by user








American History, Civilization,
Culture, & Literature
La scoperta: primi viaggi
Vichinghi: X sec. ca.
Vichinghi: X-XI sec.
Rotte atlantiche via Islanda & Groenlandia
Cristoforo Colombo
Viaggi di Colombo
The Voyagers
• Esploratori europei (A. Vespucci, G. Caboto,
G. da Verrazzano; G. Ponce de Leon—2^ metà
XV° sec.)
• Esploratori inglesi, coste della Virginia
(Jamestown 1607) e della Carolina (XV-XVI
• Insediamenti temporanei lungo la costa,
finalità puramente commerciali, scambi con le
tribù native, ricerca di merci preziose (pelli;
The Voyagers
Esploratori/avventurieri inglesi:
mentalità «imprenditoriale»; reclutamento di
nuove forze in madrepatria e promozione delle
nuove terre scoperte; opportunità commerciali
agli inizi della colonizzazione, scopi meramente
Capt. John Smith e suoi scritti/relazioni di
viaggio (A Description of New England, 1616; The
General History of Virginia, New England, and the
Summer Island, 1624)
John Smith:
A Description
of New England
“IN the moneth of
Aprill, 1614. with two
Ships from London, of
a few Marchants, I
chanced to arriue in
New-England, a parte
of Ameryca . . . ”
A Description of New England
IN the moneth of Aprill, 1614. with two Ships from London,
of a few Marchants, I chanced to arriue in New-England, a
parte of Ameryca … our plot was there to take Whales and
make tryalls of a Myne of Gold and Copper. If those failed,
Fish and Furres was then our refuge … we found this
Whale-fishing a costly conclusion: we saw many, and spent
much time in chasing them; but could not kill any … For our
Golde, it was rather the Masters deuice to get a voyage that
proiected it, then any knowledge hee had at all of any such
A Description of New England
Fish & Furres was now our guard … in Iuly and August some
[fish] was taken, but not sufficient to defray so great a charge as
our stay required. Of dry fish we made about 40000. of Cor fish
about 7000. Whilest the sailers fished, my selfe with eight or
nine others of them might best bee spared; Ranging the coast in a
small boat, wee got for trifles neer 1100 Beuer skinnes, 100
Martins, and neer as many Otters … With these Furres, the
Traine, and Cor-fish I returned for England in the Bark: where
within six monthes after our departure from the Downes, we safe
arriued back. The best of this fish was solde for fiue pound the
hundreth, the rest by ill vsage betwixt three pound and fifty
A Description of New England
New England
New England is that part of America in the Ocean Sea opposite
to Noua Albyon in the South Sea; discouered by the most
memorable Sir Francis Drake in his voyage about the worlde. In
regarde whereto this is stiled New England, beeing in the same
latitude. New France, off it, is Northward: Southwardes is
Virginia, and all the adioyning Continent, with New Granado,
New Spain, New Andolosia and the West Indies. Now because I
haue beene so oft asked such strange questions, of the goodnesse
and greatnesse of those spatious Tracts of land, how they can bee
thus long vnknown, or nor possessed by the Spaniard, and many
such like demands; I intreat your pardons, if I chance to be too
plaine, or tedious in relating my knowledge for plaine mens
A Description of New England
That part wee call New England is betwixt the degrees of
41. and 45 … that parte stretcheth from Pennobscot to Cape
Cod, some 75 leagues by a right line distant each from other:
within which bounds I haue seene at least 40. seuerall
habitations vpon the Sea Coast, and sounded about 25
excellent good Harbours; In many whereof there is ancorage
for 500. sayle of ships of any burthen; in some of them for
5000: And more then 200 Iles ouergrowne with good
timber, of diuers sorts of wood, which doe make so many
harbours as requireth a longer time then I had, to be well
A Description of New England
The others are called Massachusets; of another language, humor
and condition: For their trade and marchandize; to each of their
habitations they haue diuerse Townes and people belonging; and
by their relations and descriptions, more then 20 seuerall
Habitations and Riuers that stretch themselues farre vp into the
Countrey, euen to the borders of diuerse great Lakes, where they
kill and take most of their Beuers and Otters. From Pennobscot
to Sagadahock this Coast is all Mountainous and Iles of huge
Rocks, but ouergrowen with all sorts of excellent good woodes
for building houses, boats, barks or shippes; with an incredible
abundance of most sorts of fish, much fowle, and sundry sorts of
good fruites for mans vse.
