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Cypress Hall at The Cypress                                                                                                       
20 Lady Slipper Lane
Hilton Head Plantation
Hilton Head Island, SC 29926

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843-290-0500 (cell)

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Sunday Services at 9:30 AM
Forum Discussion to follow


IV. The Latter Stages of American Imperialism and Early American Exceptionalism

It is impossible to quantify, but undoubtedly the American self-identification with guns from our nation’s birth was a major factor in the evolution of America as an imperialistic power. Guns in the hands of many American citizens made America more willing to wage armed conflict to expand our national influence than was true for most other nationalities.

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III. Later Imperialism and Early Exceptionalism

Many American people pride themselves on being what we call “self-made.” It is a myth, of course, but a pleasant and sometimes harmless one. The undeniable truth is that everyone has a great deal of help from other people. “Self-made people” need the assistance of parents in order to be born, and thus to attempt to become “self-made.” No one who was never born has ever become self-made. Furthermore, it is much easier to be “self-made” in America than almost anywhere else on earth. How many self-made people come from Namibia or Zambia or Bhutan or Bangladesh or El Salvador? A few, maybe, but not many. And not nearly as high a percentage as are born and raised and live their entire lives in the United States of America. America is truly the Land of Opportunity.

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II. The Early Stages of American Imperialism

In the first lecture we examined how, from the beginning, “America” and “Americans” knew there was a vast and unexplored continent which stretched out to the west. Most of the earliest settlers were from England. Later they came from other parts of Great Britain, then from elsewhere in Europe, and then, much later, from all over the world. But all of the first colonists and immigrants originally came to the eastern USA. From there many of the new Americans began to move west, until by the end of the nineteen century, American settlement stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

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I. The Colonization of America

Introductory Note: There shall be five lectures in this Lifelong Learning course. None of the lectures is intended to give a detailed account of any facet of American history since its founding. Instead what I hope to do is to give an overview of how the reality of an ever-expansive and expanding American West subconsciously affected how Americans have always thought, what we felt, and what we became. Since the beginning of the seventeenth century, which is when the first English colonists came to America, there is no other country in the world which has developed and evolved with the unique set of geographical circumstances which caused the United States of America to become what we are today. The very fact of “The West” may be the most profound explanation for why Americans feel and think and act the way we do, even though now, three centuries after the process started, we may be totally unaware of how influential the westward expansion of our nation was. We are who we are because we had an unexplored and unsettled West for most of our formative years as a nation. Our national psyche has been shaped by that unique factor. No other nation on earth, ancient or modern, has had anything like The American West to explain its national evolution. It is with anticipation, then, that we who are now gathered together less than a mile from the shore of the Atlantic Ocean shall begin peering over three thousand miles of distance toward the Pacific Ocean to observe how that vast expanse of land sculpted and shaped the American Mind.

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