one of construction of permanent social structures, but
another of destruction of existent cultures and ways of life.
1. Impact of British Colonization over the Native Peoples
always remained in the background, leaving her subjects, adventurers, traders or religious dissidents, the power of decision in the invasion of the American coast.
put the Indians in the last step of the social ladder, these were always considered subjects of the Spanish Crown.
never integrated the natives into the social structure of the colonies. There was hardly any racial mix, nor any mutual cultural influence.
evangelization of the Indians was an obligation contracted with the Catholic church (papal bull Inter Caetera by Alexander VI, 1493)
did not show any interest in preaching the Christian faith to the North Western natives, though this did not mean a high tolerance on the part of the British colonists.
The differences in both kinds of colonization were due not only to the diverse planning of the conquerors, but also due to the disparity of social structures of the conquered peoples.
There was not any mechanism for the exploitation of native labour, similar to the ones in the Spanish colonies, such as the encomienda and the mita, used by the Spaniards.n the first case, a certain number of Indians were given to an encomendero, who would Christianize them in exchange for their work on the land. On the other hand, the mita was an Inca institution by which some men, -chosen by a lottery- would work during several days in the lands of the Great Inca or the priests. In practice this was sometimes a means of slavery for the Indians.
did not find centralized native cultures such as the Inca or the Aztec, which would allow them to get a profit like the Spaniards did. Therefore, they resorted to the import of slave labour from Africa.
1. Impact of British Colonization over the Native Peoples
Anthropologists tend to group the native peoples from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Coast, from Maine to North Carolina in two big ethnic-linguistic groups:
lived basically on “the three sisters”
–corn, beans and pumpkins
fishing and hunting. Both groups shared three basic principles:
a) subjection of personal actions to the group and collective traditions;
b) community of goods;
c) integration of man in nature.
Land was a collective possession, and every individual knew that his actions had to be subject to the decision of the community.
Land was a collective possession, and every individual knew that his actions had to be subject to the decision of the community
Once the first difficulties of adaptation to the environment were overcome, the population of the thirteen colonies went up much faster than the metropolitan. In 1700, the colonist population amounted to 250,000 inhabitants. One century later, in 1800, the
total population born in American amounted to 5.3 million, which represents a secular growth of more than 2,000%.
In the beginning of the colonies, the continuous migratory flow was a fundamental factor, but the demographical explosion cannot be understood without considering the local population growth by itself. The sum of both made it possible that the population could double each 25 years from that time until the Revolution. Actually, the main cause of the extraordinary population growth was the lower mortality, both ordinary (relation between deceases and births) and extraordinary. No doubt the basic reason for this lower mortality was the better feeding of the American colonists, which made them more resistant to disease, but the dispersed habitat contributed to reducing the harmful effect of epidemics. Lastly, despite the frequency of wars in the Atlantic coast, there was not any demographical catastrophe similar to the Europeans, such as the sum of the “three Parcae”, as the war, the famine and the plague were called.
During the 18th century, the need of labour of the southern planters and the competence among the slave traders contributed to considerably increment the size of the black population in the colonies. By mid-century, Virginia had more than 120,000 black slaves, Maryland 40,000 and South Carolina more than 60,000, which meant that in 1760 the black population was double that of the whites.
All in all, on the eve of the Revolution, black population in the American colonies amounted to 575,000 inhabitants, which represented a fifth of the total population. Approximately 90% of the black slaves lived in the southern colonies, where their conditions of existence were pitiful. Systematic segregation was so brutal in the British colonies that there was no more ethnic mix except that resulting from the sexual exploitation of female slaves by their owners.
During the 17th century the colonists coming from England were the huge majority (close to 90%), but from the next century on, the origin of the immigrants diversified: the bulk of them were Scottish Presbyterians from the Ulster, due to economic and religious reasons. Another big group were the French Huguenots, which started to arrive in the last decade of the 17th century, settling themselves mainly in the southern colonies. The third group of immigrants in the 17th century were the German speakers, consisting basically of Rhenish and Swiss Protestants, who escaped the Catholic prosecution, mainly to Pennsylvania.
