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American Independence: Crvecoeur,Paine, Jefferson


Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826, 3d Pres.1801-1809) ... autobiography of the period, Benjamin Franklin's, The Autobiography of Thomas ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: American Independence: Crvecoeur,Paine, Jefferson

American Independence Crèvecoeur,Paine,
  • American Literature
  • Cecilia H.C. Liu
  • 10/25/2004

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 (1706-1790)
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826, 3d Pres.1801-1809)

The French and Indian War 1756-1763
  • 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

(No Transcript)
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
  • 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"?
  • From where does the citizen derive that freedom
    which, James says, is essential to American

Crèvecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer,
Letter III
  • 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.
  • What specific contrasts does James develop, in
    Letter IX, between the culture of the
    slaveholding south, and that of his native
    Pennsylvania? http//

What then is the American, this new man?
  • 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

  • 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
  • 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 liberty.

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

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 Crisis?

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

Jefferson 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 myself."
  • 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.

Jefferson 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.

Declaration of Independence
  • The Declaration of Independence proposed a
    republican government founded in the collective
    rights of the people, based on their authority
    alone, and beholden to them.
  • Account of a Declaration is an exploration of
    that splendid act in 1776, an act that severed
    the political ties of America from the Monarchies
    of the old world. An act that inaugurated a bold
    political experiment in the new.

  • 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

  • American Literature Crèvecoeur Madison
  • Paine http//
  • The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
  • Account of a Declaration Introduction
  • Olaudah Equiano Phillis Wheatley http//www.fore
  • http//
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