A Social, Intellectual, and Political Portrait of America on the Eve of the Revolution
A Social, Intellectual, and Political Portrait of America on the Eve of the Revolution HIST 1311
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Angela Dela Llana
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Angela Dela Llana on Saturday September 17, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to HIST 1311 at University of Texas at Arlington taught by Stephen Maizlish in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views.
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Date Created: 09/17/16
HIST 1311 A Social, Intellectual, and Political Portrait of America on the Eve of the Revolution I. Social Conditions— St. John Crevecoeur II. A New American— Benjamin Franklin III. Political Conditions Social Conditions St. John Crevecoeur asked the famous question What is an American? According to Crevecoeur, America is a nation of immigrants. Immigrants came to America and flourish and do better there than in Europe. Americans were defined by being from somewhere else. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his labour. In America, people got what they worked for. They acquired all of what their effort allows, and nothing was cut by the government or the church. Thus, people would work harder in America because they were sure to benefit from their labor. Opportunities was what made America exceptional. Crevecoeur believed that America was a land in which hard work lead to abundance, but how much of his claims about America were true? His claims were definitely not true for 20 percent of the population, the African American slaves, as well as for many white indentured servants. How much of his claims were true for the rest of the population? Was there equality and democracy? There were class distinctions in America. The population could be divided into a low, middle, and upper class. At the time, the poor in America had a better chance to move up into the middle class. They were able to make two to three times as much as they made in Europe. If they were refused high wages, they could always purchase land, which was cheap, and make money on their own. Crevecoeur might not have been exactly right about equality, but he was right about opportunity. A New American Rather than caring about the internal state of his soul like his Puritan ancestors would have, Benjamin Franklin focused on the external behavior used to achieve the blessings of the world he lived in. This contrasted with the Puritan idea of working towards the blessings in the afterlife. Notes by Angela Dela Llana Franklin believed that virtue was not God-given but something that can be achieved in the present world. He prioritized material success in the present life over salvation. According to Franklin, appearance was the key to success. He tried to not only be hardworking but also to appear hardworking. Franklin wouldn t go fishing or any other leisure activity. He would read books at home where no one would see him. People would then see how hard he works and would want to invest their time and money in him. Franklin denied himself the pleasure of making someone look like a fool and disrespecting their opinions. He taught people how to win friends and get ahead. Franklin still retained the Puritan values of helping and caring for the community. He set up the first fire department, the first library, the first public school, the first hospital, paved roads, and other things. Political Conditions Was there equality in politics? To vote, Americans needed: 1. To own property 2. To be white 3. To be male 4. To be Protestant (in most colonies) 50 to 75 percent of adult (21 and older) white males could vote. There were two main things that kept America from being a pure democracy: 1. The candidate had to be well-known. 2. There was no secret ballot. Candidates for office had to be from well-known, important families. (To put it in perspective, the percentage of New Jersey assemblymen with fathers or other relatives who had been assemblymen was usually above 50 percent.) There was no need to campaign because the candidates were already well-known. There was no secret ballot, and people voted in public. Candidates would know whether you voted for them or not. There was a practice called treating where candidates would offer voters alcohol or some other kind of incentive to welcome them and gain fellowship. Treating them with alcohol also showed that candidates and leaders were willing to mix with the general population. Notes by Angela Dela Llana
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