The America of how the modern world has known it to be would have not existed if it was not for the European colonizers and settlers. They have made it a point to expand the influence of whichever country they belong to (Britain, Italy, Franc, etc.) towards the undiscovered lands of the world. Though America at the time of expeditions and colonizations were already occupied by earlier settlers like the Native Indians, European men and women sought to civilize and tame these so-called barbarians.
This civilizing and taming, and the fact that these new people are running all over a land which has previously belonged to people became a catalyst for the fight for the established colonies’ liberation and freedom. The beginnings and progress of America are complex as it is a diverse cultural heritage that encompasses many races and nations. Of the many events in the American history, the ones which would most likely be remembered are the coming of the British colony and the inevitable unrest with the Native Americans.
With so much historical and political drama, Europeans who have established themselves in the New World gained any means to help fulfil their goal—and this is where revolutionary writing came into being. The years before the revolution—the early years of settlement—bore witness to record keeping and journal writing. Later on, American writing (in the personality of European breed literary figures), would focus on revolutionary literature until final giving emphasis on developing their society for the better.
This long and complicated history of America without a doubt was influenced by Europe—a fact which this research paper will focus on. The history of America is closely linked to European nations, most specifically on Britain and this close link can be proven by the literary exchange of the two countries. From the very beginning, America came into being because of Britain and until now, there are still many traces of how Britain sculpted America from raw clay and gave it the necessary, albeit unwelcome transformation and development.
The America’s Beginnings—Exploration and Colonization
Locating and discovering the literary exchange of Britain and North America can be achieved by reading of America’s history and its beginnings. The most early examples of American literature are those created by Britons themselves by the earliest known settlers in a time when America was known as what Amerigo Vespucci termed it to be—the ‘New World’.
The need and desire of the British to explore uncharted seas and undiscovered lands can be explained by three things mostly: as a means of money making opportunities, as a chance to preach the teachings of the Catholic Church and finally, as way to throw the criminals and scum of the British society. The money making opportunity can be seen as the many merchants in the 1600s—even Amerigo Vespucci is one of those many merchants and the land, spices and products that New World can offer was beyond imaginable. (BROOKS, LEWIS & WARREN 1973)
The expansion of the teachings of religion and the Church were pioneered by the Puritans as they sought the Native Indians and the many tribes it has. Colonialism by the British can be seen as a negative practice by the more powerful forces, and it has also had its negative and appalling effects by how the missionaries and the European officers have completely stripped the identity of the Native Indian tribes and more than forced them to accept the new teachings while eradicating the tribe’s previous teachings with the argument that such things were not true.
Ironically, while colonialism wanted to put forth new knowledge on “true” faith and eradicating unlawful customs, the nature of forcing the Christian faith towards people who are reluctant to accept them can also be judged as an unlawful act. (COHEN 2003)
The settlers in the British colonies were not mere adventurers and explorers, many of those who assisted Captain John Smith were also labourers and civilians that were thrown away by the British force and apprehended as criminals and nuisance to society; hence, what better way to use their wasted life than that to send them away to an unknown land and let them help build British colonies? (BROOKS, LEWIS & WARREN 1973)
The Settlement of Jamestown and Plymouth
There have been many settlements in the New World but most famous are the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke, Jamestown and Plymouth. The Lost Roanoke has no contributions whatsoever to America’s development but the fact that the colony disappeared without a trace is intriguing and interesting at its best. On the other hand, Jamestown and its famous Captain John Smith who is usually partnered with a Native Princess called Pocahontas has been famous not only for his journal entries regarding the real experiences of establishing the colony but also for his Romantic relationship with the Native Princess that was inevitably turned into a happily-ever-after Disney film.
This John Smith is the famous captain appearing in history and literature books and who has yearned, explored and conquered Virginia. Captain John Smith was an explorer, and when he built Jamestown, it only proved one thing; that is, when people dream big and when they exert all their effort and resources in making it happen, anything is possible. The Diary of Captain John Smith was a contribution to the literary world as well as a contribution to the history of Virginia and the whole United States.
It chronicled how John Smith and his team endured hardships and survived the harsh elements of nature as well as the savage tribesmen in the area. It was truly an account of “survival of the fittest” which eventually led to the climatic scene of John Smith’s capture and Pocahontas’ dramatic intervention. (GASCOIGNE 2001b & UNIVERSITY OF GRONINGEN 2006)
The colony of Plymouth also contributed to the development of both history and literature of America. William Bradford, a Puritan who established Plymouth Plantation in the early 1600s was the author of the journals that chronicled the British colony during the years 1620 to 1650. The famous Of Plimmoth Plantation compiled the years when Bradford was the governor of the said colony and those years were those filled with ‘calamities, miseries, and terrors’ that ‘gave the first expression…that America was the scene of a unique experiment’–the scene being that if ‘at once heroic and humane in spirit…[and] to some extent …an epic…Virginian mould’. (BROOKS, LEWIS & WARREN 1973)