The Making of America's Identity

Topics: Benjamin Franklin, Olaudah Equiano, United States Pages: 4 (1446 words) Published: June 19, 2013
Putting the Pieces Together
Colonial America was first settled by Western Europe starting back in 1620 when the Mayflower first arrived in Cape Cod, but it was Christopher Columbus who accidently rediscovered the land in 1492 while on, what he thought to be a shortcut to the East Indies. When word got back to Western Europe of Columbus’s rediscovery, dozens of ships took sail to explore this new world. As more and more ships made the voyage, the number of colonies increased and the populations of these colonies became denser. With each new ship arriving brought with them ideas, philosophies, knowledge, and beliefs with them that first established America’s national identity. As this identity evolved, it caused America to be labeled with titles such as, the city on the hill, but as a result of the lack of civil rights, the land did not seem that way to all people of the world.

It can be argued that the prosperity of the United States was founded on the hard work ethic exemplified by the puritans. It was puritan belief that idle hands were the devil’s tools and those who worked hard would be rewarded by God. In his story, “Of Plymouth Plantation”, William Bradford writes about the hard work that his crew and he had to do for years out of necessity in order to survive. He describes and proclaims that their hard work is the reason God allowed them to survive. He saw God’s hand in times of hardship, such as when they first encountered the Native Americans he states “Their men ran with all speed to recover their arms, as by the good providence of God they did.” (79), and also claims that “it pleased God to vanquish their enemies, and give them deliverance; and by His special providence so to dispose that not any one of them were either hurt, or hit.” (79). While in this time period, the puritans believed their hard work was rewarded by God, a few hundred years later, Benjamin Franklin believed that his success (although he never flaunted it) was a result of his...

Cited: Baym, Nina, and Robert S. Levine. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. Print.
Bradford, William. "Of Plymouth Plantation." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 72-90. Print.
Equiano, Olaudah. "The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 354-366. Print.
Franklin, Benjamin. "The Autobiography." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 234-236, 278-292. Print.
Jefferson, Thomas. "The Written Works of Thomas Jefferson." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 337-344. Print.
Rowlandson, Mary. "A Narrative of Captivity and Restoration." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 126-143. Print.
Smith, John. "The General History of Virginia." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 57-68. Print.
Winthrop, John. "A Model of Christian Charity." The Norton Anthology of American Literature. By Nina Baym and Robert S. Levine. 8th ed. Vol. 1. New York: W. W. Norton &, 2013. 96-102. Print.
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