When I went to work in my fields [following his marriage], I worked with more alacrity and sprightliness. I felt that I did not work for myself alone, and this encouraged me much. My wife would often come with her knitting in her hand, and sit under the shady tree, praising the straightness of my furrows and the docility of my horses. This swelled my heart and made every thing light and pleasant, and I regretted that I had not married before. I felt myself happy in my new situation, and where is that station which can confer a more substantial system of felicity than that of an American farmer…?
- J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer
The book that took shape in the years before and during the American Revolution embodies the personal crisis induced by momentous political events. It is at once the fullest literary expression of America’s coming into being … and a moving exploration of the meaning of ‘revolution’ in the personality of any previously established self.
- Susan Manning
Is there then no superintending power who conducts the moral operations of the world as well as the physical? The same sublime hand, which guides the planets round the sun with so much exactness, which preserves the arrangement of the whole with such exalted wisdom and paternal care, and prevents the vast system from falling into confusion, doth it mankind to all the errors, the follies, and the miseries, which their most frantic rage, and their most dangerous vices and passions can produce?
It is for the sake of the great leaders, on both sides, that so much blood must be spilt; that of the people is counted as nothing. Great events are not achieved for us, though it is by us that they are principally accomplished; by the arms, the sweat, the lives, of the people.
What must I do? … Shall I discard all my antient [sic] principles, shall I renounce that name, that nation, which I once held so respectable? … Must I be called a parricide, a traitor, a villain; lose the esteem of all those whom I love to preserve my own; be shunned like a rattle-snake, or be pointed at like a bear?
I cannot count the multitude of orphans this war has made, nor ascertain the immensity of blood we have lost. Some have asked whether it was a crime to resist, to repel, some parts of this evil. Others have asserted, that a resistance so general makes pardon unattainable and repentance useless…. What one party calls meritorious, the other denominates flagitious [criminal]. … What can an insignificant man do in the midst of these jarring contradictions…?