Saturday, December 15, 2012

Ball Game Manscript final draft

Kellie Johnson 
Professor Coronado 
Archive Assignment Final Copy 
11 December 2012  
The Ball Game Manuscript 
The pursuit of knowledge is indeed a noble goal, and there are few places that offer the depth and extent of knowledge that is found in literature.  Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679 is certainly valuable in the knowledge that it offers. It provides historical insight on both the Spanish in early America, and on the Apalachee tribe, delving into what the relationship between the two groups looked like. In addition to being a wealth of historical knowledge, this account also provides valuable information on the Apalachee culture and customs. As a first hand account containing a depth of both historical and cultural knowledge, Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679, is a valuable piece of American literature with much to offer its reader. 
Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679, is a record written by Spanish clergyman, Reverend Father Friar Juan de Paiva (after referred to as Paiva), who was stationed at the Spanish mission settlement of San Luis de Talimali. The purpose of the Spanish mission settlements was to convert Indians to and educate them in Catholicism, and as a Friar at San Luis de Talimali,  Paiva was considered a spiritual shepherd or leader to the Apalachee people. (Perron). In the writing of this manuscript, Paiva was aided by two interpreters, one of which was an Apalachee leader,  who helped him better understand and translate what was told to him by the Apalachee people, this allowed him to create a more accurate account since it was based not only on his own observations, but also the knowledge passed on to him by the Apalachee people. Pavia's work was written in September of 1679 not as a document to explain Apalachee culture, but  as a document stating why he believed that the ball game, played by the Apalachee people, should no longer be played. Because of the nature of this document, it was seen by the people it concerned, but not published into a work until 1982. In 1982, John H. Hann, published it as part of a larger work on the Apalachee people, called Apalachee:the Land Between the Rivers. Hann's use of the document helps to show the historic value that can be found in it.  (Early visions of Florida).
While Paiva may have intended for his document to communicate why he believed the Apalachee people should no longer play their ball game, in doing so, he provides a very detailed description of the Apalachee tradition. This text is enormously valuable due to the fact that there are not many of its kind that exist.  It is one of very few documents in existence that provides a written first-hand account of a Native American custom. Many of the Native American tribes did not have a written language and so did not have a written record of their history or culture. Not only does  Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679 provide documentation of a piece of Native American culture, but has the added benefit of being a first- hand account, as it was written by Paiva who actually viewed the game, and spoke about it with the Apalachee people. Through this document, a piece of Native American history is preserved in a way that would have been impossible without a written record. Had the history of this tradition simply been passed on verbally throughout generations, as was common, it would have no doubt, been changed and distorted over time, but, contained within a written work it has been able to remain unchanged no matter how many generations separate it from when it was written to the present time. Clearly this makes  Paiva's manuscript a valuable piece of American literature, but its value does not end with its ability to preserve a part of Native American culture. The value of this document extends even further than that. 
There is great value in a work that can preserve traditions, namely those that would have otherwise died and been forgotten. If that was all that Paiva's manuscript on the Apalachee ball game accomplished, it would still be an incredibly valuable text, but Paiva's document manages to accomplish more than that, increasing the value of such a text. Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679, additionally provides insight into Spanish- Indian relations in southeastern America during this time period. First, this document shows the very religious tones in the relationship between the Spanish and the Indians. This can be seen not only in existence of the missions, but also in Paiva's reasons for writing the text in the first place. Paiva wrote this manuscript to express why he believed that the Apalachee people should no longer play their traditional ball game. One of Paiva's main reason's for wanting the game banned was because he believed it to be pagan and harmful to the salvation and wellbeing of the Apalachee people. Paiva's work is religiously based, as is his reason for being among the Apalachee people in the first place. While not all Spanish interaction with the Indians was religiously based, the interaction on the Spanish missions certainly was (Spanish Missions).

