Telling Stories in the New Agernby David Hackett FischerrnThank you for this honor, and for this very handsome prize.rnIt means all the more because I am privileged to share itrnwith Richard Wilbur. [Editor’s note: Richard Wilbur was thern1996 recipient of The Ingersoll Foundation’s T.S. Eliot Awardrnfor Creative Writing.] I have long admired the art and craft andrnwisdom of liis poetry.rnA good part of this prize should also be shared with Paul Revere,rnwho never got an award, and had trouble even collectingrnhis travel expenses. He deserves something, not only for makingrnall those many rides, but also for giving us the story of thernmidnight ride, which came first from his pen.rnAs I was telling that story, I often thought of the German pianistrnWalter Schnabel who once said of Beethoven’s sonatasrnthat “this music is greater than it can ever be played.” That’srnthe way I think about my books Paul Reveres Ride and Albion’srnSeed. The stories of American history are better than they canrnever be told. Thank you for this encouragement to storytelling.rnToday I’d like to tell another story about the books that yournhave honored, and especially about Albion’s Seed. It has had arnstrange career, which is full of clues for happenings beyond thernbook itself.rnThe book began as a historian’s inquiry, very much in thernspirit of Herodotus (in ancient Greek, “history” meant inquiry).rnAlbion’s Seed was a search for the origins of an opening societyrnin what is now the United States. After many years of readingrnand reflection, I found an answer to that question in four greatrnmigrations of English-speaking people to America, from 1629rnto 1775. They came in four great waves, sharply defined inrntime and space. The first was New England’s Puritan migrationrnDavid I lackett Fischer is a professor of American history atrnBrandeis University and the J 996 recipient of The IngersollrnFoundation’s Richard M. Weaver Award for Scholarly Letters,rnfor which this was his acceptance speech.rnof 20,000 people, mostly families of middling rank and a strongrnCalvinist faith who came mainly from eight counties in the eastrnof England in the period 1629-40. The second was a movementrnof a small Cavalier elite and large numbers of indenturedrnservants from the south of England to Virginia (1640-75). Thernthird was the Friends’ migration of Quakers and other Pietistsrnfrom the north midlands of England and Wales to the DelawarernValley (1675-1725). The fourth and largest was a flightrnfrom the Borderlands of North Britain and northern Ireland tornthe American Backcountry (1717-75).rnThese four groups had much in common—the English language,rntheir strong Protestant faith, and their fierce pride inrnBritish liberties. But they were profoundly different in otherrnways: in their dialects and religious denominations; in the wayrnthat they built their houses and raised their children; in their attitudesrntoward work and play, love and death. Most important,rnthey had very different ideas of order, power, and especiallyrnfreedom. Albion’s Seed is about four distinctive cultures of freedomrnthat were transplanted to the New World and took root inrnwhat is now the United States. America’s diversity stemmedrnfrom this regional pluralism of American life, and the interactionrnof these four cultures gave rise to a libertarian system thatrnwas more free and open than any of them alone had been orrnwished to be.rnNone of this seemed controversial to me when I began tornwrite it in 1986. The book was first drafted in the quiet of anrnOxford college. Much of the research had been done when wernwere living in an idyllic East Anglican village. Most people Irngrew up with agreed entirely with its findings. In my origins Irnam an American mongrel of the most common variety—partrnAnglo, part Saxon—a mix of German and English ancestry. Irnhad been a small child during World War II, ten years old whenrnthe war ended. As part of that generation, I was raised in thernshadow of great historical events, in a moment when the “specialrnrelationship” was very strong and everyone was talking ofrnMARCH 1997/15rnrnrn