This chapter discusses the linkage between American liberty and individualism. This linkage has a long and complex set of origins. It includes the autonomous and voluntarist impulses of an immigrant culture; the individualized nature of divine contact and salvation in the Protestant tradition; the geographical dispersal of settlement over remote areas; and the decentralizing forces associated with the oceanic distance between America and centres of European hierarchy and imperial outreach. These and other strands, which stimulated and supported an individualistic outlook, receive their strongest expression in America's signature attachment to natural rights and, in particular, to the political logic of John Locke's theory of the state.
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