Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas on October 27, 1974 · Page 5
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Northwest Arkansas Times from Fayetteville, Arkansas · Page 5

Fayetteville, Arkansas
Issue Date:
Sunday, October 27, 1974
Page 5
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in Search Of The American Dream ArkoMai.TlMKi,.Sun rf ..bct. 47, 1*74 ,4- The Colonial Kaleidoscope, New England. To Georgia EDITOR'S NOTE: This is · the fiflti of 18 articles cx- " ploring Ihe theme. In Search of the American Dream. This article discusses colonial life, its ups and Its downs, during the 1750-1775 period. The author is professor of American history, Cornell University. By MICHAEL KAMMEN 'Copyright, 1574, Regents of the University of California Distributed 'jy Copley News Service A number of the North American colonies had been established with Utopian expectations of one kind or another notably in New England, Pennsylvania, the Carolines, anc Georgia. By the middle ot the eighteenth century, however many of their more wistful (anc The article on this page is part of Courses by Newspaper. It is offered as a public service by this newspaper to present college-level courses through the community newspaper. The program has been hailed by the academic world and publishers across the nation as one of the brightest advances in newspaper service to readers. less realistic) aspirations re mained unfulfilled. The Nev Jerusalem had not been cntirel achieved; not even a New Ca naan. Nevertheless, the colonist were neither distressed, by an large, nor disillusioned wit their progress as pilgrims i a new world. This essay wi! focus on the reasons why; Hi American colonists' sense c what they had achieved, wh they were, and what sorts opportunities -- and decision -- lay ahead of them. In ei amining the period from abpu 1750 until 1775, I shall try I distinguish between what wa already then immanent, an what would soon be imminen between what had b e e n a oomplished and what was y impending. EIGHTEENTH - CENTUR life was considerably more se uiarized than it had been in tl seventeenth. Nonetheless Cotto Mather, the Boston clergymai and his ministerial cojleagui prior to 1751) had, in the word of one authority, "inaugurate an era of apocalyptical expect lion in America that did n lose its force until after t! American Revolution." While clergymen worked f an immediate conversion of t" -1, ). merican Israel ns God's chos- people, they also prepared the millennium and its af- rmath. Given such hopes and prehensions for the world-tome, therefore, pious pioneers tl no great need for earthy opias. Temporal perfection as fit work only for the near- ghtcd or the myopic. God's ildren looked ahead. Those who were not of an /angelical persuasion also had impelling reasons to douot ie perfectibility of this life. In 56 John Adams speculated in s diary upon the consequences "a nation in some distant Reon, should take the Bible for ieir only law Book and every icmber should regulate his onduct by the precepts t h e r e xhibilcd...Whal a Eutopia, esl colonial theologian and plii-f "The free white inhabitant hat a Paradise would this re- on be." he conchuicd. Adams uitc clearly did not envision mericii's being or becoming uch a "Eutopia," and his judg- icnt was increasingly rooted n a firm sense of social real- y. IN 1767 he visited a p o o r amily where the husband, wife, nd five children all occupied one Chamber, which serves lem for Kitchen, Cellar, dining loom, Parlour and Bedcham- er...These arc the Convenien- es and ornaments of a life of 'overly. These are the Com- orts of the Poor. This is Vant." Still, if colonial America was iot the best of all possible words, it was better than most; nd 'many sincerely 'believed it o be the best that had ever listed. Evidence of. population growth in relationship .to cnvir- nmcntal resources suggested hat inhabitants of the colonies, n the average, married younger, had more children, owned more land, stayed healthier and ived longer than their cousins osophcr, died of smallpox in i758 -- one month after being mproperly inoculated against he very same dread disease. Bloodletting hastened rather ;han hindered George Washington's demise in 1799. And some suspected that early American nedical practices were scarce- .y an improvement u p o n those of primitive witch doctors. In July, 1775, one physician remarked of his fellows that "if they live near the sea, (they) order the patient to take a ride in the country; if inland, to take the sea air and peihaps a turn off in a pilot boat." Even so, there is strong evidence to support Benjamin Franklin's emphasis upon the beneficial qualities of America's abundant environment. The colonies had a very substantial middle class, even