True American culture started where it was founded. It began in the heart of the North American colonist at the run-up to the American Revolution. Of course, over time, that changed. And as with any cultural change comes a stark political and religious divide. Historian Peter S. Field mentions:
“The advent of a democratic political culture in the early American republic entailed the occasion of the first debates on the relationship between intellectuals and democracy in the United States. Such was particularly the case in the 1830s in Brahmin Boston where, as Perry Miller once observed, "there could hardly be found a group of young Americans more numb to the notion that there were any stirring implications in the word ‘democracy.’”
Miller was right. American’s in the 1830’s was, for the most part, were generally neutral in the way that American culture was beginning to shape out. There were ups and downs. With a new nation typically comes unlimited options on which direction to face the country regarding politics and culture. Field continues:
“Transcendentalism proved to be almost a byword for an otherworldly, inchoate intellectual community that only marginally traveled beyond the parochial confines of eastern Massachusetts. Whether the logical outgrowth of Unitarian Congregationalism or its dedicated nemesis, Transcendentalism seemed altogether too intellectual, too elitist, and too apolitical to be of any great relevance to the unfolding social and political drama of the Jacksonian era.”
There was a hairline fracture that split the thinking of American traditionalists and progressive intellectuals. The Unitarian Church was the catalyst, following transcendentalism in close second. Traditionalists (such as the clergy and church) began to slowly halt providing leadership in our public schools and university’s (prior to this was a purely homeschooling education). Harvard was taken over by the Unitarian church, and as the quality of public education began to decline, Horace Mann (the "father of progressive education") would convince the state of Massachusetts that the best way for education to grow would be to have the government take control, instead of the private sector (like families and churches).
What followed was indoctrination into “self-culture,” a human thought process of “me, myself, and I” which closely follows materialism. To break open a political divide for control and power, there must be a catalyst to enable this cultural shift. Thus, secular humanism was born. Field continues:
“By self-culture, Emerson hoped to suggest something akin to the German bildung by which he meant personal striving for the intellectual and spiritual complement to material pursuits. Borrowed from von Humboldt via Goethe, the Romantics employed bildung to convey their belief in the virtually limitless human capacity for development of their spiritual faculties through the study of culture.”
“The ex-preacher's original lectures differed only marginally from his sermons, and his shift from preaching to lecturing signaled a transformation less of ambitions, which were always assortative, than of rhetorical and stylistic strategies. He endeavored to engender through his secular sermons of self-culture a highly synergistic kind of conversion experience in his audiences, a re-birth not in Christ, but as self-reliant individuals, who readily grasped the spiritual elements in their everyday lives.”
As traditional American doctrine was neglected, the competing ideology of socialism has taken off. Karl Marx’s book, which was written in 1844, never had much influence in American society. That was until we had backslid from Christian principles of economics and dabbled in greed. Thus, monopolies would form and grow. Wealth was accumulated, instead of employing the extra wealth to meet the needs of the poor and society itself. Self-culture (or individual interest), as Field would put it, began to replace the common good of the community.
Marshall Foster writes that “in the loft restaurant above Peck’s restaurant at 140 Fulton Street in lower Manhattan, a group of young men met to plan the overthrow of the predominately Christian world-view that still pervaded America. At this first meeting five men were present: Upton Sinclair, 27, a writer and a socialist; Jack London, writer; Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Unitarian minister; J.G. Phelps Stokes, husband of a socialist leader; and Clarence Darrow, a lawyer.
Their organization was called the Intercollegiate Socialist Society. Their purpose was to ‘promote an intelligent interest in socialism among college men and women.’ These men were ready to become the exponents of an idea passed on to them by an obscure writer named Karl Marx—a man who never tried to be self-supporting but was supported by a wealthy industrialist who, inexplicably, believed in his theory of ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat.’ Although a small group in the beginning, these adherents of socialism more than succeeded in their task.”
“By using the proven method of gradualism, taken from the Roman general, Quintus Fabius Maximus, these men and others who joined with them slowly infiltrated” the public schools of our nation. By 1912 there were chapters in 44 colleges. By 1917 there were 61 chapters of student study groups of the League of Industrial Democracy. “At that time John Dewey, the godfather of progressive education, was the vice-president of the league. By 1941 Dewey had become president and Reinhold Niebuhr, the liberal socialist theologian, was the treasurer.”
The beginning of the end of traditional America had become entrenched. Dr. Stephen K. McDowell mentions that “the loss Christian tradition, character, and responsibility led to the failure of many banks in the early 1900’s. To remedy this situation, power was granted to a centralized Federal Reserve Board in 1913. But this unbiblical economic structure and lack of character produced many more problems. Within 20 years, the Stock Market had crashed, and America was in the midst of the Great Depression.” With the propagation of socialism, people were ready for Roosevelt's “New Deal,” such as Social Security and other welfare agencies, which ultimately set up the State as provider rather than God.
Daniel L. Smith
 Dr. Beliles, Mark A., and Stephen K. Dr. McDowell. America's Providential History: Including Biblical Principles of Education, Government, Politics, Economics, and Family Life, 253. 1989.
 Field, Peter S. 2001. ""the Transformation of Genius into Practical Power": Relph Waldo Emerson and the Public Lecture." Journal of the Early Republic 21 (3) (Fall): 467-493.
 Foster, Marshall, and Mary-Elaine Swanson. The American Covenant: The Untold Story, xvii. Mayflower Inst, 1983.
 Ibid., Dr. Beliles, Mark A., and Stephen K. Dr. McDowell, 250-251.