Origins of American Culture

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Devin Feeney
2/15/13
The Origin of American Culture

The United States is a nation of immigrants as we are all descendants from another place. It has its own unique characteristics that range from the dialect we speak to the literature we enjoy. However, it is also a racially diverse country as a result of large-scale immigration from many different countries throughout its history. Being a nation of influence, we have adopted several aspects of British culture including the language, legal system, and many other things. American culture includes both liberal and conservative elements, scientific and religiousness competiveness, and the ability to take risks and freely express yourself. It has a variety of expressions due to its demographic diversity. The historically diverse background of American culture makes our nation so unique. The origins of America date back to 1492 when Christopher Columbus made the “discovery of America” Most often, the culture in America is directly affiliated with one’s social class and political orientation. The origin of American culture is the birth of American literature. American culture truly starts to form at the time when American literature is produced. All throughout American history, literature has played an important role in the shaping of the nation’s culture and ideology. The culture of America is influenced by the literature we create. The ideology and messages that we receive from literature inspires us to take action in cultural events. American literature was born when Englishmen began to write about their experiences in the trans-Atlantic colonies. In the beginning, it took the form of descriptions of the new land and its inhabitants and accounts of the hardships met with by the settlers. Also many narratives we made of their relations with the Indians. By their account of a new setting, America started to create a fresh branch of literature. Some of the earliest writings were from colonist Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Franklin's Poor Richard's Almanac and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin are respected works with their wit and influence toward the formation of an American identity. Paine's pamphlet Common Sense and The American Crisis writings are seen as playing a key role in influencing the political tone of the period. At the times of these writings, the people focus was more on the power of the mind and rational thought. The enormous scientific, economic, and social changes of the 18th century, called the Enlightenment, made way for democratic principles. The increase in population helped account for the greater diversity of opinion in religious and political life as seen in the literature of this time. In the post-war period, Thomas Jefferson was one of the most talented early American writers. His influence on the United States Constitution with the Declaration of Independence is unquestionable, being one of the most important documents ever written. This piece of document is undoubtedly the rebirth of a new, free culture in America that is able to excel. It announced that the thirteen American colonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as independent states, and no longer a part of the British Empire. The Declaration of Independence gave birth to what is known today as the United States of America. The document is symbolic of American democracy and one of the free charters of freedom. This piece of literature is directly related to the origins of the culture in America as it completely reshapes and redefines contemporary life. The Declaration of Independence gave birth to many other freedoms in the United States of America that may never have even been intended. One of the more immediate effects felt by the Declaration of Independence was the emancipation of black slaves. African Americans were now allowed to participate in the same interests and professions as anyone else. This document also paves the way by creating the Bill of...
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