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A Cultural Approach Essay

  • A Cultural Approach

    A Cultural Approach

    The cultural and developmental aspects of American history in the 17th and 18th centuries
    are certainly among the most important and influential factors in the shaping of this
    country's long and storied history. Historiographically speaking, there are undoubtedly
    thousands upon thousands of different studies and opinions on the most influential
    cultural strides of early Americans well as the pros and cons that each colonial region
    developed in shaping America and readying it for the Revolutionary Era. Each of these
    four studies brings a slightly different and even, at times, conflicting approach to
    analyzing the cultural and social roots of early America, but each one provides a fresh
    perspective that enhances the idea that America is a true "melting pot" of ideas, social
    values, and cultural traits.

    Zuckerman, in his article, focuses his attention on the middle colonies and the erroneous
    tendencies of historians to ignore controversial or pertinent historical issues in favor
    of obvious, harmless social arguments. Historians have focused on New England as the true
    "birthplace of America" because of its early literature and thought that focused solely on
    Puritanism, and therefore offered an obvious and easy starting point with which to measure
    the region's cultural metamorphasis. However, as Zuckerman points out, New England was
    fairly unrepresentative of the real America, as it was a homogenous society dominated by
    English Puritans and their inflexible doctrines and unstatic customs and economy. The
  • middle colonies, on the other hand, were made up of people of many different origins,
    races, and creeds, and their interrelationships are definitely more symbolic of American
    culture. Like most people's idea of America, the middle colonies developed a commercial
    culture ba!

    sed on a balanced economy, and, besides that, showed no real homogenous cultural traits
    that ran through the region. Indeed, most of the different groups that coexisted in this
    region did not intermingle with each other at all, but instead kept their own distinctive
    cultural and social habits. Because of this, the argument can be made that the middle
    colonies were not the heterogenous, "melting pot" culture that Zuckerman claims existed.
    After all, heterogenous seems to suggest a fusion of different types of people, when in
    fact these colonies offered more of a clannish type of policy when it came to dealing with
    their new neighbors. However, the simple fact that they coexisted with relative peace in
    such a dynamic and volatile atmosphere is evidence enough that the middle colonies were
    indeed representative of America's "melting pot" reputation.

    Jack Greene hypothesizes that the idea of mastery and the relationship between the new
    colonies and Great Britain were foremost in shaping America's colonial culture. Greene
    suggests that the idea of the English who migrated to the Americas was to achieve mastery
    over the rugged land of America as well as other groups, a mastery that was unavailable to
    them in their homeland. The problem with this mastery hypothesis is that it covers only
    the English migration to the New World, and only a relatively small portion of that group.

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