A Description of New England
Florida is the next adioyning to the Indes, which
vnprosperously was attempted to bee planted by the
French. A Country farre bigger then England, Scotland,
France and Ireland, yet little knowne to any Christian,
but by the wonderful endeuours of Ferdinando de Soto
a valiant Spaniard: whose writings in this age is the
best guide knowne to search those parts.
A Description of New England
Virginia is no Ile …. but part of the Continent adioyning
to Florida; whose bounds may be stretched to the
magnitude thereof [ … ] from the degrees of 30. to 45. his
Maiestie hath granted his Letters patents, the Coast
extending South-west and North-east aboute 1500
miles […] giues entrance into the Bay of Chisapeak,
where is the London plantation: within which is a
Country . . . may well suffice 300000 people to inhabit [
… ] posterity may be bettered by the fruits of their
The Pilgrims
“Non-conformists” nel regno di James I (inizi ‘600)
per motivi religiosi; prima in Olanda (Leyden) poi
ritorno in G.B. e inizio del viaggio da Plymouth al di
là dell’Atlantico; fine Nov. 1620 sbarco a Cape Cod,
poi verso l’interno della baia, primo insediamento:
Plymouth Plantation. Primi contatti, rapporti e
scambi con i nativi.
William Bradford: History of Plymouth Plantation
William Bradford (1590-1657)
History of Plymouth Plantation
(written 1630-1650, published 1856)
La lotta tra Bene e Male; persecuzioni lungo i secoli;
riferimento alle fonti bibliche.
L’ Inghilterra del 1500/inizi 1600: persecuzioni
contro i «dissenters» e loro esilio in Olanda;
peripezie d’ogni genere tra Inghilterra ed Olanda;
decennio di permanenza nei Paesi bassi
Decisione di emigrare verso l’America; enormi rischi
ed incognite ma grande speranza nel progetto,
coraggio, e fede in Dio
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IV)
The place they had thoughts on was some of
those vast and unpeopled countries of America,
which are frutfull and fitt for habitation, being
devoyd of all civill inhabitants, wherther are
only salvage and brutish men, which range up
and downe, litle otherwise then the wild beasts
of the same.
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IV)
… a great hope and inward zeall they had of
laying some good foundation, or at least to make
some way therunto, for the propagating and
advancing the gospell of the kingdom of Christ
in those remote parts of the world; yea, though
they should be but even as stepping-stones unto
others for the performing of so great a work.
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. VII)
AT length, after much travell and these debats, all things were
got ready and provided. A smale ship was bought, and fitted in
Holand, which was intended as to serve to help to transport
them, so to stay in the euntrie and atend upon fishing and shuch
other affairs as might be for the good and benefite of the colonie
when they came ther. Another was hired at London, of burden
about 9. score; and all other things gott in readines. So being
ready to departe, they had a day of solleme humiliation, their
pastor taking his texte from Ezra 5. 21. “And then at the river, by
Ahava, I proecaimed a fast, that we might humble ourselves be f ore our God,
and seeke o f him a right way for us, and for our children, and for all our
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IX)
SEPTR: 6. These troubls being blowne over, and now all being
compacte togeather in one shipe, they put to sea againe with a
prosperus winde, which continued diverce days togeather, which
was some incouragmente unto them; yet according to the, usuall
maner many were alicted with seasicknes. […]
After they had injoyed faire winds and weather for a season, they
were incountred many times with crosse winds, and mette with
many feirce stormes, with which the shipe was shroudlyshaken,
and her upper works made very leakie; and one of the maine
beames in the midd ships was bowed and craked, which put
them in some fear that the shipe could not be able to performe
the vioage.
