Thursday, October 28, 2010

De Crevecouer- letters from an American farmer

‘‘Here he sees the industry of his native country displayed in a new manner, and traces in their works the embrios of all the arts, sciences, and ingenuity which flourish in Europe. Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, an immense country filled with decent houses, good good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges, where an hundred years ago all was wild, woody and uncultivated!’’

This quote from letters from an American farmer paints America as a beautiful landscape that Europe doesn’t have because Europe is more concerned with science and art. The way it is put suggests the American landscape is superior. The overall quote suggests that America in general was a better place to be than England because he talks about the roads being ‘good good’ and the country filled with ‘decent houses’, but he only mentions the arts and sciences, not how good they are.

The website I have chosen is an article by Jeff Sychterz. He says that the vast range of opportunities available to anyone and everyone, which is the foundation of the American culture, is related to the American landscape. ‘‘Something about the vastness of the American landscape fuels this notion of endless opportunities and wide-open possibilities’’ This quote from the website carries on the vision of an exceptional landscape, and the this quote
‘‘in America always seems to offer us something better than what we have’’ carries on the vision that it is better than the rest of the world.

‘‘European immigrants looked to New York’s Ellis Island’’ This quote suggests Europeans even agreed that America was a better place, because why would you look to another country if you thought your own country was already good as it was?

Forty years ago this smiling country was thus inhabited; it is now purged, a general decency of manners prevails throughout, and such has been the fate of our best countries.

Exclusive of those general characteristics, each province has its own, founded on the government, climate, mode of husbandry, customs, and peculiarity of circumstances. Europeans submit insensibly to these great powers, and become, in the course of a few generations, not only Americans in general, but either Pennsylvanians, Virginians, or provincials under some other name. Whoever traverses the continent must easily observe those strong differences, which will grow more evident in time. The inhabitants of Canada, Massachusetts, the middle provinces, the southern ones will be as different as their climates; their only points of unity will be those of religion and language.

As I have endeavoured to shew you how Europeans become Americans; it may not be disagreeable to shew you likewise how the various Christian sects introduced, wear out, and how religious indifference becomes prevalent. When any considerable number of a particular sect happen to dwell contiguous to each other, they immediately erect a temple, and there worship the Divinity agreeably to their own peculiar ideas. Nobody disturbs them.”

In the extract i have chosen, Crevecouer suggests that a common characteristic of the new American identity is the idea of religious freedom, and the fact that religion is something that brings the whole country together. This view is perhaps contrasting to the view many Europeans may have on religion, being that it has been the cause of countless European wars and killings in the past. Therefore, this idea is one that suggests the new country of America is a something of a haven for those wishing to practice religion without fear of persecution. A much more accepting and accommodating place than Europe.

The above website is that of a group calling themselves “The Heritage Foundation”, they are a conservative society who want to promote conservative politics and values in America. They have more than 696,000 individual, foundation and corporate donors. The link is to one their ten “transformational objectives” which they believe will improve America. This one focuses on family and religion. They suggest that religion is a very important factor in defining Americans, and what separates them from people from other nations. They state their desire to make religion more widespread in the American society, and their belief that this is what America needs. For example, “We seek to shape a healthy public discourse that appreciates the historic and continuing significance of religion and moral virtue in American civic life.” I think this shows that there are at least some groups of people who still believe in the original ideals of the early settlers, and believe they should still be upheld.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

De Crevecouer, Letters from an American Farmer,

Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry, which began long since in the east. They will finish the great circle.
Crevecoeur, J. Hector St. John (1782). Letters From an American Farmer.
Letter III - What is an American? P42.

The passage above explains that America is the country where opportunities, freedom, independence, rights and plenty of subsistence made a new nation sustainable. Many Europeans fled their countries to relocate to America, where food, protection, kindness and survival were a promise to the people. A “new race of men” was emerging from the beginnings of many British colonies. These British colonies struggled from towns in the North American wilderness. Immigrants were keen to start a new life here and brought with them their unique cultures. They were equipped with their talents, in particular, skills trades, culture and religion. This “new race” was diverse, and particularly different from their mother country, Great Britain, in more than just economy and location. These cultures were brought together by immigration and unified into one to form the American society. The reference to “melted into a new race” refers to the great “melting pot” in which immigrants from the various races of Europe merged together to make America.

Crevecoeur points out in Letter 3, that it was becoming evident that America was taking shape before the eyes of the world and developing its own exceptionalism. The nation celebrated the vast space and fertility of the land, personal determination and freedom from institutional oppression. When America was developing the nation welcomed almost anyone, whereas today a darker element complicates the picture.

The above link is from Deseret News (a Utah & Salt Lake news site) article explaining that assimilation is quite difficult for immigrants. These “immigrants” come to America for economic reasons and to be part of the American exceptionalism. It appears that although these immigrants are equipped with similar talents that Crevecoeur wrote about; hard working, service oriented, religious and wants success and education for their children; this doesn’t seem to make the cut. In the world we live in today, it is less likely that America welcomes immigrants with open arms and still has the attitude of “the more the merrier” like Crevecoeur indicates in Letter 3. Now, it is get in line and pay for your papers. Your ability to grow crops, family orientated, knowledge in arts and sciences won’t get you into America. The country will make you work for your citizenship and show integrity and honesty. Could this be suggesting that Exceptionalism is becoming more of a myth?

De Crevecouer's vision of America continued:

“Here individuals of all races are melted into a new race of man, whose labors and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world.” Here De C is suggesting that anyone can achieve despite class or background that may have oppressed them in Europe, (The American Dream)and that America(ns) will change the world- the land and its inhabitants are exceptional.

The website I have found to compare this to is that of an American radio host, who calls for a reform of the country. Robert Hender believes that the government has corrupted America and that the country must start over and serve God, for it is a ‘Promised Land’. ( RAP stands for Restore America Plan. Parallel to De Crevecouer’s idea that America will change the world, Hender argues: “If America falls, the whole world will fall.”

Both suggest that America is exceptional in that it has the power to be the leader of the free world, or make ‘great change’.

De Crevecouer: “I WISH for a change of place; the hour is come at last”
Hender: “This [current state of America] reminds me of a house that has a foundation that is falling apart. It takes an expert to lift the house and then carefully remove the debris of rot and rubble before replacing the old foundation with a stronger, new foundation. After this careful surgery on the underpinnings of the house have been completed then the house may be put back, upon a New Footings.”

