The Era of Good Feelings: Life in the 1800s By Miriam Valencia

I have returned from traveling across the Americas. It is so different there! I would say the thing that struck me the most about the Americans is that they are so accustomed to embracing change and new ways of life. In Europe, it is a country of tradition, and everything has to be just so. For example, only the first son can inherit the land, and the next king has to be related to the previous king. But in America, it is constantly changing, and the people change with it. They have introduced new ways of government, politics, art, literature, and music! They have a new government called a democracy, and stories ranging from adventurous and rough and tough, to enchanting and mystical with stories that tell of the founding of their new country and their different thinking and ideas. Their music tells tales of American heroes such as Paul Revere, which shows their immense pride in their country and going from British colonies under the control of England to a bright new country already developing it's own customs. But don't even get me started on their art! It captures the ever changing ordinary life of an American, but it also shows the beauty of their lush nature and the personalities of their new leaders. This ability to quickly become accustomed to change is so new and interesting, I am intrigued to see what will become of it.

This is Alexis de Toqueville

I am particularly impressed with the American's new form of government called democracy. This government shows great potential and shows the American's ability transition from a nation led by Great Britain to a new country already creating their own new form of government. I have never heard of such leadership in which the governed actually get to choose their leaders and make decisions about certain matters! This government could easily lead to the end of Kings and Queens all over the world. This country is extremely creative and thinks outside the box in their quest to adapt into a new nation. Plus, I have seen and heard that the president steps down voluntarily from his position in a peaceful transition of power to protect peace and prosperity in the country, rather that plunging the country into war when they die, before the next leader is elected. This is absolutely unheard of. Their ability to get used to this change in government and politics is quite new, just as this form of people-led leadership is. I hope this will succeed for a very long time!

The art of the Americans reflects the immense change in their country. For example, we have folk art, which is made by ordinary people, and can clue us in as to how their lives are constantly adapting to new situations. Then, we have portraits, which capture the looks and personalities of their bright new leaders. And last by not least, they have landscapes, which capture the essence of their new and exciting land, and the settlers ability to get used to the new land, now free of Britain's reign one example of a landscape painting is the Hudson River School. This painting truly captures the beauty of the Hudson river and shows that there is so much of the world that is totally new that the Americans had to adapt to living in.I am truly amazed by the American's art, and how it shows their culture and lifestyle, as well as what life must have been like for them. Their art is truly beautiful and new.

An example of early American folk art

We also have early literature that reflects the American's ability to adapt to and create change. For example, there's Rip Van Winkle, a story about a man who falls asleep and wakes up many years later. While there are small themes of the unknown and supernatural in this story, I think the main theme is being forced to adapt to change, which is what happened to Rip Van Winkle. While this situation may seem extreme, this shows the American's understanding of change, and how it affects their everyday lives. Another example is Paul Revere's ride. This tells the tale of Paul Revere, a hero of the American Revolution. This highlights the transition between being British colonies and going to being their own country and also shows a theme of change. You can find out much of the American culture and way of life from their literature as well as their art.

Last but most certainly not least, there is the music of the Americans. They had a wide variety of music, which includes Classical music, Folk music, and minstrel songs. Some music would tell tales of old revolutionary heroes who helped their country go through the immense change and separation from Great Britain. These songs show pride in their country and their ability to appreciate and match themselves with immense change. They also have Folk music, which can clue us in on their emotions and everyday lives in the ever fluctuating country. This type of music is especially important because it was usually very casual and not necessarily played by professional musicians. These types of music can tell stories about how the U.S. has changed since becoming free and independent and were a very big part of American culture. So, with these four things, we can find out that American life was rich with change, and this led to an Era of Good Feelings for all in this newfound country.

An early guitar from the 1800s

However, there were three groups of people that this could not be called the Era of Good Feelings for. One of these groups is African Americans, both free and enslaved. Slaves worked long hours on plantations without the change or feeling of adventure that the Americans enjoyed. Free blacks had some rights that slaves had, but still did not have as many rights as the Whites. Women were also not allowed to have the change or excitement that men had. Their lives had no variation, much like the slaves and were discriminated against and considered weak. Lastly, there are the Native Americans. This group of people definitely wasn't short on change. In fact, they had too much change. So much that they weren't able to adapt quickly enough. This group was constantly being pushed around by the Settlers and being forced out of their land, having their customs and traditions shattered. So, as you can see, these three groups most certainly did not have an era of good feelings.

working conditions of slaves

So, as you can see, the Americans adapted to and showed the enormous change in their country in their Politics, with their new form of government, in their art with the beautiful depictions of their lifestyle, with their music, which shows culture and change with every note, and their literature, which tells tales of Revolutionary heroes and pride in their country, and even though there were some groups who did not have an Era of Good Feelings, there were many that did. I hope you enjoyed reading the diary of Alexis de Toqueville.

Works Cited:

History Alive!: The Industrial Revolution. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 1997. Print. Staff. "Alexis De Tocqueville." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 14 Feb. 2017. <>.


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