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IX)
… after longe beating at sea they fell with that land which is
called Cape Cod; the which being made and certainly knowne to
be it, they were not a litle joyfull. After some deliberation had
amongst them selves and with the mr. of the ship, they tacked
aboute and resolved to stande for the southward (the wind and
weather being faire) to finde some place aboute Hudsons river
for their habitation. But after they had sailed that course aboute
halfe the day, they fell amongst deangerous shoulds and roring
breakers, and they were so farr intangled ther with as they
conceived them selves in great danger; and the wind shrinking
upon them withall, they resolved to bear up againe for the Cape,
and thought them selves hapy to gett out of those dangers before
night overtooke them, as by Gods providence they did.
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IX)
And the next day they gott into the Cape-harbor wher they ridd in
saftie. A word or too by the way of this cape; it was thus first named by
Capten Gosnole and his company, An. o: 1602, and after by Capten
Smith was caled Cape James; but it retains the former name amongst
seamen. Also that pointe which first shewed those dangerous shoulds
unto them, they called Pointe Care, and Tuckers Terrour; but the
French and Dutch to this day call it Malabarr, by reason of those
perilous shoulds, and the losses they have suffered their.
Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell
upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought
them over the vast and furious ocean, and delivered them from all the
periles and miseries therof, againe to set their feete on the firme and
stable earth, their proper elemente. And no marvell if they were thus
joyefull . . .
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IX)
Being thus passed the vast ocean, and a sea of troubles
before in their preparation (as may be remembred by that
which vente before), they had now no freinds to wellcome
them,) nor inns to entertaine or refresh their weatherbeaten
bodys, no houses or much less townes to repaire too, to
seeke for succoure. It is recorded in scriptures, as a mercie
to the apostle and his shipwraked company, that the
barbarians shewed them no smale kindnes in refreshing
them, but these savage barbarians, when they mette with
them (as after will appeare) were readier to fill their sids full
of arrows then otherwise.
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IX)
And for the season it vas winter, and they that know the winters
of that cuntrie know them to be sharp and violent, and subjecte
to cruell and feirce stormes, deangerous to travill to known
places, much more to serch an unknown coast. Besids, what
could they see but a hidious and desolate wildernes, full of wild
beasts and willd men? and what multituds ther might be of them
they knew not. Nether could they, as it were, goe up to the tope
of Pisgah, to vew from this willdernes a more goodly cuntrie to
feed their hops; for which way soever they turnd their eys (save
upward to the heavens) they could have litle solace or content in
respecte of any outward objects.
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. X)
Incontri con i «nativi» (inizi Dic. 1620):
Scaramucce nella baia di Cape Cod, oggi «First Encounter Beach»:
scambio di frecce e colpi di moschetto…
Incontro con Massasoyt e Squanto: «But about the 16. of March a
certaine Indian carne bouldly amongst them, and spoke to them in
broken English, which they could well understand, but marvelled at it.
At length they understood by discourse with him, that he was not of
these parts, but belonged to the eastrene parts, wher some Englishships carne to fhish, with whom he was aquainted, and could name
sundrie of them by their names, amongst whom he had gott his
language. He became proftable to them in aquainting them with many
things concerning the state of the cuntry in the east-parts wher he
lived, which was afterwards profitable unto them; as also of the people
hear, of their names, number, and strength; of their situation and
distance from this place, and who was cheefe amongst them. »
History of Plymouth Plantation (Ch. IX)
His name was Samaset; he tould them also of another Indian whos
name was Squanto, a native of this place, who had been in England and
could speake better English then him selfe. Being, after some time of
entertainmente and gifts, dismist, a while after he carne againe, and 5.
more with him, … and made way for the coming of their great Sachem,
called Massasoyt ; who, about 4. or 5. days after, carne with the cheefe
of his freinds and other attendance, with the aforesaid Squanto. With
whom, after frendly entertainment, and some gifts given him, they
made a peace with him (which hath now continued this 24. years)
After these things he returned to his place caled Sowams, some 40.
mile from this place, but Squanto continued with them, and was their
interpreter, and was a spetiall instrument sent of God for their good
beyond their expectation. He directed them how to set their corne,
wher to take fish, and to procure other comodities, and was also their
pilott to bring them to unknowne places for their profitt, and never left
them till he dyed.
