American cultural history. In it, Fischernhas drawn upon many sources of importantninformation: narratives, statistics,nlinguistics, literature, diaries, topography,narchitecture, and politicalnscience. The result is a brilliant andnformidable achievement, a major Americanncontribution to the internationalntradition of great historical writing.nFischer is a revisionist who subscribesnto the “Teutonic germ” theory ofnAmerican history, believing that thenroots of the American system are to benfound in pre-Latin Germany where ancultural tradition originated that wasnlater carried to England and, still later,nto the English colonies of North America.nHere, he argues, colonization principallynconsisted of four “germ” populations,nwhich arrived with no particularninterest in associating with their neighborsnin other colonies and came in factnfrom regions of the British Isles sondifferent as to almost constitute separatencountries. Fischer presents extensivenproof that British North America wasnsettled by geographical areas that eachngroup intended for its use. Only in thencase of the Quakers was this exclusivityndiscarded on the basis of principle.nWhen the migration to the TidewaternSouth began, the earliest colonistsnwere wealthy men who brought servants.nThese settlers came generallynfrom the southern and western Englishncounties, an area of Britain that had annancient ethnic and political identity associatednwith the early Saxon population.nMassachusetts was settled betweenn1629 and 1640 by approximatelyn21,000 persons emigrating as part of anlarger Puritan movement to escape thenEngland of Charies I: altogether, aboutn80,000 Puritans left their home countrynin this period, primarily for religious andnpolitical reasons, to resettle in Europe,nthe Caribbean, and America. The EastnAnglians, sometimes as entire congregationsnfollowing a particular clergyman,ntraveled to New England; notnsurprisingly, their society was more regimentednthan those of the other Englishngroups.nIt is interesting that a number of thenPuritans returned to England followingnthe victory of the Parliamentary forcesnin the English Civil War. Few Puritansnmigrated to the Tidewater areas, andnmany of those who did wound up beingnevicted for their “offensive” views.nFischer shows that the Puritans werenmostly people with roots in the countrysidenof East Anglia, the majority of thenPuritan families coming from an areanwithin sixty miles of the town of Haverhill,nnear the counties of Suffolk, Essex,nand Cambridge. East Anglia too was anregion peculiar in Britain, being heavilynpopulated and characterized by a continuingnmixture of foreign influencesnsuch as Dutch, north Cerman, andnScandinavian. East Anglia, furthermore,nhad a very strong Danish element—nthe result of long Danish occupation—nand later Norman settlementnwas very prevalent.nAltogether about 23,000 Quakersnemigrated to the Delaware Valley fromnthe North Midlands, a region whichnhad been so heavily Scandinavian in itsnsettlement that as late as the MiddlenAges Norse was still in daily use. This isnthe desolate, wild region made famousnby Emily Bronte in Wuthering Heightsnand by Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre.nThe Quaker population established anunique culture, notable for its architecture,nfamily life, cooking, and the ideanof “reciprocal liberty” (a kind of libertarianism)nin parts of New Jersey,nPennsylvania, and Delaware, where itnpersists in spite of the decline of Quakersnin proportion to the rest of thencommunity. The largest group —nnumbering over 250,000 — of Britishnimmigrants was the Backcountry Borderers,nwho came from the ScottishnBritish border area and the Protestantncommunities in Ireland. These colonists,nwho migrated between 1717-n1775, were the last British group tonarrive in North America before thenRevolution. They settled in the Americannbackcountry, in the Appalachians,nwhere they subsequently becamenknown for their fierce independence,nmilitant religion, and rustic ways.nThese four “germ” groups, thoughnall from the British Isles, spoke inndialects almost unintelligible to onenanother and differed sharply in theirnunderstanding of the Protestantnreligion. Although they drew closer innNorth America than they had been innGreat Britain, their descendants developednan ad hoc patchwork society andnpolitical system that reflected theirncontinued differences and uncertaintiesnin regard to each other. The contradictorynand uneven imprint of eachngroup remains today as a source ofnconfusion to everyone, includingnnnAmericans who can’t figure out whyndifferent meanings are attached to thensame words by their neighbors. TonFischer, the paradoxical American systemnis a mystery only up to a pointnwhere one begins to note the profoundndifferences consequent to a multiplenBritish heritage. Fischer’s “four Britishnfolkways” have generally provided thenbasis for the process of Americanizationnthat millions of non-British immigrantsnhave passed through. Non-BritishnAmericans inevitably absorbed thenAmericanisms closest to hand throughnthe cultures of those descendantsnwhose ancestors first colonized Massachusetts,nthe Delaware Valley, the AppalachiannHighlands, or the southernnTidewater regions and the lower Chesapeake.nDavid Hackett Fischer’s book raisesnimportant questions concerning thencharacter of major American social andnpolitical issues. Have American disputesnactually arisen out of tribal issuesnof centuries ago as well as from thentranscendent intellectual and moralnsubjects as constitute the modern syllabus?nHave national arguments regardingneconomics, law, sociology, andnother matters really been veils forndeeper and more inchoate preoccupations?nAlbion’s Seed could reopennsome profound political and culturalnquestions. For instance, why shouldnone area — Massachusetts — disproportionatelyndominate so many aspectsnof American culture and society?nShould Massachusetts determine thensystem of government, the politicalnissues, the cultural identity, the religiousnfashions and educational forms,nand confirm the national aesthetic forn220 million other people? (Then21,000 Puritan immigrants are believednby Fischer to have 16 millionndescendants.)nThese questions remain to be answered,nperhaps by Mr. Fischer in hisnnext book in this series. Having shownnus that four British horses started at thengate, he could explain how one horsennow consistently outpaces the othernthree.nTim Hunter, a consultant with privatenbusiness and government, served innthe Reagan and Bush administrations,nmost recently with the InteriornDepartment and the PresidentialnTransition Office.nJUNE 1990/45n