New England colonies lived basically from subsistence agriculture and its commercial diversification. But in the absence of any agrarian incentive, fishing transformed into the motor element of the economic development of New England. From mid XVII century, the naval industry flourished in the area, and the idea of a Puritan America began to degrade, especially in the port cities of Boston or Newport, due to the emergence of a rich and entrepreneur mercantile bourgeoisie, which grew cosmopolitan and deviating from Puritan orthodoxy.
b. America of Plantations
The colonies of Virginia and Maryland were devoted to the production of high quality tobacco for exportation to England. The economy of Chesapeake depended much more than New England on transatlantic trade. The average price of a young African man tripled during the XVIII century: from 25 pounds to 75. But leaving aside black slaves, the inequalities among the white population were quite notable. At the end of the XVII century, the Virginian elite, formed by 10% of the white population owned almost 3⁄4 of the croplands. The rest of lands belonged to a middle strata of planters, between 20 and 30% of the population, who exploited their farms with their families and a few labourers. The rest of people, 60-70% possessed nothing and worked for others. The high class of Virginian “aristocrats” recreated a life style reminiscent of the English court. Therefore, it is not strange that the bastion of the Anglican Church in North America was Virginia, and that their principal preoccupation was the perpetuation of the status quo of the high class, in detriment of the gospel and the alphabetisation of people.
c. America of Plantations
As in Chesapeake, the Carolinas followed the trend of exportation of crops to England. They cultivated tobacco in the north and rice and indigo in the south. However, unlike agriculture in North Carolina, they diversified a little with the cultivation of wheat, corn and vegetables for their own consumption as well as cattle breeding. The economy of South Carolina focussed progressively on the cultivation of rice and indigo for the exportation.
The inherent hardships of rice cultivation (aggravated by malaria) were the cause by which the owners imported slaves for their production. Therefore, the society in the Carolinas and Georgia, started to look like the Antilles, where a white minority of great planters dominated a majority black population.
d. Mid-Atlantic Area
The colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware were from the very beginning a crucible of cultures, languages and religions. Something similar can be said about their economy, based on a mix agriculture, which made of them the granary of the colonial North America, and a diversified overseas trade.
Production focussed on wheat, with such success that they were known as the Breadbasket Colonies. The great production of cereals afforded, at once, the breeding of cattle and pigs for exportation to the Caribbean islands, and the production of other foods for their own consumption.
The ideal of peaceful cohabitation of the Quakers, which ignored the differences of faith or nation, caused that the members of this church and others like them to move in big waves from every European country to Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. More than half of its inhabitants had, at the end of the 18th century, originated in a different country from England.
e. Occidental Frontier
Although the Peace of Paris in 1763 opened the door to British expansion to the West, beyond the Appalachians and the Ohio and Tennessee rivers, at that time expansion had already commenced. The demographical pressure and the quest for new lands to replace the exhausted ones after a century and a half of exploitation, pushed thousands of small farmers to follow the path of explorers and trappers, who had already traversed the Appalachian barrier. In 1770, there were more than 15,000 colonists in the present territories of Kentucky and Tennessee. Something similar happened in the northwest of New England, where 20,000 people established the present state of Vermont.
The rapidity of these settlements and the brutal competition for land, gave the society of the frontier its essential characteristics: disorder and violence. There was no recognized authority, so that the administration of justice and the safekeeping of order were commissioned by the colonists to private groups: The Regulators of South Carolina, the Green Mountain Boys of Vermont, the Connecticut Yankees, the Paxton Boys of Pennsylvania. The problem was that the frontier self defence groups took advantage of their strength to steal land from the farmers of other colonies. In a tough and primitive society such as this, problems were solved by extra-judicial methods, the principle of “might is right”.
One of the fundamental characteristics of Anglo American society was the diversity of faiths and religious practices. Unlike in Hispano America, the official church –the Anglican- could not impose its control. A community of faith constituted the axis around which social and political life of many towns and whole colonies were organized.
