Document Sample
Independence Powered By Docstoc
					American Independence:
Crèvecoeur,Paine, Jefferson

             American Literature
                Cecilia H.C. Liu
The Road to Independence
  America and the Enlightenment
  The French and Indian War 1756-1763
  Colonial Discontent
  1768-1774
America and the Enlightenment

 American Thinkers
 Benjamin Franklin
 Thomas Jefferson
  (1743-1826, 3d
 The French and Indian War
    Part of the world wide "Seven Years War".
  France vs. Britain.
  Only after Britain won did the colonists
   start to make a fuss about taxation.
  Death of Wolfe 1759

Benjamin West: Death of Wolfe at
The European Powers in the
New World, c. 1713
                                                             Groups in
Colonial Discontent

 Trade System/Navigation Acts
 Extent of Regulation - Benign
  neglect no more
 Relations with Parliament
   Tea Acts
   Quebec Act
   Intolerable Acts
   Newspaper Headline: The
    Stamp Act
   Paying the Exciseman
   Crèvecoeur's life as a soldier, surveyor,
    farmer, and eventually writer and diplomat,
    and we will specifically consider the
    significance of his assumed identity as an
    "American farmer" in the context of
    colonial and revolutionary America.
     Crèvecoeur's "American" and
     the "birth" of the United States
     Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, Letter III

1.    In Letter III, what are the main
      contrasts between Europe and America,
      as James sees them? By the same
      token, how does he contrast the settled
      culture of middle-America with that of
      the wilderness and its "back settlers"?
2.    From where does the citizen derive that
      freedom which, James says, is essential
      to American culture?
     Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer,
     Letter III
3.   In what ways, according to James in Letter
     III, are men "like plants"; and what does he
     do with that metaphor in the subsequent
     Letters? Consider, in particular, how the
     citizen takes on characteristics of the
     geography he inhabits--Nantucket and
     Charlestown for example.
4.   What specific contrasts does James develop,
     in Letter IX, between the culture of the
     slaveholding south, and that of his native
“What then is the American, this new
"What then is the American, this new man?" asks Crèvecoeur 's
speaker, James, a thriving Pennsylvania farmer of the pre-
Revolutionary period, whose ancestors had escaped the
oppression of European aristocracy and built the farm James
works entirely on his own behalf. He pictures the American
as one who, freed from "servile dependence, penury and
useless labor," undergoes a total transformation.
Beginning with the prospect of working for himself and
owning land, the American sloughs off his European
"prejudices and manners" and begins to think for himself,
to act "upon new principles," and "entertain new ideas."
In Europe, he says, men "were so many useless plants"; here,
the "men are become men."
   Crèvecoeur's picture, although based on
    fact, idealizes American society in a way
    that excludes political struggle, making
    Crèvecoeur appear at once politically
    conservative and radically utopian.
   From the very beginning of the conflict with
    England in the 1760s, the most insightful
    writers of columns, pamphlets and broadsides
    had moved well beyond the issues of taxation,
    legal rights, and abuses by English militiamen.
    Of much greater concern were questions such
    as the following:
      Paine: the rights of man
   Had America truly achieved the cohesion, and
    the independent wisdom, of a nation-state?
   What were both the benefits, and the dangers,
    of Empire; and was the new nation destined to
    become imperial?
   What were the rights of man? In particular,
    were there indeed universal rights guaranteed
    by Nature, rather than being merely the
    transient expressions of this or that culture?
Establishing the New Jerusalem
   In pursuing these issues, writers of the
    Revolutionary period completed the
    transformation of the colonies into a single,
    secular culture. It was as if the sermons and
    religious tracts of the Puritan period, with all
    their concern for establishing the New
    Jerusalem, had undergone this remarkable
    translation: the Puritan quest for spiritual
    salvation was rewritten to mean a quest for
     the ideal
   The great writers of the Revolutionary period
    were concerned, like Franklin in The
    Autobiography, to find a via media, or
    "middle path": to balance reason with
    emotion, the rights of man with the needs of
    the state, the ideal of a central American
    government with the reality of thirteen
    distinct colonies, and the ideal of a literate
    and worldly civilization with the reality that
    18th century America was still a
    predominantly rural and agrarian culture.
     Writings at this crucial stage
   All of these needs and potentials for balance and
    stability were on the minds of writers like Paine,
    Jefferson, and John and Abigail Adams.
   Their writings are rationalistic, and steeped in the
    tradition of Enlightenment philosophers such as John
    Locke. Yet their writings are also filled with
    passionate exclamation. Paine's simple, declarative
    sentences are nevertheless given over to possibilities
    for stylistic excess, when appropriate. In such
    tendencies of style and thought we begin to see the
    structures and the dimensions of American culture at
    this crucial stage.
  Paine, “The Crisis, No.1”

