Being an American in the 1800s was a life of unknown twists and turns. It was a time where the people were eventually able to settle, and start to grow as a nation and develop their own traditions and lifestyles. You could see the development of the people around you. But outside of the growing civilization was the the native americans and their tribes, being forced out of their native lands. The people around you were filled with pride because of their victories against france, and Britain once more. People were given the opportunities of a job, and they all lived their lives with individual lives, professions, and traditions. You had the sense that people in america were starting to develop a community around them. The 1800s for an American was about developing a new American culture.
Traditional american art was based upon what was happening around the artists. If there was a political conflict, you might see folk art about it, like this mural above. Unlike most Folk art, this mural was not very colorful. Although, it did represent a symbol, and it appears that this was based on American religion. Folk art was not the only type of art, but it was a common, conventional art. Other types of art consisted of Portraits, Natural art, and Native art. Portraits, were mostly painted by professional artists, and they would paint the faces of important american idols, and leaders for example George Washington. Natural art was mainly brought up by the hudson river school who focused more on capturing national images like landscapes. Finally, Native art was most famously done by George Catlin who painted native american's and tried to capture the culture of the slowly decreasing native american people.
American Music much like folk art preached about the events and what was happening around them everyday. Before more common and diverse types of musics were listened to in America, the only kinds of musics were listened to at church. One of the reasons I picked this photo to represent music from that time period, was that often they would play music using guitars. Most commonly a certain type of guitar called a banjo. To begin with, people were not very creative in their inventing of music. Most songs were made by taking a British tune, and adding new lyrics to them. There were four main types of early american music. Classical music, Square Dance, Athens, and Spirituals. Each type of music carried their own characteristics, and they all had their own type of feel. Classical music might have been listened and danced to by higher income and wealthier people. You would come to a ball or elegant dance, and you would most likely see people elegantly dancing dressed up in fancy clothes. Square dancing was something done by the more common folk. It would often consist of upbeat music, and patterned stamps of the feet to match the beat. One song made called "Jump Jim Crow" by Thomas Dartmouth Rice sang "Weel about and turn about and do jis so, Ebery time I weel about i jump Jim Crow." These lyrics were referring to African Americans, which would turn out to be a gig part of this Era.
In 1820 a British man sneered, "Who reads an American book? or goes to an American play? or looks at an american picture or statue?". Literature was one of the main developments during the era of good feelings. What was unique about American literature, was the the settings that the stories or novels were based on, were very familiar to American settings. One of the most popular novels of the time was a book called "Rip van Winkle" by Washington Irving. This story was about a man named Rip van Winkle who slept through time, to when the country of America, was free from Britain. Another one of Washington Irving's famous pieces of work was a story called "Sleepy Hollow". Later on, an author named Davy Crockett who was a real life frontiersman who wrote novels about his journeys and adventures. His style of myth writing brought Americans, and several others a sense of individualism, because it described the courageous and wild way of American life.
Politics in the 1800's was based around the idea of Nationalism. This was the idea that the Federalists should play a role in developing a stronger National economy. One of the main supporters of this idea was a man named Henry Clay. He believed that the future of the United states relied on a sense of capitalism. Capitalism was the idea that an economic system should be based on the private ownership of farms, and businesses. Henry's "American System" attempted to try and unify the country by putting taxes on imported goods to protect industry. He also said that federal spendings should be used for such things as transportation needs such as roads, and canals. Another person that supported the american system was a man named Daniel Webster. "Let us act under a settled conviction, and an habitual feeling, that these 24 states, are one country" he stated. He among others was also in support of the federal government.
Counterclaim: An opposition to this "Era of Good Feelings" might come from other people deemed "unimportant". Some examples of these kinds of people are slaves, and women. In this era, slaves were brutally mistreated. They were put in badly built, and crowded houses, and the working would very rarely get to see their families, only at very late night, or early mornings. Slaves most commonly worked on farms or plantations. They would work for several hours in the blistering sun, meanwhile being brutally whipped and beaten leaving marks and scars. Although women were not quite as mistreated as slaves, they were still seen as unequal to men. They often did all of the house chores, unless you were a slave owner. Almost all women were not aloud to take part in regular male activities, and most of them were not educated and did not have a proper job. These are some reasons why I disagree that this was an era of good feelings for some people.
In conclusion, the "Era of good feelings," was a time of development, and discovery for most. For some others like slaves, Native Americans, and women it was not as great. This was a time where people started to develop a sense of individualism. New developments grew in the forms of literature, politics, art, and music. Through these different choices of jobs, education, and hobbies, people were able to take their lives into their own hands and finally settle in this newly developed country.
MLA Citation: Hart, Diane, and Bert Bower. History Alive!: The United States through Industrialism. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2011. Print.