Another aspect of Spanish-Indian relations in San Luis de Talimali that can be seen in Paiva's manuscript, is the way that Native American culture and traditions are treated. From this document on the Apalachee ball game, one can see that Paiva expected certain Indian traditions to be abandoned. In this area, religion is once again an aspect. The Spanish expected the Indians to abandon their native religions and convert to Catholicism. The undertones of this desired conversion can be seen throughout the entire text, and once more can even be seen in the existence of the text itself. If the Spanish did not clearly expect the Indians to convert to Catholicism, there would have been no reason to dismiss their ball game on the grounds that it appeared to be a pagan practice. In regard to culture and tradition, this text shows that religion was not the only cultural aspect that the Spanish expected the Indians to give up. The ball game played by the Apalachee was considered one of their oldest traditions, It served as a form of sport, recreation, and as a way to settle disputes between tribes and clans without resorting to war. This aspect of their culture was valuable and important to the Apalachee people. Paiva recognized all that the ball game represented to the Apalachee people, and still expected them to give it up and adopt "more civilized" forms of recreation, or rather, a more spanish-like culture. This text give a first-hand look into Spanish dealings in regard to Native American culture and tradition, and shows how the Apalachee were expected to adapt to the Spanish ways, rather than the Spanish adapting to the Apalachee ways, regardless of the fact that it was the Spanish who were the newcomers in the Indian's native land. 
There is so much about the relationship between the Spanish and the Indians in southeastern American that can be learned from Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679; still another thing that can be seen through this text is the power relationship between the Apalachee and the Spanish. One can see that the Spanish felt themselves to be superior to the Indians, in that, they expected the Indians to convert to their religions and their ways. If the Spanish did not believe their ways to be better, then  there would have been no need for conversion. In his manuscript, Paiva also assumes that he should be able to stop the Apalachee people from playing their traditional ball game. To be able to order the Apalachee people to cease one of their oldest traditions, then the Spanish must be in a place of power over them, or else they would not be able to make the Indians submit to what they wanted. 
America even in the 1600's was a diverse place, but when looking at commonly read early American literature, the vast majority are works by people of English descent. In reading Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679, as a piece of early American Literature, it broadens the window of who the early Americans were. There are not many commonly read early American works by authors of Spanish descent, never the less, the Spanish role in early America was still important and influential to the development of the America that is known today. 
Origin and Beginning of the Game of Ball that the Apalachee and Yustagan Indians Have Been Playing Since Pagan Times until the Year of 1679, as a text has so much to offer as a piece of American literature. It serves to educate the reader culturally,   giving unique insight into a piece of Native American tradition. It is enlightening historically in many ways, and gives the reader a  better understanding of the people who inhabited Florida in the 1600's. The text provides a unique first-hand look into various aspects of the relationship between the Spanish and the Indians, including their power relationship, and views on customs and religion. This manuscript is valuable treasury, containing a wealth of knowledge and insight. While not a commonly read text, it has much to offer its reader.

"Works Cited"
"Apalachee (people)." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. < Apalachee>.

"Mission San Luis." European Age of Exploration. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <http://>.

"New Georgia Encyclopedia: Spanish Missions." New Georgia Encyclopedia: Spanish Missions. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. < nge/Article.jsp?id=h-572>.

De Paiva, Juan. "Early Visions of Florida." Juan De Paiva, Ball Game Manuscript. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <>

Perron, Mikaela. "Early Visions of Florida." Early Visions of Florida. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. <>.

Worth, John E. "Chapter 5 The Transformation of the Timucuan." The Timucuan Chiefdoms of Spanish Florida. Gainesville: University of Florida, 1998. N. pag. Print.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

“The Whistle”: Aldridge Rucker, “Franklin’s ‘Whistle’ Still Ringing True Today”

