American Romanticism _1820-1865 - University of Nevada_ Reno

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					  The Early Eighteenth Century:
American Romanticism (1820-1865)
America and Utopia: from its very beginning the
 language of utopia has been used to describe
          the American experiment.
•   1603: “For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill. The eyes of all
    people are upon us. So that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we
    have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall
    be made a story and a by-word through the world” (Winthrop).
•   1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they
    are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
    Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are
    instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, “
    (Jefferson 11).
•   1963: “This is our hope. … With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling
    discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will
    be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to
    stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day” (King).
•   2008: “Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street,
    a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America's improbable
    experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had
    traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their
    declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring
    of 1787” (Obama).
    Key Events that Shaped 1820-1865
•   1820: Missouri Compromise (No slavery in Louisiana north of 36 30‟ except in
•   1823: Monroe Doctrine (Warns all European nations not to colonize America)
•   1830: Indian Removal Act
•   1831: Trail of Tears
•   1837: Financial panic and failures of numerous banks lead to severe
    unemployment, which persists until the 1840‟s.
•   1844: Telegraph invented by Samuel Morse
•   1846-8: Mexican American War
•   1848: Seneca Falls Convention (Inaugurates campaign for women‟s rights)
•   1848-9: California Gold Rush
•   1857: Dread Scott v Sanford decision (Supreme Court denies African Americans
•   1861-65: Civil War
•   1863: Emancipation Proclamation
   Cultural Issues that Shaped
 American in the Early 18th Century
• American
• Industrialization
• Manifest Destiny
• Slavery and the
  Civil War
• “The Woman
          American Romanticism
“Both place and time were changed,
   and I dwelt nearer to those parts of
   the universe and to those eras in
   history which had most attracted
   me. Where I lived was as far off as
   many a region viewed nightly by
   astronomers. We are wont to
   imagine rare and delectable places
   in some remote and more celestial
   corner of the system, behind the
   constellation of Cassiopeia‟s Chair,
   far from noise and disturbance. I
   discovered that my house actually
   had its site in such a withdrawn, but
   forever new and unprofaned part of
   the universe” (Thoreau 59).
    Some Characteristics of American
•   Romantic thinkers emphasize the importance of imagination and feeling in
    reaction to the premium placed on reason during the 18th century. They
    believed that the particular and specific individual was more important than
    universal laws.
•   Many Romantics represented the primitive and untrammeled over the artificial
    or developed as an aesthetic ideal in their paintings, writing, and social theory.
•   The Romantic period is marked by Protestantism in political action-stressing
    above all the “Rights of Man:”
     – In Europe and America, Romantic philosophy included radical assault on virtually
       all social institutions. Fundamental hierarchies of government, notions of
       sovereignty, once emblems of social and literary stability, now exemplified the
       dead hand of the past. (Harper‟s Ferry is a useful example)
•   Many Romantics stressed a hope for the future and belief in innate goodness of
    man and were wary of the danger of institutional restraint.
•   Because the Romantic movement included many women and former slaves, it
    stressed a development of theory of political rights for those previously
     Key Terms in American

• Transcendentalism
• Pastoral
• Sublime
According to theorist Lawrence Buell
   the pastoral is, “in the loose sense
   of being preoccupied with nature
   and rurality as setting, theme and
   value in contradistinction from
   society and the urban…[the
   pastoral] refers not to the specific
   set of obsolescent conventions of
   the eclogue tradition, but to all
   literature-poetry or prose, fiction
   or non-fiction-that celebrates the
   ethos of nature/rurality over
   against the ethos of town city.
   This domain includes for present
   purposes all degrees of rusticity
   from farm to wilderness” (463).
• “A New England movement which flourished from 1835-60. It had its
  roots in Romanticism and in post-Kantian idealism by which Coleridge
  was influenced. It had a considerable influence on American art and
  literature, Basically religious, it emphasized the role and importance of
  the individual conscience, and the value of intuition in matters of
  moral guidance and inspiration. The actual terms was coined by
  opponents of the movement but accepted by its members (Ralph
  Waldo Emersion is one of the leaders, published The
  Transcendentalists in 1841). The group were also social reformers.
  Some members, besides Emerson, were famous and include Bronson
  Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne” (DL&LT
    •   “According to Romantic writers, the
        sublime caused the reader to
        experience elestasis ("transport").
        Edmund Burke developed this line
        of thought further in his influential
        essay, „The Sublime and the
        Beautiful‟ (1757). Here, he
        distinguished the sublime from the
        beautiful by suggesting that the
        sublime was not a stylistic quality
        but the powerful depiction of
        subjects that were vast, obscure,
        and powerful. These sublime topics
        or subjects evoked "delightful
        horror" in the viewer or reader, a
        combination of terror and amazed
        pleasure.” (DL&LT 874).
         • In its most basic form, the
           Industrial Revolution can be
           defined as the shift in
           manufacturing that resulted
           from the invention of power-
           driven machinery to replace
           hand labor. Although its origins
           are hard to pin down exactly,
           the shift in manufacture covers
           roughly 1770 to 1840 in both
           Europe and America.
    Characteristics and Implications of
       the Industrial Revolution…
•   No attempt was made to regulate the shift from the old economic world like
    that of the “Pilgrims” (Mercantile Capitalism) to the new, since even liberal
    reformers were committed to the philosophy of Laissez-faire-„let do‟ or „let
    alone‟ out lined in Adam Smith‟s Wealth of Nations.
     – Under the theory of Laissez-faire, general welfare can be ensure only
         through free operation of economic laws, and government should maintain
         a strict policy of noninterference to leave manufacturers to pursue,
         unfettered, their private interests
     – For the great majority of the laboring class, the results of laissez-faire and
         the „freedom‟ of contract it secured were inadequate wages and long hours
         of work under harsh discipline in sordid conditions-insurance, laws
         restricting child labor, minimum wage, environmental concerns,
         insurance, etc. did not exist.
     – While conditions for the poor worsened, the landed and mercantile class
         enjoyed prosperity owning to the market success.
                    Manifest Destiny
•   According to the Oxford English
    Dictionary “manifest destiny n.
    (also with capital initials) orig. U.S.
    (now hist.) is the doctrine or belief
    that the expansion of the United
    States throughout the American
    continents was both justified and
    inevitable”. For example John
    O‟Sullivin commented in 1845, “
    Our manifest destiny is to
    overspread the continent allotted by
    Providence for the free
    development of our yearly
    multiplying millions” (OED).
    Characteristics and Implications of
           Manifest Destiny…
•   The period from 1820 to 1865 saw a dizzying growth in the nation‟s
    population and territorial reach; increasing urbanization; and the expansion of
    railroads, canals, and other forms of transportation that allowed for more
    extensive economical forms of distribution.
•   The nation‟s population of approximately four million in 1790 jumped to thirty
    million by 1860, in part because of the massive emigration from Ireland and
    elsewhere in Europe that occurred during the 1840‟s and 1850‟s.
•   Territorial space available to this burgeoning population dramatically
    increased following the war with Mexico (1846-48), which added 1.2 million
    square miles of land to the 1.8 million square miles that the nation held before
    the war; this is the area that would become Texas, California, Arizona,
    Nevada, Utah, and parts of New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming.
•   In 1838 the Cherokees were forcibly removed by federal troops under General
    Winfred Scott. They were sent on what would be called the Trail of Tears to
    present day Oklahoma. During the winter march an estimated 4,000 people of
    13,000 died.
       Slavery and the Civil War
•   A politics of antislavery has an
    important place in the careers of a
    number of the American Romantic
    writers. For example, when the Fugitive
    Slave Law of 1850 was enforced in
    Boston in 1851 Thoreau publicly
    delivered the following:“Slavery and
    servility have produced no sweet-
    scented flower annually, to charm the
    senses of men, for they have no real
    life: they are merely a decaying and a
    death, offensive to all healthy nostrils.
    We do not complain that they live, but
    that they do not get buried. Let the
    living bury them: even they are good
    for manure” (Thoreau).
      Characteristics and Implications of
        Slavery and the Civil War…
• In 1859 John Brown‟s violent raid on Harper‟s Ferry failed to initiate a
  slave rebellion in the South, but his action was later used during the
  civil war as an example of the “holy war against slavery” that would
  fulfill the promise of freedom guaranteed in the Declaration.
• While some Romantic Abolitionists advocated the need for the Civil
  War, many, like Ralph Waldo Emerson, had little notion of the
  suffering and destruction involved in the conflict that would eventually
  kill over 600,000 Americans before Grant‟s surrender to Lee in 1865.
• While the fourteenth amendment granted former slaves the right to
  Due Process and Equal Protection, laws like Dread Scott v. Sanford
  (1857) kept former slaves from being recognized as citizens. Instead of
  a rise in education and standard of living for former slaves, the post-
  Civil War era was marked by the resurgence of segregationist practices
  and anti-black violence, most notably lynching.
         “The Woman Question”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton stated in
    Declaration of Sentiments and
    Resolutions: “We hold these
    truths to be self-evident: that all
    men and women are created
    equal; that they are endowed by
    their Creator with certain
    inalienable rights; that among
    these are life, liberty, and the
    pursuit of happiness; that to
    secure these rights
    governments are instituted,
    deriving their just powers from
    the consent of the governed”
    (Stanton 687).
     Characteristics and Implications 19th
         century Women‟s Rights…
•   The fact that women had such a significant place in urban reform movements
    is not surprising, given that urban reform centered on creating homelike,
    domestically attractive conditions for the poor, and that another major reform
    effort of the pre-civil war period centered on women‟s rights.
•   In 1848, at the first women‟s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York,
    Elizabeth Cady Stanton‟s resounding “Declaration of Sentiments” invoked
    Jefferson‟s Declaration, substituting male for British tyrannical authority to
    show how the nation‟s social institutions and legal codes mainly severed the
    interests of America‟s white male citizenry.
•   That same year , the New York State Legislature, in response to critics like
    Stanton, passed the nation‟s most liberalized married women‟s property act,
    which made it legal for women to maintain control over the property they
    brought to the marriage.
•   Although Cady Stanton and Suzan B. Anthony began the struggle for national
    suffrage in the United States, national voting rights for American women did
    not exist until the nineteenth amendment was ratified in 1920.
            Henry David Thoreau
•   “His interest in the flower or the
    bird lay very deep in his mind, and
    was connected with Nature, -- and
    the meaning of Nature was never
    attempted to be defined by him. ...
    His power of observation seemed
    to indicate additional senses. He
    saw as with a microscope, heard as
    with an ear-trumpet, and his
    memory was a photographic
    register of all he saw and heard”
    Characteristics/Background: Henry
             David Thoreau
•   “Henry David Thoreau aspired to write great literature by adventuring at home, traveling
    as he put it, a good deal in Concord, Massachusetts. „As travelers tgo around the world
    and report natural objects and phenomena, so let another stay at home and report the
    phenomena of his own life‟” (Norton Anthology 825).
•   In 1843, Thoreau‟s brother John died of lockjaw in his arms. His brother‟s death inspired
    the elegiac A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers that he wrote during his stay
    at Walden Pond, and which was initially poorly received.
•   Between 1847 and 1854 Thoreau produced as many as seven full revisions of Walden,
    which was finally published in 1854.
•   Thoreau died of Tuberculosis in 1862 at the age of 44.
•   Recognition of Thoreau as an important writer was slow in coming, but by 1906 he was
    becoming widely recognized as a social philosopher, naturalist, and an the author of one
    of the masterpieces of American fiction.
•   In 1906 Mahatma Gandhi read “Civil Disobedience,” and later acknowledged its
    important influence on his thinking about how best to achieve Indian independence.
    Later in the century, Martin Luther Luther King Jr. would similarly attest to the crucial
    influence of Thoreau on his adoption of nonviolent civil disobedience as a key to the
    Civil Rights Movement in the Untied States.
            Walden Pond

"Walden Pond Past and Present"