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How The Colonization Era Affected Authors Essay, Research Paper

The atmosphere of which a writer adapts to affects his/her works. The

writer’s environment, and the churnings of history that feed the writer,

gives him the material whereby he can construct, and create in. History, in

this instance the colonization of the American continent, dictates what and

how he is to write. Authors such as John Smith, William Bradford, and St.

Jean de Crevecoeur are all examples of this. The atmosphere or society these

authors were in directly affected the attitude, tone, genre, etc. of their

works. This can be shown both by facts in history and their actual writings

of that period.

During the 17th century Pilgrims, which were a group of Separatist Puritans,

disliked being in England and wanted to go to America for the right to

practice their religion freely (and in 1620 they received a patent from

Virginia which allowed them to settle in New England aboard the Mayflower).

In 1606, King James I granted a charter authorizing overlapping grants of

land in Virginia to two separate joint-stock companies, one based in London

and the other in Plymouth. Captain John Smith planned to conquer New

England’s “goodly, strong, and well-proportioned (Indian) people” and

establish an English colony there. He then led the Virginia Company of

London to successfully establishing the colony. His work The General History

of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles told about his colonization

process and explorations, as he described America as a utopian society.

As mentioned in his work, Smith maintained satisfactory relations with the

Indians, as shown by his letter to Queen Anne when he says “That some ten

years ago being in Virginia, and taken prisoner by the power of Powhatan

their chief King, I received from this great savage exceeding great courtesy,

especially from his son Nantaquaus. . . .And his sister Pocahontas, the

King’s most dear and well-beloved daughter, being but a child of twelve or

thirteen years of age, whose compassionate pitiful heart, of my desperate

estate, gave me much cause to respect her. . . .” Smith prevented Virginia

from disintegrating. This is shown in his piece, as he tries hard to

persuade people to come to America as shown by his statement “And surely by

reason of those sandy cliffs, and cliffs of rocks . . . . who can but approve

this a most excellent place, both for health and fertility.” This is also

more evidently shown in the statement “My purpose is not to persuade children

from their parents, men from their wives, nor servants from their masters . .

. but that each parish, or village, in city, or country . . .or young married

people that have small wealth to live on, here by their labor my live

exceeding well.” He concludes by saying that even though hard work is needed

to be a successful colonist in America, it is all worth it and is for the

better. All of these examples show that the environment Smith was in

influenced his writing (because his writing was mostly convincing people that

America was a good place to colonize). In general, his solicitation was

purposed to secure new colonists in America.

In contrast to Smith’s piece, which tried to reflect a strong image of

America, de Crevecoeur’s Sketches of Eighteenth Century America discussed in

more depth the hardship of living in America. His writing describes the

flaws of America because the environment he was in must have influenced his

thinking. He wrote that to a typical American colonist “. . . all that

appears good, just, equitable, has a necessary relation to himself and

family. He has been so long alone that he has almost forgot the rest of

mankind except it is when he carries his crops on the snow to some distant

market.” He also wrote that “He has had to struggle alone through numbers of

difficult situations and inconveniences; he, therefore, deals hardly with his

new neighbours.”

Bradford’s Of Plymouth Plantation also described the colonization of New

England, in particular a colony in the mouth of the Hudson River. He

describes the voyages, which included many storms and other tribulations, on

way to colonizing the colony. His writing was much less connotative then

Smith’s piece, and that’s reflected in the purpose of his writing because

Smith described things in much more detail so he can praise America in

contrast to Bradford, who wasn’t writing to accommodate people to America.

Many factors in America dealt with the colonization process. Literacy in

the 18th century was very high in New England. An estimated 90% of the

population was literate (this was because they were so involved with religion

thus requiring them to read a lot). Religion became a major factor in the

colonies, especially during the Great Awakening which represented an

unleashing of anxiety and longing among ordinary people living in a world of

oral culture-anxiety about sin, and longing for salvation. Throughout the

colonization of America, Indians were always a big factor. The colonists

consistently had wars with the Indians, mostly because the colonists were

trying to take their land. Slavery was also another major issue in the

colonization of America. African-American slaves were worked very hard (many

times they were worked to death). They were treated brutally and unfairly.

Slavery was the biggest factor in economic prosperity because they cultivated

the cash crops. The independence of the colonies was gained when, after a

colonial conflict in reaction to British taxes like the Tea Act, the second

continental congress declared independence and wrote the Declaration of

Independence.

Thus all of these events leading to the colonization of America

influenced writing during, and after, that time period. The works of Smith,

Bradford, and de Crevecoeur serve as a basis for future writings on the

history of colonization. The atmosphere created in these works is reflected

by the society during that time. That’s why the environment an author is in

so greatly affects his/her pieces of literature. For example, Smith might

not be able to write many of the things he did in his work in today’s time

because today’s society might oppose or disdain some of his ideas or his

stylistic approach to his conclusions. Therefore, the society or setting

present at a specific time is indicative of pieces of literature, as in the

colonization of America.


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