The Emergence of American Literature

Topics: United States, International trade, American literature Pages: 7 (1832 words) Published: October 17, 2013
Sofia Petros THE NATIONAL EXPERIENCE 7/5/13 Chapter 12: America at Midcentury

The Emergence of An American Literature
Stephen A. Douglas- tough-minded, idol of a bumptious element in the Democratic party that called itself Young America, cared little for the moral issue of slavery; urged Americans to forget the sectional quarrel and to build a prosperous and powerful nation. 1850s- Most distinguished and productive periods in the history of American lit- Before- literacy dependency on Europe

First Writers w/ recognition: (spent a lot of time overseas in Europe observing the conventions of Europe’s writers Washington Irving- History of NY, The Sketchbook; Irving hoped to exchange the “commonplace realities of the present” for the “shadowy grandeur of the past” in Europe James Fenimore Cooper- Leatherstocking Tales; Cooper had little confidence in the future of literature in the Untied States Edgar Allen Poe

Call for national literature as an essential part of a genuine American Independence heard soon after American Revolution Emerson’s Phi Beta Kappa address at Harvard- “The American Scholar”- called for literature of democracy- advised American writers to stop imitating the Europeans and start producing a distinctive lit of their own. Writers should look to the common people- were believed to be the “finest products of this nation” 1840s to 1850s- it began.

Thoreau- Walden
Nathaniel Hawthorne- The Scarlet Letter
Walt Whitman- poetry; Leaves of Grass
Melville- Moby Dick
Intimations of Imperialism
By mid-century, some expansionists began to look past just the Manifest Destiny and adjacent territories to Cuba, Central America, and Hawaii start of imperialism
The Value of Cuba:
Land of slaves and sugar plantations- interested Southerners who hoped to acquire it to increase their political and economic power, and to ward off British-inspired abolition Land attracted certain commercial interests, especially a small but active group of business speculators in NY and New Orleans Its proximity to Florida and the commanding position at the mouth of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico gave it great strategic importance U.S. worried that Cuba might pass from Spain to a stronger power America’s chief aim had been to keep Cuba out of British and French hands; after Mexican War, proannexation sentiment caused gov to change policy U.S. made offer to buy Cuba from Spain for as much as $100 million Was refused.

Acquisition of Cuba was major goal of the Pierce administration Pierre Soulé was sent to confer w/ ministers of France and Great Britain on the acquisition of Cuba and dealing w/ possible British and French opposition. Met as Ostend and then at Aix-la-Chapelle

Ostend Manifesto- recommendations had been sent to the Secretary of State- declared that the U.S. would benefit from the possession of Cuba, while Spain would be better off w/out it. Proposed another effort to be made to purchase; was still declined Southern expansionists were pleased by the manifesto

Central America
Dream to join the Atlantic and Pacific by cutting a canal through Panama or Nicaragua. 1848- need for faster communication between the East and the Far West led to the signing of a treaty w/ New Granada – Gave U.S. transit rights through Panama in exchange for guarantee of New Granada’s sovereignty over this isthmian province 1855- built a railroad across Panama

1869- first transcontinental railroad built
U.S. attempted to invade Nicaragua, but failed in the end.
Big competitor in Central America- GB- worldwide trade, large navy, and extensive colonial possessions Established foothold at mouth of the San Juan River and claimed protectorate over the Mosquito Indians Each country warned each other that it would not permit exclusive...
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