History of Plymouth Plantation (2nd book)
«The Mayflower Compact» (Nov. 21, 1620)
In ye name of God, Amen. We whose names are underwriten, the loyall
subjects of our dread soveraigne Lord, King James, by ye grace of God, of Great
Britaine, Franc, & Ireland king, defender of ye faith, &c., haveing undertaken,
for ye glorie of God, and advancemente of ye Christian faith, and honour of our
king & countrie, a voyage to plant ye first colonie in ye Northerne parts of
Virginia, doe by these presents solemnly & mutualy in ye presence of God,
and one of another, covenant & combine our selves togeather into a civill body
politick, for our better ordering & preservation & furtherance of ye ends
aforesaid; and by vertue hearof to enacte, constitute, and frame such just &
equall lawes, ordinances, acts, constitutions, & offices, from time to time, as
shall be thought most meete & convenient for ye generall good of ye Colonie,
unto which we promise all due submission and obedience. In witness wherof
we have hereunder subscribed our names at Cap-Codd ye 11. of November, in
ye year of ye raigne of our soveraigne lord, King James, of England, France, &
Ireland ye eighteenth, and of Scotland ye fiftie fourth. Ano: Dom. 1620.
(1635 ca. – 1678):
The sovereignty and goodness of GOD,
together with the faithfulness of his
promises displayed, being a narrative of
the captivity and restoration of Mrs.
Mary Rowlandson, commended by her,
to all that desires to know the Lord's
doings to, and dealings with her.
Especially to her dear children and
relations. Written by her own hand for
her private use, and now made public at
the earnest desire of some friends, and
for the benefit of the afflicted. Deut.
32.39. “See now that I, even I am he, and
there is no god with me, I kill and I
make alive, I wound and I heal, neither
is there any can deliver out of my hand.”
On the tenth of February 1675, came the Indians with great
numbers upon Lancaster: their first coming was about sunrising;
hearing the noise of some guns, we looked out; several houses
were burning, and the smoke ascending< to heaven. There were
five persons taken in one house; the father, and the mother and a
sucking child, they knocked on the head; the other two they took
and carried away alive.
There were two others, who being out of their garrison upon
some occasion were set upon; one was knocked on the head, the
other escaped; another there was who running along was shot
and wounded, and fell down; he begged of them his life,
promising them money (as they told me) but they would not
hearken to him but knocked him in head, and stripped him
naked, and split open his bowels. Another, seeing many of the
Indians about his barn, ventured and went out, but was quickly
shot down. There were three others belonging to the same
garrison who were killed; the Indians getting up upon the roof of
the barn, had advantage to shoot down upon them over their
fortification. Thus these murderous wretches went on, burning,
and destroying before them.
At length they came and beset our own house, and quickly it was
the dolefulest day that ever mine eyes saw. The house stood upon
the edge of a hill; some of the Indians got behind the hill, others
into the barn, and others behind anything that could shelter
them; from all which places they shot against the house, so that
the bullets seemed to fly like hail; and quickly they wounded one
man among us, then another, and then a third. About two hours
… they had been about the house before they prevailed to fire it …
Now is the dreadful hour come, that I have often heard of (in
time of war, as it was the case of others), but now mine eyes see
it. Some in our house were fighting for their lives, others
wallowing in their blood, the house on fire over our heads, and
the bloody heathen ready to knock us on the head, if we stirred
Now might we hear mothers and children crying out for
themselves, and one another, “Lord, what shall we do?” Then I
took my children (and one of my sisters’, hers) to go forth and
leave the house: but as soon as we came to the door and
appeared, the Indians shot so thick that the bullets rattled
against the house, as if one had taken an handful of stones and
threw them, so that we were fain to give back. We had six stout
dogs belonging to our garrison, but none of them would stir,
though another time, if any Indian had come to the door, they
were ready to fly upon him and tear him down. The Lord hereby
would make us the more acknowledge His hand, and to see that
our help is always in Him.
But out we must go, the fire increasing, and coming along behind
us, roaring, and the Indians gaping before us with their guns,
spears, and hatchets to devour us. No sooner were we out of the
house, but my brother-in-law (being before wounded, in
defending the house, in or near the throat) fell down dead,
whereat the Indians scornfully shouted, and hallowed, and were
presently upon him, stripping off his clothes, the bullets flying
thick, one went through my side, and the same (as would seem)
through the bowels and hand of my dear child in my arms. One of
my elder sisters' children, named William, had then his leg
broken, which the Indians perceiving, they knocked him on [his]
head. Thus were we butchered by those merciless heathen,
standing amazed, with the blood running down to our heels.
