The American Character During The Puritan Era
Essay, Research Paper
An American is one who is either a European or a descendant of one. In the early 1600s, the Puritans left England in hope of a better government, a reformed society, and for improved living conditions. The Puritans were in search of religious freedom and to start a new religion completely deviant from the one in England. According to John Winthrop, man has to love his neighbors and care for them in order to build the perfect society. An American is one who fights for his beliefs, displays consanguinity with his nation and has a close relationship with God.
The American?s relationship with his nation emphasizes that as an independent nation, it provides the necessary rights of every man in order to maintain equality. According to Thomas Jefferson in his autobiography, ?all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (page 325).? With these rights in mind, in a unified, liberated nation, known as America, its citizens have a sense of security in aspects of their life such as political, social, and economical. According to John De Crevecoeur, ?Men are like plants; the goodness and flavor of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow (page 296).? Crevecoeur believed that a good country should provide its people food, freedom, shelter, and justice. In the newfound land, Americans have an opportunity to grow and prosper because of the new reformed government and its freedom rights given to the citizens.
Americans were always from the beginning fighting for what they believed in. When the Puritans set foot on this continent, they wanted to be set free from Britain and the British government. As Jefferson states, ?whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government (page 326).? He is asserting that if a government is corrupt, it is the right and responsibility of the citizens to revise it to fit their needs. Americans also have the need to break free from what they despise or forced into doing, as Equiano did when he was forced into becoming a slave. Equiano states, ??Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you? (Page 353)? He means that what had he done to deserve such horrible treatment. He asks that would the white man want to be treated like a slave? Of course, the white man wouldn?t, so why should they treat the blacks that way. That is why Equiano rebelled and escaped from white control. He fought for what he believed in and succeeded. In order for the American character to excel in life, he needs to fight for what he believes in.
The main reason Puritans came to the New World was mainly for their close relationship with God. As John Winthrop states, ?The only way to avoid this shipwreck, and to provide for our posterity, is to follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. (Page 117)? The shipwreck means that if what is demanded of the people from God is not accomplished, then God will surely become angry and destroy everything. So, the only way to avoid this disaster is to believe in God with their hearts and love everything that He and do everything He demands. Since the Puritans knew they had God on their side, they had nothing to be afraid of and so were very brave people. Winthrop states, ?Therefore let us choose life, that we and our seed may live by obeying His voice and cleaving to Him, for He is our life and our prosperity. (Page 118)? Winthrop asserts that God has to be obeyed, because He is the one that gives life, and He can easily take it away. Having a close relationship with God formed the true American character.
Certainly, many aspects make the American character. But those that show what the character is are consanguinity with the American?s nation, belief in God and a freedom fighter. As stated, from Jefferson?s ideas about natural human rights to Winthrop?s ideas about obeying God, the American character is established. These characteristics are still in existence today and are held by man American people throughout the nation.