Origins of American Culture
American culture Includes both liberal and conservative elements, scientific and religiousness competitiveness, and he ability to take risks and freely express yourself. It has a variety of expressions due to its demographic diversity. The historically diverse background of American culture makes our nation so unique. The origins of America date back to 1492 when Christopher Columbus made the “discovery of America” Most often, the culture In America Is directly affiliated with one’s social class and political orientation.The origin of American culture is the birth of American literature. American culture truly starts to form at the time when American literature is produced.
All throughout American history, literature has played an important role in the shaping of the nation’s culture and ideology. The culture of America is influenced by the literature we create. The ideology and messages that we receive from literature Inspires us to take action In cultural events. American literature was born when Englishmen began to write about their experiences In the trans-Atlantic colonies.In the beginning, It took the form of descriptions of the new land and its inhabitants and accounts of the hardships met with by the settlers. Also many narratives we made of their relations with the Indians. By their account oaf new setting, America started to create a fresh branch of literature.
Some of the earliest writings were from colonist Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine. Franklins Poor Richards Almanac and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin are respected works with their wit and Influence toward the formation of an American identity.Pain’s pamphlet common sense and The American Crisis writings are seen as playing a key role in influencing the political tone of the period. At the times of these writings, the people focus was more on the power of the mind and rational thought. The enormous scientific, economic, and social changes of the 18th century, called the Enlightenment, made way for democratic principles. The Increase in population helped account for the greater diversity of opinion In religious and political life as seen In the literature of this time. In the post-war period, Thomas Jefferson was one of the most talented early American writers.
His influence on the United States Constitution with the Declaration of Independence is unquestionable, being one of the most important documents ever written. This piece of document is undoubtedly the rebirth of a new, free culture In America that Is able to excel. It announced that the thirteen American loonies, then at war with Great Britain, regarded themselves as Independent states, birth to what is known today as the United States of America. The document is symbolic of American democracy and one of the free charters of freedom.This piece of literature is directly related to the origins of the culture in America as it completely reshapes and redefines contemporary life. The Declaration of Independence gave birth to many other freedoms in the United States of America that may never have even been intended. One of the more immediate effects felt by the Declaration of Independence was the emancipation of black slaves.
African Americans were now allowed to participate in the same interests and professions as anyone else. This document also paves the way by creating the Bill of Rights, and also creating equality among men and women.Thomas Jefferson is famous for his quote: “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” This has been called one the best known sentences in the English language containing some of the most consequential words in American story. Imagine a society today where we are not allowed the simple luxuries of freedom, and the cultural limitations that would be set on us if not for this piece of literature.The Declaration of Independence is a direct example of how literature is the origin of our culture and society. The American literary revolution was strictly for expressing the feelings and ideals of a brave people that were tired of confinement within the ideals of society. The authors that would be born out of the revolution would portray the hearts of the citizens; the popularity of literature grew because the usage of it was for every man and the impact it had on society was greater than ever before.
The political and social ideals of the day sprang not from a political leader, but from the writings that represented the internal value system of the people. Through the masterful works of many American authors, the way people believed, thought, and felt was changed. From the politics of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne to the sentimental power of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the message of freedom to think and feel the way one desired screamed off every page. One man that had a dramatic affect on society was Edgar Alan Poe.The poetry of Poe inspired people to think more intellectually about their lives and their external circumstances. He was the first well-known American writer to try to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career. Another well-known American author that really shaped people’s thinking on society and culture is Henry David Thoreau.
Thoreau Walden Pond is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay Civil Disobedience, is an argument for individual resistance to civil government in moral opposition to an unjust state.Walden scribes a voyage of spiritual discovery where Thoreau lives in a cabin he built near Walden Pond and the experiences he gets by removing himself from society and immersing himself in nature. He hoped to gain a more objective understanding of society through personal introspection. This documented experience shows the true meaning of culture and society as Thoreau wanted to strip life to its core, away from the lies and gossip of society. The average person had to constantly labor to afford all their things, meanwhile neglecting nature’s beauty and the gentle work of the soul, which solitude brings.The United States and other Western countries at the time meaning. Walden, and the writings of Emerson that influenced it, is extremely attractive to those seeking something more to society.
Many of the thoughts and ideas in it have entered public consciousness, and it has still been an inspiration to this day. Thoreau takes you out of the status quo of society and culture and makes you question the essentials in life. On a personal note, I am from Boston, being one of the birthplaces of colonial literature and society.I have visited Plymouth Rock and all the historical landmarks around Boston giving me insight to where the birth of America occurred. I learned about the events such as the Boston Tea Party, which was a political protest by the Sons of Liberty against the Tax policy of the British government. A group of colonists boarded the ship and threw all the tea into the ocean as they started an aggressive movement against the Tea Act. The British Parliament essentially composed a piece of literature that said the colonists in Boston were to be taxed on tea.
This piece of literature affected society in a way that made it rebellious. The Boston Tea Party proved to be one of the many causes that led to the American Revolution. At the very least, the Boston Tea Party and the reaction that followed served to rally support for revolutionaries in the thirteen colonies who were eventually successful in their fight for independence. All in all, this entire event would not have occurred if there weren’t a piece a literature being written down or enforced.One of the most influential poets on society in the 19th century was Walt Whitman. He was known for including controversial scenes of sexuality in his poems such as Leaves of Grass. Whitman was uncompromising in his own values in his poetry.
He tackled difficult intellectual subjects with remarkable honesty creating a sickness about him. He was doing this in a time where such things were considered wrong and immoral. His poetry presented an equal view of the races, and inspired many people in society.His poetry has been set to music by a large number of composers showing that his literature affects society. People all around the world view his poems as they take their own personal meanings and apply it to their culture. Whitman suggested directly that though society can influence us to hold certain values, all of us could choose to actively participate in culture and work to create new norms and new systems. This inspired change, that inspired people all across the world to view certain society in a different perspective.
Literature is a reflection of the society in which it was born and different styles of literature reflect the changes that took place in that particular society at various points in time. Political and economic changes affect the psychology of the people and literature is influenced by these changes. During the Middle Ages, most of the literature usually dealt with religious themes. As time progressed, the literature of the Renaissance reflected more on society, politics, and local topics. Poetry then became extremely popular in the Romantic period showing the change of literature influencing society.The origins of America all starts with the effects that literature puts into our culture. Consequently, culture affects literature because all writers, some more intentionally than others, write from the perspective of their culture.
When people read literature they read it from the point of view of their culture as well so there is always different cultural points of view in literature. American culture throughout time was expanding and adapting. In the other hand, the dehumidifying agents of warfare on a large or hope and cultural inspiration.All in all, literature is the foundation of American culture that inspires us to generate change and to take action. As a society, if we are stripped away from the origins of literature that created America, we are being stripped of the knowledge that literature creates culture. There have been many cultural acts or events that have been directly influenced by a piece of literature. One in particular that we looked at in depth was the Declaration of Independence.
Single handedly, this one document started a new American culture, one that was free from the tyranny of the British Empire.