Lately I have been having to defend my right to call myself an "American" to people who believe that citizens of the USA should be called "United Statsiens" in respect to the fact that technically, every inhabitant of North and South America are also "Americans". My conclusion, people are idiots.
Western Hemisphere (Black circle): Includes all of North and South America, parts of western Europe and Africa, and eastern Oceania. Is not synonymous with "America".
The Americas (Green): A geographic term that includes all of North and South America.
America (Red): Officially the United States of America, a conglomeration of states located in North America.
"American": The official term applied to citizens of the United States of America. Is a political nationality equated with citizenship, not with ethnicity or race.
I made this a while back to copy and paste to any person who thinks that I am a "United Statsien". It has some flaws, but the basics are there.
#1 First come first serve:
The United States of America declared its independence from Great Britain on July 4, 1776, making the 13 Colonies the first European colonies to become independent in the New World. It wasn’t until January 1, 1804 that the 2nd European colony, Haiti, declared its independence. That’s a 28 year gap when the USA was the only independent nation of North and South America. The Latin American Wars of Independence occurred between 1806 and 1822, and Confederation of Canada didn’t occur until July 1, 1867. So you see, no other nations were complaining about the United States’ choice of name, because for some time, there were no other nations around to complain. Now I know what you’re thinking. “That’s a pretty week argument. Any other nation could just as easily be called America by that logic”, and you would be right. Any other nation, Mexico, Canada, Brazil, or Argentina could have declared their independence first and be called “America” today, but the thing is, they didn’t declare independence first, the 13 Colonies did, so suck it up.
#2 No strongest province:
When the United States of America declared its independence, it consisted of 13 independently governed colonies: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Each colony had its own history, culture, people, and name. Other nations, such as Mexico and Canada, also consisted of multiple colonies. The difference was that Mexico and Canada were named after a single colony/province/state within their borders. Originally, Quebec and Ontario were called Upper and Lower Canada, and because they had the largest populations of British North America, the Dominion adopted their name. The state of Mexico contained Mexico City, the largest city in New Spain, and when New Spain declared its independence, it adopted the name of its most powerful and populated state, Mexico. Of the 13 Colonies, on the other hand, there was no single colony that was more powerful or drastically more populated than all of the others. This became a major dilemma when a new name was to be chosen for the new nation. In the end, the only word that truly described and contained all 13 Colonies was “America”, the continent on which all the colonies were located. If you could think of any name that could replace “America”, then I would be glad to hear it, and then tell you why it wouldn’t work.
#3 No previous name:
Before 1776, the 13 Colonies were part of the larger “British North America”, which also contained East Florida, West Florida, Nova Scotia, Upper Canada (Quebec), Lower Canada (Ontario), Newfoundland, and Prince Rupert’s Land. You could also include the North West Territories and Columbia. The British hadn’t bothered to give its American colonies a name, because each colony had named itself on its own. Nations like Peru and Brazil are named so today because their European colonizers gave them a name early on in their formation. Even after the USA won its independence, Great Britain continued to call its American colonies “British North America”. Because no previous name had been betrothed upon them, the 13 Colonies were forced to choose a name of their own. In their haste, and because they had no reason to do otherwise, they chose the most generic name available to them that would not displease any of the 13 Colonies.
#4 Political Vs. Geographic labels:
When citizens of the USA call themselves “Americans” or refer to their nation as “America”, they do so not with the intention of describing their ethnic or geographic nationality; they do so to describe their political nationality, or their political label. There is no such thing as an ethnic American. Every American can trace his or her ethnicity back to a place outside of the Western Hemisphere, except of course the Native Americans, but that’s a different story. Now once again, I know what you’re thinking. “But their political nationality is just an outstretch of their geographic nationality, so anybody living in the ‘Americas’ is technically an American by your logic”, but you’re wrong. When you ask someone living in Brazil or Mexico what nationality they are, they will say “Brazilian” or “Mexican”. They do not say that they are “American”, because “American” is not their political label. “Brazilian” and “Mexican” are not ethnicities. Like America, Brazil and Mexico are only political labels placed upon a very wide range of people, and when you ask an American what nationality they are and they say “American”, it is not a reference to their geographic location or ethnicity, but to the political label placed upon them and their nation. So with that, citizens of the USA are not “United Statians” or “Unionites”, they are Americans.
#5 State = Country:
You might already know this, but the words “State” and “Country” are synonymous. The United States of America is the same as the “United Countries of America”. The reason for this is that each of the 50 states is supposedly an independent nation of its own existing within the larger USA. Today, this doesn’t usually remain true, but in 1776, each of the 13 Colonies functioned as an independent nation, and didn’t want to give up their sovereignty when they joined the Union. Given this knowledge, we can ascertain that the USA is essentially a giant conglomeration of countries that are united for mutual power and economic prosperity. Sound familiar? It should, because it’s basically what the European Union is trying to be. If the EU succeeds and drafts its own constitution to unite the nations, then I’m sure that other European nations, like Switzerland, Russia, and Serbia, will be complaining to about how they are technically Europeans too. But if the EU does succeed, the name “European” will be a reference to their political nationality, not their geographic location.
#6 We aren’t alone:
The United States of America isn’t the only nation to ever use the name of a continent or part of a continent as the name of their country. The Republic of (Gran) Colombia for example. Simon Bolivar named Colombia what he did as a reference to its geographic location. He, and many other important figures in 19th century Latin America referred to the New World as “Colombia” in honor of Christopher Columbus. He originally planned to unite all of the Spanish New World colonies, but failed to do so when regional loyalties split. It wasn’t until sometime after the Latin American Wars of Independence that America replaced “Colombia” completely in Latin America. The United Provinces of Central America also used a geographic name as its political label, even though southern Mexico, British Honduras, and the Istmo state of Colombia (Panama) were also located in Central America. The UPCA officially broke up in 1831. Before Western Australia joined the Commonwealth of Australia, the continent of Australia was split between two different political entities, Australia and Western Australia. Other examples include South Africa, Central Africa, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, the East African Federation, etc.
Personally, I am a Texan and as such I always refer to myself as a Texan when I visit other countries. This is in honor of Texan independence, which has occurred twice in its history. But I must always rise up to defend my fellow countrymen, and our right to call ourselves “Americans”.
If you want to pick holes in my argument, then go on ahead. I had to rush when I typed it so some of the wording might be off, but if you tell me specifically what you think disproves my opinion, then Ill restate it again more clearly so that you can understand it. There’s a good possibility you won’t even read this far down.