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?

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