Americans Abroad: A Study in Evolution

The New York Times, June 21, 1931

Updated: October 04, 2012

This New York Times article written by US historian James Truslow Adams begins by commenting on the changing perceptions of Americans who cross the Atlantic Ocean by their fellow countrymen during the last century. The fact that US expatriates in Europe are no longer regarded as traitors seems to indicate a national maturity and self-confidence that underlie the progress of the United States not least in terms of literature and art. Adams then goes on to discuss more general cultural relations between North America and Europe. He  believes in a “Europeanization” of the US that goes hand in hand with an Americanization of Europe: While Europe now seems more aware of the political, economic and cultural importance of America than ever before, the US simultaneously adopts more and more European thoughts and ideas. The article thus shows an awareness of the strong, reciprocal transatlantic ties and interweavements which go beyond a one-sided cultural transfer.   

“The American expatriate in Europe is no longer regarded as one who has escaped from a barbarous land to civilization but as a citizen of one of the great nations. In the same way many cultural influences have been Europeanizing us. Not only since 1900 has an ever increasing stream of tourists, by the hundred-thousands, gone over annually to visit Europe, all bringing home with them some familiarity with European life, but our thinking has become permeated with European ideas and art. We see Russian movies, listen to European music, read the books of all the European countries, are bringing European art objects over by the shipload."

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Adams, James Truslow. "Americans Abroad: A Study in Evolution." New York Times, Jun. 21, 1931, p. 72.

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