America First Hand. Robert D. Marcus and David Burner. Beacon Press, 1987, 223 pgs.
The beginning of the colonial period was full of troubles. America First Hand, by Robert D. Marcus and David Burner is written in distinct detail about several accounts by American colonists that are written and relay what it was like in the colonies during the first couple decades. The accounts describe how teenagers, men, and women, all in their own way, questioned society, religion, and government in order to improve themselves and have their own effects on a changing county. Marcus and Burner compare and contrast religious, political, and social issues that were dealt with during the early 1800s.
The authors examined the experiences of Hetty Shepard, Ben Franklin, and Eliza Pickeny. Three Americans from very different backgrounds who all had thoughts, actions, and ideas to better themselves and hopefully better their fellow man and society. They show that people should try to better themselves based on his or her own opinions and ideas rather than rely on those of others.
Miss Hetty Shepard was a Puritan girl living in New England at the height of colonization and had trouble with the Indians. She recorded a diary to describe the days as they went by. Also along with her daily acknowledgements, Hetty reveals private thoughts and inquires that show her doubts and questions concerning her strict Puritan beliefs. Marcus and Burner show passages from a diary written by Hetty Shepard about what some may call the rebellious mind of young woman. Based on her writings, others may call her the beginning of the independent, or republican, women.
Men of the colonial time period did not have it much easier than women. Inventor, philosopher, printer, and ladies man extraordinary Ben Franklin was also considered. He was a writer/printer from Philadelphia, and a person who was interested in the science of humanity. Franklin in the midst of the Age of Enlightenment, was a man concerned with his own personal perfection.
Eliza Pinckney, A Republican Women, was an extraordinary woman of the colonial south. There were many photographs of Eliza Pinckney placed on pages 123-128. Throughout her life she knew how to fend for herself. She was educated and cultured; she took on the responsibilities of running several plantations, as well as the responsibility of raising two children on her own through long distance correspondence. She was in every meaning of the word, independent.
All three of these people, Hetty Shepard, Ben Franklin, and Eliza Pinckney began their ways by suppressing their natural thoughts, impulses, and emotions in order to fulfill the requirement society expected of them. America First Hand teaches a lesson because eventually they all came to realize that the way to better them was to do what was best for them and their situation. These three people are examples of what makes America a great country of independence. They show that you dont have to believe what you are told, and that you should do what is best for you as you see it. They show that no matter your age, sex, background, or creed, you can think for yourself and help to mold our still and ever-changing country. The material that the authors present is well organized and easy to understand. I would recommend it to anyone interested in learning about how others viewed us becoming an independent nation during the 1800s.