1. Aside from these rather more
   abstract, metaphorical reasons
   for Independence, covered
   above in #1, what are the
   concrete, practical reasons Paine
   advances on behalf of the cause,
   in both Common Sense and The
Paine, “The Crisis, No.1”
2. In The Crisis, Paine claims: “There are
    cases which cannot be overdone by
    language, and this is one.” Certainly one
    of his goals was to ask his reader to let
    “his reason and his feelings to determine
    for themselves,” thus to synthesize
    intellect and passion. Now, looking back
    through his writings, ask: When does
    Paine “overdo” the language somewhat,
    giving powerful expression of his feelings?
    That is, when and how does his style
    become most impassioned?
    The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
   In 1821, at the age of seventy-seven,
    Thomas Jefferson decided to "state some
    recollections of dates and facts concerning
   His ancestors came to America from Wales
    in the early seventeenth century and settled
    in the Virginia colony.
   Jefferson's father, although uneducated,
    possessed a "strong mind and sound
    judgement" and raised his family in the far
    western frontier of the colony, an
    experience that contributed to his son's
    eventual staunch defense of individual and
    state rights.
     The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
   Complementing the other major
    autobiography of the period, Benjamin
    Franklin's, The Autobiography of Thomas
    Jefferson gives us a glimpse into the private
    life and associations of one of America's most
    influential personalities.
   Alongside Jefferson's absorbing narrative of
    how compromises were achieved at the
    Continental Congress are comments about
    his own health and day-to-day life that allow
    the reader to picture him more fully as a
    human being.
   It is in this rigorous
    environment that a
    group of intelligent
    and basically
    honorable men
    decided to take a
    stand. Though the
    foundation that they
    fought from was
    tenuous, there might
    never be a better
    opportunity. They
    would attempt to take
    a principle born of the
    Enlightenment, Natural
    Rights, and apply it to
    the real world.
Phillis Wheatley:
America's first black poet

Phillis Wheatley's poem, "On
 Being Brought from Africa to
 America" makes effective use
 of irony to drive home a point
 about the potential for
 "redemption." Detail how that
 irony works, noting for
 instance the potential for
 ambiguous meaning in the
 word "refined," in line 8.
        Divine providence
          Phillis Wheatley attributes to the
       operations of Divine providence all the
    blessings of her life in captivity, bondage,
    and then limited freedom.
   Wheatley also implicitly affirms the power
    of European culture by writing in the
    conventional forms of English verse (in
    heroic couplets, for example); and
    throughout her work she seems to insist
    on Christian orthodoxy as a key factor in
    uplifting the slave from bondage.
   Only rarely does she express any
    resentment, seen for example in her
    "On Being Brought from Africa to
    America." Otherwise she pays homage
    to American institutions, and prays--
    naively, perhaps--that the Revolution
    will be an occasion for releasing all
    American slaves from their chains.
   American Literature: Crèvecoeur & Madison

   Paine:
   The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
   Account of a Declaration: Introduction
   Olaudah Equiano & Phillis Wheatley

Shared By: