The Formation of American Identity
Professor Emily Conroy-Krutz
February 21, 2013
Americans pride themselves on their nation and its achievements, but most of all, their freedom. “Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.” It is a blessing to live under such a great constitution and we as citizens should be knowledgeable about where, when, and how it all it began. People are who they are because of the experiences that they have been through throughout their life. This is the same case for America. The United States has formed its identity through experiences, both good and bad. After a long history of both conflict and peace, the United States formed as a union influenced both by European cultures and Native American culture. It all started when Christopher Columbus set sail and him along with the Europeans colonized to America. The Europeans brought their culture and ideas with them. We Americans just like any culture like to pass on our traditions to the generations to come. The things that I have learned in this class have tied into things today, or at least their origin. The shared history and culture that was developed is still evolving today. During the colonial and revolutionary periods of American history, Native Americans, wars, and European culture all impacted what it meant to be American, and its identity.
Native Americans contributed to American identity tremendously. Early American settlers developed many skills that they learned from the Native Americans such as agriculture, language, and even governmental structure. Without the Native Americans it would have been difficult for colonists to be successful and survive. The colonists played a role like a tourist, and the Native Americans acted as guides. Native Americans depended on trade, and they shared this strategy with the colonists. Europeans would send things such as fur in return for things such as guns and salt. The French trading company was set up. It was thought the Native Americans receive civilization and Christianity, while the Europeans receive labor and land. This was obviously extremely unfair and the colonists were highly upset over this. The colonists were practically raised by the Native Americans, but once they were able to stand on their own two feet, they took a stand to the Native Americans due to their frustration.
During the colonial times of America, multiple wars took place in order to get rid, or displace the Native Americans. During this time the Native Americans were treated horribly. It was their homeland and it was being taken from them, and some were even taken in as slaves. The colonists started to build on the Connecticut River Valley, but the only thing stopping them was the Pequots. At this time is when the colonists and Native Americans decide to unite against the Pequots, starting the Pequot War in 1637. The English set fire to a fort, which burned down the whole thing leaving about 5 survivors. The English believe that their easy victory meant that God was on their side. The English wanted to adopt the women and children and bring them into their own tribes and convert them into Christianity. The Wampanoag Indians did not want to live by the moral code of the Puritans. Massasoit was chief of the Wampanoag, he then died and Wamsuette took over which is when things began to fall apart. The sudden death of Wamsuetta was believed to be the cause the King Phillips war in 1975-1976, said to be the bloodiest war in history. During this war 5,000 Native people did, and Phillip retreated home. Many people argue over the justification of taking the land of the Native America. “It was a solemn sight to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here and some there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves.” Some say that the colonists came there to express their religion and gain wealth,...
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