Detail from William Winstanley, "View of the North (Hudson) River (Morning)," 1793, National Gallery of Art. The landscape painting was part of George Washington's collection and commended by Alexander Hamilton for its "great intrinsic merit" (Mountvernon.org via Mr. Faus).
Process-based writing wrap-up:
Introduction to unit 2:
Primary source-based discussion:
Read the two passages, below. As you read, consider:
Crèvecoeur: “What, then, Is the American?” (1782)
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur settled in New York and married the daughter of a prominent landowner after serving in the French army during the Seven Years’ War. He later returned to France and published a glowing account of life in the United States, entitled Letters from an American Farmer. A selection below is from that book.
Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a very few visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. We are a people of cultivators, scattered across an immense territory . . . united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws, without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We are all animated with the spirit of an industry which is unfettered and unrestrained, because each person works for himself. . . .
[T]hey are mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have risen. . . . In this great American asylum, the poor of Europe have by some means met together. Everything has tended to regenerate them; new laws, a new mode of living, a new social system; here they are become men. . . .
What then is the American, this new man? . . . He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.
Naturalization Act of 1790
During the Constitutional Convention, the framers of the Constitution intentionally omitted a constitutional definition of naturalization, and instead bestowed that power upon the Congress. Naturalization defines who is considered a U.S. citizen, including the process by which “aliens” or non-citizens can become citizens. The Naturalization Act of 1790 found below is the first legislative and legal definition of American nationality. As you read the Act, notice who is eligible and who is ineligible for citizenship.
. . . any Alien being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof on application to any common law Court of record in any one of the States wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such Court that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law to support the Constitution of the United States, which Oath or Affirmation such Court shall administer, and the Clerk of such Court shall record such Application, and the proceedings thereon; and thereupon such person shall be considered as a Citizen of the United States. And the children of such person so naturalized, dwelling within the United States, being under the age of twenty one years at the time of such naturalization, shall also be considered as citizens of the United States. And the children of citizens of the United States that may be born beyond Sea, or out of the limits of the United States, shall be considered as natural born Citizens: Provided, that the right of citizenship shall not descend to persons whose fathers have never been resident in the United States: Provided also, that no person heretofore proscribed by any States, shall be admitted a citizen as aforesaid . . . .
Homework: Assignment #201.