American exceptionalism is the idea that the United States is inherently different from other nations. Its proponents argue that the values, political system, and historical development of the U.S. are unique in human history, often with the implication that the country "is both destined and entitled to play a distinct and positive role on the world stage."
Political scientist Seymour Martin Lipset traces the origins of American exceptionalism to the American Revolution, from which the U.S. emerged as "the first new nation" with a distinct body of ideas. This ideology is based on liberty, equality before the law, individual responsibility, republicanism, representative democracy, and laissez-faire economics; these principles are sometimes collectively referred to as "American exceptionalism", and entail the U.S. being perceived both domestically and internationally as superior to other nations or having a unique mission to transform the world.
The theory of exceptionalism in the U.S. developed over time and can be traced to many sources. French political scientist and historian Alexis de Tocqueville was the first writer to describe the country as "exceptional" following his travels there in 1831. The earliest documented use of the specific term "American exceptionalism" is by American communists in intra-communist disputes in the late 1920s.