I feel somewhat obligated to start this write up with a disclaimer. I neither agree nor disagree with the sentiments expressed below. While I am an American, I’m not the flag waving, patriotic, America, right or wrong, love it or leave it, type. I think there’s room for everybody. With that being said, I do understand the need for some people to demonstrate those tendencies. What follows is how the American Legion defined the concept of “Americanism” in 1919 at a national convention of its members held in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

“We recommend the establishment of a National Americanism Commission of the American Legion, whose duty shall be the endeavor to realize in the United States the basic ideal of this Legion of 100 percent Americanism through the planning, establishment, and the conduct of a continuous, constructive educational system designed to:

1) Combat all anti-American tendencies, activities and propaganda;
2) Work for the education of immigrants, prospective American citizens and alien residents in the principles of Americanism;
3) Inculcate the ideal of Americanism in the citizen population, particularly the basic American principle that the interest of all the people are above those of any special interest or so called class or section of the people;
4) Spread throughout the people of the nation the information as to the real nature and principles of American government;
5) Foster the teachings of Americanism in all schools.

There’s also an organization that goes by the name “Common Sense Americanism”@ www.csamerican.com that lists these principles as the foundation of what might be called Americanism. They go on define each of them in their own terms, which, for the sake of the reader, I will omit for the obvious amount of debate that might arise regarding their sentiments. Each one of us (Americans) probably has their own definition anyway.

1) Faith in a Greater Power
2) A Rooted Concept of Morality
3) The Rule of Truth
4) Mutual Freedom
5) Equal Access to Representation
6) Respect for Private Property
7) Equality of Opportunity
8) Personal Responsibility
9) Presumption of Innocence
10) Due Process of Law
11) Local Governance
12) National Focus

Americanisms, a word defined as a term, phrase, or idiom of the English language as spoken in America (or in the United States) which either (a) originated in America; or, (b) is peculiar to America; or, (c) is chiefly employed in America. The following is a list of a few of the more noteworthy Americanisms:

Around or round. -- About or near. To hang around is to loiter about.

Backwoods. -- The partially cleared forest regions in the western states.

Bayou. -- In Louisiana, a term given to a small stream. The same as "creek."

Bee. -- An assemblage of persons to unite their labors for the benefit of an individual or family or to carry out a joint scheme.

Bogus. -- False; counterfeit.

Boss. -- An employer or superintendent of laborers; a leader.

Bulldoze, to. -- To intimidate.

Bunco. -- A swindling game.

Buncombe or Bunkum. -- A speech made solely to please a constituency; talking for talking's sake, and in an inflated style.

Calculate. -- To suppose, to believe, to think.

Camp-meeting. -- A meeting held in the fields or woods for religious purposes, and where the assemblage encamp and remain for several days.

Car. -- A carriage or wagon of a railway train. The Englishman "travels by rail," the American takes, or goes by, the cars.

Carpet-bagger. -- A needy political adventurer who carries all his earthly goods in a carpet-bag; originally applied to politicians from the Northern States who sought offices in the South after the Civil War.

Caucus. -- A private meeting of the leading politicians of a party to agree upon the plans to be pursued in an approaching election.

Chunk. -- A short, thick piece of wood or any other material.

Corn. -- Maize. In England, wheat or grain in general.

Corn-husking or Corn-shucking. -- An occasion on which a farmer invites his neighbors to assist him in stripping the husks from his corn.

Creek. -- A small tributary of a large river. Used chiefly in the West.

Dead-heads. -- People who have free admission to entertainments, or who have the use of public conveyances, or the like, free of charge.

Down East. -- In or into the New England States. A down-easter is a New Englander.

Drummer. -- A commercial traveler.

Dry goods. -- A general term for such articles as are sold by linen-drapers, haberdashers, hosiers, etc., in England.

Fix, to. -- To put in order, to prepare, to adjust. To fix the hair, the table, the fire, is to dress the hair, lay the table, make up the fire.

Fixings. -- Arrangements, dress, embellishments, luggage, furniture, garnishments of any kind.

Fork. -- Used in the Southwest in a similar sense to "creek."

Freeze out. -- To get rid of objectionable persons.

Gerrymander. -- To arrange political divisions so that in an election one party may obtain an advantage over its opponent, even though the latter may possess a majority of votes.

Grab. -- To gain a privilege without proper payment.

Greenback. -- A former kind of paper money.

Guess, to. -- To believe, to suppose, to think.

Gulch. -- A deep, abrupt ravine, caused by the action of water.

Happen in, to. -- To happen to come in or call.

Hatchet, to bury or take up the. -- To end or begin war.

Help. -- The labor of hired persons collectively; the body of servants belonging to a farm or household or factory.

Hoe-cake. -- A cake of corn meal baked on or before the fire.

Hoodlum. -- A rough.

How! -- Indian abbreviation of "How do you do?"

Jolly, to. -- To flatter, to tease, to poke fun at.

Johnny cake. -- A cake made of corn meal mixed with milk or water.

Log-rolling. -- The assembly of several parties of wood-cutters to help one of them in rolling their logs to the river after they are felled and trimmed; also employed in politics to signify a like system of mutual cooperation.

Lynch law. -- An irregular species of justice executed by the people or a mob, without legal authority or trial.

Mail letters, to. -- To post letters.

Make tracks, to. -- To run away.

Mush. -- A kind of hasty-pudding.

Nickel. -- A five-cent coin.

Notions. -- A term applied to every variety of small wares.

One-horse. -- A one-horse thing is a thing of no value or importance; a mean or trifling thing.

Oxbow. -- The bend in a river or the land inclused within such a bend.

Peart (in the South). -- Equal to smart or well.

Piazza. -- A veranda.

Picayune. -- A trifle.

Pickaninny. -- A negro child.

Pile. -- A quantity of money.

Planks. -- In politics, the several principles which appertain to a party; "platform" is the collection of such principles.

Pull. -- A special individual favor.

Reckon, to. -- To suppose, to think.

Right smart. -- Very well.

Roast, to. -- To criticize severely.

Scab. -- A non-union workman.

Scalawag. -- A scamp, a scapegrace.

Shake. -- To leave a person.

Skedaddle, to. -- To run away, a word introduced during the Civil war.

Smart. -- Used in the sense of considerable, a good deal, as a smart chance; also equal to well, as "right smart," very well.

Stakes, to pluck or pull up. -- To remove.

Stampede. -- The sudden flight of a crowd, or of cattle or horses.

Stiff. -- In medical schools, a corpse.

Store. -- Same as shop in Great Britain; as a book store, a grocery store.

Strike oil, to. -- To come upon petroleum; hence, to make a lucky hit, especially financially.

Stump speech. -- A speech calculated to please the popular ear, such speeches in newly settled districts being often delivered from the stumps of trees.

Ticker. --A watch; also a telegraph receiver.

Ticket, to vote the straight. -- To vote for all the men or measures on the ticket.

Truck. -- The small produce of gardens; truck patch, a plot in which the smaller fruits and vegetables are raised.

Turn down, to. -- To reject or ignore; used of office seekers especially.

Vamose, to. -- To run off.

Vendue. -- An auction; to vendue, to sell at auction.

Whoop it up. -- To create an excitement.

Wilt. -- To become soft or languid, to lose energy, pith, or strength.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

A*mer"i*can*ism (#), n.

1.

Attachment to the United States.

2.

A custom peculiar to the United States or to America; an American characteristic or idea.

3.

A word or phrase peculiar to the United States.

 

© Webster 1913.

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