Patriotism is not a scale for measuring how much a person is loved or hated. Many people may see patriotism in different ways. The way I see it, Mark Twain said it perfectly when he stated “In the beginning of a change, the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” All it takes is one person to change the minds of everyone. Since the beginning of this course I feel that my views on patriotism have changed slightly. Mostly for the good, but there are a few moments in the history of the United States that makes me stop and think “how could our country let this happen?” It’s not always the actions of the whole country. Sometimes it is the actions of one man/women. For example, one person going totally against patriotism was Hitler. He brainwashed his people into trying to successfully create a genocide. Lucky it didn’t end in his favor. On the other hand, I understand that the United States has had many occasions where we have had moments of Patriotism for our people and our Country.
One of the not so patriotic moments from the United States comes from Chapter 15 of the primary document book, voices of freedom. In the document it talks about Andrew Johnson’s plans for reconstruction. These laws called the black codes were created to create a more equal way of life for blacks in the U.S. That was not quite the case in my opinion. “These laws granted the freedpeople certain rights, such as legalized marriage, ownership of property, and limited access to the courts. But they denied them the right to testify in court in cases that only involved whites, serve on juries or in state militias, or to vote.” (Foner, Voices of Freedom, Document 97, chapter. 15, page 7). This is not a way to show patriotism in our own country. We divided the citizens within the same country as if they are totally different people. It loudly states in the United States Constitution that all men are created equal. Why wasn’t that the case in 1865? The reason for this in my opinion is that people were lazy and wanted others to do their work, so they picked on the weak. To show patriotism at that moment in history the U.S. needed to come together as one. There is no need to fight wars with your own country.
Another moment in the history of the U.S. of patriotism is found in Chapter 17 of the primary document book. This one is about Ida B. Wells a brave African American woman who stood up for what was right. She wanted all blacks to be treated the same as whites since they had the same behavior, noticeably however one race was getting away with it and the other wasn’t. Ida delivered a testimonial which stated, “The leading colored women of Boston and Philadelphia had been invited to join in this demonstration, and they came, a brilliant array… behind a lonely, homesick girl who was an exile because she had tried to defend the manhood of her race…” (Foner, Voices of Freedom, Document 112, Chapter 17, page 68) Ida B. Wells is well remembered in history because she is one of the few brave women who had the courage to stand up for what she believed in. She could have easily given up knowing the consequences, but she wanted the people to know the issues at hand. She is the true meaning of being patriotic, helping bring together the races and encouraging the country to become closer and better as a whole.
The next article that has influenced my views on patriotism in this course is from Chapter 19 of Voices of Freedom. This document talks about how war brings together the power of the state. “War sends the current of purpose and activity flowing down to the lowest level of the herd, and to its most remote branches. All the activities of society are linked together as fast as possible to this central purpose of making a military offensive or a military defense, and the state becomes what in peacetimes it has vainly struggled to become.” (Foner, Voices of Freedom, Document 125, Chapter 19, page 105) Reading this reminds me of the many times in history when the United States sticks together and strengthens during times of war. This has proven how strong a country can be when more and more people work together to show the pride they have in their country. To me that shows patriotism the right way.
The last influence on my views of patriotism that I have learned during this course comes from the American West packet. This document swayed me in a negative way on how the United States handled the Chinese immigrants. All the Chinese wanted was to come to America and work in the gold fields their desire was to make a living and be free. The U.S. wanted nothing to do with the Chinese coming to work. In the document it says, “In 1877 a labor rally in San Francisco degenerated into an anti-Chinese riot.” (American West, “On the “Evils” of Chinese Immigration) This clearly shows that U.S. citizens wanted no part of the Chinese immigrants. This affected my views on patriotism in a negative way. It’s disappointed to see how the U.S. treated immigrants.
In conclusion, this course has changed my views on patriotism mostly in a positive way but, also in a negative way. I would lean more towards a positive impact than negative considering that everybody makes mistakes. When discussing the topic of patriotism, the first thing that comes to my mind is making decisions that will not just affect you in a positive way but, how it will affect the whole country. It’s about opinions I also. There are many more examples of patriotic acts in history, these are just four that had a meaningful impact on me. When someone has the courage to stand up for what they believe is right, or even when a country is not patriotic and discriminates against other races is very impressionable I believe patriotism has to do with how one acts when they feel strongly about something. Patriotism is standing up for what you believe in with dignity and pride not discrimating or slandering someone or something.
- Foner, Voices of Freedom, Document 97, chapter. 15, page 7
- Twain, Mark. “Patriotism.” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/quotes/6601/
- American West, “On the “Evils” of Chinese Immigration
- Foner, Voices of Freedom, Document 112, Chapter 17, page 68
- Foner, Voices of Freedom, Document 125, Chapter 19, page 105