Industriousness – American Exceptionalism Trait – GOVT 329

This research paper

  • Defines Industriousness.
  • Describes how Industriousness came to be uniquely associated with American culture at the time.
  • Describes how Industriousness, depending on the virtue or vice of the people, could be a benefit or a detriment to American exceptionalism.
  • Discusses whether or not Industriousness is still characteristic of modern-day America.

Definition of Terms

American Exceptionalism:  a historical experiment lays out four traits established by early-days Americans making the American nation outstanding. These traits are: community life, religiosity, egalitarianism and finally industriousness. The topic at hand is the industriousness trait and it entails more than simply the act of working hard; it denotes the deep-rooted American supposition that one has to spend life advance through hard work, hence bettering their lives and that of their descendants. Merriam-Webster dictionary further simplifies this by terming industriousness as the art of being habitually, regularly or constantly occupied or active. According to Charles Murray American people’s industriousness has impressed the world at large, and it has played a role in the American exceptionalism concept.

            What is the meaning of American exceptionalism, and where did it originate from at the first place? After an investigative visit to America, French thinker, historian and politician, Alexis de Tocqeville thought up this concept. Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, reads that Americas position is quiet outstanding, and further states that no other democratic society can ever match their standards.  According to Tocqueville’s clarification, American exceptionalism should not be mixed up with the ideology of America being a greater than the rest of the nations, for it is outstanding. Several U.S policy connoisseurs have laid down exceptionalism in country matters as a being withdrawn from the rest of the world like an uphill city that is isolated but is a motivation factor for those that look up on it. They also described an exceptional nation as one sought upon to lead the others into a better future. Being termed as an American means that you are related to or of America; and exceptionalism as the state of being far from the norm. When combined the two terms add up to being American exceptionalism which gives the impression that American relating things or America itself is far different to the normal expectations.

Early American Culture

The level of industriousness among the United States nationals has impressed the world at large ever since the era of early America. Despite the fact that Americans are known for their reputation of being inventive and industrious even after the Jamestown settling of the colonists, it was not until the early 19th century that the industry came to birth. Local craftsmen were replaced by factories that had items made, shipped and traded all over the U.S. The invention of the high-pressure steam engine by Oliver Evan, boosted production by making it easy to run ships, printing press, flour mills, sawmills among others. The invention of the mechanical reaper, done in the same time period, by Cyrus McCormick and john Deere’s steel plow made a great breakthrough in the agricultural sector. Years later the oil sector made a tremendous skyrocketing within no time. The first American energy revolution powered the emergence of a globally economic power, availing mobility, power and light to countless numbers of people. These people had never witnessed such and this lead to a further creation of jobs exceeding ten million all over the United States.

            Numerous spectators realized that no other nation or citizens possessed the industrious spirit possessed by the American citizens. This was evident in the growth of the industries and its contribution to the shaping of the Western world. Explanation by Henry Adams denotes:

There was a stimulant increase in American energy as they stooped to the most ignorant and lowest class, spiraling and dragging then up like seen in a blasting furnace.  The furnace caught and consumed the homeless and penniless Irish and scotch; their hoe or axe stroke made them entrepreneurial and made his children gentlemen. Once created, the activity instinct appears to be permanent and hereditary in the concerned race.

Visitors from the Middle East, Tocqeville among them, observed that working hard daily was Americans foundation of greatness as well as its basis of contentment.  Tocqeville further explained that it was an Americans very essence, for he never worked to just procure for his kin or himself but the fountain of felicity for all mankind. At that time is when the industriousness trait became greatly rooted into the American culture. This is not just due to the thriving state of the industry by then, but also by the fact that the eyewitness’ testimonies are still kept at heart till date.    

Impacts on Exceptionalism in America

            Only by pursuing industriousness with honest desires and virtuous spirits, not forgetting working hard, it greatly benefits American exceptionalism. American Immigrant from Germany, by the name Michael Obermayer stated that an industrious spirit far more different from that other nations let alone Germany possessed, was in the hearts of Americans. He further explains that as other countries strive to work hard, the combination of desires of making better and free tomorrow for the coming generations and industriousness has lead to the uniqueness among the Americans. The diligent handed will have the pleasure of ruling, while the lazy shall be poor. With a drive to prosper and the art of being industrious American families thrive. With equal opportunities and being personally free to sanction innovation and celebrate individual multiplicity citizens are at safer grounds to thrive. This has lead to the uplift of the most ignorant and lazy. By this Americans have become hardworking, self-reliant individuals seeking to better their lives as well as the generations after them.

  While American exceptionalism benefits once individuals are industrious as per the aspect of value, it can at the same time be resultant to damage when approached from a vice perspective. It was cautioned by Obermayer that once the decision of seeking success with greedy and wicked mindsets a nation comes down to ruin, despite the fact that the same can lead to a triumphant nation. As written in the bible it is similarly evident that love for money is the source of all tribulations. Eric Metaxas echoed the warning by reporting that greed will at long last lead to the destruction and debasement of markets. Depending with peoples’ mindsets industriousness may either benefit or doom America’s exceptionalism. 

            According to the Founder-Fathers of understanding being selfless, moral and good is essential for the proper functioning of the America’s independent self-government and for an extended life span. It is not up to the U.S. constitution and government to make its citizens selfless or good. No amount of regulation or laws can solve the stated problems. Persons are expected to govern themselves first and maintaining the fact that it is their responsibility to uphold the attaining of America’s success. Metaxas cautions that the larger role played by the government the easy it is to crowd out the role of the people the culture and the citizens true freedom. Individuals will lose their freedom once the culture is not proactive and the government attends to the resultant negative effects on America’s exceptionalism. This makes self-government vital and essential for all American nationals.

Modern-day America’s Industriousness

There has been a steady decrease in the value of industriousness in America over the last half century. Its citizens have greatly forsaken a purpose-driven, energetic pursuit of value. In 1960 the number of Americans that received disability benefits was only 0.7%. Modern-day America has a wider range in job opportunities thanks to the thriving technology industry which by all means should enable disable citizens join the work force. In 2010, the percentage of the disable persons who received aid rose to 5.3%. In 1960 81% of homes had at least one member who worked fulltime but in 2010 the figure dropped drastically to 53%. People are most likely to commit crimes, smoke, watch too much television, develop obesity and most certainly less likely to vote in elections. At a disturbing rate, America is losing industriousness value.

The American exceptionalist idea and the industriousness decline result from the forgotten need to fight for the freedom promise continually of United States of America as it is explained by Metaxas. Being regarded as the keepers of the industrial flame, the American’s tend to pass the title down to the next generation. Once the flame goes out it remains so entirely the reason it has to be vigilantly guarded. Protecting the freedom promise is crucial to other nations as much as it is for the Americans. Metaxas advocates that Americans are a nation with a mission beyond their borders and themselves. He continued and said that the promise had to be fulfilled by, everyone, himself and anyone that wished to be a part of a noble and beautiful experimentation in history.


             The industriousness trait has played an important role in the making America outstanding throughout its history. Ever since the settling of Jamestown up to the ascend of the oil sector in 1859, the country has consequently by molded by the industrious spirit and work hard of the American citizens. Many American lives have laid down the spirit of industrious, yet the spirit was clearly laid by the immigration from different nationalities and the way they acknowledged and embraced the similar attitude of industriousness. American individuals are to conscientiously fight to retain the United States’ freedom promise, the fact being that American exceptionalism and industriousness beliefs are on the decline.

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