Tag Archives: Essay

America is… Diverse

A couple months ago I wrote a blog post called Changes in the Deep South. Now my dad asked me to write a second one. For my second America Is… project I have decided to write about how America is diverse and how this makes America what it is today. On our trip we have seen many different types of people, cultures, and religions in the states we have visited and the effect they have on an area. Some of the most noticeable were the Mexican influence in the southwest, the French influence in New Orleans, and the Chinese influence in California.

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An Adobe House In New Mexico

When we were visiting Texas, the Southwest, and Southern California we saw a lot of Mexican influence in the food, people, and culture. Many of these states used to be part of Mexico.In 1836 Texas seceded from Mexico and became a republic and later its own state in 1846. Then in 1848 California, most of Arizona, about half of New Mexico, as well as other states became territories of the United States. Today many people in these places speak Spanish, especially in the more southern parts. Another Mexican influence on these areas is the architecture. Many of the buildings in New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California are adobe buildings and houses. When we were visiting in Santa Fe almost every building was built out of adobe and in southern California there are many Spanish Mission style houses. Art and music are also influenced by Mexican culture. In many of these places we had radio stations in Spanish. In San Antonio, we visited a museum and saw the work of Mexican-American artists. One giant difference that is everywhere in the Southwest is Mexican food, such as tacos, quesadilla, sopapilla, green chillies, and my favorite, fajitas. Overall much of the Southwest is influenced by Mexico still today.

Floats Being Prepared For Mardi Gras

Floats Being Prepared For Mardi Gras

Another culture that influenced America is the French. New Orleans used to be part of France until 1803 when it was bought by President Thomas Jefferson. Besides the French there were also many Cajun people in New Orleans. The Cajuns were French speakers from what is now parts of Nova Scotia, Eastern Quebec, and Maine. Now there is a large French influence on the traditions, food, and many other aspects of life in New Orleans. When we were there Mardi Gras was only a few days away. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is one of the biggest celebrations in New Orleans, one that was originally French. The food of New Orleans was influenced by the French and Cajun cultures for example we had French beignets and Cajun jambalaya. While we were in the city we went to look at the French quarter were we saw many houses and buildings that had a French style of architecture like wrought iron balcony rails. This combination of cultures creates one of the most unique cities in America.

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China Town In San Francisco

When we were in California we saw how people coming from China have influenced the state now but also in the past. During the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) very few Asians came to America. Today, people coming from China and other Asian countries make up some of the largest groups of immigrants to America. In California we saw the influence that Asian cultures have had on this region. In San Francisco we went into Chinatown. While we were there we went to a museum about how the Chinese helped to shape America and especially California. It showed how expansion of America was made possible by the Chinese laborers who built the railroads and then when gold was discovered in California ran undesirable businesses like laundries, restaurants and did manual labor. Even outside of China Town there were many Chinese food places and many Asian people in general. While we were in these Chinese parts of town it was fun to see food and gifts that we saw from China here in America. Overall I think that the Chinese have helped to shape how America has advanced by creating the railroads and influencing California.

These are some of the ways that our country is culturally diverse and how this diversity affects certain regions today. In America there are many other ethnic groups such as the Irish and Italians in New England, the Mormons in Utah, African-Americans in the Southeast and northern cities, and Scandinavians in the northern plain states. Overall I think that this cultural diversity is a big part in America being what it is today: a free, prosperous, industrious, and technologically advanced country with many opportunities for everyone in it.

Boston Now and Then

When we were in Boston we went on a tour called the Freedom Trail. This is a trail that took us around Boston and to many of the sites that were important in the Revolution. On the trail we realized that many things were different in the time of the American Revolution: their daily life, their relations with Britain, and warfare were all different from modern times. Here are a few examples:

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Printer with a hand painted picture of the Boston Massacre

Today, many of the things that we have are very convenient. They are cheap, easy to make, and easy to buy. But during colonial times, most things took a long time to make and weren’t always cheap and available. For example in Boston we learned that chocolate used to only be a drink. The chocolate was made in to hard chunks. These were too hard and bitter to eat by themselves so they added sugar and water to make hot chocolate. Then they would only drink it in small cups because it was very sweet and the sugar and chocolate were very expensive. Usually making the blocks of chocolate would take a couple of hours and would be very hard to make which is why it cost so much. Another example from the Freedom Trail is when we visited a printing shop where the person was printing copies of the Declaration of Independence. It was very interesting because we saw how the printing press worked. When they wanted to print something they had to place each individual letter on the printing board! This would take the printer hours to make each paper. Imagine if you had to print multiple sheets of paper each with 900+ letters and putting them in the correct place. Then the printer took two giant stamps and put ink on the letters. Finally he put the sheet down and pulled a lever that put thousands of pounds of pressure on them. When it came out it looked like a newspaper today but with no pictures or color. This took so long to do that people didn’t make papers every day like they do today because it took so much work. Chocolate and printing are just two examples of things were different about daily life back then.

Also today, England is one of America’s greatest allies. Our countries help each other in many ways, but during revolutionary times the British and the colonists didn’t get along very well. During the Revolutionary War period Britain didn’t like America. They thought that the people in America couldn’t rule themselves and that they belonged to Britain because they had settled the colonies. The colonists thought that they were British too and because of this they should have the same rights as the people in Britain. The British didn’t agree with this and they taxed the colonists. This made them mad so when a British ship with tea (one of the main taxed goods) came into a port in Boston the people dressed up like Native Americans and threw the tea into the harbor. The British didn’t like this at all and they sent troops to Boston and as punishment closed the port so that no ships could come in. The people in Boston were starving and many of the people were not making any money. Before this had happened the different colonies had not paid much attention to each other but now all of the colonies were sending food and other things to Boston to help them against the British. Another thing that the Boston Tea Party did was that it stirred up hate against the British. The other colonies started thinking about Revolution and started training militias to fight against the British army. All of this shows how the British treated the colonists and how the colonists responded rebelliously to them

Modern warfare is based on stealth, speed, and accuracy. The war between colonists and British soldiers was out in the open, slow, and inaccurate. During the Revolutionary War the soldiers would stand in lines and shoot all at once.This might sound kind of dumb but there is a reason behind all of this. The guns they used were incredible inaccurate so if they all stood in a line and shot then they would hit more people than if each person aimed at one enemy. They stood so close because the muskets could hit a person 75 feet away at most.  During the war the British had another problem. The muskets at that time made huge amounts of smoke when they were fired and no one knew who was the enemy and who was not. So they decided that they would just wear big red coats. This was a great plan because then it was clear that they were the British and their soldiers would not be confused who was who. However, there was one flaw. It was also perfectly clear to the enemy that they were the British and that was who they were to shoot. So when the colonists were hiding to ambush the British, they would see the bright red coats. All in all the British might have been the strongest army of the time but they might not have been the smartest. Both armies used tactics much different from todays.

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Revolutionary War reenactment

As you can see in the time of the Revolution many things were different from the way that they are now. They had a difficult overall lifestyle, unbearable relations with each other, and unproductive ways of fighting. I think that it was interesting to see how people lived back then and I hope we can see more of how people lived at different times.