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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
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
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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