The American Dream 01:050:210 Week 3 Reading Notes: Hector St. John Crevecouer, "What is an American" (1782)
The American Dream 01:050:210 Week 3 Reading Notes: Hector St. John Crevecouer, "What is an American" (1782) 01:050:210
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Jere Xu on Tuesday September 13, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 01:050:210 at Rutgers University taught by Professor Louis Masur in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see The American Dream in American Studies at Rutgers University.
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Date Created: 09/13/16
Q: What is an American? ● " 'This is the work of my countrymen, who, when convulsed by factions, affected by a variety of miseries and wants, restless and impatient, took refuge here. They brought along with them their national genius, to which they principally owe what liberty they enjoy and what substance they possess.' " (p. 66) > Perspective of someone who first arrives in America ● "Here man is free as he ought to be..." (p. 67) > America "land of the free" ● "From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen." (p. 68) > Blend of many cultures ● "Everything has tended to regenerate them: new laws, a new mode of living, a new social system; here they are become men..." (p. 6869) > Give up former manner of life and start afresh ● "What, then, is the American, this new man? He is either an European or the descendant of an European; hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country." (p. 69) ● "He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds." (p. 70) ● "The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared, and which will hereafter become distinct by he power of the different climates they inhabit." (p. 70) ● "The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury, and useless labour, he has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence. This is an American." (p. 70) ● "Then, the Americans become as to religion what they are as to country, allied to all." (p. 74) ● "There is room for everybody in America; has he any particular talent or industry?" (p. 81) ● "He begins to forget his former servitude and dependence; his heart involuntarily swells and grows; this first swell inspires him with those new thoughts which constitute an American." (p. 82) ● "He is now an American...Instead of being a vagrant, he has a place of residence; he is called the inhabitant of such a country, or of such a district, and for the first time in his life counts for something, for hitherto he had been a cypher." (p. 83) ● "It is in consequence of that change that he becomes an American. This great metamorphosis has a double effect: it extinguishes all his European prejudices, he forgets that mechanism of subordination, that servility of disposition which poverty had taught him; and sometimes he is apt to forget it too much, often passing from one extremem to the other." (p, 83) ● "I want to see how happy effects of their sobriety, honesty, and industry are first displayed; and who would not take a pleasure in seeing these strangers settling as new countrymen, struggling with arduous difficulties, overcoming them, and becoming happy?" (p. 91) C: An American is someone who leaves behind all former manners of living and becomes transformed by new ideas, new principles, and new opinions. An American is someone who works very hard in hopes of gaining success and riches. An American is someone who wants to be freed from all that they left behind. An American is a blend of many different nations and cultures, someone with the capacity to change the world.
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