Aldridge Rucker
Dr. Teresa Coronado
English 226
13 December 2012

“The Whistle”: Aldridge Rucker, “Franklin’s ‘Whistle’ Still Ringing True Today”
     Commonly, while reading works from the canon of early American literature, one might feel alienated, or unable to relate to the material at hand; the settings and interactions, morality, daily routines, etc. all seeming foreign and even fantastical – or, at the least, a little different from contemporary life. However, not everything in Early America was entirely different. Some major problems in modern America took root in the Colonial days, and we feel the presence of these issues if not in an even stronger sense today. “The Whistle,” by Benjamin Franklin, written in 1779 and first published in 1921 by Brad Stephens & Company, is a truly American piece, years ahead of its time, and it deserves a place in the canon of American literature as it is a critical text on the effects of materialism (a truly relatable topic, given the 200 year gap) on one’s health.    
     Franklin’s work (originally written as a letter to a friend) points out the negative effects of having a materialistic mindset, a problem he observed in many of his fellow Americans. Although “The Whistle” is a brief piece, it touches on a wide range of issues concerning materialism that can still be felt, if not more predominately in modern society. In his book, Consumerism: As a Way of Life, Steven Miles supports Franklin’s keen observation by stating, “Everyday life in the developed world appears… to be dominated by our relationship with consumer goods” (1). Miles’ statement about modern society (similar to many contemporary opinions) shows how important the topic of materialism is today. Due to the modern relevance of the problems Franklin discusses, it is remarkable that “The Whistle” was written over 200 years ago.  With the potential flaws of materialism that Franklin discusses, his work also shows how it was a concern then, too.
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) is undoubtedly one of the most famous men in American history - he even holds the popular nickname “The First American” (Brands). In 1732, he began to issue the “Poor Richard’s Almanac” filled with “borrowed or composed… pithy utterances of worldly wisdom which are the basis of a large part of his popular reputation” (Franklin 3). So, Franklin gained a reputation through his literature, another reason why all his works are important. He also wrote, “Father Abraham’s Sermon,” which is “now regarded as the most famous piece of literature in Colonial America” (3). He gained fame in science, philosophy, literature, and public affairs among other realms (3). Although the highly esteemed Benjamin Franklin wrote many famous works of literature, “The Whistle” remains fairly unknown, despite its crucial depiction of early America and what Franklin viewed as a major problem – materialism.
In “The Whistle,” Franklin tells an anecdote of when he was younger in which he paid a large sum for a whistle which brought him great joy; however, after returning home, his parents laughed and told him he paid four times too much for the toy whistle’s worth (“The Whistle”).  This disheartened Franklin, and the idea of “paying too much for one’s whistle” became, to him, a metaphor for the way that some people place too much value in what he calls “things” (“The Whistle”). Franklin’s idea of “paying too much for one’s whistle,” is very similar to the idea of “materialism,” which can be defined as an “interest in and desire for money, possessions, etc., rather than spiritual or ethical values” (“The Whistle”; “Materialism”). 
What makes this such an important piece of American literature, is how throughout “The Whistle,” Franklin hints at the ways materialism can become a competition, effecting one’s relationships with others and how materialism can affect one’s own mental well-being. What also makes this piece so important is the way it touches on groundbreaking observations that show up in modern research.  
One way in which Franklin criticizes capitalism, is by pointing out flaws in competition – a major driving force of capitalism.  By stating, “When I saw one ambitious of Court favour, sacrificing his … Virtue and perhaps his Friend, to obtain it; I have said to myself, This Man gives too much for his Whistle,” Franklin seems to suggest that by desiring one thing so heavily, such as “court favour” (or flattery), one often sacrifices “virtue” and friendship (“The Whistle”). The quest for material, or impersonal things, becomes a competition, as Franklin suggests, standing in the way of personal relationships.  Franklin also states that, in search of these “things” (in this particular instance - “popularity”), one “neglect[s] his own Affairs, and ruin[s] them by that Neglect,” which can be interpreted as stating that one often forgets (“neglects”) family members or friends (“Affairs”) in the competition for wealth or material possessions, and even if they achieve the possession, they destroy their relationships in the process (“The Whistle”). Franklin furthers his critique of competition by suggesting that it becomes worse than a competition. In a normal competition, one is aware of his/her competitors; however, Franklin suggests that one becomes so consumed by the quest for material possessions, that one simply forgets about all other people entirely. In other words, materialism leads to selfishness, as one becomes solely concerned with self-gain.