My eldest sister being yet in the house, and seeing those woeful
sights, the infidels hauling mothers one way, and children
another, and some wallowing in their blood: and her elder son
telling her that her son William was dead, and myself was
wounded, she said, "And Lord, let me die with them," which was
no sooner said, but she was struck with a bullet, and fell down
dead over the threshold. I hope she is reaping the fruit of her
good labors, being faithful to the service of God in her place. In
her younger years she lay under much trouble upon spiritual
accounts, till it pleased God to make that precious scripture take
hold of her heart, "And he said unto me, my Grace is sufficient for
thee" (2 Corinthians 12.9).
… the Indians laid hold of us, pulling me one way, and the
children another, and said, "Come go along with us"; I told them
they would kill me: they answered, if I were willing to go along
with them, they would not hurt me […] I had often before this
said that if the Indians should come, I should choose rather to be
killed by them than taken alive, but when it came to the trial my
mind changed; their glittering weapons so daunted my spirit,
that I chose rather to go along with those (as I may say) ravenous
beasts, than that moment to end my days; and that I may the
better declare what happened to me during that grievous
captivity, I shall particularly speak of the several removes we had
up and down the wilderness.
The Puritan
Predominio della teologia e dottrina puritane: teoria della
predestinazione (“Elect” vs. “Reprobate”); antinomia insanabile
Bene/Male, Dio/uomo, Fede/Opere, Libro della Scrittura/Libro
della Natura, senso della Missione (pubblica)/senso di
alienazione (individuale-privata).
Dovere individuale della conversione, consenso verso la comunità
dei “visible saints/Elect” e la loro autorità (divina); rigore morale,
conformità, intolleranza verso il dissenso come minaccia sia
“riconversione” o espulsione (Antinomians: Roger Williams >
Rhode Island; Anne Hutchinson; Quackers & William Penn >
Pennsylvania). Società teocratica e congregazionalista;
importanza fondamentale dei “covenant” civili e religiosi e loro
assoluto rispetto (anche per la Dichiarazione di Indipendenza del
The Puritan
Modello “tipologico-figurale” ispirato all’Antico Testamento,
auto-identificazione con l’esilio del “popolo eletto”,
America=nuovo Eden, millenarismo, ostacoli (Indian &
wilderness + dissenter), centralità del binomio Fede + Opere
(non più in antitesi ma in sintesi) cifra caratteristica dei primordi
Progressivo “allentamento” della tensione iniziale; ostacoli e
disastri (naturali-climatici, epidemici, indiani) visti come
castighi divini; episodio della “witch hunt” di Salem (1692) e
contraccolpi negativi (perdita del senso di fiducia in sé stessi e
nella giustezza dei propri giudizi). Tentativi di recupero della
fede originaria (Cotton Mather: Magnalia Christi Americana)
Istituzioni: “Massachusetts Bay Colony” e suoi “Governors” su
base elettiva (John Winthrop, dinastia dei Mather, ecc.) Scritti di
natura essenzialmente religiosa e devozionale.
Developments (XVII-XVIII c.)
The Thirteen Colonies
Settlement and expansion
The Natives
European influences
The War of Independence (1775-1783)
The Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies
The Thirteen Colonies
Colonie britanniche della costa orientale del nord America,
fondate dal 1607 (Virginia) al 1733 (Georgia). Sistema di
autogoverno su base rappresentativo-elettiva (voto maschile e
per censo, quindi relativamente limitato) da parte di proprietari
terrieri indipendenti + rappresentatività anche nelle corti di
giustizia locali; non vi sono partiti politici ma solo
“rappresentanti” dei vari gruppi di base. Popolazione formata per
la maggior parte da bianchi di discendenza inglese, irlandese,
scozzese e gallese, più piccola parte di Tedeschi e Olandesi. Dal
1830 grandi ondate migratorie dall’Europa. Pratica della
schiavitù: per il lavoro domestico e nelle piantagioni degli Stati
del Sud (Virginia, Maryland, South Carolina)
The Thirteen Colonies
1754 Albany Congress: “disunione” tra le colonie (nonostante gli
sforzi di George Washington); richiesta di maggiori diritti e
proteste contro la tassazione da parte della madrepatria
(decennio 1760/70) e contro la sua economia mercantilistica
ristretta agli scambi tra madrepatria e colonie (e l’Impero
britannico) a tutto svantaggio di queste ultime (tasse, dazi e
barriere doganali, ecc.) che inoltre avevano il divieto (“Navigation
Acts”, 1651, 1733) di commerciare con altre nazioni (Francia
Spagna Olanda ecc.) Crescente scontento delle Colonie nei cfr.