The origins of the Anglican Church go back to the rupture with Rome and the institution of royal supremacy during the reign of Henry VIII. The final step was taken during the reign of Elizabeth I, who dictated a list of laws to impose the new church. (1562-63) upon the nation. Doctrine was essentially Protestant: scripture the supreme norm, justification by faith, rejection of mediation, acknowledging of only two sacraments: baptism and communion, liturgy /’litergi/ in English, etc. There still persisted some Catholic vestiges and for this reason, for many believers close to Calvin –such as the Puritans and Presbyterians- the “Elizabethan establishment” was more a starting point than the end of the Protestant reformation in England.
During the 17th century the Anglican Church evolved more in a Catholic direction than Protestant. In the first place, because Charles I identified with Arminianism (denied the Calvinist doctrine /’dactrin/ of predestination and gave more relevance to free will). And in the second because, unlike the Calvinists, who underlined the function of a minister as an interpreter of the Scripture and preacher of the gospel, King Charles wanted to emphasize the sacramental and ceremonial function of a minister, which worked in favour of the ecclesial hierarchy. (Crypto-catholic or Philo-papist).
However, overseas the power of the Anglican Church was felt much less. In fact, it only established itself by imposing its will. In Virginia, Maryland, but not in the Carolinas and Georgia, taxes were introduced to provide for the needs of the Anglican clergy. If a colonist wanted to be ordained, he had to travel to England for the clergy in America did not have this power. Nor could they repress unruly ministers. Therefore, the effective influence of the Anglican Church was weak, though it counted 500,000 followers before the Revolution, which made it second in size to all faiths at that time.
The largest confession was the Puritan or Congregationalist Church (575,000 followers before the Revolution). In its doctrine, Puritans ascribed to the principles of Calvinism accorded in 1619 in Dort (Netherlands): 1) predestination; 2) limited redemption (Christ died only to redeem the elected); 3) believe in human depravation due to original sin; 4) divine grace (salvation is the work of God: man does not contribute at all in his own salvation, but he cannot avoid it); 5) durable grace in the “saints” (the elected, despite their temporary faults, do not lose their divine grace).
Puritans reject the ceremonial function of a minister. The minister’s function is not to administer the sacrament, but to preach the word of God and explain the Scriptures. They despised the hierarchical structure of the Anglican Church, and rejected any image or crucifix (even bell towers at the beginning). Authority lapses into the local congregation. Nevertheless, not all of them can ingress, but only the “visible saints”, that is, those who have the awareness of having been redeemed by the grace of God and are capable of giving proof of it before the congregation, describing a mystical experience or a revelation, something which manifests without doubt their sanctification.
But the local autonomy was precisely the seed of discord. Discrepancies among congregations or between ministers of the church some times finished up with foundation of new populations away from the original settlements, as in the case ofRhode Island and the Providence Plantations.
As a colony grew up, the recently arrived and the next generations found it more difficult to prove their “sanctity”, which favoured the Puritans who controlled political positions, but in the end this worked against the same congregational church for it acted as a disintegrating factor. Between the end of the 17th century and beginning of the 18th, the ideal of the saintly community which had pushed Puritans to colonize New England began to lose its meaning. Another perverse event was the case of the Salem trials in 1692.
Presbyterianism was, just before the Revolution, the third confession in numbers of adherents, 400,000 (more than half from Irish and Scottish origins). Presbyterians shared with the Puritans their Calvinist faith, though they disagreed in organizational principles: the last authority in ecclesiastic matters is not in the individual congregation –as in the Puritan Church-, but in an assembly of ministers or presbytery; and also Presbyterians call for the total separation between church and state.
The Quakers or Society of Friends, emerged by mid 17th century, right after the English Civil War. The success of this church stems from its open anti-clericalism and its opposition to the pay of taxes, for clergy must not be remunerated. More importantly, they proposed a rejection of formalism: ceremonies, any liturgy and all sacraments. The nerve of spirituality is not even the Bible, but the mystical ecstasy, the inner light, in Fox’s words. In their meetings, it was frequent that they remained silent until the “inner light” enlightened them and they started to shake and tremble.