Franklin’s idea of materialism becoming a selfish quest is supported by modern studies.
Russell W. Belk, Ph.D., states that, “materialism is an essentially egotistic trait that opposes altruism and… sharing” (Belk). Modern social scientist, Daniel Yankelovich, is quoted in Belk’s work as stating, “consumption has led American consumers away from each other,” which is also in agreement with Franklin that a materialistic mindset can destroy relationships (3). These contemporary ideas show how important and foretelling Franklin’s views truly were. The idea of the impersonality among those who “pay too much for their whistles,” or, materialistic types, again resonates in Belk’s argument, when he states that “our society of shoppers has produced social relations that are more impersonal… and certainly less community-minded than we wish” (3). All of this seems to suggest that while consuming is an important factor of capitalism, one must be careful not to let the luster of material objects, and the appeal of more abstract things such as popularity stand in the way of human relationships. However, disconnected relationships and selfishness aren’t the only negative effects of materialism that Franklin alludes to.
When discussing the drawbacks of “paying too much for one’s whistle,” Franklin also alludes to the psychological effects materialism can produce.  Franklin states how, while attempting to gain material possessions, some people “sacrific[e] every laudable Improvement of [their] Mind … ruining [their] Health,” which shows just how detrimental Franklin believed materialism to be to one’s mental health (“The Whistle”). This is another reason why Franklin’s, “The Whistle” is crucial to the literary canon; Franklin’s perception of the psychological problems of materialism are drastically ahead of his time as, today, this problem has been given notable scientific attention.  In his book, The High Price of Materialism, Tim Kasser states, “People who strongly value the pursuit of wealth and possessions,” (or, like Franklin says, people who “pay too much for their whistle,”) Kasser continues, “report lower psychological well-being than those who are less concerned with such aims,” in other words, putting high value on material objects can end up effecting one’s own mental health (2). This point only adds to the seriousness which Franklin took the subject of materialism among Americans.
In Franklin’s view, putting too much value on material items is “a great [misery] of mankind” (“The Whistle”). The grandiosity of this statement implies that Franklin (again, arguably one of the most famous and admired Americans in history) saw materialism as a major problem in American society and the seriousness in which this esteemed American viewed materialism again proves why this text is so crucial to a true depiction of American history.  
Although Franklin lists what he believes to be the reasons for materialistic pursuit; that is, the ultimate goals that he believes people are aspiring toward in their pursuits (“court favour,” “popularity,” “wealth,” “corporeal satisfactions,” “appearance,” and, perhaps the most materialistic, “cloathes [sic], fine houses,” and “fine furniture”), he never clearly indicates why, in his opinion, one might sacrifice his/her relationships and health for these objects (“The Whistle”). He only states that the “great Part of the Miseries of Mankind are brought upon them by the false Estimates they have made of the Value of Things,” in other words, the main argument Franklin is making is that one of the largest producers of “misery” in America, is the way that people place to much value on material things (“The Whistle”). The broad critique of American materialism made in “The Whistle” calls for many questions such as: What do people see as the ultimate reward of materialism? Do people think this reward is worth more than personal relationships? There are many questions proposed by “The Whistle” which are now being explored scientifically (Kasser).
All in all, Franklin’s incredible perception of his fellow men, especially impressive being written  at such an early time in American history before mass media advertising and shopping malls, begs for further exploration into why people place such a high value on material items and the scientific search, as stated earlier, is underway today.  The seriousness that many modern studies place on materialism and its impact on one’s health and relationships with others shows that Franklin’s “whistle” can still be heard today, now louder than ever.  Although “The Whistle” might be viewed as a brief parable, it not only contains a highly important lesson, especially to Americans, but also evidence that the darker side of materialism was rearing its ugly head over 200 years ago.