Both De Crevecouer and Hender are calling for a ‘fresh start’. The previous discussed idea of a promise given then broken. Rather than both suggesting America is an entirely fresh start, both are suggesting it has been tarnished, and must now be transformed and become ‘new’ again, the last chance for mankind has to start over. Hender comparing the new beginning to restoring a house, De Crevecouer comparing life to the Native American way of life, emphasizing it as ‘better’: “they have land in plenty, of which they are not so covetous as the whites” (covetous def: inordinately or wrongly desirous of wealth or possessions; greedy. 2. eagerly desirous)

De Crevecouer writes in urge of a more simplistic and pure life, by living in a less greedy and materialistic way: “The Indians… [have] the most perfect freedom, the ease of living, the absence of those cares and corroding solicitudes which so often prevail with us; the peculiar goodness of the soil they cultivated.” In a similar way, Hender is rallying for a ‘purer’ life by salvation from God and worship to God: “I have felt that God is calling forth to America… God's Judgements now Stand Before us! Pray for America, Now! Pray for our courage, Now! Pray for our future, Now! There is a lot of work to do, placing Liberty back in America. ”

Both Hender and De Crevecouer’s writing shares a common view that the Native American way of life is better than the current. Hender also refers to his own history, further re-enforcing the idea that America must start over: “My family came to America on the Mayflower, 3 of my family members were on that ship…They came for liberty and they took the hand of their American Indian Brothers and they were friends for many years… he is a Cherokee Indian, he will do what is best for his country.”

The most significant view Hender expresses is that that America is sacred and special, given to the people by God: “America is a Land of Promise. America is a Land with a Promise from the Creator. In America when we honor God and serve one another America is a Land of Liberty.” Here De Crevecouer’s original vision of America as exceptional continues. Henders idea of America as a ‘land of promise’ and uniquely advantaged is seen in De Crevecouer’s vision: “thank God that my lot is to be an American farmer, instead of a Russian boor, or an Hungarian peasant. I thank you kindly for the idea” Here De Crevecouer is suggesting that he would rather be a poor American, than ‘poor’ anything else, that just to live and be a Farmer in such a ‘promised’ country makes his life better than if living in such conditions elsewhere.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

De Crevecouer, Letters from an American Farmer, (1782)

Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur's Letter II tells of Farmer James and his extensive reports of experiences as a farmer in Pennsylvania. Crevecoeur's own farm was in New York State. Many of his own experiences farming there, must have been translated into his Letters of an American Farmer.
Through the Letters,we learn how much his character cared for and interacted with his environment, and the use of the natural resources he found in is new country. His observations of the animals, birds and insects he came into contact with, are keenly noticed and marvelled at. He explains the behaviour of bees, hornets, kingbirds and swallows
When writing his bees flying off to the woods, he continues...."When that is the case with mine, I seldom thwart their inclinations. It is in freedom that they work. Were I to confine them, they would dwindle away and quit their labour." Here, Farmer James seems to be likening the bees' behaviour to that of men. At another point, he talks of ...."The peaceable swallow, like the passive Quaker, meekly sat at a small distance, and never offered the least resistance".
The clear concern shown by Farmer James about the sights, sounds and behaviour of the species around him, is echoed today in the comprehensive efforts of organisations such as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which for forty years has taken on the mantle of caring about the land and the creatures that share the State with their human neighbours.
This site has many links through which the viewer can learn all about the wildlife and plant life of New York State, including details of all the endangered species.
Conditions and attitudes may be very different may be very different today from those of the late eighteenth century, but the wonders the colonists felt about their new surroundings is again felt today whe conservationists observe and study. They are looking at the environment as it is at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and dealing with it in accordance with the practicalities of the modern world, just as an agrarian eighteenth century immigrant to America looked at it in the context of his time. Both care. Both deal with a new situation. Both address the balance and the relationship between man and nature.
Jill Glazier

Crevecoeur's vision of America

“Here on the contrary, everything is modern”. “Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, an immense country filled with decent houses, good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges, where a hundred years ago, all was wild, woody and uncultivated! What a train of pleasing ideas this fair spectacle must suggest”

The above quotes are from Crevecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer which show that he believes that America is at the forefront of development, and that Europeans coming to America would be amazed at how developed the country is.

The above webpage shows a selection of American inventors and inventions. This webpage shows us that Americans have created many items which are now part of our everyday life. The fact that the inventors of the items featured on the webpage saw a problem in life, and chose to devote their time to solve it, mirrors Crevecoeur’s vision of America, where the settlers saw a country with areas which were” wild, woody and uncultivated” and managed to put the effort in to turn those areas of land into sprawling cities fit for people to inhabit.

On the webpage I posted, it shows the artificial heart which was created by an American. The artificial heart was a scientific breakthrough as before it was created people would have thought it was impossible, yet now it is treated as a common medical tool. This sense of achieving the possible is referred to in the above quote from Crevecoeur, in which he mentions that Europeans coming to America would be amazed at how much progress the settlers had made in developing the country, such as creating cities and roads, in just a short space of time. This is important, as in the over populated cities in Europe at that time the idea of travelling to a distant unknown country, walking into the wilderness and creating your home there would be impossible, yet the settlers in America achieved it. This vision of America as being “modern” and not backing away from a challenge has been valid all the way through the history of America, and is still valid present day, through examples such as inventions created by people with a dream who chose to make it a reality.

REMINDER - we meet Thursday after your class this week

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Exploration and Settlement

Written over a period of years by the leader of the Plymouth Colony Massachusetts, William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation is the single most complete authority for the story of Pilgrims and the early years of the Colony they founded. 

 But I cannot but stay and make a pause and stand half amased at this poore people presente condition; and so I thinke will the reader too, when he will considers ye same. Being thus passed ye vase ocean and a sea of troubles before in their preparation (as may be remembered by yt which wente before), they had now no friends no wellcome them, nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire not, to seeke for succoure ... What could not sustaine them but ye spirits of God & his grace? May not ought not the children of these father rightly say: Our faithers were Englishment which came over this great ocean, and were ready to persih in this wilderness; but they cried unto ye Lord, and he heard their voyce and looked on their adversitie. Let them therfore prasie ye Lord, because he is good & his mercies endure for ever ...

