video clip below, Barton hones in on 45 words that make all the difference:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men

From these 45 words, we discover several critical truths from which flow everything we believe in as Americans

  1. There is a Divine Creator
  2. The Divine Creator gives inalienable rights to man
  3. Government exists to secure those rights to man

No other nation in the world is founded on these truths, and no other nation has been blessed as ours has.

Unfortunately, as we began to walk away from these truths some 50-60 years ago, we have watched those blessings diminish.  Let us turn around and re-embrace them before it’s too late.

8 Responses to “What Makes America ‘America’?”

  1. Maybe America thrived simply because it’s inhabitants were and are adventurous, hard-working, industrious and fair minded people  🙂

    Barton says we have thrived because of our christian values and I say it was becasue we are hard working and industrious people. Who wins- Me or Barton ?

  2. So no other nation has been as hard-working, industrious or fair-minded as the American people?

    That might be possible, though I doubt even you would try to make that case.

    And even if it were true, you might want to ask yourself why were Americans so uniquely hard-working, industrious and fair-minded? Something to do with their fundamental worldview, perhaps?

  3. I think these Americans were so hard working and independent is because it takes that kind of person to root up from their homeland, take the family on a perilous journey and then get  here and survive. I don’t think this was related to some worldview, but rooted in the person himself/herself . After all , hard working and independence aren’t under the sole purvue of the religious.

  4. And what kind of person would root up from their homeland and take their family on a perilous journey where they would have to work hard to survive?

    We know the answer to that question quite well. It was primarily people with deeply held Christian beliefs, usually with the goal of spreading the Gospel. We know this because history is clear on it, as even the colonial charters illustrate:


    No other nation in the world throughout history (except perhaps ancient Israel) has been started by such a deeply religious people for such transparently religious purpose.

  5. Is this what we want to influence our school kids curriculum?

  6. You are correct in many of the details of your comments, but incorrect in a couple of very important points and incorrect in your conclusion.

    First, very few of the founders were deists. All but a handful believed in the God of the Bible, and sought God’s active help–something a deist could never expect.

    Also, no one other than some radical Muslims seeking to bring Sharirah law to the United States is seeking to “dominate religious practices” or “take over governmental institutions.” Rather, what some Christians want to do is restore the recognition of our nation’s rich Christian heritage and keep our society based on the Christian values that it was originally founded on. For as John Adams said, our nation was built to run on those principles, and will not function as intended if we abandon those principles.

    Finally, your conclusion is wrong, because if we return to the values and principles upon which our nation was founded (what “fundamentalist Christians” seek), we definitely will not end up with a “hateful God” because our founders as well as those “fundamentalist Christians” realize probably more thany anyone how loving God is, and the great lengths he went to in order to save us from our sins while we were still His enemies.

    Since such beliefs constituted the environment in which our nation was founded, and such beliefs are shared by “fundamentalist Christians” today, just as all religions had religious freedom from the dawn of our nation (including Jewish and Muslim Americans) so today that religious freedom will continue regardless (in fact, because) of the fact that our nation was founded on the Christian worldview which recognizes you cannot and should not force someone to believe something they do not want to believe.

  7. My comment specifically stated that “some” of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Deist, I did not say that the number of Deist was substantial.  The document is written in a Deist language, however, and I would guess that was because Jefferson did most, if not all, of the final writing.  Specifically, the document is considered Lockean, because Jefferson took a lot of his ideas from the English philosopher John Locke.  For instance, Locke make the statement “life, liberty, and the pursuit of property” which Jefferson changed only the word “property” to the word “happiness.”  I really don’t see much difference from those “radical Muslims” and “radical Christian fundamentalists.”  That is simply my view.  Many of what I call “radical Christians” (and you don’t seem to be in that group) want to institute something more akin to the Mosaic Laws – far more than just the Ten Commandments – which can quickly be found in the Pentateuch.  I hear the term “God’s laws” all the time.  If you read the whole of the Mosaic Laws, there are not a lot of differences between aspects of that and Shariah law – such as stoning adulterous women.  John Adams, as he said in a treaty with Tripoli, said that the US was not a Christian nation. 
    To me, the concept that this country was founded for Freedom of Religion is a myth.  The settlers in Jamestown had little on their mind other than economics.  As for the Pilgrims in Mass., Religious Freedom was far from their mind as they had no tolerance for those who did not agree with them whether they were Christian or something else.  There were Quakers in Salem and the surrounding areas who were forced to pay tithes to the Puritan churches and to attend the Puritan services although they were in some great disagreement with Puritanism.  “Scourging Quakers” who disagreed with the Puritans was common and is mentioned both in historical documents as well as in books by Nathaniel Hawthorne whose grandfather was a judge at the Salem Witch Trials in the 1690s.  I have serious problems accepting that one should love God and Fear Him at the same time.  I guess that stems from the Commandment that says to “honor your father and your mother.”  I find it difficult to honor, or love, any one who spent 20 years beating me often as not simply because he was drunk all the time.  In my opinion, you can love someone or fear him, you can’t do both.

