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Foreign Opinions About America

Salty Opinions from a Frenchman (Literary Digest, 1920)

Attached are the rantings of one Frenchman on the matter of American gullibility, solipsism and naive stupidity. While recognizing an innate sense of optimism that seemed natural to Americans, the Gaul also believed that within the American culture the seed of tyranny had been planted and would one day bloom.

"And in this new and vigorous country they are going to make nationalism a great religion, the supreme intellectual and social motive. This means Prussianizing, pure and simple."


American Tourists Lampooned by Punch (Punch Magazine, 1922)

This gag concerns itself with another kind of American Expeditionary Force; when Pershing's Doughboys left, they were replaced by the American tourists. The U.S. had had invented a new category of tourist that the world had never seen before, and they must have been a site to behold: middle class tourists.

There is another article on this site (click here) that states a popular belief held by the Europeans of 1919 that American men were all clean shaven, tended to sport gold teeth, and were most easily recognized by their "big tortoise shell glasses" (a strikingly accurate description of this site's editor!); however, this is the first visual manifestation of this caricature that we could find. This "Punch" cartoonist did not simply believe that this was a fitting description of the white guys, but black guys, too -and the white women as well; an entire nation resembling Harold Lloyd.

Click here to read about Punch Magazine.


On U.S. Imperialism (The Book League, 1930)

Attached is a review of The Imperial Dollar by Hiram Motherwell.

Motherwell wrote the book in 1929 not simply to impress his peers but also to provide them with an outline that illustrated America's progress in achieving "world domination". The author examined subjects such as "why America alone", of all the nations on earth, tended to believe itself to be a non-imperialistic one.


The Anglo-Saxon North and the Latin - American South in 1910 (Review of Reviews, 1910)

"The United States has always viewed the other American countries...with an invincible disdain - a disdain that could not remain a secret to the Young Latins, since it cannot be readily concealed; or, to speak more exactly it has never regarded the nations of Spanish and Portuguese origin as really it's equal."


On Believing in Equality (The Smart Set, 1921)

H.L. Mencken rarely passed up an opportunity to impugn the sincerity of his fellow Americans; in this small piece he expressed his doubt as to whether they really embraced the concept of full equality as it was written in the constitution.


French Amazement at American Esteem for Lafayette (Current Opinion, 1922)

"France has discovered Lafayette in this age only because America never forgot him"

This article reports that the Marquis de Lafayette (Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier de Lafayette, 1757-1834), who seemed heaven-sent when he appeared in Philadelphia in order to aid the Americans in their revolt against the British, had been largely forgotten by the French in the Twentieth Century. Indeed, the French were baffled to hear his name invoked as often as it was during the period of America's participation in the Great War. It was said that some disgruntled wit in the A.E.F. woke up one morning in the trenches and mumbled: "Alright, we paid Lafayette back; now what other Frog son-of-a-bitch do we owe?" Oddly, there is no mention made whatever of that unique trait so common to the Homo Americanus- "selective memory": during the 1870 German invasion of France there seemed to have been no one who recalled Lafayette's name at all.


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