William Bradford and his pilgrim followers had broken away from the main Protesetant religion in England and were persecuted because of this. The pilgrims wanted to find a new environment that was free and gave them a place to practice their religious beliefs. They believed that God's power and mercy wouldaid them in this difficult quest. On arrival in America, the Plymouth settlers had not friends to welcome them, there was no accommodation for them or even any food after their terrible journey. The seeason in which they arrived was winter, and it was particularly cruel one with fierce storms. Not only was the weather poor, but they hadn't a clue what they would find in the isolated wilderness. 
They would encounter the natives, who probably would not be friendly to them. These inhabitans might even be godless savages who might kill rather than greet them. They would have to cope with all types of wild beasts well.
A number of the Pilgrims who had left England had died during the journey and many of thos who had survived had disease and were weak. They only had hope and the strength of their fath in god to sustain them. In the first act of Thanksgiving they kneel and pray to for thanks for getting them to the new land. Bradford's  "ready to perish in this wilderness ...." Their lord heard their voice and gave them new fatih".
This account encapsulates the true founding of America and the struggle the settlers would have encountered before they could found their first colony. The religious background and belief in themselves aidied by their faith in god is still seen in the attitude of many Americans today. They did overcome these huge problems and their faith, determination and hard work laid the foundations for today's United States.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1635 Settlers account of America:

William Wood's account:

William Wood was from Nottingham, England, little is known about him, but he arrived in Massachusetts (as a pilgrim) in 1928 or 1629. Wood wrote what has been called the earliest comprehensive record of New Englands natural resourcesand inhabitants prior to European colonization. Wood belonged to a company (group) known as the New England Company: "In 1628 a party of Puritans led by John Endecott settled at Salem under the auspices of the New England Company" Salem is a town that still exists in Essex county Massachusetts (I find the use of English names interesting: "Essex initially contained Salem, Lynn, Wenham, Ipswich, Rowley, Newbury, Gloucester, and Andover."

In 1635 William Wood published in London his book: 'New Englands Prospect.' [With the sub-title:] 'A true, lively, and experimentall description of that part of America, commonly called New England: discovering the state of that Countrie, both as it stands to our new-come English Planters; and to the old Native Inhabitants. Laying downe that which may both enrich the knowledge of the mind-travelling Reader, or benefit the future-Voyager.' A fairly legnthy title! The book is heavily descriptive of the land and geography, however I have chosen a section written on the Native Americans.

"These are a cruell bloody people, which were wont to come downe upon their poore neighbours with more than bruitish favagenesse, spoyling of their Corne, burning their houses, slaying men, ravishing women, yea very Caniballs they were, sometimes eating on a man one part aster another before his face, and while yet living; in so much that the very name of a Mowhack would strike the heart of a poore Abergenian dead, were there not hopes at hand of releefe from English to succour them: For these inhumane homicides confesse that they dare not meddle with a white faced man, accompanyed with his hot mouth'd weapon.

These Indians be a people of a tall stature, of long grimme visages, slender wasted, and exceeding great armes and thighes, wherein they fay their strength lyeth; and this I rather beleeve because an honest gentleman told me, upon his knowledge, that he saw one of them with a fillippe with his finger kill a dogge, who afterward flead him and sod him, and eate him to his dinner. They are so hardie that they can eate such things as would make other Indians sicke to looke upon, being destitute of fish and flesh, they suffice hunger and maintaine nature with the use of vegetatives; but that which they most hunt after, is the flesh of man; their custome is if they get a stranger neere their habitations, not to butcher him immediately, but keeping him in as good plight as they can, feeding him with the best victualls they have. "

My first impression of the description was that it was written to entertain. Wood would have been motivated to sell his book, and make America seem like an exciting place to live, if all be it dangerous. Though on the hand he would have wanted to promote the settlement and encourage others to move to America to expand the town, describing it as dangerous wouldn't have done so. I have that impression because generally accounts of Native Americans describe them as placid, however there may be some truth in the account.

I find the mentioning of the 'hot mouthed' gun very interesting, the savage account of the Natives prior making it seem highly neccesary and logical to bear arms. However the modern technology and power of the gun is not only being used to defend the Europeans, its being used to put the natives in their place. The wording of they 'dare not' makes it seem that the Natives
are below the 'white faced man', and that the fear of modern technology and superior deadly weapons are being used to restrain people from their own land. That is one view, the other is that like the account describes the natives are purely savages whom the settlers had to protect themselves from.

Wood describes how there is hope that the settlers can be civillized: "were there not hopes at hand of releefe from English to succour them" succour meaning to help in time of need. His description is therefore slightly contradictory: the natives are savage but can be tamed, and are frightening yet the settlers want to help them? The use of the word 'succour' also suggests that the settlers belived they were helping the natives by changing them, not doing so for their own benefit. I think prehaps though that the account derives partly from fear and 'myth' of the Natives more than reality. Stories of Native Indians brutality would have spread quickly accross settlements and been widely believed. The culture and rituals of the Natives was unlike anything the settlers had seen before, and prehaps out of comfort they wanted to transform them into something they recognised. The settlers found it too uncomfortable (and thus fearful) to interact and share a land with such drastically different people.

The fear of the Natives can be said to have lead to a notion of 'us' and 'them'; Wood describing the settlers not as Englishmen, but 'White faced men'. This suggests that the settlers did not define themselves by nationality or trade, but by the colour of their skin, white, as opposed to the red skinned Indians. However, the account very importantly does make reference to the Mowhack tribe specifically, meaning that Wood recognised each tribe had differences, and had not ignorantly spoke of all Natives collectively. He writes that the Mowhacks were: "so hardie that they can eate such things as would make other Indians sicke to looke upon". This attention to detail could suggest that the account as a whole is not as ignorant or unreliable as it first suggests, though I still believe 'rumour' and fear of the Natives may have influenced the description.

Early settler account

ALTHOUGH ( frendlye Reader) man by his disobedience, weare deprived of those good Gifts wher with he was indued in his creation, yet he was not berefte of wit to provyde for hym selfe, nor discretion to devise things necessarie for his use, except suche as appartayne to his soules healthe, as may be gathered by his savage nations, of whome this present worke intreateth. For although they have noe true knoledge of God nor of his holye worde and are destituted of all lerninge, Yet they passe us in many thinges, as in Sober feedinge and Dexteritye of witte, in makinge without any instrument of mettall thinges so neate and so fine, as a man would scarselye beleve the same.

The account I have chosen is from an English settler in the mid 1500’s. He was one of the earliest Englishmen to make a permanent settlement in America. He was one of 13 who attempted to make settlements in North Carolina.  John White notes that the Native Americans that he came into contact with have had no form of education and experiences that he has yet they still manage to do the things and even do better in things like making things out of metal. Yet he still calls them a savage nation. It seems he would like to believe that these people are no more than animals yet he is willing to notice their actions as better than what he can do which is a contradiction, because no dog or cat can do the things that the native Americans are doing like making things out of metal. 

4 September 1638.

Arthur Peach, Thomas Jackson, Richard Stinnings, & Daniell Crosse were indicted for murther& robbing by the heigh way.They killed and robd one Penowanyanquis, an Indian, at Misquamsqueece, & took from him fiue fadome of wampeux, and three coates of wollen cloth.

. . . They found the said Arthur Peach, Thomas Jackson, and Richard Stinnings guilty of the said felonious murthering & robbing of the said Penowanyanquis, but say that they, nor any of them, had any lands or tennement, goods or cattles, at the tyme of the said felonie conitted that they know of; and so say they all.