    The “Weltanschauung” of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution was a carryover of the Enlightenment and the texts of both documents are couched in Deistic terms and the word “God” is mentioned in neither.  The particular beliefs of the signers of either one of them is basically inconsequential.  I would have to agree with you that you cannot and should not force someone to believe in something that they don’t want to believe in, but history shows that those is disagreement with the prevailing religion of the time and place were either burned at the stake, hanged (as in Salem), or as in Zurich under Zwingli, thrown into a river with large stones tied to their feet.  You can’t force someone to agree with you, but that does not seem to have stopped them from being killed.    

  8. Actually the Declaration of Independence wasn’t written in “a Deist language,” nor was Jefferson a deist.

    As you pointed out, deists didn’t believe in an active, involved creator. The Declaration says men are created, an ongoing act. It also says they are endowed by their creator with inalienable rights, another ongoing act.

    The Declaration also closes with a declaration of “reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.” An absent, disengaged deity cannot be relied on for providence.

    If you don’t see much difference between Islam and Christianity, then you know pretty much nothing about either. There isn’t time or space to correct that here; I can only encourage you to learn about both, since Christianity is at the foundation of the nation in which you live, and Islam is determined to destroy or subjugate the country in which you live.

    I can tell you that I know of absolutely no Christians who want to institute a theocracy, or anything akin to the Mosaic Law. Rather, we seek a return to the acknowledgement that our nation has already been founded on God’s law (not the Mosaic Law, but rather what is sometimes known as the Natural Law, or what we might call a universal law of right and wrong), and a return to understanding that this is the source of our nation’s unique greatness.

    The Treaty of Tripoli is commonly misunderstood, usually because those who claim our nation does not have a Christian heritage ignore the rest of the statement after that which says ours is “not a Christian nation:

    As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen (Muslims),-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan (Islamic) nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.

    As you see, the rest of the statement provides context which explains what was meant. Put simply, it meant that, unlike most Muslim nations, our nation is not a theocracy. In other words, while our nation was founded on the Christian value system (every nation–even atheistic ones like the former Soviet Union–is founded on a value system of some kind), it was not founded as a theocracy. In a theocracy, not just the moral code of a religion but the theological positions of the religion are expected to be adhered to. For example, if the U.S. were a theocracy, we would not only have as a part of our laws the requirement that everyone respect Christian prohibitions on murder and theft, but also the Christian doctrine that God is a Trinity made up of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As you know, our government DOES expect obedience to the former Christian beliefs, but DOES NOT require belief in the latter. That is essentially the difference in a theocracy and our constitutional republic which is based on the Christian value system.

    And it also explains that while our very history (including the founding charters of every colony) and a multitude of statements by our founders makes it clear that we have been a nation of Christians founded on Christian principles, we are not a theocratically Christian nation and thus, as the Treaty of Tripoli says, have no religious quarrel with Islamic nations.

    You seem to be suffering from a great deal of propagandization by secularists who would love to rewrite a history that they desperately wish had never happened the way it did. You also don’t seem to know much about Christianity (or Islam).

    But you can remedy that. I was once misled on a number of these important truths, and was completely ignorant of a great many others.

    If you are not content with ignorance–and I sense something in you that tells me you aren’t–and would like to know more, there is a tremendous wealth of information available out there. Since you’re here on this website, you could start by clicking on the tags “Christian Heritage,” “church and state” as well as some others and read what is there. Then take what you find there and follow the information back to its original sources. Don’t just take my word for it–follow it back to the source.

    It will take some time to absorb all this, but I guarantee it will be worth the investment of time. And if you have the courage to follow the evidence, you will probably end up, like me, more than a little angry that so many in positions of responsibility have tried to mislead you.