Works Cited
Belk, Russell W. "Materialism: Trait Aspects of Living in the Material World." Journal of               
_____Consumer Research. 12.3 (1985): n. page. Print

Brands, H. W. The First American, The Life And Times Of Benjamin Franklin. New York:                  Anchor, 2002. Print.

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. New York, NY: P F Collier 
            & Son Company , 1909. Print.

Franklin, Benjamin. "The Whistle." (1967): n.pag. Early Americas Digital Archive.          
______Web. 20 Nov 2012. <

Kasser, T. The High Price of Materialism. The MIT Press, 2003. Print.

“Materialism." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition.  
______HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. Web. 20 Nov. 2010.

Miles, Steven. Consumerism: As a Way of Life. 1st ed. Sage Publications Ltd, 1998. 

"On the Death of Benjamin Franklin: Doria DeBartolo, A Closer Look into the Progression Toward America's Current Value System

Doria DeBartolo
Professor Teresa Coronado
English 226
9 December 2012
On the Death of Dr. Benjamin Franklin: A Closer Look into the Progression Toward America’s Current Values System
            An endless amount of insight can be found within historical texts.  Non-fiction is direct in presenting information, whereas fictional pieces offer a fertile playground for analysis that can be used to uncover historical facts that an author may or may not have intended to share. From a story or poem we can extract information about the time in which a piece was written such as common religious practices, cultural identity, and possibly the origin of ideas that are widespread today.  This adds a unique layer to a close reading, and with the knowledge obtained through these historical readings we gain the power to better analyze our present, and possibly make some better educated predictions about our future. We see an example of a short but informative historical text within Phillip Freneau’s On the Death of Dr. Benjamin Franklin. In his poem, Freneau reveals the early beginnings of a small but significant piece of what we may or may not know as America’s present value system. 
            Freneau was born in New York City in 1752.  He found great value in his education and went on to attend Princeton University in New Jersey in the late 1760’s.  He was only nineteen years old when he graduated in 1771.  Just a few years later, the country immersed itself in The American Revolutionary War to fight for independence from Great Britatin, and Freneau served his duty as a soldier and privateer.  During the Revolution, he was captured as a prisoner of war.  Before the Revolution ended around 1783, he wrote one of his first well known poems entitled the British Prison Ship in 1781.  In his poem he revealed his hardships and feelings towards his experience as a prisoner on a British ship.  Freneau worked hard and soon became known as the first American Journalist.  He worked as a well-known and popular propagandist and satirist for the American Revolution as well as the Jeffersonian Democracy. He also edited several papers including the partisan National Gazette for Jefferson in Philadelphia from 1791-1793. Freneau had an insurmountable passion for his beliefs, and although he was extremely influential and popular among the citizens of the United States he never really gained much of a profit from his writing. (Phillip 1)
            Lewis Leary from the University of North Carolina agrees that Freneau is undoubtedly recognized as the "Poet of the American Revolution” (156).  However, he disagrees with the opinion of some who also refer to him as one of the “Father[s] of American Poetry” (Leary 156).  Some of his other poems include: The Wild Honeysuckle, The Indian Burying Ground, and Eutaw Spring, which all contributed greatly to his fame as one of America’s earliest and most important lyrics poets (Phillip 1).
            Freneau had a strong set of beliefs that he fought very hard for.  He was aware of his enormous talent to sway opinions through his unique writing style. The best tool that he had was his use of satires to capture the attention of his readers through sarcasm and irony. His popularity shows that many people agreed with his rather fresh stand point, and his beliefs reflected strongly on the general culture and values of the nation as a whole during these years. The late 1700’s were a time in which this country had gained the independence that had been long sought after.  Once this independence was achieved, the nation could finally begin to put more of a focus on its development as a separate country. People were just beginning to formulate their ideas of what it was they believed this country stood for, and they were also starting to foster a new set of ideals.
            Freneau’s poem On the Death of Dr. Benjamin Franklin was written in 1790 in the midst of the metamorphoses that was occurring in the United States.  This was a time when the nation experienced a relief from the stresses of war.  Many people suddenly had more time to develop new and exciting ideals and values that would one day grow to represent the American culture that we are so familiar with today. Freneau wrote this poem shortly after Benjamin Franklin’s death.  In it, he expresses his own personal mourning of such a great man, as well as the feelings of the American people toward the great loss.  Through his words, he briefly highlights the significance of Franklin’s accomplishments, as well as how he contributed to the representation of our country.  In line four of his poem Freneau says that Franklin “demands the tribute of our tears”.   He recognized that not everyone in the country may have found such value in Franklin, so he finds it necessary to stress his importance and demand a tribute to be paid to such an important figure.
