Thursday, October 28, 2010

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.

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