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Apush Culture Unit 2

By mattwaltersoes Feb 26, 2014 931 Words

Culture Unit 2

The college board defines culture as one of the twelve themes in AP U.S. History. It also defines culture as, “Diverse individual and collective expressions through literature, art, philosophy, music, theater, and film throughout U.S. history. Popular culture and the dimensions of cultural conflict within American society.” During the post revolution and pre Civil war period America began to develop its own individual culture. It was no longer a colony of England but a free country and it had to have it own culture. During the time period of 1790 to 1860 American Culture developed from and offspring of British culture to an American Culture. There were expressions of music, theater, art and literature which all made the American culture grow.

In 1820 a British critic sneered, “Who reads an American book?” He was right at the time because there was no american literature. All of the books had to be imported from England or other european countries. This does not mean Americans had not been writing, they just did not write novels. They wrote political papers and pamphlets just not novels. American literature received got a kickstart from the surge of nationalism following the war of 1812. Washington Irving was the first American writer to get national recognition but he followed themes of old world countries so his work cannot be considered true American Literature. James Fenimore Cooper was the first American novilist. He wrote novels based on American themes. His books sold well in Europe and he became the first true American novelist. A golden age dawned for American literature during the second quarter of the 19th century, especially in New England and more specifically in Boston. Boston liked to call itself the Athens of America because of its self proclaimed high culture. The transcendentalist movement of the 1830s resulted from the loosening up puritan New England from its strict society. This was owed to the foreign influence especially German influence. Henry David Thoreau was one of the transcendentalist writers. He wrote essays on idealistic thought. His writing would later encourage Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr to stand up to their oppressors. Walt Whitman would also emerge as a great poet. He was a very emotional writer who did not achieve success at first. Whitman would also handle topics such as sex. These topics were highly frowned upon in writing and his book was banned in Boston. One of the most famous writers during this time would be Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was adopted by everybody not just the upper class. He had many popular poems and stories such as the Scarlet Letter and Evangeline. He was also very popular in Europe and is the only American to have a bust in the poets corner of Westminster Abbey. Americans were beginning to have their very own literature and with their own literature comes their own Culture.

American art and Literature were a little bit handicapped due to the lack of upper class patrons. Many early American painters had to go to the old world for training and work. The young republic was imitating european architectural models for a while. Public buildings followed greek and Roman structures. Thomas Jefferson was the most talented architect of his revolutionary generation. He designed his home, Monticello, in a classical style. Jefferson also designed the quadrangle at the University of Virginia. Jefferson also designed this in a classical style and it still remains a great example of classical architecture. Painting was a big problem because of the lack of people willing to pay for a painting or sit for a portrait. A lot of painters had to go to England to find work. America exported painters and imported art. During the nationalistic period after the War of 1812 art started to bloom a little bit into its own American art. The human landscapes transformed into romantic landscapes. The famous Hudson River School excelled at this type of art. Portrait painters also began to have competition from a crude photograph known as the daguerreotype. American painters and architects got off to a slow start but eventually they would develop their own American styles.

Historians became present during the era of good feelings after the War of 1812. George Bancroft received the title The Father of American History. His history was very patriotic and he published six volumes of the History of the United States to 1789 from 1834 to 1876. His work came from his researching of many archives in Europe and America. Two other historians also emerged and are still somewhat read today. William H. Prescott is one and he wrote about the conquest of Mexico and Peru. Francis Parkman published a series of volumes about the struggles for the Americas between Britain and France. Early American historians were almost all from New England, especially Boston because it had literary tradition and had well stocked libraries. Many of these writers were abolitionists and were predisposed to give the south a smaller role throughout American History. This made New England dominate colonial history until the late 19th century. Historians furthered the American culture that was well in its way to becoming a unique culture.

Art, History, writing all made the American Culture unique. At the time of reform and culture American culture was still somewhat based on the culture of the Europeans, but by the end of the antebellum reforms and culture America had established its own unique culture.

Kennedy, David M., Lizabeth Cohen, and Thomas Andrew Bailey. The American pageant: a history of the American people. 14th ed., AP ed. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print.

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