A Cultural Approach Essay

This essay has a total of 967 words and 4 pages.

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.
After all, many English people chose to relocate to America for a wide variety of reasons
that had nothing to do with mastery over others, and mastery was surely not at the top of
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