Restless Nation: Starting Over in America by James M. Jasper

By James M. Jasper

In stressed state, James M. Jasper isolates a story that lies very with regards to the center of the yank personality. From colonial instances to the current day, americans have continuously had a deep-rooted trust within the "fresh start"—a trust that also has american citizens relocating from position to put speedier than the voters of the other kingdom.

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Most American cities are monotonous right angles of streets laid out in regular blocks. A New Yorker will say, “Meet me at Twenty-Third and Tenth,” giving street names; a Chicagoan might say, “I live at 18 west and 47 north,” meaning the number of blocks from the center. There is a democracy to such grids, especially when the streets are numbered. How can Fourteenth Street be superior to Eighteenth? ) The same abstractly straight lines marched across the country in land grants as well as county and state borders.

If America helped inspire utopian schemes, it was also—as Daniel Boorstin has said—their burial ground. Collective projects continually gave way to individual ones. Even the modest elites that eventually emerged in the colonies used T H E L A N D O F T H E D R E A M 27 In the harsh conditions of the early settlements, there was hardly time for utopian projects. The Virginia Company needed its relentless publicity drives—with successive sales of shares, blizzards of enthusiastic pamphlets, official sermons, even public lotteries—just to keep its Jamestown settlement populated.

Their American dream differed slightly from the usual economic versions, but it was packaged just as carefully for export. If Europeans projected every manner of hope and fear onto the newly discovered hemisphere in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, later generations on all continents had their reasons for continuing the distortions. In her study of Salvadoran immigrants to Long Island in the 1990s, Sarah Mahler shows why immigrants, even those on the very bottom rung, portray their new country as the promised land in the letters 30 C H A P T E R O N E and videos they send home.

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