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Achenwall's Observations on North America   By: (1719-1772)

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Achenwall's Observations on North America by Gottfried Achenwall is an intriguing exploration of the continent through the eyes of a German academic. Published in the late 18th century, this book offers valuable insights into the social, political, and cultural landscape of North America during that time.

One of the first things that stands out in this book is Achenwall's meticulous attention to detail. He provides readers with a comprehensive account of various aspects of life in North America, from its geography and climate to its indigenous peoples and newly established colonies. The wealth of information presented in this book reflects Achenwall's thorough research and his commitment to delivering an accurate depiction of the continent.

The author's unbiased approach to his observations is impressive. Achenwall presents both positive and negative aspects of North America, providing a well-rounded perspective that avoids excessive glorification or criticism. This even-handedness adds credibility to his observations and makes this book an invaluable resource for historical researchers and enthusiasts alike.

Furthermore, Achenwall's passion for discovering new cultures and traditions is evident throughout the book. His encounters with indigenous tribes and interactions with diverse communities highlight his genuine interest in understanding the continent's cultural tapestry. Achenwall's open-mindedness is appreciated, particularly considering the prevailing ethnocentrism of the time.

However, despite its strengths, this book does have some limitations. As a European observer, Achenwall's perspective is unavoidably influenced by his own cultural background, which occasionally leads to shallow generalizations and stereotypes. Additionally, the book's language and writing style might be challenging for some readers due to its old-fashioned syntax and vocabulary. Nevertheless, these minor shortcomings do not detract significantly from the overall value and impact of Achenwall's observations.

Ultimately, Achenwall's Observations on North America is an essential read for anyone interested in exploring the historical foundations of the continent. Its meticulous research, impartial perspective, and genuine curiosity make it an engrossing and informative account. Through this book, Achenwall invites readers on a journey to discover the multifaceted nature of North America, providing a valuable historical record that still resonates today.

First Page:







Reprinted from the Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, January, 1903



[Franklin paid a short visit to Germany in the summer of 1766, and at Göttingen met a number of the professors of the University. One of them, Professor Achenwall, published in the "Hanoverian Magazine," in the volume beginning 1767, p. 258, etc., "Some Observations on North America and the British Colonies from verbal information of Dr. Franklin," and this article was reprinted in Frankfort and Leipsic in 1769. There is a copy of this reprint in the Loganian Library, from which the following translation was made. There is a copy of the Magazine in the Astor Library, New York. It is of interest as showing the impression made by Franklin on his German auditors, although it is clear that Achenwall did not report quite correctly... Continue reading book >>

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