The formation of the American society
In this poem I will analyze the conditions which led to the formation of the American society, namely, the Protestants’ views on the colonization of America, their religious status in England and how it influenced their decision to leave for the Promised Land, their idea of America, and their explanation for the clashes with the Native Americans.
The Puritans, the Separatists and the Quakers which were English Protestant groups believed that the measures taken by the Church of England to eliminate Catholic practices from the Church were insufficient. The Puritans, for example, presented to King James I the Millenary Petition in which they requested the reformation of the Anglican Church, but the king perceived the act as a threat to his power and started persecuting them. In addition, the Separatists believed “that there was no hope whatsoever of purifying the Anglican Church of its Catholic tendencies” and were persecuted for not abiding to the religious practices, while the Quakers were deported or imprisoned because they were considered by the English a threat to the state and Church for their rebellious acts. “To convince others of the truth of their doctrines, Quakers did not hesitate to interrupt church services, assault clergymen” and they “refused to serve in the militia or even pay taxes that might be devoted to military purposes.” In consequence, they all turned their eyes towards the American land, because their homes did not offer protection anymore.
The Pilgrims, in particular, started considering themselves “the second chosen people” of God comparing themselves with the Jews and argued that the land was theirs by divine right. (“The land was ours before we were the land’s.”) The Protestants moved to America “In Massachusetts, in Virginia,” and started living according to their beliefs and laws, but despite owning the American land they did not severe the ties with England (“But we were England’s, still colonials.”)
Before arriving, the Protestants considered themselves a nation predestined to own the American land (“She was our land more than a hundred years/ Before, we were her people.”) and they dreamed of building “a city upon a hill” and offer a “worthy model for other nations.” However, in order to create the “pure” society they dreamed of, Protestants needed to create a new culture as well, that was not corrupt like the English one. They came possessing the idea of America, “a slightly improved version of the Garden of Eden, overflowing with nature’s bounties” where they could build the “most perfect society.” Upon arriving, however, they started owning land and the idea of America was sculpted through fiction into history (“Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,/ Possessed by what we now no more possess.”) This is unusual because in Europe, history was written based on the events people went through. In America, however, first there was the dream, the idea of America, and history was made to fit this idea.
However, upon coming to the “land of promise,” the colonists found it invaded by Native Americans and started fighting for what they believed was their right (“The deed of gift was many deeds of war/ To the land vaguely realizing westward.”) The Native Americans, on the other hand, viewed the colonists as invaders and tried to protect their homes. The result was clashes among the two peoples. The colonists believed that the only impediment standing against the colonization of a land that was rightfully theirs was their will (“We were withholding from our land of living,/ And forthwith found salvation is surrender.”) “God makes room for his people” so “he casts out the enemies of a people before them by lawful warre with the inhabitants.” The colonists won due to their superior technology and recorded these events in the forms of letters, stories and captivity...
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