The third important and characteristic element is the defence of the rights of women. But the central point was the doctrine of salvation, which is within the reach of everyone, and it is the individual who must take the initiative to look for God inside themselves. There are no elected people, nor exclusive rights of belonging to the church. In the primitive plan of Penn, all men must contribute to good government, to the maintenance of peace, to justice and equality. They were also pioneers in the abolition of slavery, as well as pacifists in their rejection of fire arms and also their reluctance as to the paying of taxes destined for military purposes.
One of the most relevant cultural milestones in American colonial history was the Great Awakening, which in short was the wave of religious fervour coming from the old Europe that shook all the colonies between 1730 and 1760. With the passing of time, churches settled in American soil were undergoing a process of stagnation, replacing their primitive enthusiasm by more attention to formality (also theological controversies). Deep down, the American colonist still was a profoundly devout person, but they could not find the appropriate way to channel their spiritual concerns.
The pioneers of this awakening were Theodore Frelinghuysen, William Tennent and Jonathan Edwards. The one who raised the sermon to a category of dramatic art was Jonathan Edwards, minister of the congregational church of Massachusetts. A good writer and a brilliant theologian, Edwards was convinced that the most convenient way to convert his followers was to provoke emotions in their hearts. He reached fame with his sermon Sinners in the hands of an angry God (1741). In this way, with the threat of hell, Edwards attempted to guide his believers to the kingdom of heaven.
Edwards’s work, and others’ prepared the way for George Whitefield, responsible for the true “religious awakening”. Whitefield was a collaborator of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist Church (a division of the Lutheran church in the 17th century, with emphasis on individual sentiments and behaviour), who was sent to Georgia by the promoters of the colony. His gesture, dramatic, and sensationalist style of preaching immediately caught on among Whitefield followers and provoked many challenges to the established churches in the colonies. Overcome by the unexpected wave of religious fervour, alienated by the Great Awakening, the ministers of these churches were divided into two factions: the party of the New Light, who embraced the new method of preaching, based on the ability of a cleric to move believers, and the defenders of the Old Light, who insisted on adequate theological formation from the clergy.
Two new confessions benefited from the division caused by the Great Awakening: Baptists and Methodists. Both shared the belief in the possibility of salvation for everyone, and gain adherents especially among the poorest social sectors and among the black population (both admitted blacks in their congregations and even to the clergy).
The two religious minorities in colonial America were Catholics and Jews. Due to the traditional enmity between Protestants and Catholics, Catholics suffered more discrimination in the colonies than the Jews did. In 1740, the Westminster Parliament prohibited the colonies giving citizenship to Catholic immigrants, and annulled their right to vote and to occupy public positions. However, both confessions were freely allowed to celebrate their religious ceremonies and develop any kind of economic activity. In the eve of Revolution, there were 25,000 Catholics and 1,500 Jews in the colonies.
Among the chronicles that arose in these first years of the 17th century stand out those of John Smith (1579-1631), who before starting his trip to the Americas had practiced already as a mercenary soldier in several European countries. Smith has been qualified as the author of the first book written in North American lands and firstly in the one that can be a vision of a New World as a space in which an own identity has to be forged and as territory in which they found personal and national history. Therefore, his categorization as the first writer in the literary North American tradition. Nevertheless, the work that more brought him the highest recognition is The Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles (1624), since it is here where Pocahontas first appears; the daughter of the Indian chief Powhatan, who saves the life to the Captain Smith defying the will of his father.
It is in these chronicles where Smith, debtor of the tradition of travel literature popularized by Hakluyt and Purchas, describes the marvels of these new lands in an attempt to stimulate its exploration and the colonial settlement. Besides these literary models, the author has also drawn from the sources of the romance or medieval novel and of the Renaissance historiography. Smith wants to delight the reader with his chivalrous adventures, appearing as a worthy prototype of admiration and imitation, but likewise he offers a few forceful reasons in favor of the settlement which go from the patriotism and the importance of the Christianization up to the riches that hoard the new territories. All the same, these benefits are only within the reach of those that combine their ambition with their effort and discipline.
