I wanted to explore the beginning of America. The ideals of freedom, democracy and liberty came from the Greeks. The Romans added laws and citizenship. America took all those concepts and made them unique.
Of all things I am, I am most proud of my nationality as an American. Of all things I have done, I am honored that I had the chance to defend my country.
Looking back at my service it was the one time in my life I actually lived the values I always espoused. It was the one time I saw the best and worst of myself.
I was scared and forever changed by the experience, but it made me love my country even more. Most frightening experiences do that- they push you in one direction or another.
To define what it means to be an American, We have to start the story at the beginning.
New immigrants push settlers west in search of land. Up and down the Atlantic seaboard, colonists resist British oppression. It culminates in the battles of Lexington and Concord.
Starting with the original inhabitants of this great continent. To all the original colonists, and immigrants and countless slaves brought here by force. Freedom is the touchstone of the American Dream.
The endless search and infinite struggle that would shape the destiny of America.
The colonies grew at an alarming rate. People of every sort came to America’s shores. People from England, Holland, and France. All of them came looking and hoping to create a better and freer life.
America is a land of immigrants. They are farmers, clerks, and tradesmen. Over half came as indentured servants.
After working for several, long, hard years they will be set free to make their way in the New World. For these Europeans, America promises one thing above all- land.
The colonies are a place where a man by pluck or guile, and sometimes both, can own his own piece of land. This is something he can never do in the crowded town and villages of the old world.
Slavery in the New World
For other new arrivals, neither land nor freedom is within reach. To replace white indentured servants the planters purchase African slaves to do the backbreaking work.
Considered an inferior person the African slave lives in a state of permanent slavery. As will their children and their children’s children.
The Issue of Slavery
When you look at the issue of race you are looking at the idea of skin color. Before America was settled in the early 17th century African slavery had been the primary labor force for producing wealth in Europe for almost 200 years.
As America grew so did the hunger for slaves. The overwhelming majority of slaves shipped to the New World were captured and sold by other African tribes. The majority of native tribes in Eastern Africa are Muslims.
Slavery is not new. In Islam, slavery has a long tradition. A beaten people are sold off as war booty. Usually in one generation the enslaved tribe becomes a part of the new, conquered people.
The idea of multi-generational slavery system is a European invention.
Europeans developed an idea over several centuries that should not enslave each other. They could fight each other, kill each other in wars, but they did not enslave each other. Christians did not enslave Christians.
The great advantage of Africans is they that were outside of the European community. Most of the Africans were Muslims- a constant source of irritation for the west, even today. For the first time race becomes a marker who can be enslaved and who could not.
As America grew so did the need for cheap labor. By the time of the American Revolution in 1776 there were 700,000 African slaves in America. The ideals of freedom of the American Revolution passed by the African- American slaves.
Promise of Land
British or French, Servant or Aristocrat, everyone wants a piece of the bounteous American continent. Some colonists head west for the frontier.
This is a vast land beyond the edge of Boston, Philadelphia and Charleston. In the clear, open air of the vast frontier, they seek the chance to invent whole, new lives.
These same frontier lands mean freedom to the Native Americans. It is essential for the survival of their ancient communities.
To keep colonists at bay some tribes signed alliances with the British and others with the French. In 1750 Colonists and Native Americans will be drawn into a huge conflict called the Seven Years War.
French and Indian War
Seven Years’ War (1754 and 1763) involved most of the great powers of the time. It affected Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines. It was truly the first global war.
In the North American theater it was called the French and Indian War. It was a long imperial struggle between Britain and France.
France’s expansion into the Ohio River valley brought repeated conflict with the claims of the British colonies. A series of battles led to the official British declaration of war in 1756. It will leave the New World exhausted and bleeding.