Daniell Crosse made an escape, & so had not his tryall; but Peach, Jackson, & Stinnings had sentence of death pnounced; vizt, to be taken from the place where they were to the place from whence they came, and thence to the place of execucon, and there to be hanged by the neck vntill their bodyes were dead, wch was executed upon them accordingly.(5)

3 September 1639.

Mary, the wyfe of Robte Mendame, of Duxburrow, for using dallyance diuers tymes wth Tinsin, an Indian, and after committing the act of vncleanesse wth him, as by his own confession by seuall interpters is made apparent, the Bench doth therefore censure the said Mary to be whipt at a cart tayle through the townes streets, and to weare a badge vpon her left sleeue during her aboad wthin this gount; and if shee shalbe found wthout it abroad, then to be burned in the face wth a hott iron; and the said Tinsin, the Indian, to be well whip wth a halter about his neck at the post, because it arose through the allurement & inticement of the said Mary, that hee was drawne therevnto.(6)

The accounts I have chosen are taken from court records of an early new Plymouth settlement in 1638. It describes one case in which 4 white English men were sentenced to death for the robbery and murder of a native American man. The fact that the court in this settlement has sentenced 4 of its citizens to death for the murder of a native suggests a possible sense of solidarity between the Indians and the settlers, or at least with the pilgrim settlers of New England. However it could also be read that they did this simply out of fear of a backlash from the tribes if they didn’t. But either way it would surely have been a very controversial move at the time, to side with natives over Englishmen. The second case involves an English married woman named Mary who was convicted of committing adultery with a native American man named Tinsin. The interesting thing about the court’s decision is that they decided to punish Mary considerably more than they did Tinsin. They were both whipped, but Mary was taken around the town presumably to humiliate her. She was also made to wear a badge with an “A” on it, to identify her as an adulterer. The court seems to have blamed the female for the crime because she has drawn the male in, although it is interesting that they did not place more blame on the native. I think both these cases show that at least in some settlements, the settlers and natives did live as relatively equal, and the town leaders did see them as more than just savages.

The Native American contact with Setttlers before 1776

This is the first half of an account of the tribe's encounter with the explorer Jean Nicolet in Green Bay (which extends west from Lake Michigan) in 1634.

First Encounters of the Ho-Chunk Nation and the French

....Now this is what the old men have said and handed down to us. Once something appeared in the middle of the lake. They were the French; they were the first to come to Winnebago. The ship came nearer and the Winnebago went to the edge of the lake with offerings of tobacco and white deerskins. There they stood. When the French were about to come ashore they fired their guns off in the air as a salute to the Indians. The Indians said "they are thunderbirds." Then the French landed their boats and came ashore and extended their hands to the Winnebago, and the Indians put tobacco in their hands. The French, of course, wanted to shake hands with the Indians. They did not know what tobacco was, and therefore did not know what to do with it. Some of the Winnebago poured tobacco on their heads, asking them for victory in war. The French tried to speak to them, but they could not, of course, make themselves understood. After a while they discovered that they were without tools, so they taught the Indians how to use an ax and chop a tree down. The Indians, however, were afraid of it, because the ax was holy. Then the French taught the Indians how to use guns, but they held aloof for a long time through fear, thinking that all these things were holy. Suddenly a Frenchman saw an old man smoking and poured water on him. They knew nothing about smoking or tobacco. After a while they got more accustomed to one another. The Indians learned how to shoot the guns and began trading objects for axes. They would give furs and things of that nature for the guns, knives and axes of the whites. They still considered them holy, however. Finally they learned how to handle guns quite well and they liked them very much. They would even build fires at night so that they might try their guns, fcor they could not wait for the day, they were so impatient. When they were out of ammunition they would go to the traders and tell their people that they would soon return. By this time they had learned to make themselves understood by various signs.
The second time they went to visit the French they took with them all the various articles that they possessed. Then the French taught them how to sew, how to use an ax, and how to use a knife. Then the leader of the whites took a liking to a Winnebago girl, the daughter of the chief, and he asked her parents for permission to marry her. They told him that her two brothers had the right to give her away in marriage so he asked them and they consented. Then he married her. He lived there and worked for the Indians and stayed with them for many years and he taught them the use of many tools.........

Account recorded by Paul Radin, published in Thirty-Seventh Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1915-1916.

This account (if it was accurately recalled, and passed down through tribe members, and accurately recorded by Paul Radin) is a fascinating resource to study the relationship between one set of foreigners and the Indians. I was particularly interested the reference to thinking the guns and knives as holy, and indicates the spiritual nature of the Indians' way of looking at life. I liked the part which spoke of the gift of tobacco, which the French didn't know what to do with. The fact that one man threw water over an Indian who was smoking, as he must have thought he was on fire! No hostility is reported in this account. The French and Indians mixed their cultures to the extent that one of the whites married the chief's daughter. It isn't clear what time scales separate the events as the account and the reporting were over 250 years apart.

Jill Glazier

Monday, October 18, 2010

account of an early settler to America

"From the said rock came towards us a Biscay shallop with sail and oars, having eight persons in it, whom we supposed at first to be Christians distressed. But approaching us nearer, we perceived them to be savages. These coming within call, hailed us, and we answered. Then after signs of peace, and a long speech by one of them made, they came boldly aboard us, being all naked, saving about their shoulders certain loose deer skins, and near their wastes seal skins tied fast like to Irish dimmie trousers. One that seemed to be their commander wore a waistcoat of a black work, a pair of breeches, cloth stockings, shoes, hat and band, one or two more had also a few things made by some Christians; these with a piece of chalk described the coast thereabouts, and could name Placentia of Newfoundland; they spoke divers Christian words, and seemed to understand much more than we, for want of language could comprehend. These people are in color swart, their hair long, uptied with a knot in the part of behind the head. They paint there bodies which are strong and well proportioned. "

The above quote was taken from an account by Gabriel Archer in which he describes the voyage to Gosnald’s Point – 1602

