American Ways. An Overview of Four Centuries of Consistent National Behavior.


Presented by Steve Millett, Ph.D. The American people have displayed consistent patterns of behavior for more than 400 years. They have placed great value on individual merits, rights, and interests. The driving force of most Americans has been the sustained optimism of the “American Dream,” the ideal that the future will be better than the past in material and emotional terms. Americans have showed a remarkable ability to combine lofty ideals with self-interests.  In addition, they have also emphasized the importance of strong communities, especially when communities defend and support individuals. They have always placed a particular emphasis on processes, and they have had to learn to accommodate each other and resolve their conflicts without resorting to violence. The U.S. Constitution is the ultimate process, and it has failed only once: the Civil War. Looking toward the future, the success of American optimism and the management of fear rests upon the pursuit of opportunities as presented in five likely scenarios to 2050. 

This was a presentation of the Clio Society on September 22, 2016. The Clio Society of the Department of History at Ohio State University promotes the life-long learning of history for personal enrichment; engages students, colleagues, and friends in the exchange of information and ideas about history outside of the realm of traditional academic classes and seminars; builds a social network of students, colleagues, and friends who share a common interest in history; and provides a sustained, broad-based support for the History Department. Find out more about the Clio Society at