America's Growing National Identity Research bY: Alexis de tocqueville

What does it mean to be an American in the early 1800's? Americans have many different characteristics mainly because they value individualism. Along with being lazy, but gracious, crude and rugged, and quick to chase a dollar, they are very civilized. Finally getting to be in their own country, they can finally value the small things like art and literature and the big things like exploring the idea of national unity and wanting to have pride in their country. So, what does it mean to be an American in the early 1800's? It means you get to be proud of yourself and your peers. "I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past." -Thomas Jefferson.

Politics are the start of unification in the new country because they get to call something their own. The American system thought of by Henry Clay is the new way of banking. The system, which consists of federal spending on transportation projects, a new national bank, and taxes on imported goods, makes the people feel like they have a stable system. Something to be proud of. The decisions by the Supreme Court only strengthened federal power. As a result, the Court encouraged the growth of capitalism for the people. "I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." -John Adams.

American's get to explore different types of art and feel like they are a part of something. There are many different styles of art and the artists behind the work. Different kinds of styles are known as Folk Art, Portraits, and Hudson River School. Different artists are John James Audubon and George Catlin. They are all different in many ways. Folk art is usually done by artists who are unprofessional and painted things that were simple and direct. Portraits are done by artists who are more professional and know what they are doing. Their work is usually more emotional and detailed. Hudson River school is a style of fine art used to paint landscapes and sceneries. John James Audubon is more of a naturalist who focused on animals and nature and George Catlin focused on more detailed pictures of Native Americans. Whatever style you liked or practiced, it got to be your own and that is a great idea to these people. "The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls." -Pablo Picasso.

Many people love to practice and listen to music. Being proud of what you or someone else has accomplished is very exciting to these people. There are many different types of popular music styles that different people enjoy. There is classical music which is very elegant. People listen to African American Folk songs that are more spiritual. People also listen to minstrel songs which focus on mimicking African Americans. Another type is Patriotic Anthems which are most popular. People would get dressed up to go out to ballrooms to listen to classical music. Music isn't only a way for people to feel proud and accomplished, but also a way to have fun. "Where words fail, music speaks." -Hans Christian Andersen.

Literature is one of the new concepts to people in the early 1800's, but it is a good way for people to express theirselves and tell stories. One very successful author named Washington Irving, named after General Washington, would focus on German folklore in his work. His work made you think about the beauty in America as he told his supernatural tales. Another author, James Fenimore Cooper would portray American Indians. He as well would focus on the frontier and the beauty of the wilderness. His stories told about war and romance wrapped in one big adventure. The author Davy Crockett would tell legends about himself and his adventures, reminding American's of their individuality. One other successful author is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He would tell courageous survival stories that were patriotic as well. He pictured Colonial America. He even told stories about the Battle of Lexington and Concord and the whole American Revolution. "The land of literature is a fairy land to those who view it at a distance, but, like all other landscapes, the charm fades on a nearer approach, and the thorns and briars become visible." -Washington Irving.

Many people do think that the Early 1800's should be known as the Era of Good Feelings, however, not everyone feels that way. Three particular groups do think this is a horrible time for them. Women, slaves, and Native Americans. In my opinion, the group who thinks that it is a horrible time for them is slaves. Slaves have no rights. That means that they can't possess anything or be legally married or have children that would legally be considered theirs. Everyone stereotypes them just for the color of their skin and worst of all, they aren't even considered people. So, while this era may be the time for being prosperous and having individuality, not everyone feels the same way. "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" -Patrick Henry.

In conclusion, being an American in the early 1800's means that people get to be proud of themselves and their peers. The Unification brought on by politics and the unique work of art, music, and literature makes everyone's world fantastic. American's exploring the new idea of individualism and unification is making the new country prosper. After all, American is growing it's new national identity. "My toast would be, may our country be always successful, but whether successful or otherwise, always right." -John Quincy Adams, August 1816.

  • Edgerton, Sarah. Life in Early America Journal. California: 2017
  • Hart, Diane, and Bert Bower. History Alive!: The United States through Industrialism. Palo Alto, CA: Teachers' Curriculum Institute, 2011. Print.
  • "Famous Quotes from American History - The US in the 1800s." Famous Quotes from American History - The US in the 1800s. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.
  • BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.


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