American Lit & Comp
“What is an American” by de Crèvecouer
Read the following piece. After you read, answer the following questions. As you read, make a T chart that lists the following contrasts that the author makes:
Example: Government “despotic prince”
a new government
(tyrannicalrule of monarch)
Quality of life
Why does de Crèvecouer prefer America to Europe?
To what extent do you think de Crèvecouer’s definition of an American still applies today?
Is his definition more similar or more different from what you wrote in your miniessay? Why?
From “What Is an American?” (1782) by MichelGuillame Jean de Crèvecouer In this great American asylum1, the poor of Europe have by some means met together, and in consequence of various causes; to what purpose should they ask one another what countrymen they are? Alas, two thirds of them had no country. Can a wretch who wanders about, who works and starves,
asylum: a shelter.
whose life is a continual scene of sore affliction or pinching penury2 ; can that man call England or any other kingdom his country? A country that had no bread for him, whose fields procured him no harvest, who met with nothing but the frowns of the rich, the severity of the laws, with jails and punishments; who owned not a single foot of the extensive surface of this planet? No! urged by a variety of motives, here they came. Every thing has tended to regenerate them; new laws, a new mode of living, a new social system; here they are become men: in Europe they were as so many useless plants, wanting vegetative mold3 , and refreshing showers; they withered, and were mowed down by want, hunger, and war; but now by the power of transplantation, like all other plants they have taken root and flourished! ...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document