In spite of being misunderstood and rejected by the English men, Smith seems to have understood the nature of American experiment and he took advantage of his experiences to create an image of himself that approaches more that of the chivalrous hero than that of the explorer without scruples, especially in The Generall Historie of Virginia (1624). While his chronicle of 1608, A True Relation ..., is a book of travels and action, in that of 1624 there exists a clear intention of legitimizing the English colonial project and of reconstructing textually the meaning of the American experience. For this Smith uses a classical strategy: the romance between the conqueror and the native woman that from Virgil’s Eneida has been used as inventive resource and structuring link of the tales of origins. This would partly explain the appearance of the Indian princess in this text.
The legend of Pocahontas and of her brave action, the rescue of the Captain John Smith, is fixed in 1607. In 1609, after Smith returned to England, the relations between Powhatan and the English started deteriorating and in 1612 she was kidnapped by the Captain Argall, and made captive Indian in Jamestown when there took place an attempt of negotiating the peace. On the following year she became Christian and received the name of Rebecca; in 1614 she married John Rolfe and gave birth to his son one year later. In 1616 she travelledto England, was presented in the court of James I and the Queen Ana as the Indian princess and died there in 1617.
Smith took advantage in 1624 of the reputation that Pocahontas had reached in England and made of his life the first American legend. Nevertheless, contrary to the romances in which he was inspired, the John Smith of the chronicle, turned already into the prototype of the self-made man, is not protagonist of any loving adventure with the Indian princess, since his aim is to emphasize his own role as the only hero of the text. Therefore, in a way similar to the action of the Malinche in the chronicle of Mexico by Hernán Cortés, Pocahontas symbolizes in the text of Smith the conquest of the American lands and of its settlers. The feminine representation of the indigenous nations represents the elimination of the native masculinity in favor of the prevalence of the conqueror. The recognition on the part of the aboriginal woman of the nobility of the hero, on having been opposed and facing the will of her father, implies the native surrender before the white and the verification of the fact that the Indian is conscious of the superiority of the conqueror come from overseas.
Nevertheless, it will be during the first part of the 19th century when the romantic myth of the Indian princess will definitively be installed as it has come to the present day. The representations of the wild noble savage popularized by the romantic writers like Chateaubriand influenced on the fact that the episode was remodeled, centering almost exclusively on the impossible relation between Pocahontas and Smith, and that the history was ignored, that is to say, the marriage between the Indian woman and the English Rolfe in an attempt to avoid the topic of the miscegenation.
On the other hand, Pocahontas's figure was also used politically during the antebellum period. By the decade of 1820s her name became a pseudonym used by some abolitionist writers, partly because it symbolized the safety of the captive woman and the possibility that two different races coexisted. Curiously, the Pocahontas "Princess of Virginia" was also used as progenitor of the aristocratic class of the planters to legitimize their deliriums of royalty. This figure provided the South a noble origin and an alternative history, allowing for the confederate region to boast of an independent culture and different origins from those of the puritanical history of New England.
But probably the most important thing is that from the second half of the 19th century, Pocahontas's history became a part of the North American unconscious in a so rooted and deep way that the genuineness has remained relegated to a background in any interpretation. We can observe this in the cinematographic film adaptation of Walt Disney's studies in 1995, which immortalizes the impossible romance between the Indian woman and the White colonist, which has come out as a universal history.
The colonies of Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, Connecticut and New Haven, founded some years after that of Virginia, joined in 1643 in a federation that received the name of New England, name that already had been used by the Captain Smith in his map of the region. It is here where there has traditionally been placed the origin of the North American literature, given the extraordinary influence that the writings of the colonists of these lands exercised in the imagination and the collective unconscious of the country.
The English men who set forth towards the New World, as children of the 16th and 17th centuries, were a product of the Renaissance and the Reform, thus they drew from the same theological sources and from its literary reflections: John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress (1678); or the Shakespearean literature up to John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667), passing by Edmund Spencer's Fairie Queene (1590-96). All in all, the foundational text of the literature of the colonists of New England of this period is undoubtedly the Bible in vernacular language, specifically the version of Geneva (1560).
