america – 1773 – 1861


The Convention
After the War of Independence (1773-1783) between England and America, the thirteen states had to face the problem of their boundaries, of the rules for commerce and taxes and of justice. They needed a central government in order to fix a national currency, a system of law and to define the power of each state. In May 1787 there was the Convention in Philadelphia to draw a Constitution.
War against Britain
In 1789, after the ratification of the constitution, George Washington, delegate of the state of Virginia, was elected First President of the U.S.A. till 1797. During T. Jefferson’s presidency England and America were agaun at warbeacuse Napoleon had put a commercial blockade on French commerce with England , so the American commerce received a heavy blow. The war ended in 1815 (Treaty of Ghent) without a real victor.
New States
Meanwhile, new territories were added to the thirteen states: Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Oregon The year 1848 became famous for the well-known Gold Rush.
The Frontiers
These new annexations and the new boundaries created were called The Frontier, a term which defined the limit existing between the settlements and the unknown lands and the people living in them.
The slaves and The Civil War
Another group of people who influenced the American development both economically and socially were the slaves in particular in the Southern states. The division between the industrialised North and agricultural South became more and more evident. as the economy till in 1861 the Civil War broke out under the Presidence of the Republican Abraham Lincoln, a strong opponents of slavery.
This war ended in 1865 with the victory of the North and the abolition of slavery.

Literary scene
POETRY
After the War of Independence the literary debate moved towards the topic of the constitution of the new nation. The most famous poets were a group called The Connecticut Wits and Philip Freneau (1752-1832).
In the 1800 the first newspapers were printed and schools were opened and a campaign for the education of girls started.
New England, Concord in particular, was the focus also of another more optimistic literary movement, Trascendentalism, based on the Neoplatonic ideas and influenced by the English Romantic poets. They exhalted the spiritual world of feeling and intuition against the false reality of the material world: the spirit is the true reality and the means by which to understand life. (Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau).
In Harvard was born a group of poets called the “new England Brahamins” or “Cambridge Poets” who dealt with contemporary politics and anti-slavery problems.
the Civil War determined the social and cultural identity of the U. S. and produced a new national literature.
PROSE
The most important writers of the period, were Washington Irving (1783-1859)and Fennimore Cooper (1789-1851), who dealt with the conflict between Englanish and American menthality and Indian wnd white civilization.
In New England. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864, The Scrlet Letter) revealed his Puritan dealing with the themes of good, evil, sin and guilt both in individuals and in communities and Herman Melville’s (1819-1891, Moby Dick) books are mainly symbolic and allegorical dealing with the vision of man who lives in the “malevolence of Universe”.
A group of regional colourists wrote novels which offered authentic glimpses of local manners, traditions and dialects, depicting on newspapers and journals the idiosyncrasies of provincial America using sometimes a touch of humour and sometimes a note of nostalgia.
Mark Twain (1835-1910), left unforgettable American visions in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) and Life on the Mississippi (1883).

Historical and Social Scene

The Convention
After the War of Independence (1773-1783) between England and America, the thirteen states had to face the problem of their boundaries, of the rules for commerce and taxes and of justice. They needed a central government in order to fix a national currency, a system of law and to define the power of each state. In May 1787 there was the Convention in Philadelphia to draw a Constitution. It was established that the legislative, executive and judicial powers were to be independent whereas currency, foreign trade and taxation were to depend on the Central Federal Government. Besides the Parliament was divided into two Houses, the Senate, whose members came from all states in equal number, and the House of Representatives, whose members were proportional to the population of the states.

War against Britain
In 1789, after the ratification of the constitution, George Washington, delegate of the state of Virginia, was elected First President of the U.S.A. till 1797 (after a re-election in 1793). But a new conflict was necessary during T. Jefferson’s presidency and in 1812 the U.S. declared war on Britain . The main reason of the conflict was that Napoleon had put a commercial blockade on French commerce with England , so the American commerce received a heavy blow and had to abandon the trade with these two countries as its vessels were often sacked or confiscated (the Embargo Act). Besides, the Americans wanted to spread their possessions to Canada, a British colony. The war ended in 1815 (Treaty of Ghent) without a real victor.

Monroe’s principles
In 1823 the fifth President of America, James Monroe established two new principles that were to last for over a century: the principle of non-colonisation, according to which Europe should not settle new colonies in America, and the principle of non-interaction according to which both Europe and America should not interfere in their affairs respecting their mutual independence.

New States
Meanwhile, new territories were added to the thirteen states. In 1803 Napoleon had sold Louisiana, e region West of Mississippi to America to get money for his wars and to avoid British interference. J.Monroe bought Florida from Spain during his presidency, Texas was annexed in 1845 after a war with Mexico and in 1846 England assigned Oregon to the U.S.. The year 1848 became famous for the great wave of immigration from Europe to America due to the discovery of gold in California, the well-known Gold Rush.

The Frontier
These new annexations and the new boundaries created were called The Frontier, a term which defined the limit existing between the settlements and the unknown lands and the people living in them.
These were poor and rough pioneers that lived on hunting, fishing, and poor agriculture, farmers that grew vegetable, grain and fruit and reared cattle, and shopkeepers, lawyers, doctors, men with capital who created towns, roads, banks and schools. Even religious men led to the creation of particular settlements; one of the most popular was that of the Mormons, created by Joseph Smith and based on the Church of Latter- day Saints. They settled in the Valley of Great Salt Lake, Utah , a state that was admitted as a member of the U.S. only in 1896 when the Mormons abandoned polygamy.

The slaves
Another group of people who influenced the American development both economically and socially were the slaves. Slavery was a phenomenon that in the late years of the 18th century was thought to disappear but that in the early 19th century, on the contrary, increased because of the need of labour for the cotton, sugar and tobacco fields growing in the Southern states. The division between the industrialised North and agricultural South became more and more evident. as the economy

The Civil War
This situation led to the Civil War in 1861 when the Republican Abraham Lincoln, a strong opponent of slavery, was elected President of America, and seven Southern States formed the Confederate States of America under their President Jefferson Davies.
This war ended in 1865 with the victory of the North and the abolition of slavery.

Lascia un commento