The American Character

What Westerns tell Us About Americans, Then and Now

Here is another article I wrote for The Everyman Commentary, readers:

What Westerns tell Us About Americans, Then and Now

The original European settlers of what is now the United States came to America fleeing trouble. This may have been religious persecution or a myriad of other difficulties, effects, and frictions, but the predominant desire of the early settlers was to avoid the absolute control exerted by European governments. The unduly harsh “Bloody Code” of England, with its several hundred crimes that were punishable by death, is perhaps the best example of this administrative power, which was common throughout the Continent.

With the discovery of a New World that was an ocean away from the laws and regulations that bound them, the first American colonists sailed west to establish themselves in a place free of European governmental obstructions. They still considered themselves Englishmen, but now they were free Englishmen who did not owe the Crown more than was its due. Likewise the Dutch, Germans, Poles, Irish, and others who followed them also found they had more opportunities for self-improvement and advancement than they had in their home countries.

But eventually the British government tried to re-establish its control over the descendants of those who had escaped its easy grasp. With improvements in cartography, ships, and frequent trade boosted by the colonies’ increasing economic strength, it was inevitable that the Crown and Parliament would attempt to re-assert their power over their distant subjects. Following the French and Indian War, they enacted numerous taxes such as the Stamp Act not only to pay off the debts they incurred during the war, but also to remind their far-flung subjects who was in charge.

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