The puritans who came to America believed in the Bible as manifestation of the Gospel and in the Calvinist doctrine countersigned by this divine word. This way, they considered themselves to be a people chosen by God, called to realize a special mission in the history, protagonist of exception in the divine story. The puritans made a typological interpretation of the sacred book. For the puritans the Old Testament preconfigured the figures that were appearing in the New Testament and thus in turn this prefigured their trip to the New World, which thus became a new Exodus, in that the children of God, elected by God, were fleeing from the prosecutions to reach the promised land, destined to them from the beginning of the creation.
Among the chronicles written in these first years of the foundation of the colony of New England stand out: William Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation (1630-1650), John Winthrop’s The History of New England (1630-1649), and Edward Johnson's The Wonder-Working Providence of Sion's Saviour in New England (1654).
Bradford's chronicle deserves special mention, since it appears the origins of the myth of a North American identity, valid even nowadays.
Creation of a national past, the fantasy of a few puritan foundational origins is valid because these represented the movement towards the modernity, since they associated this movement with their projects in the New World, and because they developed a persuasive speech that joined both aspects of their endeavor, the cultural and the territorial one, in a vision at the same time spiritual and secular.
Undoubtedly, the best place to start to investigate the origin of this myth is the corpus of puritan writings especially, William Bradford's chronicle Of Plymouth Plantation (1630-1650), one of the most important prose texts of the Puritanism in New England.
Bradford was governor of the colony during more than 30 years and in this work he reports the history of the foundation, the development of the colony, showing the life, beliefs, ideal and dreads of the Pilgrim Fathers.
For Bradford, as for other puritan historians, history was true only when it reflected adequately God's providential will in the matters of the men. For them, any earthly contingency, as excessive as it might seem, forms a part of the eternal divine plan and, as such, had to be reported and interpreted carefully. Hereby, the history happened to be deeply significant and the written history became an extraordinary form of teaching.
Of Plymouth Plantation still is a basic text in the history of the North American thought, because in it Bradford gives expression to the idea of America as the scenario of a unique experiment in its nature, and that these Pilgrim Fathers, like the sons of Israel of the Old Testament, are the elected people, specially favored by God. In this respect, Book I can be considered to be not only a statement of foundation of a community but also a literary marvelous attempt of forging a history of origins, a chronicle that defines the identity of this people.
Bradford uses a series of strategies that structure the story, among these the already mentioned typological reading of the history of the Exodus. The Biblical appropriation allows him to define a meaning of the events that he reports and to present them as "special favors of the divine Providence", with which this makes clear and legitimate the break with the Anglican Church and with the English Crown, as well as the later expansion and settling of North America. For Bradford, the events of the world communicate spiritual realities.
In chapter nine of this Book I is where Bradford with more clarity and forcefulness uses the providential rhetoric, which aims to help draw the idea of a collective identity, which turns around the moments in which the puritans get aboard and off board of the Mayflower. This chapter also contains one of the most frequently mentioned passages of the colonial North American literature: the puritan arrival in Plymouth, which then would transform into the myth.
In the first part, Bradford reports the transatlantic cruise, choosing three episodes that are "special works of the divine Providence": the death of a sailor who insults the puritans and is punished by God, the survival of the ship and of the passage to a great storm and the rescue by the God's grace, on the verge of dying drowned, of a young sympathizer of the puritans who will turn into a respectable member of the plantation. The transatlantic voyage of the puritans reflected the passing of the Israelites across the Red sea with Bradford as his Moses, turning the trip into a rite of passing and test for confirmation.
Bradford reduces and concentrates the arrival in the only image of gratefulness to God, since this symbolizes the act of puritan possession of the New World, as a tabula rasa, to inscribe and rewrite the history.
Bradford started to write Book II in 1644, when the English civil war had already broken out, and it reflects Bradford's uncertainties with regard to the future of the Reform: an attempt of answering to the threat of dissolution of the concept of identity and to the formation of a people sanctioned by the divine law. The tone of this part is different from that of the first one; the chronicler moves back in time and informs the reader of an event happened before the puritans landed on the American coasts.
