Saturday, November 27, 2004

Becoming American

Nathanael discusses an article on how Americans came to think of themselves as a continental society.

The English colonists combined the category of the continent with their perception of the relationship with the land. Drake sees the Boston Tea Party as revealing: it shows how the colonists identified themselves as the new indigenous people of the Americas. It was not just the local Native Americans that they were replacing, but a whole continent of people who, in their opinion, did little to develop the civilization of the continent. The new Americans were there to do what the old Americans failed to do.

Drake, in the process of comparing Spanish and Anglo-America, draws on an event from Mexican history that resembles the Boston Tea Party. The Spanish Mexicans never saw themselves as the replacements for the natives; they were overlords and conquerors. Nevertheless they took the identity of Indians to protest the policies of the mother country...


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