The USA and the New Europe, 1945-1993

The USA and the New Europe, 1945-1993

The USA and the New Europe, 1945-1993

The USA and the New Europe, 1945-1993

Excerpt

Most Americans have always regarded Europe as the "mother continent" from which they traced their ancestry. As the American historian Daniel J. Boorstin put it, "our roots were European; we got our religion, common- law, constitutionalism and political ideals of liberty, justice and equality from Europe." Americans equally derived from Europe their fears of aristocrats, feudalism, and monopoly. The vast size and wealth of their continent and their pioneering history tended to make them more confident, self-reliant, and individualistic than Europeans. European travelers traditionally stressed the American's untoward bumptiousness. But at the same time, Americans had a sense of insecurity and of cultural inferiority toward Europe. Despite their reputation for national exuberance, Americans have periodically experienced moods of national despondency. These were even profounder in the nineteenth than in the twentieth century. As a diarist put it just before the outbreak of the Civil War: "We are a weak, divided, disgraced people, unable to maintain our national existence . . . It's a pity we ever renounced our allegiance to the British Crown." Despite periodic recurrences of national melancholy, the achievements of World War II in general brought about a major change of attitudes; Americans thereafter were more confident in their experiment. They wanted to export the advantages of their system to the world at large, and increasingly believed, at least until the Vietnam War, in the worth, even the superiority of US culture, political and economic systems, science and technology.

The US began as an outgrowth of Europe -- more specifically as a British colony. The first Englishmen to settle permanently on this side of the Atlantic arrived at Jamestown in 1607. British sovereignty thereafter extended over what later became the Thirteen Colonies -- a loose chain of territories wedged between the Atlantic Ocean and the Allegheny . . .

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