Of the hundred of passengers of the Mayflower, only a third were puritans, by which they resolved to sign a political document of practical character, to avoid difficulties or threats of riot. The point is the redaction and signing on the part of 41 male passengers of The Mayflower Compact. Due to the drift of the ship, Virginia's Company could not name a governor in this part of the coast, which provoked that the separatists, to govern themselves and to avoid problems with the others, should prepare this "pact of the Mayflower", signed on November 21, 1620, and which supposes the first step towards the self-government of the English colonies and the first important document in the political history of the future nation. In the last clause submission and obedience are promised, a general attitude supported during the 17th century. Hereby, the puritan community established from the very beginnings the exclusion of the strangers and thanks to this document, it was to be reflected how the puritans were defined as an elected group so much in the spiritual as in the secular sphere.
In 1624 Thomas Morton (1579-1647) arrived at New England. In a little time and under his direction, a group of colonists began to obtain substantial earnings from the trade with the Indians, turning into important competitors of the separatists of Plymouth, placed at approximately 30 miles to the southeast. The hostility among them did not take much to explode and the puritans accused this new colony of being a nest of depravity and corruption. Morton answered saying that those of Plymouth only were interested in damaging the commercial interests of the Anglican loyalists. In 1627, these erected a gigantic trunk of a tree in the festivity of the Mays and celebrated the date with lively dances to which they invited his Indian partners.
New English Canaan is a text of colonial propaganda divided into three parts. The first two contain a description of the Indians and of the natural resources of the American land as Garden of Eden. The third one reports Morton's experiences with some of the English colonists, among them the puritans of Plymouth. It is one of the few texts written in these moments in opposition to the puritan experiment in the New World. Using the satire and the erudition, Morton tries to take revenge for the mistreatment suffered under the hands of the separatists, of whom he jokes openly: mockery of their names, their way of dressing and their hair cuts, and scorns their religious attitudes, which he considers a real threat for the king and the Anglican Church.
For the puritans, the celebration was the last straw (that breaks the camel’s back) and they accused them of being pagans, whose practices represented a serious threat for the Christianity of Plymouth, so that they sent a detachment under the control of Captain Miles Standish, who arrested Morton. Moved to Plymouth, was imprisoned, accused of selling weapons to the Indians and deported to England to be judged. Absolved, he returned to the colony, where again he was arrested by the puritans of Salem, in 1630; as a punishment he was dispossessed of all his properties and deported to England for the second time, where again he would be absolved. It was at the time when he began to write his New English Canaan, which he would finish in 1635.
MORTON ≠ BRADFORD
different attitude of both parties
chivalrous Englishman exalts the marvels of the American landscape, flora and fauna
(America is a locus amoenus)
ignores completely or despises this nature for considering her to be corrupt and wild
(America is a locus eremus).
attitude regarding the Indians
considers them innocent beings, full of humility, descendants of the former Trojans, model Christians, is interested in his customs and language
—>appeals to the myth of the noble and heroic savage
hey do not exist, and when they appear in his chronicle it is only to emphasize his hostility.
—> describes the Indian as incarnation of the demon
The hatred and the repugnance that Morton inspired the puritans are perfectly and extensively described by William Bradford in chapter 20 of Book II of his Of Plymouth Plantation. For Bradford, Morton is one of the most terrible threats that put in danger the puritan identity in the New World.
Franklin (1706-1790) can be considered the first North American who managed to gain unanimous recognition for his country and who best represents the temperament and personality of the illustrated North American thought, being in addition a man of enormous merits and vast culture
born in Boston, he received a scanty school education and at the age of twelve he started working as apprentice of printer with his step-brother, in whose newspaper, New England Courant, he published in 1722, the essays known as The Letters of Silence Dogood, which humorously commented on the work of Cotton Mather, Bonifacious. An Essay Upon the Good (1710), a book that enormously influenced his life. In 1723 Franklin moved to Philadelphia, installed his own press in 1726 and, three years later, published The Pennsylvania Gazette, which he directed until 1766.
man of transition, whose principal qualities already in his time were defined as typically "North American": common sense and practical utilitarian spirit.
Nevertheless, his obsession to reach the moral perfection through the good actions is influenced by a rigorous base derived from the puritan tradition, which turns the religious transformation into a route of self-development. In this respect, following the illustrated ideas on the secular benevolence and the progress, Franklin understands that the morally good individual is the one that turns into a useful citizen.
