As the Thanksgiving holiday came and went, Americans counted their blessings. They gave thanks for their families, friends, health, etc. One thing that everyone should be thankful for is history; the history of America. We owe Thanksgiving to the Pilgrims, but many forget about the Puritans who came to America with them. Had it not been for them, we would not have the values and society that we know today.
Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither was America. Since July 4, 1776, when it was founded, America has constantly been growing and expanding. It was not built on one idea, but many. There are numerous values and ideas that have played large roles in shaping what we today know as America. Several came from the Puritans: English Protestants who disliked the Church of England and came to America. Others came from the early people of America. These are ideas such as freedom and the value of individuals, ideas that were fought for in multiple wars. One thing is for certain, America’s present would not be the same without its past.
There are six characteristics that the Puritans possessed that have helped in the shaping of America that can still be found in society today. These characteristics are commonly known as the Puritan Legacy, which includes the following: compulsion, a materialistic outlook, moderation, a desire for education, the idea of a mission, and intolerance. Compulsion is one of the more prominent traits in America today. It is the act of making someone be good, or do what is considered a good action, despite their will. The Puritans made everyone attend church. Certain people were appointed to walk the aisles during the service to ensure that everyone was alert and awake. This concept has continually evolved as America has evolved. Now, the people or the government will define an action as good or bad and they will force others to comply with their ruling. An example would be cigarettes. At first, the news and other media attempted to persuade people that they were bad. Then, a tax was put on cigarettes. The final act was to use the force of law. You must be eighteen years of age to buy cigarettes. It’s illegal to smoke inside of some establishments and campuses are smoke-free. Without this, thousands of Americans would be dying and suffering from lung cancer and many of the other diseases associated with cigarettes. The ultimate example of compulsion, however, is alcohol. It is a battle still being fought today.
America, the land of the free and home of the brave, was not always a place of freedom. The American Revolutionary War was fought because the early Americans wanted freedom from the controlling hand of Great Britain. Because of this war, a system of government was developed in which ordinary citizens had more control in politics. This government, known as a Democratic Republic, is the government that is still in place today. The Bill of Rights, which was written in colonial times, also remains in effect. This is a prime example of how the virtues of America have continued and the beliefs that our founding fathers fought for are still believed in. We have freedom of speech, of religion, and of press. We have rights that cannot be taken away. No war or battle in the past was fought in vain. They were all fought for a better future.
There is not one specific person or event that is responsible for the forming of present-day America. The British can even partly be credited for it. It is unfathomable what America would be like if it was still under British control. It would certainly not be the America that we know today. One of the great things about the United States is its continual growth. The past is not being forgotten, but built upon and added to. The Puritan Legacy lives on. The American Revolution is taught in schools across the country. This is so that one day, when what is the present becomes the past, America will have an even brighter future. We owe what is presently America to the past, because that is what shaped it and continues to do so. For this, let us be thankful.