della madrepatria e delle sue limitazioni ed imposizioni. Proteste
contro lo “Stamp Act” ( 1765) e principio di “no taxation without
representation”: il Parlamento britannico imponeva tasse alle
Colonie, ma esse non erano rappresentate nel Parlamento
The Thirteen Colonies
Tassa sul the ed episodio del “ Boston Tea Party” (1773). Reazioni
britanniche "Intolerable Acts” (1774) e contro-reazioni delle Colonie:
creazione (elettiva) dei “Provincial Congresses”. Boicottaggio delle
merci britanniche e Primo e Secondo Congresso Continentale (1774 e
1775): espulsione di tutti gli Ufficiali Reali e costituzione di un
Governo Nazionale, e chiamata alle armi sotto il comando di G.
Washington: Dichiarazione di Indipendenza (1776) del nuovo stato
sovrano: gli Stati Uniti d’America formato da: Delaware, Pennsylvania,
New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts Bay, Maryland,
South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina,
Rhode Island--Providence Plantations; Guerra di Indipendenza (177583); Trattato di Parigi (1783); Costituzione degli Stati Uniti d’America
(1787); George Washington eletto primo Presidente degli Stati Uniti
d’America (1789); creazione della capitale, Washington D.C. (1791). Le
colonie più a Nord e più a Sud (Nord British West Indies,
Newfoundland, Quebec, Nova Scotia, East and West Florida) rimasero
fedeli alla Corona e non parteciparono alla Guerra di Indipendenza.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
La Dichiarazione di Indipendenza, benché non sia
divisa in parti e costituisca quindi un testo unico ed
indivisibile, può esser considerata come articolata in
cinque sezioni:
1) Introduzione;
2) Preambolo;
3) Accusa nei confronti di Giorgio III d’Inghilterra;
4) Denuncia del popolo britannico;
5) Conclusione.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
1) Introduzione
Asserisce come principio della Legge Naturale la libertà di un
popolo di acquisire l’indipendenza politica, sulla base che tale
indipendenza dev’essere ragionevole/razionale, e pertanto
esplicabile, e che dovrebbe quindi essere spiegata:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to
dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to
assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to
which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect
to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which
impel them to the separation.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
2) Preambolo
Sottolinea una filosofia generale di governo che
giustifica la rivoluzione, quando un/il governo lede i
diritti naturali (di un popolo):
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form
of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People
to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its
foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to
them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence,
indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed
for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn,
that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to
right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But
when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same
Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their
right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new
Guards for their future security.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
3) Capi d’accusa (al Sovrano britannico):
Un elenco di particolareggiati dettagli che documentano le
ripetute offese ed usurpazioni da parte del Sovrano contro i
diritti e le libertà degli “Americani”:
Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the
necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.
The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated
injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an
absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a
candid world.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the
public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing
importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be
obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of
people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the
Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable,
and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose
of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly
firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be
elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have
returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the
mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and
convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that
purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to
pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions
of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to
Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices,
and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers
to harass our people and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the
Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the
Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our
constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts
of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders
which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province,
establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries
so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the
same absolute rule into these Colonies
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and
altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with
power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War
against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of
our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of
death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy
scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against
their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves
by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the
inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an
undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms:
Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose
character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a
free people.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
4) Denuncia
Questa parte conclude il caso a favore dell’indipendenza. Le
ragioni/condizioni che giustificano la rivoluzione sono orami state
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned
them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable
jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration
and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and
we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these
usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.
