Thomas Cole, View of Schroon Mountain, Essex County, New York, After a Storm, 1838. Cleveland
Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio, US.
The new frontier
Performer - Culture & Literature
Marina Spiazzi, Marina Tavella,
Margaret Layton © 2012
The new frontier
1. Factors that shaped
the American mind
Puritanism: the religious faith
of the Pilgrim Fathers encouraged
•the spirit of adventure
in the name of liberty;
•the ethic of hard work to
improve each individual’s
social and financial
situation.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
1. Factors that shaped
the American mind
During the 18th century more and more immigrants from all
over Europe settled in thirteen different colonies along the
Atlantic coast.
America
a ‘melting pot’, where different races were
brought together to shape the new ‘American’.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
1. Factors that shaped
the American mind
• The faith in reason and human progress.
• The belief that man’s own efforts can lead him to success.
the so–called ‘American Dream’
• The spirit of democracy, the idea of justice and equality
brought about by the War of Independence.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
2. The new cultural image
of America
The East
The West
• with Harvard and Yale
Universities;
• the business and cultural
centre of New York;
• its values of wealth and
respectability.
• characterised by the pioneer
spirit;
• the myth of the frontier;
• the country’s endless
possibilities.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
3. The beginning of a literary
identity
Truly American characteristics emerged in prose.
• The short story became a distinctive
form with Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49).
• James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851)
created the ‘epic’ of the frontier in his novels.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
4. The American frontier
One of the most important themes of American culture
the pioneers’ moving westwards and the founding
story of the American nation
Problems linked to the American frontier at the end of
the 18th century:
• the colonial wars involving England, France and Spain;
• the hostility of the native Indian communities;
• the individual spirit of independence of the pioneers who
began to explore new lands.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
5. The frontier hero
• characterised by curiosity and spirit
of adventure;
• lived in the western wilderness;
• sometimes captured by the Indians,
initiated and adopted into the tribe;
• resisted temptations that tested his
character.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
5. The frontier hero
The frontier hero was
• the emigrant;
• the explorer;
• the captive;
• the convert,
• the hunter.
To attain heroic stature
control of emotions, devotion to
the public good.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
6. The Native Indians
• connected with the sublime scenery in which they lived;
• wronged by the white men;
• dispossessed of their hereditary possessions by
mercenary warfare;
• described by writers either as
villains or saints free from
civilisation.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
7. The question of slavery
The North
The South
• Industrialised
• economy based
• Growing settlement of
immigrants from Europe
• Several states adopted
emancipation
on vast plantationsof
tobacco and cotton
and on slavery
• about 3,500,000 slaves
• continued to rely on
slave labour
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
7. The question of slavery
Northern abolitionists began
to organise themselves into
the Republican Party, whose
candidate,
Abraham Lincoln (1809– 65),
won the presidential election in
1860.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
7. The question of slavery
Consequences of Lincoln’s election
•South Carolina withdrew from the Union.
•Six other states joined to form an independent
‘Confederacy’.
•Civil War followed.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
8. The Civil War
From 1861 to 1865
The blue Northern
troops
commanded by
Ulysses Grant
The Northern troops won
Performer - Culture & Literature
The grey
Confederates
led by
Robert Lee
The new frontier
8. The Civil War
CONSEQUENCES
the abolition of slavery was sanctioned by the
13th Amendment to the Constitution
the blacks were free but without money and a home
some migrated to the
industrial cities in the North
Performer - Culture & Literature
others remained with their old
masters in the South who
would share the crops and
provide tools and a cabin
The new frontier
9. A wave of violence
• The racist movement the ‘Ku Klux Klan’ frightened the
blacks and their families.
• The so–called ‘black codes’ were created
the blacks were segregated in schools,
hospitals and transport.
Ku Klux Klan attack on an African American family, 1879
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
10. From ‘rags to riches’
• The economy of the South collapsed during the war.
• The Northern states increased industrial output to supply
military needs.
• Big fortunes were made.
• Men like John Rockefeller embodied
the myth of the self-made man from
‘rags to riches’.
John D.Rockefeller 1839-1937
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
11. The American Federation
of Labour
The majority of workers were exploited
they organised themselves
founded the ‘American Federation of Labour’ (AFL),
the strongest group of trade unions.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The new frontier
12. Expansion and
settlement in the West
REASONS
The discovery of
gold in California in
1848, which resulted
in the ‘gold rush’.
Performer - Culture & Literature
The Homestead Act
(1862), which
granted free soil to
the first occupants.
The new frontier
12. Expansion and
settlement in the West
CONSEQUENCES
•Disappearance of the frontier.
•Extermination of the buffaloes.
•Consequent starvation of the
American Indians.
•American Indians subjugated,
mass-deported or brutally
exterminated.
•Cattlemen became the new
Western symbols – the cowboys.
Performer - Culture & Literature
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