The aim that must guide his life is to share with others a few ideas of improvementof the human being ,
his physical condition (invention of any mechanical device that facilitates the happiness and the well-being),
his mental condition (creation of educational institutions)
his social condition (effort to improve the situation of the Indians and Blacks)
One ideological contribution of the Enlightenment is to imply rational controls that do not exist in white expansion and government policy. In his “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind” (1751), Benjamin Franklin shows how the paradigm of light can seem to stand in Nature for the rational exclusion of “all Blacks and Tawneys,” where Native Americans fall under the latter category.
The work in which he best expresses these intentions is Autobiography, which includes from the moment of his birth until the year 1757.
he remembers his first years of infancy and adolescence; it is dedicated to his son in the shape of letter, even though it seems to be clear the intention of turning it into a text for publication. He seems to be satisfied of his social ascension, from apprentice up to man of fortune and reputation, a process he narrates following the model of the roguish novel (picaresca). The protagonist is the young Franklin and the topics that he successively deals with are the ones related to his ambition for being the owner of his own business, his literary education and the transformations of consciencethat he suffers over religious questions, up to his marriage. Franklin's literary talent becomes clear, not because his vital development adapts to the model of one "pilgrim's progress" as that of Bunyan, but because he manages to make his metamorphosis convincing in multitude of different roles that he played along different moments. The author starts by speaking about his aim with the story of his life: "having escaped of the poverty and darkness in which I was born and grew up, and managing to reach a condition of prosperity and, in some measure, of reputation in the world".
2: rectify the misprints
The story of his vital adventure is carried out according to the adoption of multiple identities along the text: from sailor and merchant, up to the most important and the one that would finally define him: printer.
The second part is narrated by a Franklin who is already considered to be an international celebrity. The narrator not only dedicates the history of his life to his son, but to a potential audience, thus he now meticulously describes the process he has undergone to reach the position that he enjoys. Both this part and the last one are statements of what it is called "projects". In this one he explains his "project of moral perfection". This project of moral perfection consists of the method that he uses to exercise in the fulfillment of thirteen virtues that he considers fundamental: temperance, prudence, order, strength, frugality, diligence, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, serenity, chastity and humility. This plan of self-regeneration is similar to the puritan meditation and introspection, for his life and the learning Franklin does transform the daily routine into a religious rite. The day-to-day turns into a religion governed by the rules of discipline and wish to improve. We find a complete mixture of moralism and pragmatism that summarizes not only Franklin's personality, but largely the directive ideas of the North American Illustration.
closely describes his career as civic leader and American patriot, a public figure overturned in the improvement and social reforms. This section turns into an almost chronological inventory of his reformist plans; construction of hospitals, urban cleanliness, creation of a more effective fire station, impulse of education, etc. Actually, the author here gives a series of lessons to do the good, which show the wide spectrum of his interests. Written in a moment in which the country was recovering after the Revolution, Franklin with his incessant dedication to the community, underlines and reveals the responsibility that the North American has in collaborating in the public life.
the greatest American writer of the age in part because he alone understands that the obsession with perspective might be used against itself for greater literary effect. He appreciates, as Jefferson and Adams do not, that point of view can generate as well as control interest.
Along the three parts of his Autobiography, Franklin self-invents himself and re-invents in diverse ways, but always under the idea of the self-made man. Hereby he offers aparadigmatic example of how the North American, in this epoch of colonial confusion, can turn into a new individual on his own. His autobiographical text offers a few practical solutions that point directly at the material problems of the average North American. Franklin replaces the aims of spiritual salvation present in the puritan autobiography for others of economic and secular salvation.
In short, we might say that the three parts go deeply into each of the slopes in which it is possible to summarize the American dream:
1: in the idea of material success,
2: moral regeneration
3: social progress
From his publication, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography turned into a model and inspiration for anyone that longed of achieving new ways to achieve a more prosperous or satisfactory life. It reveals, probably more than no other text, many of the meanings of such a pursued American dream and many of the practical possibilities of reaching it.