Letter from an American Farmer
What then is the American, this new man? He is either an European, or
the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood which you
will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose
grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French
woman. . . . 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. . . . He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of
our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a
new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes
in the world. . . . This great metamorphosis has a double effect, it
extinguishes all his European prejudices, he forgets that mechanism of
subordination, that servility of disposition which poverty had taught him.
Source: Hector St. John CrA-vecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer,
composed in the 1770s, published in 1781.