In the Early 1800's America was just starting to grow. New art, literature and music was forming. American culture was in the making while new ideas were being made. Many people had pride to be an American and took their country seriously. Although the 1800's started rough with the war of 1812, things just got better from there. For white people, being an American was good, after all it's called the Era of Good Feelings.
Art is one of many things that makes up American culture. Americans made their own styles of art, for example, folk art is simple art made by regular people. Women would sew quilts while men would carve weather veins and make hunting decoys. They also would make murals and symbols like the American flag. Portraits were made by more professional people and were made to capture emotions and personalities. A famous artist said "Paint what you see, and look with your eyes" (Gilbert Stuart) Gilbert Stuart is a well known artist who made a portrait of George Washington. A portrait he made from Washington was so well made and cherished that it was saved from the burning White House. The Hudson River School was created by an English man who loved the American landscape. These paintings were of landscapes and nature. Instead of capturing the beauty of people, they captured the beauty of American nature.
Like art, Americans put their own twist twist to Literature. They would put settings and places of the story in America. A British writer said "Who reads an American book? or goes to an American play? or looks at an American picture or statue ?" (TCI 250) Europeans didn't see any good in American culture but as time went on, American literature got popular. One of the first people to become famous off of writing was Washington Irving. He wrote the classic and popular "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow". He put twists on these German folklores and put them in American settings. Another famous writer, James Fenimore Cooper, was one of the nation's first novelists. He wrote about life as an American Indian in the wilderness of America. The Pioneers and The Last of the Mohicans were some of his best writings and did very well.
In 1816, James Monroe was elected almost unanimously as president of the United States. Crowds of people were peaceful and happy for Monroe's election The newspaper called it "The Era of Good Feelings." This spawned many ideas and one leader of these ideas is Henry Clay. Henry Clay is one of the leading supporters in the idea that the federal government should be more involved in making a national money. Clay supported and believed in many ideas. He supported the American System, which is a plan that demands taxes on imported goods to secure the industry and the spending on transportation such as roads and canals. He also believed that the future of America dwells in capitalism. Capitalism is where the trade of a country is controlled by small companies and individuals for money. Although many capitalism supporters believed that the government should have a limited role, Clay thought differently, that's why he believes in the American System. John Marshall was a supporter of nationalism and he wrote one of the most important court decisions. These decisions made the federal government stronger and made businesses grow by limiting state regulations. Like most eras, the Era of Good Feeling ended. In 1824, Clay and three others failed to succeed Monroe as president. As Clay said "I would rather be right than President" (Henry Clay)
Music in the 1800's started to grow and get popular. Typically music was only preformed in churches. As the country grew, so did music. "I did not compose my work as one might put on a church vestment... rather it sprung from the truly fervent faith of my heart, such as I have felt it since my childhood." (Franz Liszt) In the North people played in orchestras where they would play classical music from Europe. They also played music for a dance called the cotillion where couples of four danced together. In the south, slaves entertained themselves with folk songs and spirituals. Spirituals are religious folk songs from an African American origin. They would play these songs with drums, violins and banjos. White composers from the south were inspired by the African music and they created a new type of music called Minstrel songs. White people would honor the music by mimicking it . In 1828, an American composer named Thomas Dartmouth Rice made national headlines with his song Jump Jim Crow. Jim Crow became a racist slur and the term stuck around years later. Discrimination laws against Blacks even became known as Jim Crow. Minstrel Shows eventually became the country's most popular form of entertainment.
While the early 1800's was called The Era of Good Feelings, there weren't many "good feelings'' when it comes to slavery. Slaves were considered property and didn't have the rights White people had. For example, in the law slaves couldn't have a wife, children, home, or citizenship. Slaves worked on farms, in the fields picking and planting crops. Slaves worked all day and had very little breaks. Even after all their hard labor, their masters give them worn down and crowded cabins to live in. If the slaves weren't listening, slacking off or fought back, their masters would whip, brand and beat them. Even in the north where blacks were free, they still faced discrimination. They still couldn't vote and they didn't get good jobs White people could have. A young African American said "What are my prospects? No one will employ me; white boys won't work with me." (TCI 377) Even in the "free North" black people were still treated unequally.
Even though slavery was still thriving in the South, the Era of Good Feelings was an essential time in American history. Music, literature, art and politics were all blossoming into their own American style. Books and plays were becoming countrywide sensations while politics were talked about daily. American culture was expanding and being noticed to people all around the world. Overall, the early 1800's was a great time to be alive and to be an American.
- "Shocking List of 10 Companies That Profited from the Slave Trade." Your Black World. N.p., 29 Aug. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
- "Image." ExplorePAHistory.com - Image. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
- History.com Staff. "James Monroe." History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
- "American Art - Geography of the Northeast from 1800 to the mid 1800s." Google Sites. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
- By Michael A. Lofaro (Author). "Tall Tales Davy Crockett: Second Nashville Series Crockett Almanacs, 1839-1841 (Tennesseana Editions) Paperback – August 31, 1987." Tall Tales Davy Crockett: Second Nashville Series Crockett Almanacs, 1839-1841 (Tennesseana Editions): Michael A. Lofaro: 9780870495267: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.
- Hart, Diane, and Bert Bower. History Alive!: The United States through Industrialism. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2011. Print.
- "New York History Walks." New York History Walks. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.
- "Add To Cart." Immigration Timeline - The Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2017.
- "Henry Clay Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2017.