One of my favorite works of American history is Dale Van Every's four volume series on the American frontier. The first book, Forth to the Wilderness, has several defining quotes about the American spirit. Over the next few days I will post extended quotations.
The first is about life on the frontier, as defined by the Native Americans. This sets the stage for the ascendancy of the frontiersmen (pp. 38-39): "His way of life was dedicated to the simple and all-inclusive principle that complete personal freedom is the first requisite to becoming a whole man. From dawn to dusk, from childhood to old age, he adhered to this cult of freedom. Whether he built a canoe, carved a pipe, hunted a buffalo, sought a woman, joined a war party, or stretched to doze away the day in the sun, whatever he did was at a moment of his own choosing. His lot was not always an easy one. He often starved, froze, fell ill, or suffered from every sort of misadventure, but never did he suffer what was in his estimation the genuine ignominy of being required to do what another man told him to do."
The second is especially telling of his philosophy (p.39): "As he grew older his destiny grew increasingly apparent. If he was to become a man in the Indian sense of the term he must become more and more of an individualist. He must reject all discipline imposed by others while at suitable intervals he must most rigorously discipline himself in order to develop his skill, hardihood, and courage as hunter and warrior... ...Being a man he needed to subscribe to no rule but his own impulses and the more heedless these were the more proven was hi manhood." The Indian had a complete denial of his sinful nature... 1 John 1:8, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things."