Chapter Seven: The Jeffersonian Era
I. The Rise of Cultural Nationalism
A. Patterns of Education
1. Central to the Republican vision was the concept of a virtuous and enlightened citizenry. 2. Republicans believed in the establishment of a nationwide system of public schools to create the educated electorate they believe a republic required. 3. A Massachusetts law of 1789 reaffirmed the colonial laws by which each town was obligated to support a school, but there was little enforcement. 4. Schooling became primarily of private institutions, most of which were open only to those who could afford to pay for them. 5. Many were frankly aristocratic in outlook, training their students to become members of the nation’s elite. 6. In 1789, Massachusetts required that its public schools serve females as well as males. 7. In 1784, Judith Sargent Murray published an essay defending women’s rights to education, a defense set in terms very different from those used by most men. 8. Colleges provided very limited educated focused mainly on classics and theology. Subsection Summary: The patterns of education began with the Republicans’ belief of a public school system to the belief that any race or gender should be allowed an education.
B. Medicine and Science
1. The University of Pennsylvania created the first American medical school in the eighteenth century. 2. Municipal authorities had virtually no understanding of medical science and almost no idea of what to do in the face of the severe epidemics that so often swept their populations. 3. Individual patients often had more to fear from their doctors than from their illnesses and even the leading advocates often embraced useless and dangerous treatments. 4. The medical profession also used its newfound commitment to the “scientific” method to justify expanding its own role to kinds of care that had traditionally been outside its domain. 5. Education and professional training in medicine and other fields fell far short of the Jeffersonian visions. Subsection Summary: In years during the Jeffersonian Era, education and even life revolved around the knowledge of medicine and science.
C. Cultural Aspirations in the New Nation
1. Having won political independence from Europe, Americans aspired now to a form of cultural independence in which they dreamed of an American literary and artistic life that would rival that of Europe’s. 2. Americans believed that their “happy land” was destined to become the “seat of empire” and “final stage” of civilization. 3. Jedidiah Morse, author of Geography Made Easy (1784), said the country must have its own textbooks to prevent the aristocratic ideas of England from infecting the people. 4. To encourage a distinctive American culture and help unify the new nation, Webster insisted on a simplified and Americanized system of spelling—American Spelling Book. 5. Among the most ambitious was the Philadelphian Charles Brockden Brown and his obsession with originality led him to produce a body of work characterized with horror and deviant behavior. 6. Washington Irving, a resident of New York State who won wide acclaim for his satirical histories of early American life and his powerful fables of society in the New World. 7. Mercy Otis Warren continued her literary efforts with a three volume History of the Revolution, published in 1805 and emphasizing the heroism of the American struggle. 8. Mason Weems’ Life of Washington portrayed the aristocratic former president as homespun man possessing simple republican virtues. Subsection Summary: Cultural aspirations in the new nation began when Americans aspired to form cultural independence through American literary and an artistic life.
D. Religious Skepticism
1. The American Revolution weakened the traditional forms of religious practice by detaching churches from government and by elevating ideas of individual liberty and reason that challenged many ecclesiastical traditions. 2. Religious...
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