Out of Our Past Carl Degler Summary

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Out of our Past Summary

Out of Our Past by Carl Degler breaks down the lead up to the American Revolution. Although the first few sections of chapter 2 discuss the similarities between Britain and the colonies, from section three onwards it becomes clear that the New World’s differences from Europe are what made America a cultural powerhouse. For the beginning of colonization American cities mirrored western culture, but prior to 1763 the colonies began to move away from the similarities of Europe. Although the colonies were modeled after European society, an independent mentality was burgeoning in America that would lead to revolution.

Out of Our Past strongly emphasizes the economic differences between America and Britain. Degler states that the economic history of the United States “is the rise and development of the capitalistic system.” The colonies were one of England’s greatest financial assets. However, the movement of Americans due to mercantilism would connect Americans, building national identity and nurturing the part of America’s economy that wasn’t connected to Britain, as Businessmen and lawyers began to see commonality with their counterparts in other colonies. Degler also stated that one of the driving forces behind the American Revolution was the right to own property, as, in America, land was plentiful and cheap. Wealth was one of the most dominant factors in determining class and wealth became inexorably tied to property. Cheap land presented opportunities to Americans that the British didn't have, creating a social mobility that was unique to the colonies.

These unique economic opportunities formed the base of America’s most fundamental cultural differences from Britain. America’s economy became a magnet to non-British Europeans. Communities of Finns, Swedes, French, Jews, Scots, Irish, and Germans sprung up all over the colonies. Each new group of immigrants brought with it a rich new culture that added to America’s incredible...
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