in the plantation economies of the Chesapeake and lower South. HISTORIANS have recently discovered that in Maryland, for example, the percentage of planters with personal wealth in the "middling bracket" -between 100 pounds sterling and 1,000 pounds (approximately equal to $2,577 and $25,770 in 1969 purchasing power) -- of .every (one) of the states, parties to the American confederation...shall be intitlcd to all rights, privileges, and immunities ot free citizens in this commonwealth, and shall have free egress, and regress, to and from the same, and shall enjoy therein, all the privileges of trade, and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions and restrictions as the citizens of this commonwealth." JEFFERSON'S stress upon reciprocal arrangements among citizens of the fledgling states was important because Americans on the eve of the Revolution · had b e g u n to give serious thought to their common heritage as well as to their diversity. As John Adams noted in 1776, all of the colonies "differed in Religion, Laws Customs, and Manners, yet it he great Essentials of Society ind Government, they are all alike." The most difficult problem during the two decades prior to 1776, however, was not the colonists' relative commonality or variety, but rather their mutual relationships with Britain. Growing awareness of their parochialism spawned a rising sense of provincial chauvinism. Their customary cultural An- glophilia -- a preference for English styles in dress, furnishings, and manners -- began to be offset by a volatile Anglophobia in public affairs. EVEN THE meaning of being "American" began to undergo subtle but significant shifts. For most of the ; colonial period an "American" had meant an Indian. After 1763, however, polemical essays came to be signet with "Britannus-Americanus 1 and the like, a sign of change and ambiguity in., the,, colonist^, sense of identity. Eventually the 'American Farmer" acquired connotations of patriotism and ethnic comprehensiveness broad enough to include the polyglot sons of European parents, yet exclusive enough to s t r i p the native red Americans : of their geographic t r a d i t i o n a l palronym. What's in a name? Oftentimes a sense of identity. and sometimes even a sense of community. The more articulate leaders of American society attempted to describe their new sense of self and society. Their definitions depended partly upon economic assets and upon rustic s i m p l i c i t y , a n d educational opportunity. And in part they were : predicated upon growing .unity in political matters -- what one prominent liberal clergyman called, in 1766, a "communion ot colonies,'.' - . ·· . RAISING T H E colonists' cultural aspirations, and rais- ng their literacy r a t e s is. well,.had ideological implications not fully foreseen -or understood before 1775. Early n the 1770s. Franklin wrote that the numerous .new subscription libraries had ''irri- provcd the general conversation of the Americans, ! made the common tradesmen a n d farmers as intelligent as most gentlemen from other countries, and perhaps have contributed in some degree to the stand so 'generally made throughout the colonies in defense of their privileges." .The provincials thus began to believe in themselves; arid, wonderfully but intangibly'; 'the belief helped, .to- transform them. Their rustic deficiencies now appeared 'as advantages not, indeed, as virtues, ·Will To wear t "leathern «prwi Became a high mark et repubm can status, and no longer lh« debased condition ef boorisl journeymen. British' subject! were about to become AracrA can citizens', and the critic*} stages in their metamorphosis required both virtue and repubi licanism. Between .1776 ~iWf 1787. therefore, the Americans would have to redefint ; thf meaning and implication!--.-of those two concepts. . : · v .''?' · - - · ' -. .-..',''* Courses by Newspaper w»» developed by UCSD Extension and funded by grants from ihf National Endowment for.."th» Humanities, with a supplementary grant from the "EXX'On Education Foundation. i ' · . ' , . - J Next: Defining the RcpuMit of Virtue, 1776-1787, by Michael Kammen, professor of American history, Cornell ·University!, xf«V, n the Old World. Benjamin Franklin, in his amous "Observations Concern- ng the Increase of Mankind," wrote in 1751 that land was so Bountiful and cheap in America, :hat "a labouring man, that understands Husbandry, can in short time save money enough ;o purchase a piece of new land sufficient for a plantation, whereupon he may subsist a Family; such are not afraid to marry; for if they even look far enough forward to consider how their children when grown up are to be provided for, they see that more land is to be had at rates equally easy, all circumstances considered." THE