Letters from an American Farmer

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When the Virginia Company landed at the James River in 1606 no one thought they had just planted the seeds to a powerful and mighty nation. The first immigrants who landed in "America" were a bedraggled bunch looking for a quick buck. Soon more would follow and colonies would sprout up, along with the hope of a better life. Michel – Guillaume Jean de Crèvecoer was a French emigrant who arrived in America in 1759 and traveled around the country for ten years. His travels gave him the inspiration to write about life in America in a series of twelve essays called Letters from an American Farmer. One of the best know essays is "What Is an American?" which uses chronological organization, extended metaphors, symbolism, and diction, to remind the huddled masses of Europe how America has supplied them with a sanctuary from the oppressive tyranny in Europe.

Jean de Crèvecoer opens by painting a picture of sorrow and oppression in the lives of the immigrants. Jean de Crèvecoer uses negative connotation in the first half of his piece by putting in phrases like "wretch", "pinching penury", "punishment", and repetition of the word "poor" to show how the immigrants lives were a horrible, dirty, miserable existence. They lived below poverty with dogs and fleas, eating rotten bread that the rich didn't think good enough to give to their dogs. These negative connotations support his rhetorical question: "Can a wretch who wanders about, who works and starves… call England or any other kingdom his country?" (290). No immigrant who has been treated in such a horrid manner would take such oppression anymore. They would instead listen and cling to tales of a far off country where all people are treated as equals and no one is oppressed. Jean de Crèvecoer starts to transition from sorrow to joy to justify the emigration. In Europe the poor immigrants, "were useless plants…mowed down by want, hunger, and war. But now with the power of transplantation…they have taken root and...
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