            We also see a glimpse of Freneau’s  pride in his country’s triumph over England.  He says:
When monarchs tumble to the ground,   
Successors easily are found:   
But, matchless Franklin! what a few   
Can hope to rival such as you,   
Who seized from kings their sceptered pride
And turned the lightning darts aside (Freneau 13-18).
Here, we see that he sees no worth in a King and Queen and believes that they can be easily replaced due to their lack of unique talent and ability used to represent and lead a country.  He then goes on to express the immense value that a man such as Franklin has, and that he is indeed a man that cannot replaced.  In the final lines of the poem he claims that Franklin has stolen a sense of pride from the monarchs that they can never again achieve. Freneau and the rest of the country had a sense of pride that rested within public figures such as Franklin.  Many of them were once forced to allow their patriotism to reside within Kings and Queens that served no unique purpose to their country.  These Americans now seized the opportunity to express what they believed to be true and well deserved pride, and praise people who deserved to be praised.
            Franklin was indeed an extraordinary man who contributed hugely to our nation.  He devoted his life to enriching the lives of Americans through scientific studies that led to the discovery of the principle of conservation of charge, inventions such as the bifocal lense, and the founding of many organizations such as the American Philosophical Society.  Of course, he also had a significant hand in the separation of the United States and Great Britain.  Franklin’s brilliance and importance cannot be argued against.  However, it is wildly apparent within the words of this poem that the source of pride in this country was directly focused on the strength of the individual; it had nothing to do with the strength and beauty of our nation as a team.  In lines 9 through 12 the poem reads:
            So long accustomed to your aid,       
The world laments your exit made;           
So long befriended by your art,         
Philosopher, ’tis hard to part!— (Freneau 9-12).
In these first three lines we see the repeated use of the singular reference to one source of aid to America in the word “your”.  In the final line, Freneau pays tribute to one single “Philosopher” rather than a group of philosophers who worked to change the face of our country.  His partially unintentional use of singular nouns suggests a preference of the individual rather than a team.  This preference was widely accepted by the nation at the time, and this acceptance can be noted through Freneau’s significant popularity and influence on the people. 
            It is evident in this poem that the culture in the United States during the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s was beginning to place a blinding spotlight on the individual, and relied heavily upon these great thinkers, explorers, inventors, and leaders to be the heart of our nation.  When the apparent knowledge and culture of this emerging time in our nation’s history is obtained and considered, many of the ideas, culture, and values in particular that we as a country carry with us today become more apparent.  We even see this same idea being taught to our children in schools to this day.  We more often than not reward individual children for their singular work rather than supporting and advocating more group work. If students are academically gifted, we place them  in separate more advanced groups to work on their own.  Would it not be more beneficial to keep these students together with those who may be at a slight learning disadvantage?  They can then work together and learn from each other, and in turn bring bodies to a closer level of equality, and ultimately make them stronger socially and academically as a whole.
            If we have a better understanding of our beginnings, then we increase our ability to make the appropriate adjustments to better ourselves as a nation.  Once we realize and understand that the origin of these particular values is only a direct result of an impulsive leap of a nation from ideals that were once forced upon them.  During and after the American Revolution people wanted to move as far away as possible from the structure of a monarchy.  However, they had also never before seen a structure that was based on the equal work of a team.  Subsequently, they successfully had moved away from Kings and Queens serving as representation, but they did not progress from the idea of the individual.  Freneau’s poem helps us recognize a set a values that were not very well thought out.  Once we recognize this, we can work towards making more beneficial adjustments to our value system and ultimately help gear our country toward the happiness and success that everyone seeks to achieve individually, but rather accomplish this together.

