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American CredoThe Place of Ideas in US Politics$
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Michael Foley

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199232673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199232673.001.0001

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The Individual

The Individual

(p.37) 2 The Individual
American Credo

Michael Foley (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   American liberty, individualism, John Locke, social formation, immigrant culture, Portestant tradition

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