This extract describes the events of a meeting between Gabriel and some natives. What I found interesting is that unlike in other accounts such as George Percy’s, Gabriel reports that one of the natives was wearing clothes they would wear in England at that time, such as breeches and cloth stockings, and they also held items made by Christians and spoke some Christian words. This is an example of the natives being contacted and influenced by the early settlers to America, which is also a contrast to the natives in George Percy’s account who had either not been influenced or had not met many settlers before, and therefore had no items of “English clothing” etc. However, although the natives Gabriel met did use clothes given to them by settlers, they “also paint their bodies.... their hair long, uptied with a knot in the part of behind their head” . This shows that despite using items settlers would use, they also did things which we would assume all natives did, such as use body paint, which means that even though some natives met settlers and used things given by them, they still retained their culture. Therefore they are an example of the combination between the “civilised world” back in England, and the unknown world in America.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Excellent! Six detailed quality posts. Well done everyone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The article I have chosen is about the USA’s intelligence agencies annual report on current affairs around the world. Specifically, on the report’s classification of Venezuela as being as much of a threat to the US as Al-Qa’ida. The reason that I find this article especially interesting and relevant is the fact that the author is an American, named Eva Golinger, who has been living in Venezuela for the last 5 years. It would therefore be expected for her to take the American point of view, yet this article is very anti-American and heavily criticises the US government. It could therefore be argued that her point of view is more reliable, and less biased, because of the fact that she has lived for significant times in both countries. For example, part of the report claims that Chavez has “curtailed free expression” by shutting down various news outlets. However Ms Golinger denies this is true at all saying that no news outlets have been shut down. She then goes on to attack the US saying that Chavez himself has ordered his police force to use restraint and not to use deadly weapons when dealing with anti-government protesters, while she claims American protesters are often treated violently by police and often denied the right to protest near government buildings. She suggests that this year “a lot of US dollars” are going to go into getting Chavez out of power. This makes America look very bad if everything she says is true and he is a democratic leader. She writes that they also use Chavez’s disagreements with the US friendly Colombian government, as a reason to claim he is starting an anti-US movement in South America. The report also links Chavez to the infamous Columbian revolutionary group FARC, a claim which Ms Golinger dismisses as being unproven. Finally she explains that the US do see Chavez as a very dangerous threat, and suggests that the fact that the report focuses on Hugo Chavez himself as the problem, rather than his government or his country in general is very dangerous for him. She even goes so far as to suggest the possibility of an American assassination attempt.

The map I have chosen shows the United States renamed with countries that have a similar annual GDP. Although it should be noted that it was made in 2007 so is not completely accurate today, it is very useful in showing the scale of America’s economy, and confirms their status as possibly the greatest global superpower. California has the largest economy with a GDP of $2,15 trillion, roughly equivalent to that of France. The second highest GDP belongs to Texas, although It is significantly lower at $1,08 trillion, around the same as Canada. The USA’s overall GDP is $13,160,000,000,000, only slightly smaller than all the European Union together at $13,740,000,000,000. Without a doubt this shows the US to be a nation that is difficult to compare to any other nation on the planet, truly unique in its power and influence.

Criticism of the USA- Cuba

This website is from the ministry of foreign affairs in Cuba. The theme of the article, written in January 2010, is criticism of Barack Obama’s foreign policies with Cuba a year after Obama was voted into office

The whole article criticises Barack Obama on his dealings with the US – Cuban relation. The beginning of the article claims that there has been no change to US- Cuban relations in January 2010, a year after Obama made a statement suggesting he was going to make positive changes to the two countries relationship, even going to the extent of suggesting a lift on US restrictions on Cuba. However, the main claim of the article is that there have been no positive changes to US relations with Cuba, but rather negative changes.
The reason for this idea is because the US included Cuba in it’s black list of countries; a list of 14 countries that are linked to alleged state- sponsored terrorism. This is a contradiction to Obama’s suggestion of making positive changes to the two countries relationship because Cuba took this as a hostile action toward the country. The author clearly believes this action was unjustified with him saying ‘without offering any specific evidence of the USA being a victim of such a deplorable political doctrine and practice.’’ He also believes Cuba has been wronged by this action because they are the only country that doesn’t have a Muslim majority.

The article then goes on to say that it is the USA, rather than Cuba, that is state- funding terrorism. The article claims the CIA has been linked to terrorist acts in Cuba and the Caribbean as well as accusing them of funding terrorist acts. However, this claim that the CIA are linked to terrorism is not supported so can’t be used as a valid argument against the USA.

A third point from this article is a quote that says the Cuban commander in chief; Fidel Castro supported Barack Obama after he won the 2009 Nobel peace prize, when Obama was receiving criticism from other countries about the USA’s stance in Afghanistan.

This article is heavily critical of the USA for it’s ‘‘unprovoked official hostility’’ Cuba believe they haven’t done anything wrong and that any hostility towards them in the shape of a place on the US black list or trade and economic sanctions is purely unjustified. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

America and the World - Russia

The article is from an online Russian newspaper, and is about the US military, and the affect it has on other countries. Although this article is posted on a Russian website, the main topic is America’s relationship with Iran, so the article should be “neutral” (Although after reading the article it is obvious that the writer is strongly against America)

“Because the US is unable to take on a well-armed, well-organized nation like Iran on its own, it needs all the foreign support it can lay its hands on. Even so, as long as a US commander is in charge of overall operations, you can be sure these will end in miserable failure.”

This paragraph taken from the article shows the view that the writer has on the US military, going as far to say that US commanders are failures, meaning that even if the US had an overwhelming advantage in a military situation their commanders would find some way of messing it up. This goes against the strong American view that they are a strong and successful military power.

“Since few US 'allies' in its senseless wars against Iraq and Afghanistan remain impervious to the eroding effects upon their internal political stability, even the most modest contributor will sooner or later come to regret its decision to help the US. In Germany, participation in the ill-fated Afghan adventure has caused deep rifts in parliament. Even loyal Britain is feeling the harmful fall out of getting itself into the Afghan roach motel (where roaches check in, but do not check out). So much for the benefits and rewards of the 'special relationship' with Washington.”

This paragraph is interesting as it suggests that the US is to blame for problems in its allied countries. The writer suggests that the US military is so disorganized and weak, that any country which joins them in a military campaign such as Afghanistan will suffer problems later on as America has no chance of being successful, and therefore their allies will suffer as a result.

Not only do US policies erode the stability of their loyal clients ('allies' in US diplomatic parlance), they leave a trail of destruction across the face of the globe. Just ask the Afghans, Iraqis, Pakistanis, Vietnamese, Koreans, Somalis, Colombians, Nicaraguans, Cubans and Serbs”
“What is wrong with the US? Why is it so hard for people over there to accept that not everyone in the world wants to be like them? Why is it so hard for them to understand that the meager trappings of the US style of life can hardly be attractive to people who are used to decent food, decent music and decent cinema?”

In this extract the focus moves from America causing chaos in many countries to an attack on “Americanisation”. The writer’s view is that it is the American way to get involved with everything happening in the world and that when they do join in they cause disaster. The second quote contains a view that many people across the world agree with. That Americanisation has gone too far, and is now ruining the cultures of certain countries, who would rather keep their own customs than adopt the American way of life.

To conclude, this article, despite being in a Russian newspaper, does not mention at all Russia’s relationship with the US but instead focuses on the affect America has on other countries. However, as the article is extremely “anti-American” it could be argued that the problems between America and Russia in the past are coming across in the text, and that the strong opinions in the article are a result of the conflicts between the two. Despite the article containing some valid points, the lack of evidence or a contrasting argument means that the article does have to be treated with some scepticism.

