Crevecoeur - What's an American

1769 Words Mar 19th, 2007 8 Pages
What is an American?
Early American writers have made long-lasting contributions to developing and explaining American beliefs, values, and culture. St. John de Crevecoeur's "What is an American" sets out to describe what makes an American an American. Through the analysis of American government, beliefs, culture, and values Crevecoeur explains to the world what an American encompasses.
Michel Guillaume Jean de Crevecoeur was born on December 31, 1735 in Caen, Normandy. At the age of nineteen, Crevecoeur traveled to England to live with relatives. In England, Crevecoeur planned on marriage however his bride to be died prior to their ceremony. In 1755, Crevecoeur immigrated to Canada and enlisted in the French colonial Militia as a surveyor
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The social hierarchy that exists in America was far different from the hierarchy present in Europe. The vast geography of land available in America allowed common men the chance of becoming a land owner. "Here 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." (Crevecoeur 658) The opportunity for common men to own land allowed for less division among the rich and poor, referring to the existence of a middle class. "The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe."(Crevecoeur 658) Due to the less defined notions of being rich or poor and the ability to become a landowner to improve ones status easily fostered the American idea of working for one's self. This important aspect to the American social hierarchy allowed for the development of industry in America. For example, as the Americans began to work for themselves and create or provide certain products or services, industries begin to develop between the groups of common service or product providers. The cooperation and competition within the various industries helped to create quality products and services rather than products designed for luxury alone. The lack of a strict social hierarchy existing in America allows for America to be considered the land of freedom. "We have no princes, for whom we toil, starve,
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