QUALITY of life in America was actually more complex, of course, than Franklin in his optimistic mood let on. Death, for example, was not merely a fact of life, but often an ironic one. steadily increased during the period 1710-1760. In the early part of this period, from 17101719, 84 per cent of the planter families had a net worth in personal property of 100 pounds or less, while fewer than 1 per cent of such families had a net worth of 1,000 pounds or more. By the 1730s, those at the lower end if the scale constituted only 73 per cent, with 2 per cent worth 1,000 pounds or more; and by the 1750s, the comparable figures were 67 per cent and just under ?, per cent. Thus :he intermediate stratum of planting families -- with personal wealth between 100 pounds and 1,000 pounds -increased from 15 per cent to 25 per cent to 31 per cent in these years, while the lower echelons decreased in size proportionately. By 1760, two-thirds of the planter class in Maryland were really lesser farmers, and they were primarily responsible -for the growth of that colony's tobacco export. IN SOCIAL stratification had begun to make its appearance manifest, so too had an ethos of egalitarianism, at least among white m a l e s in their civic capacities -- an ethos that would come to fruition during the Revolution. In 1.775 Pennsylvania's laws were deemed "the mildest, and m o s t equitable " globe." THE UPS AND DOWNS OF EARLY AMERICA .. .are illustrated in drawing depicting the many facets of colonial life GLOBAL DISASTER IS FORECAST LOS ANGELES (AP) - The world's population will reach .almost 7 billion by the year 2000, inviting global disaster, unless the international birth rate is checked, says a top American demographer. Philander Claxton, a special assistant to the secretary 'of stale (or population matters, warned Friday that almost 800 million people now live on the verge of starvation or malnutrition in inany African, Asian and Latin American countries. With the birth rate in most of these countries averaging 3 per cent annually while their gross national product increases only at a annual rate of 2 per cent, he said, the peoples of these countries are doomed to a life »f constant poverty and hunger. At a World Population Conference at California State University at Los Angeles, Claxton warned that the shift of rural populations to urban centers in search of nonexisling jebs would result in an increasing breakdown of the social order. The READER ami/or STUDY GUIDE for "In Search of THE AMERICAN DREAM" are available from your local bookseller or from the publisher, NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY, P.O. Box 999, BergenlieW, NJ. 07621. Include the lisi price S4.SO (Reader) and/or S2.50 (Sludy Guide), plus 2SC p«r copy to cover handling and mailing costs. Please send check or money order--no currency or C.O.D.'s. Please allow three weeks for delivery. THE NEW AMERICAN LIBRARY, INC. P.O. Box 999, Bergenfield, New Jersey 07621 Please send me copy/copies of IN SEARCH OF THE AMERICAN DREAM: READER. (A Meridian Book, F421, S4.50 plus 25e postage and handling). PJtase send me copy/copie» of IN SEARCH OF THE AMERICAN DREAM: STUDY GUIDE (A Meridian Book, F422,12.50 plus 25C postage and handling). I am enclosing a total of $ Namt___-- '--' Addr«w_ City _St«t«- _Zip_ Flease allow three weeks for delivery. They're Unplugged FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) Members of the Wcbbic Armstrong family have found a way to beat the high cost of electricity. They've unplugged their * ' * £ ru'tvo-· vnu^ 1 i-r,} [:'(| a. i n --· I s 1 M u ^ U i · * $ * * } 'H 'U| n mrA defining citizenship in Virginia v r i * f i U p * V ' 4 f T f / a ^ ' (r- v .5f:U/. nuclear tyenergy: · *·:"·*£$$··"' '" VU i · V"'*,,'"'?""'4-' we're number 1 in the southwest II jg ; to deliver f nuclear power! v. *T · , "' ' f-fZ**^ i ·'- ,T* *» . ' S'*-/»V..^ ·sH sb - i, /*~- -~~?~ £v? k * '-·*'* *, L_lai. _: -I .F^C ' i^'iC.-,v ^. **· 'J ''4 r -a_ _Wi,^j.' Bold private'investor money has made possible the construction of two nuclear power plants near Russellville, Arkansas. We lead the Southwest in delivering vital nuclear power to our homes and industries in Arkansas. The hundreds of millions of private dollars in these projects are dedicated to helping meet the tremendous growing demand . for electric energy. In short, Arkahsas'leads again! Stand up For YOUR Arkansas JUST LIKE THE MANAGEMENT AND TAFF OF · \ all-electric home. "I think it's something that everybody may have to do sooner or later," Mrs. Armstrong said this week -- t h e family's third without power. SERVING N.W. ARKANSAS FOR OVER 100 YEARS Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce Arkansas Best Corp.

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