Criticisms of The United States - Venezuela

The article from this website is one written by Alimamy Bakarr Sankoh, expressing condemnation of the United States' policy in Venezuela, and published in The Tripoli Post in June of this year.

In it he points a finger at the Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's anti-Venezuelan policy, bequeathed by President Bush's administration. The author purports that this amounts to international state terrorism, with a wish to destroy the country's president Hugo Chavez. He accuses the United States of funding right wing fascist democratic opposition and criticises the building of military bases in Columbia, creating local fear. As a representative of the capitalist class, he accuses Hilary Clinton of 'ruthless exploitation of natural resources, and of degradation and dehumanizing worldwide.' He cites US action in other South American countries as destabilizing peace. He refutes the comments made about how the people are suffering under Chavez' leadership and names it as a lie, spread across the world through imperialist media. He says the US condones terrorism and subversion (a reference to the unsuccessful coup supposedly backed by the US) whom he calls an outside intruder.

The next part of the article reveals the strong resentment felt about another conflict - the struggle between Israel and Palestine. The author is writing in The Tripoli Post in Colonel Gadaffi's Libya. Gadaffi is a strong supporter of the PLO. The United States is seen to support Israel. He suggests Hilary Clinton diverted international attention away from that issue, by talking about the nations of Latin America.

He labels the US as a dirty imperialist. He uses emotive words such as ongoing holocaust and white supremacist to describe the policies of the United States and Israel.

He concludes with wholehearted support and admiration for President Chavez (he says he is the president of the Hugo Chavez International Foundation for Peace, Friendship and Solidarity) and calls on the US to end its' arrogant terrorism.

Believing all you read in this article is tricky, as is interpreting some of the accusations. If there's truth in Sankoh's accusations, his criticisms may be just, but without evidence, it is problematic to assume all of what he says is valid.

It may be helpful to look at the final two paragraphs of the Summary from the website below, which sets out the US Government's account of relations with Venezuela.

Jill Glazier
America and the world: an Iraqi viewpoint

I found this facinating blog via google; written by Abu Khaleel (an iraqi) is "A blog from Iraq about Iraq, war, America, occupation, government, democracy, religion, terrorism... and politics." Abu Khaleel writes in English, and with great passion, he gives a unique insight into the opinions and thoughts of the 'average' iraqi on America. It is critical on many aspects of America, though predominantly Bush's presidency & the war in Iraq. Last post 2006. Written in Black are parts from the blog, written in red are my comments. I would usually refer to people once using full name then using their second name however 'Abu' means father of (it is not the authors name- his full name is not given and thus it was hard to find info on him) so I have used the full title he gives through out this post, as the name should be quoted in full- it is one name. Hope that makes sense... a small bit of random trivia before I get into things!

Some of the things I found interesting:

Abu Khaleels thoughts on President Bush:

"About an hour before dawn some time ago, we woke up to the sound of heavy pounding on our front door. I woke up with quite a start. Almost simultaneously, my wife yelled: “The boys!!!”

[My brother who lives next door was away in Jordan at the time with one of his boys. My two nephews were alone in the house... because of the severity and urgency of the pounding, something must have happened to them.]

I rushed to the door, barefooted and, luckily, weaponless. It turned out to be a search party – a dozen armed men, mostly American with some ING soldiers, pointing their guns at me. I was relieved. It was quite a shock that lasted only a few seconds before reality took over.

My relief was misplaced, but this is not the purpose of this post. What kept coming back to my mind was a video clip of President Bush being hurriedly told that America was under attack on the morning of September 11th, 2001 during a visit to a school.

We probably all know how he sat there in that classroom for several (seven? nine?) minutes sober and obviously thinking.Very dignified; but is it natural? What was he thinking about with the little data that he had? I would have thought that someone who was told of a calamity involving his family or his country would jump to find out more: What happened? What was the damage? Who was hurt? Was there more danger? Is there anything I can do? Who did it?... Hundreds of questions would flash through the mind in seconds.

But the first thing most people would do is to jump to find out more… and not sit down and think about it. Thinking about such things, ‘analyzing’ them only comes after knowing the facts… not before!

Are Americans a different breed of people?

Does their President come from a different breed? "

I found the last two lines of the post the most interesting. The idea that Americans are entirely seperate people from Iraqis, their reactions and 'human instincts' different to theirs. Abu Khaleel can clearly not identify or empathise with Bush in any way, to the extent that he sees him as "a different breed" of human. It highlights the disunion between civilians and government, but also between Iraqis and Americans.

"Not One Damn Dime Day":

He also writes about "Not One Damn Dime Day" an American day of protest against the war in Iraq...

The explanation of the day posted on his website written by an organiser: "Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America. On "Not One Damn Dime Day," those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending. During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for anything for 24 hours. " The organisers clearly felt that this was a good way of protesting, though Abu Khaleel felt otherwise...

Abu Khaleels response: "There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing. You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed... no effort required… and you can save money... Silent people making a statement by being even more silent through the power of many wallets. There is another “American” aspect to it: the bigger your wallet is, the bigger your contribution ( and the more money you save). The more wallets, the louder the statement. This idea could only be born in America. "

So despite trying to help and address the issue of the Iraq war, Americans are being ignorant by protesting using cash and consumer power. As Abu Khaleel says, it is a very American idea, though prehaps Americans recognise that spending is, ignorant or not, the best way of attracting attention to the cause? This highlights that Americans may not intend to create hate, but end up asking "why do they hate us" because of ignorance & lack of understanding. The organisers of the protest did not intend to upset the iraqis that don't have a 'damn dime' to refrain from spending, but have. As Abu Khaleel pointed out in the post I discussed above, Americans seem to be a "different breed" they have became disunited from the rest of the world.


"Mr President you are immoral"- a response to a speech made by President Bush:

" I usually try not to post when I am angry. I didn’t wait up last night to hear Mr. Bush’s speech. I followed it this morning. I wish I didn’t.A few excerpts from President Bush’s speech on 28th June, 2005:

After September the 11th, I made a commitment to the American people: This nation will not wait to be attacked again. We will defend our freedom. We will take the fight to the enemy.There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.

The work in Iraq is difficult and it is dangerous. Like most Americans, I see the images of violence and bloodshed. Every picture is horrifying, and the suffering is real. Amid all this violence, I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it? It is worth it, and it is vital to the future security of our country. [Bush very clearly saying that American military sacrafice causes them to ask 'is it worth it' yet disregarding the Iraqi lives lost.]

Abu Khaleel responds to his speech:

"Mr. Bush, you are immoral.

This is my country you are talking about.

We had a tyrant but we had no terrorists before you decided to make my country a battleground against international terrorism.

You gloat about killing “hundreds” of terrorists in a battle that is killing many thousands of innocent Iraqis, whom you pay some pathetic lip service. But how can I blame you? You did not bother count. People are still debating whether 20,000 or 200,000 were killed.

