The Enlightened Views of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur

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Letters from an American Farmer is an excellent example of how a New World American thinks about the many changes occurring and that have occurred during the era of Enlightenment. Crevecoeur’s essay is an enlightened perspective that shows how the people of that time are feeling about being a part of the new world and its current workings. Although the writer is originally from Normandy, and later Canada, he seems to truly grasp the changes in American society and how vastly different it is from Europe.

Crevecoeur explains that America is a literal melting pot for people of all religions. He states that “the Americans become as to religion what they are as a country, allied to all”. When Crevecoeur describes the religions of the nation he makes note of the fact that even if the people of a certain “sect” do not practice the same religion as the newcomers, that “neither the government nor any other power interferes”, showing the great tolerance that America has for all. The “indifference” of America is quite different from the way society is in Europe during the 1700-1800’s. During the Enlightenment the people of America appear to come to the realization that although religions may be different in some ways, they are also similar in others.

The social class divisions in America during the Enlightenment are also quite different than that of Europe. “It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who posses everything, and of a herd of people who have nothing”. During the period of enlightenment the people of America came to realize that if they work hard enough that what they earn is for them to keep. There are no Kings or Dictators ruling the lower class. There is a huge amount of personal and financial freedom to be gained in American during this time. Crevecoeur states that “each person works for himself”. American became a class-less society during the Enlightenment period where each individual was allowed as much room to grow as needed. The...
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