They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must,
therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them,
as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
Dichiarazione di Indipendenza
5) Conclusione
I firmatari della Dichiarazione dichiarano che esistono condizioni sotto le
quali un popolo ha il dovere di cambiare il proprio governo, che gli Inglesi
hanno provocato tali condizioni, e quindi necessariamente le Colonie devono
scrollarsi di dosso il giogo della Corona britannica e divenire stati
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress,
Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions,
do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and
declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent
States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political
connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved;
and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace,
contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which
Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm
reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives,
our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
European Influences
Settlement and Expansion
Two early American women-poet
Anne Bradstreet
Phillis Wheatley
Anne Bradstreet: <<The Tenth Muse>>
Anne Bradstreet: <<The Tenth Muse>>
Anne Dudley Bradstreet (1612-1672) prima donna poeta
in terra Americana e tra le maggiori voci poetiche
dell’America. Poesie: The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in
America (London, 1650). Si forma sui classici greci e
latini: Omero, Esiodo, Tucidide, Plutarco, Virgilio, Livio,
Plinio, Svetonio, Ovidio, Seneca; e moderni inglesi:
Spenser, Sidney, Milton, Raleigh, Hobbes (più la
Bibbia). 1628 ca. Anne sposa Simon Bradstreet
(assistente del padre). 1630: le famiglie emigrano in
America --area di Boston: Salem, Charlestown,
Newtown, Ipswich, Andover. Dal 1633 al 1652 otto figli.
Anne Bradstreet: <<The Tenth Muse>>
• Mal sopporta la dura vita coloniale, ma obbedisce alla
religione famigliare, e non smette di scrivere poesie.
Tematiche: conflitti interiori emotivi e religiosi di una donnapoeta in epoca puritana: antitesi uomo vs. donna (poetessa) e
tensione interiore per esprimere la propria individualità in una
cultura ostile all’autonomia soprattutto femminile; “pietà” vs.
poesia; peccato e redenzione; fragilità emotiva e fisica
(malattie, morte); brevità della vita, morte, immortalità;
piaceri della vita famigliare vs. promesse ultraterrene; Dio del
Puritanesimo vs. affetti terreni (vivo amore per il marito, per i
figli, per i vicini); Storia del Passato e disegni della
Anne Bradstreet:
“To My Dear and Loving Husband”
If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me ye women if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold,
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay;
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persever,
That when we live no more we may live ever.
Anne Bradstreet:
“By Night when Others Soundly Slept”
By night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.
I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow’d his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.
Anne Bradstreet:
“By Night when Others Soundly Slept”
My hungry Soul he fill’d with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.
What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I’ll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Loue him to Eternity.
Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley
Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784), originariamente una piccola
schiava dall’Africa, divenne una delle più note poetesse del XVIII
sec. in America. Protetta dalla famiglia del suo padrone a Boston,
accolta con entusiasmo ed onore in GB, conobbe politici
americani e aristocratici britannici. Emblema degli abolizionisti
americani come esempio che un “negro” poteva essere un artista
ed un intellettuale. Originaria del Senegal/Gambia giunse a
Boston a ca. sette anni. Per la magrezza e la fragilità, non venne
destinata alle piantagioni del Sud, e nell’Agosto 1761 fu acquistata
dalla famiglia Wheatley che aveva bisogno di un aiuto domestico.
Phillis Wheatley
Lì rivelò la sua precoce intelligenza, e le venne insegnato a leggere
e scrivere. Studiò la Bibbia, astronomia, geografia, storia,
letteratura inglese, i classici greci e latini. Le sue poesie (spesso
d’occasione) cominciarono ad apparire quando aveva poco più di
dieci anni. La sua Elegia per la morte del Rev. Whitefield” (1770,
‘71) ne decretò la fama (publ. Boston, Newport, Philadelphia e
Londra). All’età di 28 anni in procinto di pubblicare la prima
raccolta, si recò a Londra, dove fu accolta da aristocratici,
abolizionisti, filantropi. I suoi Poems on Various Subjects,
Religious and Moral uscirono a Londra nel 1773. Generi preferiti:
elegia; riscrittura di miti classici; “epica americana” (Columbia).
Il tema più originale consiste nell’adattamento del simbolismo
biblico alla condizione degli schiavi neri.
