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St. John de Crèvec?ur: "What Is an American?"

A short Summary using sections 49-51 of J. Hector St. John de Crévecoeur's 1782 letter, "What Is an American," According to Crévecoeur, what distinguishes an American from a European? Explain how life in the British North American colonies contributed to the creation of a unique American identity. Provide examples.

sections 49- 51 are as follows:
Page 49 { page image }
good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges, where an hundred years ago all was wild, woody and uncultivated! What a train of pleasing ideas this fair spectacle must suggest; it is a prospect which must inspire a good citizen with the most heartfelt pleasure. The difficulty consists in the manner of viewing so extensive a scene. He is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess every thing, and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. We are a people of cultivators, scattered over an immense territory, communicating with each other by. means of good roads and navigable rivers, united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws, without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We are all animated with the spirit of an industry which is
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unfettered and unrestrained, because each person works for himself. If he travels through our rural districts he views not the hostile castle, and the haughty mansion, contrasted with the clay-built hut and miserable cabbin, where cattle and men help to keep each other warm, and dwell in meanness, smoke, and indigence. A pleasing uniformity of decent competence appears throughout our habitations. The meanest of our log-houses is a dry and comfortable habitation. Lawyer or merchant are the fairest titles our towns afford; that of a farmer is the only appellation of the rural inhabitants of our country. It must take some time ere he can reconcile himself to our dictionary, which is but short in words of dignity, and names of honour. There, on a Sunday, he sees a congregation of respectable farmers and their wives, all clad in neat homespun, well mounted, or riding in their own humble waggons. There is not among them an esquire, saving the unlettered magistrate. There he sees a parson as simple as his flock, a farmer who does not riot on the labour of others. We have no princes, for whom we toil, starve, and bleed: we are the most perfect society now existing in the world. Here man is free as he ought to be; nor is this pleasing equality so transitory as many others are. Many ages
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will not see the shores of our great lakes replenished with inland nations, nor the unknown bounds of North America entirely peopled. Who can tell how far it extends? Who can tell the millions of men whom it will feed and contain? for no European foot has as yet travelled half the extent of this mighty continent!

The next wish of this traveller will be to know whence came all these people? they are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen. The eastern provinces must indeed be excepted, as being the unmixed descendents of Englishmen. I have heard many wish that they had been more intermixed also: for my part, I am no wisher, and think it much better as it has happened. They exhibit a most conspicuous figure in this great and variegated picture; they too enter for a great share in the pleasing perspective displayed in these thirteen provinces. I know it is fashionable to reflect on them, but I respect them for what they have done; for the accuracy and wisdom with which they have settled their territory; for the decency of their manners; for their early love of letters; their ancient college, the first in this hemisphere; for their industry;

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Dear Student,
Hello. The solution below distinguishes, based on the writings of J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, an American from a European. The information below is more than the word count but is necessary to present to you the author's implications so that you can utilise said information in class discussions. Should you need more assistance on this solution, please feel free to leave a comment on the feedback section. Thank you for using Brainmass.

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Letter 3, Sections 49-51, "What is an American?"

"Here man is free; as he ought to be; nor is this pleasing equality so transitory as many others are. Many ages will not see the shores of our great lakes replenished with inland nations, nor the unknown bounds of North America entirely peopled. "

John Hector St. John de Crèvec?ur was a naturalized French-American writer authored the 1782 essay Series, 'Letters to an American Farmer' which were presented as a book; the narratives of the collective essays describing and giving rise to what can now be determined as 'American Ideals' . His through his 'letters' used American-English slang as they were used in the 'frontier'; the American ideals of self-determinism, principles ...

Solution Summary

The solution is a 743-word essay in 2 parts. The first part provides a summary discussion of the ideas of French immigrant John Hector St. John de Crèvec?ur on what is 'An American' in late 18th century America decades after the successful Revolution. The second part discusses sections of the author's writing pertaining to what differentiates a European from an American based on his observations & experiences as an immigrant. A word version of the solution is attached as a word file for easy download and printing. References are listed for expansion.