America: the Melting Pot

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America: The Melting Pot

The term the melting pot was coined in 1782 by J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur. It was a term used to describe the new country and all of its new inhabitants. Where people from different countries and different races and ethnicities could come together to form a new race of people; the American. It encompassed taking the good, strong qualities from each culture and keeping them to form an overall new culture. “Across four centuries, the steady arrival of millions of immigrants into North America created a human alloy, in which different metals combined to make something stronger than each individual component . . . And each immigrant wave gave the United States great gifts in return: music, laughter, theater, vaudeville, big time sports, food, and language” (6).

Many of the people who came to America in the early days did not do so by choice. They came as slaves or prisoners or indentured servants. Living conditions for many upon arrival were abysmal. If you did not know the English language it was very hard to obtain employment or housing or do just about anything for that matter. Before 1820 nearly eight million people who came to America came against their will, as slaves (7). If you came to America as an indentured servant or became one upon arrival because you could not afford to pay your passage you became the property of your purchaser for a period of usually 4 to 7 years. In essence, you were a slave. The work was hard for those who arrived and did not have any skills in a particular trade. Disease ran rampant and the dangers were many.

The journey to America was a hellish one and you were very fortunate if you survived to see the New Land. Many people became ill on the ships and died. Children were frequently the victims, especially those between one and seven years old (8). Measles and smallpox were the cause of death for many children. Food and water would often run low or become contaminated before the journey was...
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