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Colonial And Contemporary American Identity (Crevecoeur, "Letters From An American Farmer" And John Steinbeck, "What's Happening To America?")

949 words - 4 pages

Should Crevecoeur have been able to come from past America as if just visiting the present, he would have been surprised with many of the changes, but smug about the values and traditions kept, and his own accurate predictions. The last two centuries have changed rapidly in technology, fashion, attitudes, and geography. Many laws that were once the norm back then hardly even exist today; new ones have taken their places. Religion has undergone many definitions and changes, and is not as heavily enforced as before. The original thirteen colonies are no longer agrarian societi4es, but instead, big busy bustling cities. However, despite all of the changes, there are some things that remain the same. Americans have kept their identity as work-o-holics, a country full of diversity, and one with relatively high toleration towards other ethnic groups or religions. Crevecoeur would be most speechless about the disappearance of individual farms that made colonial America. In his "Letters From an American Farmer," he shows his high esteem and respect for the farmer, who was the prime example of stability and self-independence. It was that farmers who survived settlement in the late 1700's and while keeping a dependent population from starving during harsh winters. He describes most Americans as "tillers of the earth... a people of cultivators" (Crevecoeur 301). Farmers had a far more important status in North American than in Europe, because of their high responsibilities towards their own family and the community. Also, the main cash crops that gave birth to the American economy were the result of a farmer's hard work and toil. Because America was famous for the huge area of unclaimed land, practically anyone could acquire some rather cheaply and turn it into a profitable farm. Nowadays, there is no more land left unclaimed, so it has become much more difficult for younger generations to obtain their own property. In early America, there was a great demand for laborers, which meant lots of opportunities for those willing to work hard enough. The cheap abundant land meant it was all too easy to support yourself and be on the way to economical independence. Today, however, the opportunities of a poor, uneducated immigrant becoming wealthy in his or her lifetime is unheard of, if at all. Wealth and opportunity has climbed up the steps of the well-educated and initially wealthy folk. Most of the time, the poor remain poor. No longer are there empty vacant lots next door that are free for settlement. There is no one who will "give thee fields to feed and cloath thee."(Crevecoeur 315)Although many things are different throughout the years, Americans have yet to change their work ethic. As a famous president once said, "America's business is business." Hard work meant more rewards then, and it...

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