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The Pilgrims And Pocahontas: Rival Myths Of American Origin

by Ann Uhry Abrams
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Product Details

  • Publisher: Westview Press
  • Publishing date: 19990618
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780813334974
  • ISBN: 0813334977

Synopsis

A fascinating comparative study of two myths that have shaped American culture not only at Thanksgiving and in the recent Disney film Pocahontas but also in the division between North and South in the Civil War and the way in which we have come to define our nation

From colonial times, Americans have sought to create a vision of our nation from the stories of our origin. From what roots, from what histories, have we created our identity? In this pursuit, Virginians have embellished Jamestown and Pocahontas. Similarly, New Englanders have sanctified the Pilgrims and their mythical first step on Plymouth Rock.

By comparing these two origin myths, investigating them in art, literature, and popular memory, Ann Uhry Abrams uncovers surprising similarities in traditions of remembrance as well as striking differences in the character of the myths and the messages they convey. During the heated debates of antebellum America, the escalating rivalry between North and South prompted an array of artists, authors, and politicians to refashion the legends to their needs, portraying the North as the pragmatic urban industrialist, the South as chivalric plantation cavalier. Tales of Jamestown and Plymouth bolstered debates over immigration, women's rights, abolition, Indian removal, and a host of other issues of national import. And when sectional rifts exploded into Civil War, the stories fueled the flames that pitted North against South.


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