American Renaissance (Literature)

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In the nineteenth century, America was seen as the land of promise, the land of future. Travellers, like Alexis de Tocqueville, arrived to find "the most unequivocal proofs of prosperity and rapid progress in agriculture, commerce, and great public works. (Democracy in America, 1835)" They saw a nation in full enjoyment of prolonged prosperity. The nation territory now comprised thirty-one states, with a population of approximately twenty-three million people. In the East, several branches of industry were being developed. In the mid-west and the South, the agriculture was profitable, and there were railways that connected the settled parts of the country. The expansion of industry and population, however, had a high cost. In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, providing funds to transport the Eastern tribes beyond the Mississippi. In 1834 a special Indian territory was set up in what is now Oklahoma. In all, the tribes ceded millions of hectares to the federal government during Andrew Jackson's two terms, and dozens of tribes were removed from their ancestral homelands. Most American Indians complied with the terms of the removal treaties, often with resignation. The Trail of Tears refers to the forced relocation of the Cherokee Native American tribe in 1838, which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 4,000 Cherokee Indians. At the time, two Americas really existed: that of the North and that of the South. New England and the Middle Atlantic States were the principal centres of manufacturing, commerce, and finance. In the South, agriculture flourished and the chief source of wealth was the cotton crop. As the years passed, the interests of the North and South became obvious. The South resented the progress of the North and blamed them of ‘aggrandizement'. Northerners, on the other hand, declared that slavery was responsible of the South's comparative backwardness. From the middle of the 1840's the question of...
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