What is tolerance? Tolerance means the capacity to endure pain or hardship, although it has also come to mean peaceful coexistence with people who are different from you. Does that sound like America to you? Because that is what America means to us.
Those who founded America had high standards for the ideals for the new nation to live under, way back in 1776. Since the founding of America, it has endured high and low points in history. The flag represents tolerance, and the essence of this country certainly lives up to the word.
How did the American flag come to stand for such a thing as tolerance? Well, in order to learn that, we must talk about America’s history. Buckle up, because we are going to take you on a ride through America’s journey of freedom.
A Brief History Of Tolerance In The United States
In order to understand why the flag stands for tolerance, we must understand American history first. Here are seven major events that played a huge role in America obtaining its freedom.
One: The Declaration Of Independence
Unrest between colonial militia and British forces broke out in April of 1775. At the time, the Continental Congress of Philadelphia decided it was time to take a stand and declare its independence in North American colonies.
The initiative that the Declaration of Independence set out to achieve was to formally present the issues that colonists had with Great Britain. The Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4th, 1776.
Thomas Jefferson is most often credited with writing the document, but he was actually part of a committee of five men. The four other men involved were Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Robert Livingston, and Roger Sherman.
The introduction of The Declaration of Independence states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…” These are the words that resonate most deeply in the bones of America. These are the words that our country is still fighting to protect and achieve. And these are the words that provide our first evidence for the flag’s representation of tolerance.
Two: The Bill Of Rights
In the beginning, creating a government proved very difficult. There were multiple attempts to create a government in America before a successful model of government was established. In 1787, a convention was called to draft up a new legal system for the U.S.
The motive of this system was to provide increased federal authority throughout the country while still protecting the basic human rights of American citizens. This was not an easy task to take on.
Throughout the early years of the nation, many citizens did not agree with the Constitution. They thought it gave the federal government too much power over the people. Once the new U.S Congress met, it began debating a few constitutional amendments. The first ten to be ratified in December of 1791 became the Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights guaranteed certain fundamental rights against violation by the federal government. These rights include freedom of speech and religion, the right to bear arms, the right to a fair trial, and more. The Bill of Rights expanded the civil liberties of Americans. Implications of the document are still being debated today.
Three: The Abolition Of Slavery
Abraham Lincoln stood by the mindset that freeing the South’s slaves was essential in order for the Union to win the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation took effect in 1863. The document declared that as of January 1, 1863, all enslaved people in the states dealing with rebellion against the Union “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
This means that Lincoln did not actually free about four million enslaved people in the U.S when he signed the Emancipation. The document only applied to those enslaved in Confederate states and not to those enslaved in loyal Union states.
Later, the passage of the 13th amendment into the Constitution in 1865 would abolish slavery altogether. The amendment granted liberty to people formerly held as slaves.
Four: The Immigration Era
Did you know that from 1880 to 1920, more than 20 million people immigrated to the United States? These people were seeking freedom and new opportunities. Immigrants from all over the world came to America. They were fleeing religious persecution, hunger, poverty, war, and revolution, and the U.S was a beacon of hope and new freedom for many individuals during this time. This is evidence of America’s reputation as a melting pot of culture and experience.
This relative ‘open-door’ policy into the country ended with the onset of World War I and going forward into the 1920s. A series of new laws were implemented to limit immigration. Immigration laws are still a hot topic within politics today.
Five: The Nineteenth Amendment
Are you familiar with the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848? It was held in July of that year in (you guessed it) Seneca Falls, New York. This historical meeting is what launched the women’s suffrage movement. Fast forward 72 (long) years later, and the 19th amendment was passed in 1920, which finally gave women the right to vote.
The suffrage movement was a trying time in our country’s history. Protestors were arrested, imprisoned, and in some cases went on hunger strikes for the cause. Tennessee was the last necessary state to ratify the 19th amendment in August of 1920.
Women from all over the country marched to the polls to exercise their (well-deserved and long-awaited) right to vote.
Six: The Civil Rights Act Of 1964
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed as a result of national protest. Civil rights activists marched the streets and practiced non-violent methods of agitation for change. This was faced with great social unrest and violence. All of this was done in order to bring an end to racial discrimination in America, a cause we are still working towards today.
In 1963, before the Civil Rights Act was passed, activists were met with violent opposition. Hundreds of thousands of people marched on Washington to demand jobs and freedom. President JFK introduced the major civil rights legislation.
Following Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon B Johnson took over the cause. On June 2nd, 1964, Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law. This ended the segregation of public facilities, outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin—a proud moment in America’s history.
Looking To Show Your Patriotism?
Has all of this talk about how great and enduring America is made you want to show your support for our beautiful country? A great way to show that you are proud to be an American is by displaying the stars and stripes in your home, workplace, or outdoor environment.
Allegiance Flag Supply is a stellar vendor of American flags. The best part about Allegiance? Our products are 100% made in America. Now you can support American businesses while showing your patriotism with your brand new American flag. Here at AFS, we employ American master seamstresses and provide a high-quality product. Don’t make the mistake of shopping anywhere else for an American flag.
What Does This Brief History Mean In Terms Of The American Flag’s Symbol Of Tolerance?
Maybe you already knew all of that history, but a refresher never hurts. This history of America provides proof as to why the American flag stands for tolerance. Thomas Jefferson put it best when he wrote that “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights…”
Tolerance means the capacity to endure hardship. If this brief history has taught you anything, it should be that America has definitely endured its fair share of hardship and all in the name of equality and freedom.
We should feel lucky to live in a country that allows its citizens to stand up for what is right and to stand up for equality. Tolerance is what America is founded on. Through all of this country’s history, it has fought for progress. From its Declaration of Independence rule to the abolition of slavery to women’s rights, civil rights, and all rights in between, America fights for freedom. That is why this nation is tolerant. As we continue to fight for equality and justice through protest, our flag flies proudly with this nation and what it represents.