Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecœur

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What are some examples of the features Crèvecœur believes distinguish Americans from people in other countries, according to his essay "What Is an American?"

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In his essay "What Is an American?" Michel-Guillaume-Jean de Crèvecœur characterizes Americans as industrious, egalitarian, intent upon improving themselves and their land, cooperative, and blended together from many nationalities. According to Crèvecœur, an American is "a new man, who acts upon new principles" and therefore embraces "new ideas" and forms "new opinions."

Americans are highly industrious. Many of them own land, and they work hard to farm it and care for it. Others practice their professions with a strong dedication. The land is rich, and the opportunities are vast for these hardworking people, and they strive to make the best use of everything available to them.

What's more, Americans are an egalitarian lot. The gap between the rich and the poor is not that large, the author explains. There is no king or aristocracy, no power to hold people in bondage. Most Americans are content to live modest lives of dignity and humility.

Yet Americans do try to improve themselves. In fact, they are dedicated to creating comfortable homes and farms, to educating their children as best they can, and to making their land work well for them. They also make excellent progress in the arts and sciences, striving to make life better for those who come after them.

Indeed, Americans are committed to working together. People form networks of community to support one another in their work and in their lives. They form free societies where everyone contributes to the good of others, even as they grow as individuals.

Finally, Americans, Crèvecœur asserts, are a blend of nationalities that have become a single people, a "new race of men." They may be English, French, Dutch, or something else by heritage and perhaps even by birth, but they are Americans at heart, and they have embraced a "new mode of life" and a new nation where they can live free.

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