                                                                         Work cited
Freneau, Phillip. “On the Death of Benjamin Franklin”.  American Poetry 1918. Early Americas
            Digital Archive. Web. 2 Oct. 2012.
Leary, Lewis. "The Dream Visions Of Philip Freneau." Early American Literature 11.2 (1976):
            156. Academic Search Complete. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.
"Philip Freneau." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6Th Edition (2011): 1. Academic Search  
            Complete. Web. 10 Dec. 2012.

The Sot-Weed Factor: Katlynne Davis, "The New World Versus the Old World"

Katlynne Davis

Dr. Teresa Coronado

English 226

13 December 2012
The New World Versus the Old World
            The genre of early American literature can conjure up images of Separatists fleeing religious persecution, preachers spewing out fiery sermons to cowering congregations, and many an Indian meeting death and destruction at the hands of English colonists. Undoubtedly, these issues portrayed by early American authors are crucial in understanding the country’s beginnings. Despite his status as a lesser-known American author, Ebenezer Cooke contributes his own unique and equally valuable perceptions to the American canon. Cooke and his poem “The Sotweed Factor; or, a Voyage to Maryland. ASatyr” both bring a rather unorthodox component to the colonial table: humor. In “The Sotweed Factor”, Cooke uses his satirical approach to express how these colonists were perceived by their English brethren, and also how they have deviated from English culture by way of their new lives in America. Cooke’s comical poem is not only a refreshing change, but it is also a text that provides readers with a window into life in the early American colonies.
            Although many works have been written about “The Sotweed Factor” as a piece of literature, biographical information concerning Ebenezer Cooke’s life is sparse. Ever since the 1660’s, Cooke’s family, beginning with his grandfather Andrew Cooke, had traveled back and forth between England and the Maryland colony in America (Cohen 7). In 1662, Cooke’s grandfather purchased 200 acres of land in Maryland where he later built his home (Cohen 7).  Both Cooke’s grandfather and his father resided temporarily at this residence, which was known as “Cooke Poynt” (Cohen 7). According to historical evidence, Ebenezer and his other siblings are considered Maryland natives who were, for the most part, raised in England (Cohen 8). It is possible that while in England, Cooke had been trained for a career in law, though no concrete evidence documenting his formal education exists (Cohen 9).  Historical records also suggest that Ebenezer Cooke had traveled to Maryland, perhaps around 1700 (Cohen 9). Unbeknownst to the author, this journey into the New World would ultimately produce the poem that defined his literary career.
After returning to England, Cooke published his work, “The Sotweed Factor”, in 1708 (Cohen 29). He then returned to the Maryland colony, where he was appointed to work as a deputy for Colonel Henry Lowe (Cohen 29). Although Cooke had sold his share of “Cooke Poynt” in 1717, he remained in Maryland for many years after (Cohen 29). Documents dating from the early 1720’s refer to Cooke as a “‘gentleman’ of Cecil County”, and in 1728 Cooke became a practicing attorney in the courts of Prince George’s County in Maryland (Cohen 36). At the end of some of his poems and in many of his other works, Cooke is referred to as the “Poet Laureate” of Maryland (Cohen 40).  However, there is, once again, a lack of historical evidence to substantiate whether or not Cooke had officially earned this title (Cohen 40). Cooke’s other works included the lesser known “Sotweed Redivivus”, a sequel to “The Sotweed Factor”, and a handful of elegies written in remembrance of close friends. In 1731, a curiously edited third edition of “The Sotweed Factor” was published in a collection known as The Maryland Muse (Cohen 70). In this edition, Cooke recants some of the harsher language and judgments of the colony that were included in the earlier version (Cohen 70). After 1732, Cooke’s name abruptly disappeared from any and all historical documents (Cohen 93). Although the end of his life is shrouded in some mystery, the legacy of Cooke’s “The Sotweed Factor”, along with its contributions to American literature, are undeniable.   
The most renowned and recognized of all of his poetry, Cooke’s “The Sotweed Factor” is largely significant in understanding American colonial life because of one key component: humor. However, the humor in Cooke’s “The Sotweed Factor” does not solely exist to entertain or criticize. Through the cynical eyes of the protagonist, Cooke reveals the transformations that have taken place between the now American colonists and their British counterparts. For the Factor, the two groups might as well be worlds apart, and in essence, they truly are. In the beginning of the poem, the Factor recognizes that he is leaving one cultural sphere and entering something completely new: “With heavy heart, concern’d that I / Was forc’d my Native soil to fly. / And the Old World bid good-buy” (Cooke 1). A factor was an agent of an English merchant who would travel to the colonies with products to trade (Cohen 10-11). A “sotweed” factor would trade his goods specifically for American-grown tobacco (Cohen 10-11). When the factor reached his destination, he would trade most of his cargo for a large quantity of tobacco, and then return to England (Cohen 11). Therefore, bound to his occupation, the Factor is “forc’d” to leave behind his home in England for the New World. The factor doesn’t find his financial prospects in America to be hopeful, but rather thinks he is “Condemn’d by Fate to way ward Curse” (Cooke 1). This journey across the Atlantic is more of a burden to the Factor than a blessing.
When he arrives in Maryland, the Factor is shocked by the people that he encounters. These colonists, once citizens of England, have strayed so far from British culture as a whole that they are not even recognizable to him. The factor ridicules the colonists, claiming that they have become a complete joke to humanity:
Figures so strange, no God design’d,
To be a part of Humane Kind:
But wanton Nature, void of Rest,
Moulded the brittle Clay in Jest (Cooke 2).
The Factor finds these people to be separate from mankind because they have changed so much that they are now “strange” to him and his culture. The colonists are not a product of God’s creation but rather a frivolous product of Nature, who has made them only “in Jest”.  In her article on “The Sotweed Factor”, Sarah Ford claims that through his satire, Cooke dissolves any ties that the colonists and British may share; the British view the uncivilized colonists as outsiders who have cut themselves off completely from British values and principles (1). In the Factor’s eyes, the colonists are a new and bizarre breed of people who contain no trace of their British cultural past. Once one and the same, Cooke recognizes that the colonists have grown away from the British colonizers to develop their own distinct American culture.  
