History Interpretive Paper

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Joyce Mosery

John D. Crevecoeur was a French nobleman who lived in New York and Pennsylvania during the 17060’s and 70’s. “Letters from an American Farmer” is a document written by Crevecoeur discussing his discovery of a new kind of person, known as “the American.” He expands on the idea of the American by their stating distinct qualities, and how those qualities came to be.

Let us not be mislead by Crevecoeur’s use of the word “American.” The group of people that inhabited the American soil at the time were new to the land, originally hailing from Europe. According to Crevecoeur, the fact that they were European says quite a bit about them, in that they possessed wisdom in cultural areas such as “arts, science, vigor, and industry.” Many of them had sought a new start in the American land.

The Americans were “tillers of the earth.” They lived an egalitarian farmers lifestyle, where everyone worked for themselves on their own land. The fact that they owned land meant that they were free of Europe’s harsh social stratification systems that had restrained them from acquiring a stable sense of self. In Europe the Americans, coming from a lower class in society, were not looked upon as citizens. They were not numbered out in record lists and such of their country. “Here (in America) they rank as citizens.” Joyce Mosery

Dr. Brown
Spring 2012
Interpretive Paper- Rough Draft
John D. Crevecoeur was a French nobleman who lived in New York and Pennsylvania during the 17060’s and 70’s. “Letters from an American Farmer” is a document written by Crevecoeur discussing his discovery of a new kind of person, known as “the American.” He expands on the idea of the American by their stating distinct qualities, and how those qualities came to be.

Let us not be mislead by Crevecoeur’s use of the word “American.” The group of people that inhabited the American soil at the time were new to the land, originally hailing from Europe. According to Crevecoeur, the fact that they were European says quite a bit about them, in that they possessed wisdom in cultural areas such as “arts, science, vigor, and industry.” Many of them had sought a new start in the American land.

The Americans were “tillers of the earth.” They lived an egalitarian farmers lifestyle, where everyone worked for themselves on their own land. The fact that they owned land meant that they were free of Europe’s harsh social stratification systems that had restrained them from acquiring a stable sense of self. In Europe the Americans, coming from a lower class in society, were not looked upon as citizens. They were not numbered out in record lists and such of their country. “Here (in America) they rank as citizens.”

An “insular government” from which the people had drawn happiness ran the new American mankind; the American showed respect for their government and abided by its laws. The reality of having this new type of government, that they were originally not acquainted, with left them room to flourish and “act upon new principles,” creating new ideas and opinions. This nature of society enabled them to think about the future generations in terms of prosperity and education. Crevecoeur viewed that Americans from an ethnocentric standpoint as “the most perfect society now existing.”

Why did these unaccustomed qualities surface once the Americans arrived in the new country? Crevecoeur expresses that the Americans acquired such qualities largely as a result of the life they had lived back in Europe. In Europe that Americans were only offered the negative. In particular, the Americans were no stranger to strict laws, severe punishment, harsh social classes, and poverty. The impoverished Americans of Europe were faced with “continual scenes of affliction,” and overall struggle in living with their unpleasant circumstances. Such an environment left the Americans in Europe without a nationality.

The Americans felt such a strong sense of nationalism towards...
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