American Identity Paper Stafford Sweeting University of Phoenix HIS/110 Tom Albano May 28, 2011 American Identity Paper John Hector St. John de Crevecoeur was a naturalized French-American writer authored the 1782 essay Series, ‘Letters to an American Farmer’ which were presented as a book; the narratives of the collective essays describing and giving rise to what can now be determined as ‘American Ideals’ His through his ‘letters’ used American-English slang as they were used in the frontier; the American ideals of self-determinism, principles of equality & liberalism were ever present and exemplified in the narrative.
Together with detailed descriptions of daily lives from farms, towns cities & villages, the 1782 release opened the ‘New World’ to European eyes as slowly Europe came to t realize that a unique culture, a collective of varied nations & immigrants with new freedoms and greater risks worked the new British territories for little, big or no rewards. The hardships & joys he described, the landscapes & the social situation forged, to the Europeans an image of an American, a colonial one, that is.
He was all encompassing in his essay, looking at America as a collective of people, a new nation other than describing it only as a certain colonial territory/region. De Crevecoeur immigrated to the Americans in 1755; the 3 decades of his American experience gave him a unique insight to how the America that he was a part of was a melting pot of culture believes and experiences where religious diversity was accepted and unlike in Europe, like was uncomplicated.
Bearing in mind that de Crevecoeur lived over 200 years ago in Colonial America and a Europe of Colonial rivalry, this is how he described an American: • They were able men (Englishmen, French, and Europeans) who had enough of the miseries of life in Europe and were seeking a new beginning, a refuge in the new world. • An adaptable individual who draws from his own ethnicity, experience and history to survive the risks and challenges of the new world. • Americans live in a society where the divide between the rich and the poor is not as pronounced and emphasized. A nation where equality is an ideal • Americans appreciate hard work and are ready and willing to work anytime on any situation. • In America, there are no princes or royalty, in America there is no great social divide because you do not get anything for free unless otherwise you deserve it. • Americans, for Crevecoeur equates to Freedom. Crevecoeur did not set out to glorify the Americans and make them far more modern, forward-thinking and liberal than any of the European monarchies and Kingdoms that still held sway in Europe and parts of the world when he released his book.
His focus, I believe was to introduce the new nation as a unique society that came to be due to the culture, perspectives, beliefs and traditions that was influenced by the need to survive. By adoption and by understanding the value of each refugee, each pioneer and each immigrant involved in the new nation have come to believe that all men are created equal and that hard work is the only way to go; while it is nice to be born into moneyed families, in America your hard work determines your lot in life.
Crevecoeur does not go on in the sections indicated that Europeans are the opposite of these; his message is clear. To his then readers he wanted them to see America as a place where equality, freedom and hard work determine one’s quality of life. References Owens, M. R. H. & Forrest, T. J. (1995). Letters from an American Farmer: J. Hector St. John Crevecoeur. Retrieved July 28, 2010 from http://xroads. virginia. edu/~hyper/CREV/letter03.