“They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans, have arisen.”
In Letters From An American Farmer, written in 1782, Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur wrote of his first impressions of the new world many had heard but never seen. As an Englishman who came to the New World, he probably expected much of what he had just left in England. But, it is apparent that it is not what he found. Instead, Jean de Crèvecoeur writes, “They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans, have arisen” (606). To him, it seems, he is acknowledging that these new people he encountered were from many different heritages that he saw as the culmination of many groups of people who no longer believed in titles and classism. The new land did not care who you were but what you were willing to do to achieve what you wanted by working the land. He goes on to write, “It is with men as it is with the plants and animals that grow and live in the forests; they are entirely different from those that live in the plains” (AB Longman n.d.). His observance that the land was essential to the survival of the people shows in how he documents these new inhabitants were living and moving forward with uses of the land like farming or trapping. He also seems to think that the American system was everything the English system was not because these people were now one group united instead of the singular groups of the same ethnicity that lived in England. By documenting what he saw, he was able to capture the earlier beginnings of a new nation where farming and hard work were more important than the name they had. It is a part of the American identity that still exists today in that farming and hunting are still vital to the American identity. But more importantly, the idea that America began by people coming together to bond over ideologies and not racial identity further shows how people even then knew that equality could be achieved with like minds and belief systems. One might say that even in early American history, the seeds for the American belief of equality and freedom was planted in the hearts of Americans right along with the crops. Both things have been essential to the survival of the American spirit.
AB Longman. Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecoeur, from Letters from an American Farmer (1782). Etext. (n.d.). Retrieved on August 9, 2016, from http://wps.ablongman.com/wps/media/objects/25/26189/primarysources1_4_2.html.
Jean de Crèvecoeur, Michel-Guillaume, The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Volume A. 8th ed. Ed. Nina Baym. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2012. 606. Print