The Stranger in America, 1793-1806

The Stranger in America, 1793-1806

The Stranger in America, 1793-1806

The Stranger in America, 1793-1806

Excerpt

The traveller from any European country to America in 1793 experienced many hardships not properly appreciated by individuals who now read the records of those who ventured across the Atlantic. The physical discomforts of the long voyage presented by no means the only obstacles to the travelminded Englishman. The mental hazards were quite as difficult to surmount. The thought of a sojourn in the land of republican principles and supposedly boorish customs brought a chill to his enthusiasm for travel and a feeling of repugnance against the inquisitiveness of strangers. This attitude had been augmented constantly since the development among the colonists of a hostile spirit toward what they regarded as the unjust governmental policies of the mother country. The Revolution added to the resentment of the Americans and to what they conceived to be haughty arrogance on the part of the English, who never became reconciled to the loss of valuable natural resources.

The business man-of-the-world in England, however, did not allow his prejudices to interfere with his American trade. Yet the relationships which existed in matters of business did not dissipate the popular feeling that Americans in general were uncultured. During the years immediately following the war, the credit of the new republic steadily declined. Many Englishmen confidently expected the republican experiment to collapse, a belief fostered by desire as well as by a knowledge of conditions in the New World. Business relations became fewer, for foreigners evinced little desire to invest in any sort of speculation under the tottering power of the Confederation. But the firm hand of Washington and the protection assured to property under the Constitution brought their renewed interest in American resources. European men of affairs sought out the means of realizing quick returns . . .

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