Are the lives of Iraqis so cheap in your eyes?

Is this your understanding of friendship?

Mr. President, you are immoral! Any Congress that does not impeach somebody who utters these words within a week is also immoral. Any American who agrees with you on this is also immoral.

[His refernces here to congress and 'any American' allowing it reflects that Iraqis do not simply blame the government for the war, they blame the society that allows the government also...?]

... I feel sorry for America.You are also wicked… still playing on primitive feelings of fear, revenge and selfishness of some of your countrymen... All those innocent [Iraqi] lives are dear to their families and friends. Oh, but they are not American. They do not count. Besides, you cannot be wrong; when have you ever been wrong before?And you and those Americans who support you have the audacity to want us to be grateful, for ridding us of Saddam, because he was killing Iraqis. That was none of your business anyway. Don’t tell me you did it for our eyes… to save Iraqi lives. Hypocrites!"


Summary: This post is very long because I included extracts, I may post links instead in future, but I have put in bold what I feel are the really important statements & have been able to comment within what Abu Khaleel has written. I find his view point to be very 'down to earth', I can relate to and understand what he believes in, I don't see it as extreme or warped at all. He uses speeches, facts or figures to back up his arguments, and his critisisms [of the iraq war especially] I feel are incredibly valid. He reflects how differently Americans and Iraqis see things, the post about the 'Dime' protest day is especially interesting. Americans with all their wealth and western power attempt to 'help' but only ignorantly upset atleast one Iraqi in the process, with him pointing out that it is Americans 'doing nothing' literally, a very 'American' form of protest. The blog posts are extensive, Abu Khaleel has also published a book based on his 'sister' blog: The book is of the same name, though I could not find much about Abu Khaleel on the web, prehaps questioning how valid the blog is. There is not much evidence to say that the blog is not American or otherwise? Still, though I can not be certain of it's origins & validity, the criticisms of America and questions the views raise are interesting.

I also wanted to share this link I had found, when looking into the question of 'why the world hates America' a very long but well thought out response:

Sunday, October 10, 2010

America and the World: From the French point of view

In the world we live in today, there is a great deal of unjustified hatred. Much of this is towards the U.S. Whether it be intellectual, success or power hatred, people are prone to resent the U.S because it is a big and an ego-filled nation thus it is the easiest target.

In my opinion, the country that dislikes the States the most, is France. To say the whole of France dislikes America is a gross misinterpretation. Like other countries, France will always reserve some hatred towards America due to past events, politics and war. The economic crisis that America inflicted upon the world affected even the more advanced nations. When the financial crisis hit France, citizens clung to securing loans and debt, to help them with their finances and because US banks failed, the French blamed Wall Street for all the troubles.

Furthermore, France also expressed strong opposition to the Iraq invasion. Many in the United States frowned upon them, which lead to the unfortunate removal of the country’s name from products. This caused many in the US to talk of “freedom fries” as opposed to “French fries”. These actions were intended to express displeasure with France’s “continued refusal to stand with their U.S allies.” But the US response angered the French even more.  The French thought the Americans were being imperialistic.

At a lower level the French still hate the Americans for bringing McDonalds to their countries, as the French regard themselves as having the best food in the world. The French elite sneer at the American education system, as they regard their own as amongst their best. They also resent their own young people using so many American words instead of French.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Strange Maps

Map of Religion

This map interested me the most because it shows that religion has been fairly important in determining the characteristics of particular areas and regions of the U.S.
Through additional research, I found a chart (Pew Research Center) that shows, the wealthier a country is, generally the less important religion is to that country. The poorer and less developed nations such as Indonesia and Pakistan consider religion to have a more important bearing on their lives, whereas Australia and Britain “don’t need religion.” There is however, one exception: The United States. The USA does not follow this pattern and that is what was interesting to me and I wondered why?

The United States has been a mix of many nationalities. Irish, German, Italian, English, Hispanic (Mexican, Caribbean, Puerto Rica). Ethnic origin and religion are linked.

I thought I’d take a closer look at a few of the denominations shown on the map. The first one is the Lutherans. The Lutherans originated in Germany and Scandinavian countries and followed the teachings of Martin Luther. They spread throughout the rest of the world and took with them their beliefs and faith. The Lutheran religion came to America and settled in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa and Wisconsin. The Lutherans were tough hardy people and their presence in these states reflects their background of farming, hard work and being able to cope with harsh weather and conditions. 

The second denomination I have chosen to do is Catholic. Catholicism comprises 22% of the population and has 68 million members. America has the fourth largest Catholic population in the world. During the early days of the European colonization of the Americans, the Catholic religion arrived. They are most strongly represented in Florida, Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, California. The majority of the Catholic population who emigrated from Europe were French, Italian and Irish. These still have strong distinct communities in the U.S. (French-Cajun, Louisiana; Italian – New York; Irish – Boston).

Baptists represent the most practised religion of the 8 major denominations with large numbers in the southern states: Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee. In the seventeenth century, many Baptists emigrated from England where the mainstream Church of England mistreated them for their dissenting religious views. Baptists are concentrated around the southern states (both originally confederate/Dixie and many black communities who were originally slaves.) 


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Positive & Negative Images of America


This positive image of America for me, is the notion of Freedom which is perhaps the most elaborate patriotic part of American history. No view is more essential to Americans’ sense of themselves as individuality and as a nation, than freedom. Freedoms means opportunity and potentail equality for all: a black man, Obama, in the White House; an Austrian weightlifter in charge of the US state with the most consumerist/richest lifestyle - Arnie Schwarzenegger 'The Governator" of California. Where else but in the USA could this happen. This belief is inherent in the American psyche that they have the possibility to achieve anything. It has meant they have the richest country in the world, people who are confident, out going and have freedom (enshrined in the Constitution/Bill of Rights) to express their opinion and succeed in what they do.
The Bill of Rights has given Americans a sense of national pride. America is proud of a national day to celebrate, the 4th of July and can say " Happy fourth of July!" to a stranger, in England we seem ashamed to celebrate our national day (St George's Day - April 23rd). Americans have a strong patriotism which in Europe some of us feel guilty about celebrating. Millions of Americans say the Pledge of Allegiance every day, a commitment to their country and national identity; their national anthem & flag the Star Spangled Banner are demonstrated at sports events etc. Whether one agrees with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, thousands of American homes fly their flag in their yard every day, because they are proud of their soldiers; how many homes in England fly a flag for our troops?

