Letters from an American Farmer
1. What then is the American, this new man? He is either a European, or the
2. descendant of a European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will
3. find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was
4. an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and
5. whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an
6. American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners,
7. receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new
8. government he obeys, and the new rank he holds.
9. The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are
10. incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever
11. appeared, and which will hereafter become distinct by the power of the
12. different climates they inhabit. The American ought therefore to love this
13. country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born.
14. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his
15. labor; his labor is founded on the basis of nature, self-
16. interest; can it want a stronger allurement? Wives and children,
17. who before in vain demanded of him a morsel of bread, now, fat and
18. frolicsome, gladly help their father to clear those fields whence exuberant
19. crops are to arise to feed and to clothe them all; without any part being
20. claimed, either by a despotic prince, a rich abbot, or a mighty lord.
21. Here religion demands but little of him; a small voluntary salary to the
22. minister, and gratitude to God; can he refuse these? The American is a new
23. man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas,
24. and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence,
25. penury, and useless labor, he has passed to toils of a very different nature,
26. rewarded ample subsistence—This is an American.
Why does the author go from specific nationalities to the generic “wives of different nations”?