Phillis Wheatley
Il 3 Marzo 1774 Phillis fu “liberata” dal suo padrone. Negli anni
successivi tutta la famiglia Wheatley scomparve, e Phillis sposò
John Peters, un “nero libero”, nell’Aprile 1778. La loro vita divenne
sempre più difficile e precaria (anche per la Guerra di
Secessione), forse ebbero figli, Phyllis, povera e malata, non cessò
di scrivere ma non riuscì a pubblicare nel poco tempo che le
rimase da vivere (solo postumo). Phillis Wheatley scrisse ca. 150
poems quasi tutti perduti, e ottenne maggiori riconoscimenti
(artistici e “politici”) in GB che non in America. Recentemente
sono state scoperti maggiori documenti e legami tra Phillis
Wheatley e l’Abolizionismo (da lei paragonato in alcuni testi alla
schiavitù del popolo d’Israele in Egitto).
Phillis Wheatley:
“On Being Brought from Africa to America”
‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
“Their colour is a diabolic die.”
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
Phillis Wheatley:
“To S.M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works”
To show the lab’ring bosom’s deep intent,
And thought in living characters to paint,
When first thy pencil did those beauties give,
And breathing figures learnt from thee to live,
How did those prospects give my soul delight,
A new creation rushing on my sight!
Still, wondrous youth! each noble path pursue;
On deathless glories fix thine ardent view:
Still may the painter’s and the poet’s fire,
To aid thy pencil and thy verse conspire!
Phillis Wheatley:
“To S.M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works”
And may the charms of each seraphic theme
Conduct thy footsteps to immortal fame!
High to the blissful wonders of the skies
Elate thy soul, and raise thy wishful eyes.
Thrice happy, when exalted to survey
That splendid city, crowned with endless day,
Whose twice six gates on radiant hinges ring:
Celestial Salem blooms in endless spring.
Calm and serene thy moments glide along,
And may the muse inspire each future song!
Phillis Wheatley:
“To S.M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works”
Still, with the sweets of contemplation blessed,
May peace with balmy wings your soul invest!
But when these shades of time are chased away,
And darkness ends in everlasting day,
On what seraphic pinions shall we move,
And view the landsapes in the realms above!
There shall thy tongue in heavenly murmurs flow,
And there my muse with heavenly transport glow;
No more to tell of Damon’s tender sighs,
Or rising radiance of Aurora’s eyes;
For nobler themes demand a nobler strain,
And purer language on the ethereal plain.
Cease, gentle Muse! the solemn gloom of night
Now seals the fair creation from my sight.
Biblio- e Sito-grafia
Baym, N. gen. ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: WW
Norton, 1998 (e successive). Literature to 1620: John Smith (102-119); Early
American Literature 1620-1820: William Bradford (164-204); Anne Bradstreet
(246-281); Mary Rowlandson (297-329); Phillis Wheatley (824-840)
Cunliffe, M. Storia della letteratura americana. Torino: Einaudi, 1990 (e successive).
I° vol.: Introduzione (3-20), I: America coloniale (21-50), II: Premesse e problemi
dell’ indipendenza (51-86);
Fink, G., Maffi, M., Minganti, F., Tarozzi B., a c. di. Storia della Letteratura
americana. Firenze: Sansoni, 1991 (e successive). Parte I: Dal Mayflower alla
Rivoluzione (1-54).
Ford, B. ed. The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Penguin: London and
New York, 1991 (e successive. Vol. 9 “American Literature”, part 1: Literatue and
Society in Colonial America (3-29);
Pearce, R.H., ed. Colonial American Writing. New York-Chicago-San Francisco .
(“The Voyager”; “The Pilgrim”; “the Puritan”; “Puritan Poetry”);
Stern, M.L. and Gross, S.L. ed. American Literature Survey. Harmondsworth and
New York: Penguin (Viking Portable Library) 1978 (e successive). Vol. I Colonial
and Federal to 1800 (parti su John Smith, William Bradford, Mary Rowlandon,
Anne Bradstreet);
John Smith, A Description of New England (1616)
William Bradford: History of Plymouth Plantation
Mayflower Compact (text)
Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson
Anne Bradstreet (poems)
Phillis Wheatley (poems)
Fly UP