Americanism by H. P. Lovecraft - Every Writer: "Slightly less superficial observers hit upon the abstract principle of “Liberty” as the keynote of Americanism, interpreting this justly esteemed principle as anything from Bolshevism to the right to drink 2.75 per cent. beer. “Opportunity” is another favourite byword, and one which is certainly not without real significance. The synonymousness of “America” and “opportunity” has been inculcated into many a young head of the present generation by Emerson via Montgomery’s “Leading Facts of American History.”
But it is worthy of note that nearly all would-be definers of “Americanism” fail through their prejudiced unwillingness to trace the quality to its European source. They cannot bring themselves to see that abiogenesis is as rare in the realm of ideas as it is in the kingdom of organic life; and consequently waste their efforts in trying to treat America as if it were an isolated phenomenon without ancestry.
“Americanism” is expanded Anglo-Saxonism. It is the spirit of England, transplanted to a soil of vast extent and diversity, and nourished for a time under pioneer conditions calculated to increase its democratic aspects without impairing its fundamental virtues. It is the spirit of truth, honour, justice, morality, moderation, individualism, conservative liberty, magnanimity, toleration, enterprise, industriousness, and progress—which is England—plus the element of equality and opportunity caused by pioneer settlement. It is the expression of the world’s highest race under the most favourable social, political, and geographical conditions. Those who endeavour to belittle the importance of our British ancestry, are invited to consider the other nations of this continent. All these are equally “American” in every particular, differing only in race-stock and heritage; yet of them all, none save British Canada will even bear comparison with us...
The features of Americanism peculiar to this continent must not be belittled. In the abolition of fixed and rigid class lines a distinct sociological advance is made, permitting a steady and progressive recruiting of the upper levels from the fresh and vigorous body of the people beneath. Thus opportunities of the choicest sort await every citizen alike, whilst the biological quality of the cultivated classes is improved by the cessation of that narrow inbreeding which characterises European aristocracy. Total separation of civil and religious affairs, the greatest political and intellectual advance since the Renaissance, is also a local American—and more particularly a Rhode Island—triumph.
Agencies are today subtly at work to undermine this principle, and to impose upon us through devious political influences the Papal chains which Henry VIII first struck from our limbs; chains unfelt since the bloody reign of Mary, and infinitely worse than the ecclesiastical machinery which Roger Williams rejected. But when the vital relation of intellectual freedom to genuine Americanism shall be fully impressed upon the people, it is likely that such sinister undercurrents will subside. The main struggle which awaits Americanism is not with reaction, but with radicalism. Our age is one of restless and unintelligent iconoclasm, and abounds with shrewd sophists who use the name “Americanism” to cover attacks on that institution itself. Such familiar terms and phrases as “democracy,” “liberty,” or “freedom of speech” are being distorted to cover the wildest forms of anarchy, whilst our old representative institutions are being attacked as “un-American” by foreign immigrants who are incapable both of understanding them or of devising anything better."