The Era of Good Feelings By: Megan Harrington

To be an American in the 1800's is exciting for most people. While I was traveling I noticed various things that people had to experience as an American that I never got to. Being an American also means that you have pride in your country. They believe that they can beat anyone and do anything. That could be a good thing as well as a bad thing. After defeating Great Britain in the Revolutionary war they were very proud. Americans also have a strong sense of individualism. "American individualism is a deliberate and peaceful sentiment which disposes each citizen to isolate himself from his fellows and to draw apart with his family and friends". Even though Americans felt individually, they helped promote national unity. They think about each other separately but they feel as a whole.

The political part of America is very huge with many things beginning in this new country. First, James Monroe became president and made his mark in America with his "Era of Good Feelings". People called it this because of the way he was greeted on his goodwill tour. When John Quincy Adams was elected president the era sadly ended. People wanted the government to take a more active role in building the national economy. Henry Clay of Kentucky who was an ambitious congressman with dreams of becoming president, took the main role in supporting this idea. "Clay believed that Americas future lay in capitalism, an economic system in which individuals and companies produce and distribute goods for profit." He also supported a new economic system called the American System. It called for taxes on imported goods to protect industry and more federal spending on things like roads and canals. A supreme court justice named John Marshall also had big plans for nationalism and commerce. His decisions strengthened federal power over the states and the role the supreme court held. This newly economic and political country was starting out strong.

Art has just begun in America and it is taking off very quickly. By the 1800s they began to develop their own style of art. More jobs quickly started being offered because many more developed artists started painting portraits. The common people worked on folk art which was simple, direct, and often exploding with bright colors. Art in America is very unique because of its many different kinds of art that is being developing. All kinds of people use art as a way to express themselves without communicating verbally. For example, George Catlin from Philadelphia painted pictures of American Indians daily lives. He saw that their traditions were slowly disappearing and he wanted to stop it from leaving altogether. "Still, the vividness and optimism of their work accurately reflected the national outlook."

"Americans national identity was also expressed through Europe." People started with only hearing and playing church music and developed it into various genres. Classical music was very popular in the North. It was originally from Europe but America quickly took it as one of their own. Music also provided a kind of rhythm for many different types of dancers. For example, they performed waltzes, minuets, gavottes, and mazurkas to the beautiful music that Americans were now producing. In the South slaves created spirituals to entertain themselves and their masters. Square dancing also became a popular dance for less sophisticated dancers along with a demand for patriotic songs. Music was a way for people of all cultures to come together in unity.

Literature was a newly developed way that Americans could share their voices. Washington Irving was the first to achieve literary fame by writing German Folklores. He is most known for his tales of "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". James Fenimore Cooper is known as one of Americas first novelists. His tales were an immediate hit for his detailed descriptions of frontier life. By far his most popular novels are "The Last of the Mohicans" and "The Pioneers". When American literature was discovered it became very unique compared to other country's because of the various styles of writing that were adopted. An American writer named Davy Crockett reflected Americas sense of individualism. People saw him as the fictional frontier hero that came to life. They were captivated by him but I see him "as a man who has no education, can read with difficulty, no fixed residence, but passes his life hunting, selling his game to life, and dwelling continuously in the woods." America came closer together in my opinion when literature was developed.

Most Americans were happy with how they were treated in the 1800s. Unfortunately, there were some that did not think of this time as the "Era of Good Feelings". Women, African Americans, and Native Americans believed they were being treated unfairly. During this time these groups of people didn't have many rights. Most couldn't get jobs and many African Americans were slaves. "Women were relegated to their duties at home and raising their families." They hoped that it would soon become the "Era of Good Feelings" for them too.

In conclusion America was going through some very exciting changes in the 1800s. People called it the "Era of Good Feelings" for a reason. They developed many styles of art, music, and literature. It pulled them together to have a national unity. Most people worked together and accepted each other. "Americans became proud to be American."

Works cited: "America's Best History - U.S. Timeline 1800s." America's Best History - U.S. Timeline 1800s. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017. "Women in the 1800’s." Lauren Plaza. N.p., 12 Feb. 2009. Web. 21 Feb. 2017. "American Individualism – Really?" MADE IN AMERICA. N.p., 18 July 2010. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.

Created By
Megan Harrington


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