10 how has the term american changed from the founding of the nation through today Ideas

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HE “WE” IN “WE THE PEOPLE” CHANGED SINCE THE ENACTMENT OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, IN THE PURSUIT OF A MORE PERFECT UNION    by  Danny R. Eller

The “We” in “We the People” has changed from what it meant at the time of ratification of the Constitution to its present meaning today. Who “We” are has changed over time due to many catalysts. That catalyst for change was not due to any single event. What “We” as a nation are today was not an epiphany of someone’s sudden act of brilliance and toleration. It was in small steps of earned respect that led to leaps in our national identity.
            The first lines of the United States Constitution are,
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”[1]
            During the insurrection that became a literal civil war with the Declaration of Independence in July 1776,[2] the objective of the colonists was to gain freedom from the British Crown. One big issue was land. Under British rule, all the land was owned by the British Crown, with only some land given to those that served the King in some exemplary way. Carried over from the British was that to be a full citizen one must own land. The reason for that was that if a man owned land then he had a personal stake, and as a land owner some responsibility above that of others. So initially one must have been a land owner; though this was later discarded as a requirement to realize full rights of citizenship in our present form of a Constitutional Republic.[3]

            Many have criticized our founding fathers because of what “We
” meant at the time of our nation’s founding. Much of the criticism claims that since they were all white men of property, our nation cannot be inclusive in its present form. As Dr. Ed Crews explained in his essay “Voting in Early America”, published in the Colonial Williamsburg Journal, the prevailing perception in Colonial America was that at the time of the nation’s founding it was the view that no good could come out of “government by the unfit”, or “mob rule”. So then a majority of Americans who were not white male property owners could not fully benefit as part of the “We
” in “We the People
”.[4]
            Some of the biggest changes in who “We
” are came as a result of the Civil War, which started in 1861. Even though it had been over 70 years since the ratification of the U.S. Constitution in June, 1788, the “We
” in “We the People
” still did not provide the full benefits for all Americans. Many people today do not know that even in the Union there were the slave states of Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri. Slavery, though certainly not the only issue, was a major problem between the agrarian southern states and the more liberal northern states. During the war, President Abraham Lincoln used the popularity of the abolitionist movement in the Union to end slavery, to garner support for his continuing the struggle to save the Union with the Emancipation Proclamation.[5] The Emancipation Proclamation only freed those slaves residing in states still in rebellion against the Union. That didn’t have any effect in those states still in rebellion, or parts of the Confederate states not under Union control, as they did not consider Lincoln having any authority in the Confederate States of
America. The proclamation also did not cover those slaves residing in the Union slave states mentioned above.[6] Even the end of the Civil War in April, 1865, the surrender of Confederate forces didn’t legally end slavery in the United States. Because of the United States Supreme Court decision in March 1857[7] called Dred Scott, it took three different Amendments, the 13th,[8] 14th[9], and 15th[10] Amendments enacted as part of Reconstruction, to finally abolish slavery, define who was a citizen, and protect their right to vote. The 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in December, 1865 is what finally ended legal slavery.[11] But there was much more to be done for the change in the “We
” into the inclusive term that is protected by the United States Constitution as it is today. It took the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ratified in July, 1868[12] to make it clear as to who was actually a citizen of the United States, and the 15th Amendment ratified in February 1870 to insure their right to vote.[13]

            Now we must cover the other half
of the “We
” in “We the People
”. Women were not given the complete benefits of being a full participating part of the “We
” until passage of the 19th Amendment[14] to the U.S. Constitution ratified in August, 1920 that ensured women could have some say in their government by protecting their right to vote.[15]            Again, there was much more to do to push further along what has become who the “We
” are today. Unless married to a white man, most Native Americans where considered citizens of their tribal nation and not citizens of the United States. It took legislation called the Indian Citizenship Act of June 1924 to grant full citizenship to Native Americans.[16]
Three years after the Brown vs Board of Education court decision, it required U.S. Marshals to escort on November 4, 1960,  Ruby Bridges. Bridges was the first black in the American south to attend an all-white school.

