Crevecoeur, Bradford, and the New Americans

Early European settlers faced many struggles and hardships on their journey to the new world. They faced many more once they reached their destination. A new breed of man was born from this adversity. As Crevecoeur said “The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles”. (Crevecoeur, 2007, 599) These convictions are brought about by the environment and the courage to leave the old world behind. One might say Crevecoeur defines the new American, while Bradford gives us detailed examples into the lives of the early Americans.

The European settlers were molded by their new environment, as well as the journey they endured to this new land. The seed or the stepping stone for these settlers transformation actually begins before they even leave their homeland. These Pilgrims sought religious freedom and liberties that could not be afforded in England. Under scrutiny and pressure from the church, these separatists or pilgrims travelled to the Netherlands to avoid persecution. Only those that were strong in their convictions would travel with the group; “some preferred and chose the prisons in England rather then this liberty in Holland “. Bradford, 2007, 107) This shows that only the people with a strong will, and faith could eventually become Americans. This is the beginning of the new “American” transformation process. If an individual could not live in Holland, then surely they could not survive an oversea journey and a new world.

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It was quickly determined that the Netherlands was not the place that the pilgrims had sought. Their faith and religious zeal propelled them to seek out a new world to truly be free in all aspects of life. “The place they had thoughts on was some of those vast and unpeopled Countries of America, which are fruitful and fit for habitation”. Bradford, 2007, 108) And thus the pilgrim’s journey to America would be born, and their transformation into Americans would be underway. The settler’s religious convictions were so strong, they wanted total freedom. The only place to get what they desired was in America. Sea travel in the early 1600s was a very dangerous undertaking. It comes as no surprise that these pilgrims had to show tremendous courage to travel across a vast ocean for their beliefs. Disease and storms wreaked havoc on the settlers and the ship during their journey.

It is through this adversity that hardened the settlers for the perils that lie on land. It is important to note that Crevecoeur’s piece was published about 162 years after the pilgrims came to America. Crevecoeur could only see the success of the European immigrants or Americans, after they had struggled for a long time. Not to say that they weren’t struggling at that time, but the America in the late 1700s had a much different landscape than in 1620. Surely Crevecoeur had knowledge of the pilgrim’s struggles, but Bradford gives us a play-by-play account of hardships faced by the pilgrims.

It was during these years that the new American was born, forged from the harsh environment and hardened by building a new culture. It is through Bradstreet’s work that we truly see the toils of the first settlers, once they landed in America: In two or three months’ time half of their company died, especially in January and February, being the depth of winter, and wanting houses and other comforts; being infected with the scurvy and other diseases, which this long voyage and their inaccomidate condition had brought upon them. Bradford, 2007, 121) This is an excellent example of how the settlers fared that first winter in America. What kind of mindset would a settler have after struggling through a winter like this? It would surely strengthen their resolve and their faith in god. Poor weather conditions were not the only hardship to befall the pilgrims. Initial contact with the Native Americans was not quite civil.

Bradford writes “The cry of the Indians was dreadful, especially when they saw their men run out of the rendezvous toward the shallop, to recover their arms, the Indians wheeling about upon them. (Bradford, 2007, 119) It wasn’t until the settlers met with English-speaking Indians in the spring, that peace could be attained. The pilgrims had a new ally in this new world. The Native Americans taught the settlers how to plant corn and where to fish amongst other things. (Bradford, 2007) It can be said that one of the main reasons the settlers made it in the new world is due to their relationship with the Native Americans. This presents a new relationship and fellowship for the new Americans. This is an excellent example of how at first the settlers feared the Natives, and then once communication was established they relied on them.

This is a major change in principle and policy for the new Americans. By the following fall, the settlers were in much better shape than their first few months in the new world. It is only through their newfound relationship with the Indians that this is possible. Bradford writes of the first thanksgiving: “They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength, and had all things in good plenty” (Bradford, 126) This show that they had made significant strides in the first year in America.

These new Americans are the burgeoning force that will become the flourishing man Crevecoeur defines in his work. It is through these trials, hardships and endeavors that the European settlers become new Americans. It is only through their resolve, and faith in god that they were able to grow strong and adapt to this new world. Crevecoeur asserts: “this is the work of my countrymen, who, when convulsed by factions, afflicted by a variety of miseries and wants, restless and impatient took refuge here. (Crevecoeur, 2007, 596) He is clearly explaining what possessed the early settlers to come to the new world, and the work they did since that time. Crevecoeur hints at what we would describe today as the melting pot “They are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen. ” (Crevecoeur, 2007 597) The new American is not always an Englishman. It can be said that a majority of the new Americans at this point in time are not immigrants but true Americans born in America.

Bradford’s work provides the foundation for Crevecoeur’s work. It can be said that Bradford shows the means, while Crevecoeur shows the ends. Bradford provides a gritty account of how the English settler’s journey and hardships began the transformation into the new American. A generous fast forward shows how prosperous the new American has managed through the eloquent styling of Crevecoeur. It is only through Bradford’s writing that shows where the essence of this new man came from. Crevecoeur merely imagines the work needed to perform such a metamorphosis, while Bradford explains it in detail.

It is important to note that Crevecoeur’s work appears after the revolution. Much is made regarding liberty and religious freedom in this new American. It is between the time of Bradford’s writings, and Crevecoeur’s writings that a common goal of religious freedom has been attained. An accomplishment like this could have never happened in Europe. It took the bravery, strength, and faith of English settlers to begin a transformation; a transformation into a new man, a new culture, and a new country.

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Crevecoeur, Bradford, and the New Americans. (2016, Oct 23). Retrieved from