The Puritan in Holland, England, and America: An Introduction to American History - Vol. 1

By Douglas Campbell | Go to book overview

THE PURITAN IN HOLLAND, ENGLAND, AND AMERICA

INTRODUCTION
THE PEOPLE AND INSTITUTIONS OF THE UNITED STATES

MOST American authors, and all Englishmen who have written of America, set out with the theory that the people of the United States are an English race, and that their institutions, when not original, are derived from England. These assumptions underlie all American histories, and they have come to be so generally accepted that to question them seems almost to savor of temerity. Perhaps, however, the temerity is only in the seeming. Hans Christian Andersen, in one of his charming tales, describes a royal court all of whose members believed that the emperor was arrayed in priceless garments from a magic loom, until he showed himself unclothed in the public street, and a little urchin blabbed the truth. Then every one perceived that the magic garments had no existence except in their imaginations. And so, when men and nations reach the stage in their development where they use their own eyes instead of echoing the thoughts of others, popular delusions often vanish before a breath.

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