The Americans' Era of Good Feelings Alexis de Tocqueville / Katrina le

I have learned many things about the Americans and how they run their newfound country. Despite differing opinions, everyone cannot help but feel proud of what they have accomplished from their revolution. They have, finally, after all the years of fighting, become independent from Great Britain. To be an American means to be able to express your own views. They can do this because their art, music, literature, and politics allow them to.

This is an example of what a paint palette may have looked like for the colorful paintings.

Taking inspiration from the people and scenery around them, Americans could show others what their country looked like through art. I've seen one artist, John James Audubon paint accurate, realistic, and detailed birds. Folk art could be done by anyone and was simple and colorful. Portraits were another popular style that focused on the person and displayed personality, emotion, and important figures. The Hudson River School had paintings of nature and scenic landscapes and you could see the vast landscapes of America and what the people living there experienced. George Caitlin specialized in painting villages and the events that occurred there such as religious rituals and hunts. He believed in the rights of Native Americans because they were often discriminated against and described them as having "their lands wrested from them, their customs changed, and therefore lost to the world."The fun and lively tones conveyed in all of these paintings captured the American spirit and the messages the artist were trying to convey.

This is a banjo. It was used in many folk songs and had a country feel.

I have heard many different types of music in America that captured the American spirit, lifestyle, and entertaining aspects in lively tones and notes. One type was classical music created by the Europeans and was elegant and used in ballroom dancing. Spirituals and folk songs incorporated violin, drum, banjo, and were entertaining, so it became a pastime for many Americans. Minstrels are similar to spirituals in the way that it sounds soulful, but it mocked African Americans. Anthems capture the most American spirit and when they are sung, you can directly hear the pride for America. For example, in "My Country 'Tis of Thee" a line in states, "Sweet land of liberty." by implying that the justice and liberty in America is something to be desired, people have not hesitated to move here. All these different types of music were yet another way for Americans to express their beliefs because nobody could stop them from singing or creating music, and you could see the pride for their country radiating off.

A quill and ink well was a popular writing tool for literature.

There have been many examples of writing I have read about how the Americans lived such as Davy Crockett who lived in Tennessee and was elected to Congress, which was a mistake. He wrote an autobiography about living in the west and depicts himself as a hero, when really he has no education and lives in the woods. Another popular writer is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who wrote patriotic poems that help remind everyone about the inspiring story of America and how it came to be. In contrast, Washington Irving wrote enchanting tales such as Rip Van Winkle and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow incorporating American essence, drawing on the landscape around him. For example in Rip Van Winkle he writes, "From an opening between the trees, he could overlook all the lower country for many a mile of rich woodland." James Fenimore Cooper wrote "The Last of the Mohicans" which not only told stories about the frontier, but about American Indians as well. It truly was an Era of Good Feelings for the writers who were able to express their opinions because all these writers saw the great opportunity of writing about the wild lands and the distinct people of America and seized it, turning observations into tales that will surely be cherished and retold for generations.

This is what the White House in the 1830s looked like.

From what I've gathered, there seems to be two major political parties: the Democratic-Republic who were capitalists, in the fact that they believed the economy should based off of agriculture, and Federalists. Under Thomas Jefferson, the Louisiana Purchase was made, adding a large area of land to America and under James Monroe, the fifth president who only recently died, Florida ad Oregon was added, expanding it even more. It was from him, that the Era of Good Feelings was born. During this time period, they didn't have any Federalist presidents, but after, under the presidency of John Quincy Adams, John Marshall strengthened the power of the federal government leading Congress to be able to create a national bank without state interference, and business contracts weren't able to be broken by state legislatures. Democratic-Republicans had a claim to fame as well because Henry Clay developed an American System that made the federal government pay for transportation projects, placed taxes on imported goods to protect the industry, and made a new national bank so that they could standardize currency and provide credit. This proved to be helpful to the economy and he proclaimed, "I had rather be right than be President." These events gave happiness to the political parties, making people happy and content with their country.

Women, Native Americans, and slaves were all mistreated during this era.

Regardless of all the good things to emerge from this era, some people suffered from white men. Women were one group who were often treated as property from the time they were born to adults because their fathers would often make them do chores and cleaning and once she reached marriage age, wedded away and her husband might make her cook and clean, seldom letting her speak her opinion. Americans also suffered by being stereotypical towards Native Americans who had already been inhabiting America, and settlers came trying to buy their land such as the Shawnee tribe and their chief, Tecumseh, who helped fend off the Americans along with the British in the War of 1812 and even after so many people gave up, he continued fighting until he died. In my opinion, slaves got the worst treatment because it was hard for people of color to find work, and were abused by whites. Despite all the unhappiness, slaves still had entertainment from dancing, singing, attending corn husking and pea shelling parties, playing music, and making quilts that often contained Biblical messages and a star, representing the North Star which they had to follow to get out of the South and the songs have a soulful tone to it and hope for freedom. One man by the name of Nat Turner, an African American preacher, started a rebellion in Virginia referred to as Nat Turner's Rebellion and he and his followers killed over 57 people in two days leading to frightened Southerners passing laws which helped make slave owners control their slaves easier and more harshly in 1831 after many, many years of oppression and said, “It is evil to keep these people in bondage, yet they cannot be freed. They must be educated! To free these people without education and with the prejudice that presently exists against them would be a ghastly crime.” Good things such as happiness and patriotism has come from this time period, but bad things such as slavery, racism, and sexism have been experienced by some people as well.

After the travels of America, I have learned so many things. Art can help express your views using vibrant colors, communicating with scenery and subject. Literature puts serious, or whimsical tales, always having romanticism, into the picture sharing stories with people in and out of America. Different political parties with major contributions from each one let citizens be actively contributing in their nation's government. Music embodies emotion and pride through a form of entertainment. So in summary, being an American means you have the freedom to express your own views.

"African-American Slaves Picking Cotton Giclee Print at AllPosters.com." Allposters.com. Allposters, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

"The Confessions of Nat Turner Quotes by William Styron." By William Styron. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

"Henry Clay Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

Hyer, Katy. "Native American Life." Native American Life: Introduction. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

"Lit2Go." Rip Van Winkle | American Short Fiction | Washington Irving | Lit2Go ETC. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Feb. 2017.

Siegfried, Susan L. "Portraits of Fantasy, Portraits of Fashion." Nonsite.org. N.p., 19 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

Watson, Bruce. "George Catlin's Obsession." Smithsonian.com. Smithsonian Institution, Dec. 2002. Web. 11 Feb. 2017.

Hart, Diane, and Bert Bower. History Alive!: The United States through Industrialism. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2011. Print.

Created By
Katrina Le
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Created with images by Lee_seonghak - "oil painting paints of pallets" • TheMarque - "Banjo" • Luis Vidal (Lois) - "Quill&Freedom"

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