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History 135: American History to 1877. Introduction. I. Was America a Mistake?. An 18th century essay contest Guillaume-Thomas Raynal philosopher, professional crank v. Adam Smith. A. Biological/natural inferiority. 1. 1780s - Comte de Buffon

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I was america a mistake
I. Was America a Mistake?

An 18th century essay contest

Guillaume-Thomas Raynalphilosopher, professional crank

v. Adam Smith

A biological natural inferiority
A. Biological/natural inferiority

1. 1780s - Comte de Buffon

“It is a great and terrible spectacle to see one half of the globe disfavoredby nature that everything found thereis degenerate or monstrous.”

2. Warfare among nation-states 1550-1815

3. Individual brutality


4. Racial degeneration

coureurs de bois (French) mestizos (Spanish)

a. “mixed” couples

b. diluted religion

c. genocide

C mob politics
C. Mob politics

1. Dark side of people

Ii empire of reason
II. Empire of Reason?

John Locke tabula rasa


My friends and children, we are descended from the old nations which live beyond the great water, but we and our forefathers have been so long here that we seem like you to have grown out of this land. We consider ourselves no longer of the old nations beyond the great water, but as united in one family with our red brethren here. - to the Wolf and People of the Mandan Nation, 1806

A nature s nation
A. Nature’s Nation

Frederick Jackson Turner“Frontier Thesis” 1893

Americans as:

democratic egalitarian materialistic aggressive

B cry liberty
B. Cry Liberty!

  • Reconcile cultural dominance w/ national legacy

  • The Spirit of ‘76

The american experience
The American Experience

  • How have Americans defined “liberty”?

  • What are the limits “liberty”?

  • What are the contradictions in American history and society?