Americans are indeed exceptional people, i.e. they deviate from the “norm” and act quite differently from all other people in the world. They have a long tradition of doing so, from the early colonial days, through the American Revolution, the Civil War, WWII, and the Cold War and all the way to that fateful day of September 11, 2001. The fact that our President in Strasbourg, in April 2009, chose to answer a question about our “exceptionalism” by saying that “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism” does not alter the situation. In fact, he failed to take notice of the most recent “exceptional” American event, his election!
COLONIAL DAYS AND THE REVOLUTION
Whether Americans are indeed “exceptional” people, i.e. different from others, can be established by examining their actions and general behavior throughout their history, especially during its most critical periods.
From the very beginning of the colonial days settlers in the American Continent had to provide for themselves, conquer the wilderness, and also find ways to interface with the native inhabitants, sometimes peacefully and cordially and sometimes not. But in any event, without attempting here to analyze and discuss the morality of the situation, the settlers had to actively pursue their interests on their own and in the process they developed a work ethic and a sense of total personal responsibility for their own survival and advancement. If they did not do something, it simply did not happen!