American Identity: What It Means To Be An American

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In Crevecoeur’s book,” Letters from an American Farmer,” it’s evident throughout the excerpts that Crevecoeur has a deep admiration for America. The characteristics that make up an American are courageous, thriving and independent. A few examples that support these characterizations of Americans include Leif Erickson, Jamestown, and Boston Massacre. (Reed, Notes)

America, before the American Revolution, has always housed the brave. For example, Leif Ericsson’s expedition in 1001 AD/CE to what he called “Vinland.’ Leif Ericsson went to this vast foreign land not knowing what he would find. After arriving he noticed great potential in the New World and wanted to plant grapes to make wine. A few years later in 1009 AD/CE Viking Thorfin Karlsetini ventured to “Vinland” and brought women and kids. Despite not knowing what Finland would have or if vegetation was sustainable in this area. They took a risk and settled for two years. (Reed, Notes) The bravery both these men had to explore an unknown part of the world is an example of the courage that the British Americans exemplified when they rebelled against Great Britain. Also, in section fifty-four from Crevecoeur’s book he states, “What attachment can a poor European emigrant have for a country where he had nothing?” (Crevecoeur) Britain’s tyranny was oppressive to the point that British Americans felt that they had nothing to lose even if they revolted. Great Britain and the colonies were vastly different they felt like they weren’t a part of Great Britain this encouraged them to be brave and take a risk and settle in the New World.

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Prosperity is another characteristic that defines what an American is. For instance, Jamestown in 1607 was the first successful attempt of colonization, sending over 105 men and boys. The colonists lack of experience in agriculture made these first few months of settling difficult. Within the first six months only 60 men and boys survive. Virginia sends over John Smith and John Rolfe over to Virginia to improve the colony. Despite all the hardships they faced they persevered. They cultivated a successful tobacco plantation and eventually brought over women to form families. One of the many things Europe lacked was religious freedom. For example, Massachusetts Bay Despite being colony Massachusetts was still under European influence meaning there was no religious freedom or freedom of speech. For instance, Roger Williams was expelled from Massachusetts Bay for saying there should be separation of church and state and they should be kinder to the Native Americans. He eventually founded Rhode Island which allowed religious freedom this was a huge steppingstone. (Notes, Reed) Crevecoeur states in section fifty-five, “The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared.” Americans are fortunate to live in a country where they are freed from oppression and don’t have to abide to Britain’s tyranny. In the newly formed America, they live a simple life of farming for themselves, not a king or queen. Men can now provide for their families without sharing their benefits. America will continue to prosper agriculturally for years to come. (Crevecoeur)

Before the newly formed America became the diverse country, it is today. Colonists had to fight for their independence. The major events leading up to independence from England included the Boston Massacre. The Boston Massacre happened in 1770 and was important because it the first time Americans died during the American Revolution. It was a realization that in order to become independent from Britain and form their own government sacrifices had to be made even if it cost your life. This was one of the many challenges’ colonists had to face in order to be liberated. Another example was the Second Continental congress formed in 1775 they discussed forming a continental arm, look into declaring independence and recruited Thomas Jefferson to write the Declaration of Independence. (Notes, Reed) Without the characteristic of being independent America would not be the diverse and liberating country it is today. Crevecoeur states in section fifty-six, “The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions.” (Crevecoeur) Before new America was formed colonists were constantly oppressed by higher authorities. After new America was ruled by a different form of government life completely changed for Americans. America was now where the rich and poor are considered to be the same in status, no more aristocracy. In America, “individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men,” (Crevecoeur) it doesn’t matter what area or colony you came from America, “all men are created equal.” (Thomas Jefferson) 

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