Coming to America

The third letter written in Letters from an American Farmer explains what it is to be an American. Going into the letter I formed an opinion about what I expected to be reading about. I had all the modern day views of what it means to be an American. When I think America I think freedom, democracy, huge cities, Wall Street, fast food and human rights. In this letter I was brought back to the basics and it really made me think about what people had to go through to get us to where we are today. The letter described America as it was when we first got here. There was no government, no kings to answer to. There were no industries to provide us with work. There were no buildings to live in. Letter 49 says,
“The difficulty consists in the manner of viewing so extensive a scene. He is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess everything and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. We are a people of cultivators, scattered over an immense territory communicating with each other by means of good roads and navigable rivers, united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws, without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We are all animated with the spirit of an industry which is unfettered”
That passage describes America at the beginning, a whole new world; it describes the challenges and excitement people face when they moved to America.
The letter goes on to talk about the mixture of people who were now known as Americans. I think that is something that was very different from what people were used to. The author talks about how the poor and the rich do not seem so set apart now that they are not in Europe. I can’t imagine living in a world that didn’t have any kind of separation of classes. I am sure that there was some distinction between classes when people first settled in America, but really everyone was on the same playing field. It was a chance to start over and a way of making a new and better life for themselves. Letters from an American Farmer explains what it means to be an American; to live equally in a world where everyone has a voice.


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