            As the Factor travels through the Maryland colony, he discloses some reasoning as to why he believes the colonists have become so estranged from their English homeland. When he ventures out with a local planter, he expresses the same surprise upon encountering an Indian as he does when surveying the raucous planters:
            His sable Hair in Satchel ty’d,
            Shew’d Savages not free from Pride:
            His tawny Thighs, and Bosom bare,
            Disdain’d a useless Coat to wear (Cooke 7).
The colonists are not the only strange inhabitants of the Maryland colony; the Factor finds the “tawny” Indian truly peculiar with his odd customs and dress. He ties up his hair and chooses to wear no clothing, which is radically different from British standards. Consequently, the Indian, like the colonists, must be of a savage nature that is altogether foreign to the British mind. Cooke makes the comparison between the colonists and the Indians in more than one place, stating in the beginning of the poem that the planters of Maryland appear “In Hue as tawny as a Moor:” (Cooke 2). The tanned skin color of the planters who toil outdoors adds to their peculiarity, just as the Indian is gawked at for his bare “tawny” thighs. At the end of his journey, the Factor utters his ill-wishes towards the colony: “May they sustain the Fate they well deserve: / May they turn Savage or as Indians Wild,” (Cooke 17). According to the Factor, the distance between colonial behaviors and the descent into a savage Indian lifestyle is quite short. Cooke’s choice of language reveals that by living in a country populated with “savage” Indians, the colonists run the risk of becoming just as untamed, and perhaps they already are. Through the comparison to the Indian, the colonists are even further alienated as “outsiders” to the English culture. More importantly, Cooke’s satirical correlation between the two groups shows the prevailing attitudes of the English toward the American colonists in the early 18th century.
            Cooke does not reserve his satire exclusively for the Maryland colonists. He also criticizes the English sotweed factor for his incapacity to understand and adapt to this emerging American culture. Sarah Ford claims that Cooke’s humor is targeted at both the colonists and the English as the Factor “reveals himself to be a buffoon unable to negotiate life in the New World” (1). Ford’s concept of a “dual satire” is applicable in many comical situations that crop up throughout the poem (1). In the aforementioned experience concerning the Indian, the Factor is struck with panic and alarm as he encounters the strange native: “…surpriz’d with Fear, / I spur’d my Horse as he drew near:” (Cooke 8). Just as the Factor tries to make a quick escape, his newly-made acquaintance greets the man, convincing the Factor that, in truth the “…Brute was civel” (Cooke 8). Cooke’s protagonist unknowingly plays the fool in this instance, frantically urging his horse to carry him away from a virtually harmless situation. This situation demonstrates how little he actually knows about the American colony. He struggles to assimilate to the radical change of environment, but only succeeds in revealing his own inadequacies in understanding colonial life. Where the Factor was once the criticizer, he later assumes the role of the criticized. This instance of Cooke’s satirical poem further illustrates the divide that was growing between the English and the colonists by showing how the Old World English citizen grapples with New World colonial life.
            While Cooke’s humor in “The Sotweed Factor” is entertaining, it is closer to being a witty exaggeration rather than a genuine account of colonial life. As the Factor reluctantly trudges onwards, he is appalled when he becomes entangled in the crooked dealings of the Maryland courts. The colony’s legal system is just as untamed and wild as the colonists themselves: “The Jury, Lawyers, and their Clyents, / Contending, fight like earth-born Gyants:” (Cooke 10-11). Apparently the planters of Maryland cannot be civil, not even in court. Despite many popular assumptions among the English, Edward Cohen reveals that the colonial courts were often equal to their local counterparts in England (18). Cooke creates a caricatured image of colonial life through his exaggerated humor, an image that, although amusing, is not wholly true to life. However, further research confirms that Cooke and his sotweed factor are not alone in making unfounded assumptions about colonial life. In an 1844 letter to his mother and father, English immigrant Edwin Bottomley writes about his new life in the Wisconsin territory. Although Bottomley is writing nearly 140 years after Cooke, his letter proves that these exaggerations of American life die hard. Bottomley describes a friend of the family, Joseph Nobles who rumors that the Sabbath is not kept in Wisconsin territory. Edwin urges his parents to disregard this statement: “If you have heard of it, I hope you won’t believe him. The Sabbath is kept just as it is in England” (Bottomley June 27 1844). Not unlike Cooke’s example, Joseph Nobles assumes that in this wild American territory, religious customs are completely disposed of. Settlements in American territories receive the same scrutiny that the English colonies did almost a century and a half earlier, demonstrating the ongoing differences between a unique American identity and the English identity.
 “The Sotweed Factor” is a testament to the confliction, albeit a humorous confliction, between two different identities: the English identity versus the newly-forming American identity. Cooke provides a highly critical portrait of the American colonists that is based on his own personal experiences in Maryland while simultaneously revealing the prevailing attitudes that these two groups held toward one another. The English Factor views his colonial brethren as crude and inferior, but the colonists see the factor’s struggles in their world as his inability to assimilate and ultimately become American. Exaggerated at times, the sotweed Factor’s facetious journey through the Maryland colony exposes the early beginnings of America. The Old World that had colonized America was giving way to a distinctly American culture in the New World. 

Works Cited
Bottomley, Edwin. Bottomley Papers. 27 June 1844. M.S. University of Wisconsin-Parkside Archives.
Cohen, Edward H. Ebenezer Cooke: The Sot-Weed Canon. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1975.
Cooke, Ebenezer. “The SotWeed Factor; or, a Voyage to Maryland. A Satyr.” Early Americas Digital Archive. John Murphy Company, 1900. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
Ford, Sarah. “Humor’s Role in Imagining America: Ebenezer Cook’s The Sot-Weed Factor”. Southern Literary Journal. 35.2 (2003): 1-12. MLA International Bibliography. 17 Nov. 2012.