American Heroes Essay


On July 4, 1776, the thirteen original colonies became detached from Britain and recognized as independent states. After the Treaty of Paris in 1783, however, these states became known as the United States of America. The nation was built upon the beliefs of its Founding Fathers, who believed in providing equal opportunities and protecting equal rights. Unfortunately, these American values changed as time went on. During the nineteenth century, the Louisiana Purchase occurred, causing a great expansion of land and slavery in America. Slavery issues between the Northern and Southern states provoked the outbreak of the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln, the current president, delivered `The Gettysburg Address’ not only to encourage an end to the war, but to remind American citizens of their nation’s principles. The North won the Civil War, keeping the country united and ending slavery in the United States. Although Americans in the eighteenth century valued the ideals of their Founding Fathers, their values changed throughout time. Through this journey, however, certain people reminded citizens of their Nation’s roots. These people allowed America to continue growing on its Father’s beliefs; these people are the American heroes.

In 1803 the United States doubled in size with the purchase of the Louisiana territory. This land belonged to France for many years, but certain circumstances caused them to give it up. Napoleon Bonaparte, the leader of France during the time, dreamt of creating a French empire in the New World. His plans were to have Saint Domingue as the heart of his great empire and use the Mississippi Valley as a food and trade center. Bonaparte sent his men to capture Saint Domingue from the Haitians, but the sudden death of thousands of soldiers caused France to retreat quickly. Consequently, Bonaparte had little use for Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley. The United States, on the other hand, wanted to purchase this territory in order to expand its size. President Thomas Jefferson sent James Monroe and Robert Livingston to negotiate the purchase in Paris. He wanted them to try purchasing the land east of the Mississippi or New Orleans and the Floridas. Surprisingly, France offered the whole territory. After the loss of so many French soldiers and the anticipation of another war with Britain, the selling of this land would actually benefit them. Jefferson and his cabinet developed a treaty that dealt with issues of boundaries and constitutionality. The treaty was ratified on October 20, 1803; on December 30, 1803, France officially turned the Louisiana territory to the United States. Although this purchase expanded the borders of the U.S., according to Roger G. Kennedy, it could have been a better deal. As the new states started developing, the citizens began creating laws and restrictions. The discussion of slavery arose, and the agreement was made that slavery would be permitted. Slavery caused conflict in this new region; the states separated and eventually broke out in war. While the Louisiana Purchase doubled the size of the United States, it advocated an idea contrary to the principles of our Founding Fathers: slavery.

The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an autobiography, is a story about Frederick Douglass life as a slave and his desire to become a free man. Douglass was born a slave in Maryland around 1817. A few years later, while Douglass was still an infant, he was separated from his mother. Although he had little recollection of his mother or father, the pain he suffered because of the color of his skin would never be forgotten. As a child, Douglass quickly noticed the difference between the way white people and black people were treated. He realized that white children always knew their age, while the blacks were like animals, clueless about information concerning their identity. When slaves even questioned about past events, their master would automatically accuse them of being disrespectful. Sadly, the life of a slave was atrocious. They took orders daily and were beaten when their master was not pleased. Often times they went without food, drink or rest; they were sold to new masters frequently, causing the word home to be a mystery. As for Douglass, however, he had a slight advantage. Although he had his fair share of violent homes, he had the privilege of living under the care of Mr. and Mrs. Auld. While he was a slave in the Auld home, Mrs. Auld taught him how to read. Once Douglass mastered this skill, he not only taught other slaves, but he began thinking critically about slavery. He contemplated about different ways of escaping and after several failed attempts, he successfully fled to New York on September 3, 1838. After Douglass arrival to free land, he continued fighting against slavery; he became an anti-slavery lecturer and attended abolitionist meetings. He clearly did not only fight for himself and his mistreated people, but for the belief that we are all created equal. This belief shaped the values of the American people during this time, focusing on equality, loyalty and respect for authority. Although the African Americans were treated poorly, they still obeyed their masters. Some were so devoted to the idea of equality, however, that it motivated them to retaliate. Standing up to one’s master was shunned upon at the time, but it is the ones with this courage that are recognized as heroes today.

When Douglass took his first steps on free land in 1838, he hoped that the end to slavery would not be far behind. Although it may have been longer than expected, America’s future started looking brighter twenty-three years later. Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated in 1861 as America’s sixteenth President. During that same year, the Civil War broke out. The Southern slave states, who wanted to separate themselves from the United States, fought against the free states. The Civil War was caused by several factors, such as government and economic issues; slavery, however, was the main factor. As the war carried on and hostility grew among the states, Lincoln reminded the men of their nation’s principles. On November 19, 1863, he delivered the most brilliant speech in American history: `The Gettysburg Address.’ He discussed America’s past, recognizing the importance of our Founding Fathers values, liberty and equality. He dedicated a portion of the battlefield to the heroic soldiers who gave up their lives in order for our nation to prosper. Lincoln had little concern if people remembered this ten-sentence speech; he simply wanted `a new birth of freedom’ for the nation. In 1865 the Southern states surrendered, granting Douglass and Lincoln their wish: the end to slavery in the United States.

The United States of America was established during the eighteenth century. Its beliefs were based upon the standards of the nation’s Founding Fathers: liberty and equality. In the next century, however, the ideals altered a little. The nation started growing, doubling its size by one single purchase. This expansion of land brought about disputes over slavery. The argument of slavery could not be settled and thus caused the Civil War. If the North would not have been victorious, the United States would have been separated. As an American citizen, it is a responsibility to understand our history. Our ancestor’s beliefs shaped this country’s past, and it is our job to continue these beliefs to the future.



American Heroes