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Early 1800s Cultural Change and Reform Movements

Compare the early American achievements in the sciences and in historical writing with those of the arts. Which were the most successful, and why?
by Sarah Prather` on 5 December 2012

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Transcript of Early 1800s Cultural Change and Reform Movements

Advances in Sciences & Historical Writings v. the Arts American Achievements Jefferson invented a new plow called the "moldboard plow", it was made to have less resistance when being pulled through the soil and was easy to duplicate. (cc) image by nuonsolarteam on Flickr Americans were more interested in practical gadgets than in pure science
The mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch was noteworthy for his writings on practical navigation, and Matthew F. Maury was noted for his writings on ocean winds and currents
As far as basic science was concerned, Americans were best known for borrowing and adapting the findings of Europeans
The most influential American scientist of the first half of the 19th century was professor Benjamin Silliman - a pioneer, chemist, and geologist Benjamin Silliman Medicine in America was still primitive by modern standards; bleeding remained the common cure, small pox plagues were still dreaded, and the yellow fever epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia took several thousand lives
Illness often resulted from improper diet, and ignorance of germs and sanitation
Life expectancy was still short- about 40 yrs for a white person born in 1850s, and even less for blacks
Self prescribed patent medicines were common since the use of medicines prescribed by doctors
Victims of surgical operations were tied down, often after a still drink of whiskey
Medical progress came in the early 1840s when several American doctors and dentists successfully employed laughing gas as anesthetics Professor Louis Agassiz insisted on original research and deplored the over-emphasis and memory work
French descended naturalist John J. Audubon painted birds in their natural habitat; the Audubon Society for the protection of birds was named after him Sciences Historical Writings Arts George Bancroft, "Father of American History" and secretary of the navy, helped found the Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1845 and published "A Super Patriotic History of the United States" in 1789 in 6 volumes (1834-1876)
William H. Prescott published classic accounts of the conquest of Mexico and Peru
Francis Parkman chronicled the struggles between France and Britain in colonial times
Early American historians came mostly from New England largely because the Boston area provided well-stocked libraries American literature received a strong boost from the wave of nationalism that followed the War of 1812
Washington Irving (1783-1859) was the first American to win international recognition as a literary figure, he used English as well as American themes and wrote immortal tales such as "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) was the first American novelist to gain world fame through his novel "The Last of the Mohicans"
Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote "The American Scholar" and the "Intellectual Declaration of Independence" that urged American writers to leave European traditions
Henry David Thoreau, Emerson's close associate, was a poet and transcendentalist who inspired Mahatma Gandhi to resist British rule in India, and later,M.L.K. Jr's promotion for nonviolence with his writings
Poet Walt Whitman handled sex with shocking frankness unlike any other writer in his time; his book was banned in Boston
Louisa May Alcott and Emily Dickinson were two women writers whose work remains enormously popular today
Literally individualists such as Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Herman Melville were not that sure about human progress and social progress, however, they wrote works such as "The Raven", "The Scarlet Letter", and "Moby Dick", respectively, that although they didn't immediately gain recognition, are now widely know American Masterpieces George Bancroft Architecturally, America contributed little during the 1st half of the century as the nation continued to imitate European models
Public buildings and other important structures curiously followed Greek and Roman guidelines; remarkable Greek revival came between 1820-1850
Thomas Jefferson was one of the ablest architects of his generation and brought forth classical designs to his Virginia hilltop home in Monticello
America exported artists and imported art; painting, along with theater, suffered from the Puritan prejudice that art was a sinful waste of time
Gilbert Stuart and Charles Willson Peale produced several painted portraits of Washington
John Trumbull (1756-1843) recaptured the scenes of the Revolutionary War on his canvases
The Hudson River School was filled with American painters of portraits who increasingly began turning to romantic mirrorings of local landscapes
Music slowly shook off the restraints of the colonial days, when nonreligious singing was frowned upon by the puritans John Trumbull's rendition of the Revolutionary War Conclusion All in all, in comparison to the achievements of science and historical writing, artistic achievements were overall more successful
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