            But many in the United States resisted giving equal say to those they considered a foreign culture due to their perception of many non-European descendant Americans as not in keeping with what America had come to represent. What is an ironic point in America’s move to a more perfect definition of the “We
” in “We the People
”, as it took the 13th, 14th, and 15th Constitutional Amendments to overcome the Dred Scott U.S. Supreme Court decision, it took the U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1954 called Brown versus the Board of Education[17] to fully enforce provisions of the 14th Amendment to minorities, primarily black Americans.
            Military service was a way for black Americans to positively influence the people’s perceptions of blacks in America. Frederick Douglass stated during the civil war:[18] “Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.” (Douglass)

            Both Confederate and Union Soldiers saw firsthand that blacks could fight for a common cause, in addition to those causes solely in their self-interest. This carried on with black service in the U.S. Military as many westward bound settlers were saved from hostile Native American attacks by the 9th and 10th U.S. Calvary, also known as the Buffalo Soldiers.[19] The Calvary units carried that name proudly as it was given them by their enemy. Black U.S. Military units also served in the Spanish American War. During WWI blacks again served in numbers. Though most black Soldiers volunteered, many were drafted, the same as whites. Blacks serving in the military were considered heroes in their communities, as many were eager to show all Americans
that they deserved the full benefits of American citizenship. Again in WWII with glorious units such as the Tuskegee Airmen[20] and again in the Korean War after the Army integrated their units, black Americans served their country, but this time alongside all American servicemen. It was these actions over time that moved the nation as a whole toward the point where the 1964 Voting Rights Act[21] and other civil rights legislation and court decisions were made possible.
            In our journey to a more perfect union
we overcame several obstacles that over time were resolved through either gained respect by positive actions of the oppressed, and by their protests for inclusion. Many may say that we haven’t tried to create a more perfect union
. They are wrong, as we have created a more perfect union
and continue to do so. Though it is debatable that we have continued that march over the past few years, we have progressed considerably
since our nation’s founding. As referenced previously, that has not been due to any single moment, act, court decision or legislation. It has been over a long period of time as minority groups through their good deeds and moving protests that pushed the nation to a point that a majority of Americans regardless of religion, race or gender supported reforms that would make it easier for all Americans to pursue the American dream of happiness and prosperity.

            All Americans need to remember that it was our founding fathers, even though white men of property, who put into place a system of government that allowed such advances, and with overwhelming national consensus, could change our founding document to correct imperfections in pursuit of a more perfect union
. It was through the influences of great people that started as far back as Sacagawea, and Dolly Madison or the before mentioned Frederick Douglass, and others like Susan B. Anthony, Lieutenant General Frank Emmanuel Petersen Jr. (USMC),[22] and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who changed the perceptions of the American people, and thus the politics that led to a more perfect union
in accordance with our Constitution. It was the people elected to the U.S. Congress and State Legislatures who amended the Constitution of the United States to make our union more perfect and continued to refine who the “We
” are. It was through these good men and women in these bodies of government that the advancements in our national identity occurred.
So even though we are still on the journey to a more perfect union and the continued defining of the “We” in “We the People”, all Americans need to understand that road never ends, there is no finish line. Who “We” are today is not a constant. And our constitution allows for the change in and protects the “We,” even for those of us who are in the minority.

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[1] “Constitution of the United States – Official,” National Archives and Records Administration, accessed October 25, 2015, http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution.html.

[2] “Declaration of Independence (1776).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=34&page=transcript.

[3] Ed Crews. “Voting in Early America.” Colonial Williamsburg Journal, September 2007. http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring07/elections.cfm.

[4] Ed Crews. “Voting in Early America.” Colonial Williamsburg Journal, September 2007. http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/spring07/elections.cfm.

[5] “Transcript of Emancipation Proclamation (1863).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=34&page=transcript.

[6] “Emancipation Proclamation (1863).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=34.

[7] “Transcript of Dred Scott V. Sanford (1857).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=29&page=transcript.

[8] “Transcript of 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed November 29, 2015.

[9] “Transcript 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015.

[10] “Transcript of 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Voting Rights (1870).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015.

[11] “13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Abolition of Slavery (1865).” OurDocuments.com. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=40.

[12] “14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Civil Rights (1868).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=43.

[13] “15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Voting Rights (1870).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=44.

[14] “Transcript of 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote (1920).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=63&page=transcript.

[15] “19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: Women’s Right to Vote (1920).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed November 30, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=63.

[16] “American Indian Citizenship Act of 1924.” National Archives and Records Administration. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.archives.gov/historical-docs/todays-doc/?dod-date=602.

[17] “Brown V. Board of Education (1954).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=87.

[18] “Frederick Douglass African American Civil War Soldiers,” American Civil War History Timelines Battle Map Pictures, accessed October 25, 2015, http://www.americancivilwar.com/colored/frederick_douglass.html.

