The Americans: The Colonial Experience

AmericansColonialExperienceSuggested by Brad Nelson • An essential interpretation of how the habits of the Colonialists shaped the lives of modern Americans. An undiscovered continent shattered long-standing traditions and utopian fantasies with the hard demands of everyday life far from the sophisticated centers of European civilization.
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3 Responses to The Americans: The Colonial Experience

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    I’m 40% into this book and can recommend it with some caveats.

    The opening section on the Puritans, for example, is long on generalizations but short on examples. But buy this if only to read the following chapters on the Quakers and the Virginians. Both these chapters give a better feel for these people than I gathered from the mind-numbingly detailed Albion’s Seed.

    The Quakers were the first American libtards. Their naiveté and “how can their be any danger when we make such a conspicuous show of our goodwill” regarding the Indians is reminiscent of the destruction being wrought by the same attitude toward illegal aliens, black thugs, and Middle Eastern anti-Semites and Jihadists.

    The section on the Virginians I found of particular interest. The commentary by Daniel Boorstin is excellent, putting an emphasis on the apparent fact that America was more of a continuation of ideas already established rather than the somewhat common idea that we beat the bushes in Europe for the best philosophies of government.

    The philosophers of the European Enlightenment who have been hauled into the court of historians as putative fathers of the Revolution may then seem as irrelevant as the guilty cousin who suddenly appears in the last scene of a bad mystery play. The motives and patterns of action which were to reach a climax in the Revolution were already taking form a century before in the daily life of Virginia

    In Virginia in particular, there was the expectation that not only would the gentleman take part in running his business and be deeply involved in his church, he would actively take part in government. This was an aristocracy, for sure, but one with a sense of responsibililty:

    When he sent his refusal [in 1782, after being elected to the House] to John Tyler, Speaker of the House, the ominous reply informed him that “the Constitution in the Opinion of the Members will not warrant the acceptance of your resignation.” Tyler warned Jefferson “that good and able Men had better govern than be govern’d, since ’tis possible, indeed highly probable, that if the able and good withdraw themselves from Society, the venal and ignorant will succeed.” Finally Jefferson was urged “to give attendance without incuring the Censure of being siezed.”

    Who is running things now?

    Other sections (such as “An America Frame of Mind”) I found to be rather weak and even skipped a bit when it got to talking about the state of science and natural history. But it’s worth the price of admission just to read his analysis of the Quakers and the Virginians.

    • Kung Fu Zu Kung Fu Zu says:

      I can recommend all three vols. of “The Americans”, but also recommend the two vols. of “The Discovers”, and his “Hidden History”. I also have a collection of some of his other writings.

      I have a major disagreement with his take on Washington’s place in America, but otherwise like his work.

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    I picked up all 3 volumes decades ago, and found Boorstin very interesting. One thing I recall is that he points out that the famous speeches of the colonial and revolutionary periods are all later reconstructions of uncertain accuracy. (The same thing applies to many other famous speeches. There is no reliable copy of McCarthy’s Wheeling speech or most other noted stump speeches, and one wonders how accurate the account of Chief Joseph’s “I will fight no more forever” speech is — was he even speaking in English?)

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