Anglo-Protestant culture (1600s- ), says Samuel P. Huntington in “Who Are We?” (2004), is the heart of mainstream culture in the United States.
Roots: lower-middle-class England, particularly East Anglia, in the early 1600s. Some, like the Puritans, came to North America because they opposed the Church of England. Some had fought the king in the English Civil War (1642–1651). This led to certain ideas about politics and religion becoming common in English-speaking North America:
Politics: Their ideas about government came from the Tudor constitution of the late 1500s and early 1600s, things like:
- rule of law,
- division of power among separate institutions and governments,
- two-house legislatures,
- legislative committees,
- militias instead of a standing army.
Religion: Not just Protestant but a particular kind:
- Bible-believing – all religious truth comes from the Bible. People read the Bible for themselves and come to their own conclusions.
- saved through faith – not through works or sacraments, therefore:
- no priests – the believer has a direct relationship with God, therefore:
- no state religion – instead people form their own churches and choose their own leaders. From this came ideas of political equality and democracy.
- bearing witness – to spread the faith.
The American Creed: These political and religious ideas, with a little help from the Enlightenment, led to what Gunnar Myrdal in 1944 called the American Creed:
- the dignity of each human being,
- all are equal,
- each has the right to freedom, justice and fair opportunity.
Pretty much what Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and what Tocqueville observed as political values in the 1830s.
Individualism and hard work: Comes from the Protestant work ethic. People in the US work longer hours and take more pride in their work than in other Western countries. Each person is seen as rising or falling based mainly on one’s own hard work. The idea of the self-made man.
Moralism: in politics (abolition, prohibition, abortion) and foreign policy (democracy and human rights), generally caused by:
Great Awakenings: periods of religious awakening in the US. There have been four so far:
- 1730s-1740s: led to the American Revolution.
- 1820s-1830s: led to abolition, civil war, Mormonism, Sunday School, Liberia.
- 1890s: led to prohibition, populism, progressivism, women’s right to vote, anti-trust laws and practices like direct primaries, referendums and recall elections.
- 1950s-1960s: on the left it led to protests against Jim Crow and the Vietnam War. On the right it led to moves to limit government, abortion and help for the poor.
Anglo conformity: Those who came from Europe learned English and took on Anglo-Protestant ways. Protestant values deeply affected Catholicism and other religions in the US. People from Mexico, however, do not seem to be Anglo conforming. Huntington says it could wind up badly dividing the country.
Failings: Huntington admits to some of its failings, like slavery and racism, but he sees them as just that, failings, and not, say, pillars that hold it up, as Andrea Smith does.
- The clash of civilizations – also Huntington
- Know-Nothing Party
- counter views:
- Anglo Americans
- American slavery
- United States
- Back to Africa – Liberia, etc
- American abolitionists
- Jim Crow