Developing the American Identity
In this essay I will discuss the development of an American Identity which is evident in writing. Leading up to the American Revolution there were three periods. First exploration which led into colonialism, second the Puritan period, and last the Age of Reason which was actually responsible for the formation of a united America. Though each period was different, it wasn’t until the Age of Reason that America started to form its own identity. In 1492 Christopher Columbus sailed from Spain to what he thought would be a shortcut to India. In reality he landed on a Bahamian island in the Caribbean. Europe was civilized living in cities and towns as well as having forms of writing. Natives of North and South America didn’t have an alphabet at this time. Their cultures were oral so they relied on speaking to preserve important things. Many of the first writings in America were letters from explorers back to their rulers. In these letters they speak of great beauty and praise their kings. In a letter to Emperor Charles V, Cabeza de Vaca says, “among all the princes who have reigned, I know of none who has enjoyed the universal esteem of your Majesty”(Cabeza de Vaca 30). Explorers had to report good things and try to please the rulers who were funding their expeditions. Cabeza de Vaca seemed to give an accurate depiction of what went on.
Other explorers seemed to over exaggerate to please their kings and to make a name for theirselves. English explorer John Smith seemed to “spice up” his ordeal with the Indians. He speaks of them as savages when it seems they actually treated him very well. The next phase in American literature started in 1620 with the arrival of the Pilgrims. Unlike the Puritans, the Pilgrims wanted nothing to do with the English church. Like the explorers before them they make recordings of their journeys and events that happened. Throughout the Puritan period most of their writings are...
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