In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed on a new continent and blah, blah, blah…… You can go on and on about how America was discovered, about how (while ignoring the Spanish, the French, and the Native Americans) England settled North America and created a new nation with its 13 colonies (even though it only officially planned and established one colony, Georgia (the others were on their own)), and you can also talk about how our Founding Fathers wrote the Declaration of Independence but that’s all the usual and everyone-knows-about-it stuff. How’s that any fun? So here’s the gist of it: America wouldn’t even be called America if it weren’t for the people who came here.
Think of it like this, it’s 300 years ago and you are poor, live in dirt, and have no where to go. Suddenly a new continent surfaces with absolutely no system, no country, and most of all, can give you the means to restart your life. Focus on the fact that the Americas are basically a blank canvas (at least to the Old World people because they gave little consideration to the Native Americans). With so much promise, though of course with certain uncertainties, of religious freedom, land, freedom, the prospect of a new political system, freedom, a new way of living, freedom, freedom, and did I mention freedom? If you wouldn’t have to be an in debt farmer anymore, if you wouldn’t have to be chased out of your country just because you’re catholic, even if you wouldn’t have to have nothing just because your brother’s the oldest, doesn’t America really seem like the land of opportunities? So many people came to the US because of chances they wouldn’t find anywhere else.
It’s not just that the opportunities attracted so many people to America, it also attracted a variety of people here. Think about the English Puritans who built New England, the Dutch who traded fur along the Hudson River, the Scots-Irish who settled the frontier, the French who colonized Canada and the Mississippi delta, the Spanish who conquered much land in central America and South America. So many different races of the Old World collided when they arrived in America. When the Spanish landed in southern North America, they married the Native Americans there and the new generation became the Mexicans. When the French Acadians migrated to present-day Louisiana, they became the Cajuns. America isn’t just a mix of Old World cultures, it’s the birthplace of a new race of people. That’s why Mexicans celebrate Columbus Day as Dia de la Raza, or as the birthday of a new race of people. The minute Columbus set foot on here, the birthday of the American race (I guess you can call it that) became inevitable.
In fact, it’s still happening now. The people of the Old World continue to immigrate to the New World everyday. This flow of people is incessant. It didn’t stop once the 13 colonies were founded. That’s why there are millions of people in America. That’s why we have that Korean neighborhood by Northside. That’s why school applications (all applications really) say check all that apply: African-American, white, Asian/ Pacific Islander, Latin American, others. That’s why pretty much everyone I know give me a long list of all the countries they’re from. I mean sure there are people like my friend who is just Polish, like my neighbors who are just Philipino, or like me who is just Chinese. That’s why I say the flow never stops. The people of the Old World continue to come here. Eventually, their children will become Americans. So sure, you can say the US was created because of the Declaration of Independence. But I think that the millions of Americans, not Europeans, not Asians, not Africans, AMERICANS here now are much more of a proof of the foundation of America than some old piece of paper.
That’s why we have Chinatown.
– The American Pageant (11th edition)
– Chinatown, http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/06/Chicago_Chinatown_night.jpg/1024px-Chicago_Chinatown_night.jpg