Sunday, March 23, 2014


American Blood

Herman Melville (1819-1891), Redburn, chapter 33:
There is something in the contemplation of the mode in which America has been settled, that, in a noble breast, should forever extinguish the prejudices of national dislikes.

Settled by the people of all nations, all nations may claim her for their own. You can not spill a drop of American blood without spilling the blood of the whole world. Be he Englishman, Frenchman, German, Dane, or Scot; the European who scoffs at an American, calls his own brother Raca, and stands in danger of the judgment. We are not a narrow tribe of men, with a bigoted Hebrew nationality—whose blood has been debased in the attempt to ennoble it, by maintaining an exclusive succession among ourselves. No: our blood is as the flood of the Amazon, made up of a thousand noble currents all pouring into one. We are not a nation, so much as a world; for unless we may claim all the world for our sire, like Melchisedec, we are without father or mother.
It's worthwhile remembering that Redburn was published in 1849, around the time when anti-immigrant feeling was at its height in the United States.

The blood that flows in my veins is, I estimate, composed of the following parts: 1/2 French, 3/8 Scotch-Irish, 1/8 German, adding up to 100% American.

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