The Romantic Period of American Literature 1800-1850 “America is a land of wonders, in which everything is in constant motion and every change seems an improvement….No natural boundary seems to be set to the efforts of man; and in his eyes what is not yet done is only what he has not yet attempted to do,” Alexis de Tocqueville
Timeline of Events • 1803 Louisiana Purchase extends nation’s territory to Rockies. • 1804 Lewis and Clark begin exploring and mapping West. • 1807 Fulton’s steamboat makes 1st rip from NYC to Albany. • 1812 US declares war on Great Britain; early battles are at sea. • 1814 Bombardment of Fort McHenry – “The Star Spangled Banner” • 1820 Missouri Compromise – No slavery in new territories • 1825 Erie Canal success – canal building spurred throughout US • 1837 Samuel Morse patents telegraph. • 1838 Cherokee “Trail of Tears” – Georgia to Oklahoma • 1846 Mexican War begins • 1848 California Gold Rush begins • 1848 Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls, NY
Historical Background • In 1800, the US consisted of 16 states, all clustered on the east coast • L.P. doubled the size of the US • This rapid growth = national pride and self-awareness • Canals, turnpikes, and railroads boomed. • Steamboats and sailing packets helped speed people and goods to destinations.
Growth of Democracy at Home • Americans started to take more direct control of their government • 1828 election of Andrew Jackson – the “People’s President”- ushered in the era of the common man. • Property requirements for voting began to be eliminated. • “Indian Removal” forced westward migration of Native Americans. 4,000 of 15,000 perished on “Trail of Tears”
How Others Saw Us • War of 1812 – score one for us • Monroe Doctrine of 1823 – warned us to stay out of Latin American issues – we took care of ourselves • 1830s- We became involved in Texas’ succession from Mexico – Alamo – score one for them • Texas becomes part of the US in 1845 – resulted in war with Mexico from 1846-1848 • Gold Rush brought 100s of 1000s to new land of promise.
American Literature Comes of AgeRomanticism • Romanticism was an artistic movement that dominated Europe and America in the early 19th century • Romantic writers elevated IMAGINATION over reason and INTUITION over fact • Romantics reveled in NATURE • Accented the fantastic aspects of human experience
Writers to Know • Washington Irving – Father of American Romanticism • Nathaniel Hawthorne – a dark Romantic • Edgar Allen Poe – a dark Romantic • Herman Melville – a dark Romantic • James Fennimore Cooper – creator of the Romantic hero