My name is Spencer de Tocqueville, I am currently a senior in highschool and I live in Los Angeles, California. At school I am pretty popular, I am on the cheer squad (go team!), I am secretly really into school, I love learning about everything! Oh and today is my 18th birthday. I have already made plans to be with my friends and family all day but as I was getting ready I came across a bright blue box with a small silver lock on it. My thoughts were interrupted by my father who was calling my name from the kitchen. As I approached him I noticed that he was holding a small rectangular box. I kindly took the box from his hands and thanked him for my gift. I opened the gift, and there laid a key necklace with a note that was from my great grandfather? It read,
I hope you can open many doors with this key.
I walked back to my room not thinking much about the note. There was that box again, catching my attention. My thoughts slowly went back to the note and my grandfather, I kept repeating the words in my head, and that’s when I realized that “opening many doors” with the key meant opening the blue box. I quickly took the box and sat on my bed to finally open it. I anxiously open the box to find a journal and a small locket.
I opened the journal and began to read…
My name is Alexis De Tocqueville, I am a Frenchman currently on a boat waiting to get to the “New World” or the United States. I have come all this way to put together my first draft of my new book. My book will be about Americans’ growing national identity.
I was intrigued so I continued, my grandfather talked about what he had learned so far..
I have only spent about a month here and so far I have learned that being an American meant that you had to fight for your rights &’ your freedom, if you didn’t, you weren’t a true American. I also learned that “American individualism was the idea that the individual should possess the freedom to decline himself as opposed to a government definition of who he is &’ what freedom is. It is the freedom to achieve based upon one’s talents &’ abilities &’ ambitions. It is a contradiction to a collective defining of worth &’ purpose that accommodates a stagnating philosophy of government oppression. It is the exercise of the inherent right of a reasoning being to reason independently and to shun the encumbering and suffocating tyranny of church &’ state as both are one &’ the same.”
It has now been 2 months since I arrived in the Americas &’ I’ve learned about the politics. James Monroe is currently the president of the US. people began to call this time “The Era Of Good Feelings” because of the national unity the country experience between 1816 &’ 1824, leaders supported proposals that called for the federal government to take a more active role in developing the nation’s economy, also because the chief of justice of supreme court, John Marshall helped strengthen federal power over the states &’ encourage the growth of capitalism.
This is so interesting, I wonder what it would be like to live in the 1800s. It seems like people were very happy since they titled the 1800s “The Era Of Good Feelings”.
Art is a big part of this country, there’s colors &’ creativity everywhere. Art was used to express the national identities by developing styles their own way. Many produced what people call folk art. Men carved weather vanes &’ hunting decoys. Women sewed spare bits of cloth into quilts. Some untrained artists created signs, murals, &’ national symbols such as the American flag. Folk art is known to be simple, direct, and often very colorful. Professional artists make a living doing portraits! Portrait artists try to capture personalities &’ emotions of the subject in their work. Hudson river school paintings focus on capturing the nature rather than people, they would rather paint a broad, and scenic vistas.
Today, I have learned that in the North couples danced along to classical music together with elegantly coordinated movements. In the South, slaves combined hymns of white churchgoers with African American musical styles to create spirituals. In both the South &’ West square dances have become very common. Minstrel songs were honored by black music by mimicking it.
Wow, music has gone through some changes.
Writers have begun to uniquely use American subjects &’ settings. Some writers even encouraged the growth of a national identity. They promoted the myth of rugged individualism that for many people at home and abroad, best characterized the U.S. Davy Crockett for example, his work is reflected on American’s sense of individualism. “he who has no education, can read with difficulty, has no property, no fixed residence, but passes his life hunting, selling his game to live, and dwelling continuously in the woods.”
Many called this time “the Era Of Good Feelings” but I don’t believe that everyone felt this way. Women weren’t treated equally and neither were African Americans, or Indians. African Americans aren’t treated equally because of their color, they would be considered slaves and if they did something their masters didn’t lie then there would be consequences, Women weren’t treated equally because “they had no rights”, and Indians weren’t being treated the same because Americans were trying to take their land.
I never really knew much about the 1800s so it was a pretty fun experience to just read my great grandfather’s journal all about it. After I finished reading I spent the rest of my birthday just boring my family and friends to death by telling them about the journal.
Bower, Bert, and Jim Lobdell. History Alive! Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2005. Print.