[19] “Buffalo Soldiers at Fort Davis, Texas (1867–1885).” blackpast.org. Accessed December 2, 2015. http://www.blackpast.org/aaw/buffalo-soldiers-fort-davis-texas-1867-1885.

[20] “Red Tail Squadron.” Confederate Air Force. Last modified January 6, 2015. http://www.redtail.org/extrapolating-truth-fiction-truth-still-pretty-darn-amazing/.

[21] “Transcript of Civil Rights Act (1964).” OurDocuments.gov. Accessed December 1, 2015. http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?doc=97&page=transcript.

[22] Adam Bernstein, “Frank E. Petersen Jr.: 1st Black Marine to Pilot a Plane — and Pin on a Star – Marine Corps – Stripes,” The Washington Post, last modified August 27, 2015, http://www.stripes.com/news/marine-corps/frank-e-petersen-jr-1st-black-marine-to-pilot-a-plane-and-pin-on-a-star-1.364855.

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Frequently Asked Questions About how has the term american changed from the founding of the nation through today

If you have questions that need to be answered about the topic how has the term american changed from the founding of the nation through today, then this section may help you solve it.

How has the phrase “we the people” evolved since the country’s inception?

In 1776 when this nation was founded, “We The People” did not include everyone. Racial minorities, women, and people without property could not vote. But through a series of constitutional amendments, “We The People” has grown. I’m part of “We The People.” And so are you

How has the United States evolved over time?

Bureau HOW HAS AMERICA CHANGED: Women still earn less than men in the workplace, but the wage gap is closing. The overall U.S. population growth has shifted south and west, with Texas and Florida now among the most populous states.

What principle underpins America?

America’s revolutionaries openly discussed these ideas, among them that all people, whether European, Native American, or African American, are created equal and have fundamental rights, such as liberty, free speech, freedom of religion, due process of law, and freedom of assembly.

Before it was called America, what was it called?

On , the Second Continental Congress adopted a new name for what had been called the “United Colonies.? The moniker United States of America has remained since then as a symbol of freedom and independence

What effect have the founding fathers had on modern-day America?

They drafted the United States Constitution, a historic document that still serves as the supreme law of the land today, and they were the Revolutionary War leaders who secured the independence of Great Britain’s American colonies in the late 18th century.

What one significant change did the Civil War’s end bring about in American society?

The abolition of slavery (13th), the granting of equal citizenship (14th), and the granting of voting rights (15th) to former slaves—all within a five-year period—were the most radical and quick social and political changes in American history.

What led to America’s modernization?

During the period known as the emergence of Modern America, which began at the turn of the 20th century and was marked by the confluence of industrialization, urbanization, and rapid immigration, cities came to dominate both business and society, placing strain on urban America.

The US has undergone how many changes?

The Constitution has been amended 27 times since it was ratified, and the founders also laid out the procedure by which amendments could be made.

Who coined the phrase “American”?

The term was first used in English in the 1568 translation of André Thévet’s book France Antarctique by Thomas Hacket; Thévet himself had called the natives Ameriques. In the following century, the term was expanded to include European settlers and their descendants in the Americas.

Who are America’s real founders?

Fact #1: Although there were many others who helped with the founding of the United States, most people consider these seven men to be the principal Founding Fathers: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison.

What was the original meaning of the term “American”?

The name American must always exalt the pride of patriotism. AMER’ICAN, noun A native of America; originally applied to the aboriginals, or copper-colored races, that the Europeans discovered here; now applied to the descendants of Europeans born in America.

What was the name of America after its discovery?

The first suggestion that the region of Columbus’ discovery be called “America” in honor of Vespucci, who noted that a “New World,” the so-called “fourth part of the world,” had been reached through Columbus’ voyage, can be found in Waldseemüller’s “Cosmographie” introduction.

When did people begin referring to themselves as Americans?

The term “American” was first used in English in the 17th century to refer to people of European ancestry; it first appeared in Thomas Gage’s 1648 book The English-American: A New Survey of the West Indies.

Why are Americans referred to as Americans?

After the colonies gained their independence from Great Britain and the fledgling United States of America was established, it was obvious that the term “British American” was no longer necessary to distinguish between the British who had stayed in the Old World and those who had moved to the Americas.

Why wasn’t America named for Christopher Columbus?

America was given its name in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, an Italian explorer who proposed the at the time revolutionary idea that the regions Christopher Columbus sailed to in 1492 were a separate continent.

What is America’s pet name?

The nickname “The Melting Pot” alludes to the fact that immigrants from different countries mix together in America to create a new culture.

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