The Ku Klux Klan or KKK is an American organisation that consisted of only white men and were located mainly in southern states of America. The Ku Klux Klan, informally known as The Klan, weren’t just a simple southern organisation. The main goal of the organisation was to oppress black people, in violent ways. They believe that only white, Christian, heterosexuals deserve civil rights.
The first KKK was formed in the South of America towards the end of the civil war, when the triumphant Union government forced a set of martial laws on the south and began to impose laws with the intention of ending segregation against the black society. The Klan turned to violence and intimidation when a constitutional amendment approved giving black men the right to vote in 1870. In an attempt to stop desegregation, the Klan turned to harassment and intimidation towards blacks. This included, putting burning crosses on the lawn of individuals, riding in groups by horseback near communities who they wanted to frighten, arson, beating, rape and hanging.  The Klan can be distinguished by their bizarre costume, consisting of a long robe and a tall pointed white hat. These costumes were meant to represent Klansmen as ghosts of angry Confederates. They serve as an intimidation symbol that evokes the violent history of the organisation and are still worn today by the Klan.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I have chosen two maps, one of which shows the map of America before the civil war. It shows the areas where high levels of cotton production during this time. You can clearly see two concentrated strips down the South and central America in states like Texas, Mississippi and Arkansas . The other map is of the 2008 presidential election results, with the blue areas representing counties that voted for Barack Obama and the red areas representing the area that voted for John McCain. You can clearly see a similarity between the concentrated areas of cotton production and the main areas that voted for Obama. From these two maps you can infer that a large proportion of votes for Obama came from African Americans who are the descendents of the African slaves who worked on the cotton plantations. However, from the map showing the 2008 election results not only is there a concentration of counties that voted for Obama in the central south where the high levels of cotton plantations where, but there is also a high proportion of votes for Obama in the north east. Although you can infer the link between the cotton production and the votes for Obama in the south, it doesn’t explain the large area of votes for Obama in the north east. You could infer from it that Obama didn’t just appeal to the African Americans, because Obama himself is an African American but he appealed to a wider population of America.  

The description of this picture reads, “A young man pauses for a brief rest and a map-check at the roadside of the "Mother Road". Enjoying the freedom of the open road in a big car under a big sky, epitomising an essential aspect of the American dream.” For me this image brings up a very attractive and romantic view of America. It is the idea of it as a place of adventure and physical freedom. It is a country with so many different landscapes, cultures and people, to the point where crossing a state line could be compared to crossing into a whole new country. It has of course always been a place associated with adventure ever since it was discovered and colonised by men who were adventurers themselves. There is almost a genetic tendency for Americans to have this sense of adventure, being that they are descended from those men and women who travelled to that new and exciting land seeking better lives. This can be seen in their desire to conquer the unknown, most obviously with being the first nation to walk on the moon. Other examples include Joshua Slocum, a Canadian-American, the first man to sail single-handedly around the world. Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo, non-stop across the Atlantic. And Robert Peary, who was credited with being the first man to walk to the north-pole, although Peary’s claim is now widely doubted, his efforts are still testament to American’s need to discover.
America itself provides the perfect setting for adventure and exploration, with so many un-populated and untouched areas. It is really a place where someone could truly lose themselves in the landscape, and for this reason I think it can be seen as a country of freedom, not necessarily social or political, but physical.

My second image brings a counter argument to my first. This image suggests the idea that Americans have evolved to lose their ancestors sense of adventure. That the majority of the American public have grown to live in a bubble of technology, consumerism and celebrity culture. The desire to explore could be lost with today’s average American. The state department lists that only 22% of the population own a passport. And the invention of so many time and energy saving pieces of technology these days make the need to discover things for yourself less and less. Statistics show that the average American had travelled 8200 miles by car in 2001, compared to 4200 in 1977. In this photo we can see somebody who is taking a dog for a walk, presumably out of necessity for its well being, however they are clearly not attributing the same necessity to themselves.

Strange Maps

Map 240 - Strange Maps

Eagle Map of the United States, Engraved for Rudiments of National Knowledge

I chose this map because I was fascinated by the dovelike appearance of the eagle and by the ownership symbolised within the outline of its shape. It is also a clear indication of the territorial extent of the United States in the year 1833. Interesting that the bird looks more like a dove (which symbolises peace) whereas the later image of a golden eagle says more about majesty and power.

American possessions did not extend to the West Coast. Although the Louisiana Transfer from the French had created a very large amount of land around the Mississippi basin, lands claimed by the British and Spanish on the south west and north west prevented the ambition of the United States to stretch 'from sea to shining sea'. This line from a song by Katharine Bates was written in 1893 when all the land from the Mississippi to the Pacific had been won for the Union.

The bird's head covers New England (except Maine) and its neckline follows Lakes Ontario and Erie. The wings outline Lakes Huron and Superior and on west. The eagle's breast traces the East Coast and its tallons are over Florida.
As the map shows the bird's tail following a border that was no longer in existance by 1848, the map lost popularity. The western border of Texas, independent by that date, is seen on the 1833 map as a dividing line between the United States and Mexico. The bird's outline moves north and disappears at the area disputed with Great Britain.

Page 3 of Strange Maps

This map illustrates the economic and cultural signposts of the United States. Regions vary depending on the uses they are put to and their natural resources.
The Foundry

For many years the area coloured green on the map (mid-Atlantic) has been its industrial power house although in post industrial times, those industries have changed to high-tech and service ones.
The Bread Basket
Coloured brown, the bread basket marks the vast plains where crops are grown and exported to the wider world.

Mex America
This grey area identifies the Mexican border. There is controversy associated with immigration. Does this enrich American society or corrupt it?

The Empty Quarter
There are areas in the United States which do not support large populations because of the terrain and the climate and they are those in the northern part of the mid-west and the far west, east of the rockies.
Traditionally this was the name used to describe the eleven states of the south that formed the Confederacy in the Civil war

This area on the map is the coastal area of California where there are ecological concerns for the the use of resources now and in the future.
David Mauk and John Oakland American Civilisation An Introduction (London and New York: Routledge, 2009)
Ch. 1 p. 24-47

Jill Glazier

Monday, October 4, 2010

Strange Maps

The map I have posted shows, to what standard the theory of evolution is taught in the schools of America. Red means that it is not taught well or even at all in that state, yellow means at a satisfactory level and green means that it is taught to an excellent standard. I found this map interesting as we would assume that the deeply religious States in America, such as the south would not teach the theory of evolution to a good standard because it would go against their beliefs, however according to the map that is not always the case. It shows that although some of the southern States are teaching evolution at an unsatisfactory level, many are teaching the subject to a good standard and North and South Carolina are even teaching it to an excellent standard, This is interesting as it shows that particular States are changing their view on topics such as evolution, as a hundred years ago the southern States which are renowned for their strong religious beliefs would not have acknowledged the theory of evolution, let alone teach it in their schools but now many States have changed their stance with others possibly changing theirs in the future. This is an example of the ever changing and ever developing America, and the fact that even a factor as strong as religion is not preventing a change, in this case a change in American education.