What does it mean to be an American?
Americans have astounding pride in their country, and there are many good reasons why. When the British burned the nation's capital, the Americans were downhearted, but architects quickly started on a new building. This may have been costly, but the building is now a symbol of America's strength. I once said,
"The Americans carry national pride to an altogether excessive length."
Now, however, I admire their pride in their country. Americans also have a strong sense of individualism. They know they are free, and are proud of it. They think this makes them superior to Europeans, though I think we are much more refined. America has a sense of national unity unmatched by any other country. They all believe in their country, and their flag is always recognizable.
American literature may seem like it came from somewhere else, but it is still unique to America.
"One of the greatest and simplest tools for learning more and growing is doing more." Washington Irving
Writers like Washington Irving combine European folklore with American settings to create stories unlike any other nation. Americans also enjoy stories from the popular writer James Fenimore Cooper. He wrote tales about life as a settler on the frontier. This didn't just publish in America, and 12 publishers in France competed over it. Then there's Davy Crockett. He wrote tall tales surrounding his life as a frontiersman. His autobiography was an instant hit. This helped give America a distinctive accent. They also developed a new style of poetry with the help of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote the first american epic, and normally had a patriotic theme. All these writers help make America different from any other country.
Many Americans believe that the government should support economic growth. Henry Clay was one of those people. This is why he created the American System. The American system would tax imported goods, spend money on roads, and create a new national bank. He ran for office five times, but he never succeeded and got his plan through. This was a bit of a surprise, since he was very persuasive. His system was also supported by John C. Calhoun.
"Our government is deeply disordered; its credit is impaired; its debt increasing; its expenditures extravagant and wasteful; its disbursements without efficient accountability; and its taxes (for duties are but taxes) enormous, unequal, and oppressive to the great producing classes of the country." John C. Calhoun
He believed this, and this is why he supported Clay's ideas in Congress. However, he supported state rights on other fronts. For example, he later protected states to stop the government from ending slavery. Another supporter, and previous senator, was Daniel Webster. Even though he opposed Clay about the war of 1812, he strongly supported his system and believed that they should be unified as one country. National unity also increased because of the supreme court. This was mainly because of a court justice, John Marshall. His decisions made the national government more powerful and helped to end the separation of the states. For example, in 1824, the court ruled that states could not regulate interstate commerce. This helped the growth of businesses by stopping states from trying to regulate commerce between states. Marshall also ruled that business contracts can't be broken. This helped businesses grow because their contracts were now even more firm.
Most American art was folk art, created by ordinary people. This could be anything ranging from quilts to weather vanes. These pieces usually were very simple and had bright colors. Professional artists however, normally made portraits. These attempted to capture the emotion and personality of the person portrayed. It was an European however, that made other types of paintings popular. He loved the american landscapes and views, and made art based on them.
"None know how often the hand of God is seen in a wilderness but them that rove it for a man's life." Thomas Cole
He became well-known, and many artists followed him to create the Hudson River School of painting. Other artists also portrayed other parts of nature. For example, John James Audubon painted detailed paintings of birds. He was also a naturalist, conducting studies of the birds he drew. His four-volume book was not published in America, but rather in England. This made him the first internationally famous American artist.
Before this time, most american music was played in churches, and many other songs were old tunes with newer lyrics. But as the era of good feelings started, many people began to create classical European music. This provided music for the Cotillion, a popular dance in which four couples elegantly danced. The female dancers sometimes lifted their petticoats to show off their footwork, though that was very daring. Even slaves made music. They combined aspects of different styles such as the hymns of white churches and African music to create something truly unique. This entertained slaves, as well as their owners. White southerners honored their music by trying to replicate it. However, they also mocked it by using over exaggerated accents.
"...Weel about and turn about and do jis so Ebery time I weel about I jump Jim Crow..." Thomas Dartmouth Rice
These minstrel songs became the most popular type of music in America, bringing fame to composers such as Stephen Foster.
Many people will claim that this was not the era of good feelings, and there are a few reasons why. This is because the "good feelings" did not extend to African Americans, slaves, or women. However, these groups across the world were treated with less respect and had less rights than the white man. Still though, these groups were able to enjoy some things. For example, slaves could still enjoy their music and churches. Women could enjoy the Cotillion, dances, and-- if they were educated enough-- books. Even though these groups couldn't enjoy all the parts of the era of good feelings, they could still enjoy some. This is why the good of the era of good feelings strongly outweighs the bad.
In conclusion, the era of good feelings made america more unique and brought the country closer together. This was in part to the new art music, and literature, and to the political developments during this time. Many people like John Marshall also helped bring the country together. This is why this time can be considered as the era of good feelings.
The American System. Digital image. Wikipedia.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Hart, Diane. "A Growing Sense of Nationhood." History Alive! The United States Through Industrialism. N.p.: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2011. N. pag. Print.
The Heart of the Andes. Digital image. Metmuseum.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Minstrel Songs. Digital image. Walkabout Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Rip van winkle. Digital image. Blogspot.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
Slave family. Digital image. History.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.