Civil War period 1861~1865
Civil War Period
United States is a “Puritan Nation” they have a different way of thinking.
“Big” on punishment; “Not Big” on mercy!?
The Puritan’s believed nature is controlled by God
Gulliano Bruno was burned at the stake because he said that the universe goes on forever and ever.
The Puritan’s did this because they believed there was then no room for ‘Heaven’.
Your fate in life was a devine intervention that was bestowed upon by God; you were Rich, then God did this; you were deformed, then God did this.
We are a puritan nation. The only puritan nation and it resulted in a different way of thinking for these new Americans.
Freeman is from a ‘Puritan” family and a descendant of those of the Salem witchcraft trials.
The Puritan’s look to the Universe as it being subject of God
Then came the “Age of Realism” (Ben Franklin)
Romanticism the age of reason; they looked the noble savage, they began to look toward man as
Romanticism is “Idealistic”; it is not written in the terms of having knowledge of the past but that they made up these characters; like “knights in shining armor.” Similar to soap operas today.
Romanticism typically follows the French
Around the time of the civil war the “Ladies Home Journal” and other publications began to flourish.
Most of the writers were women and they were paid by the word; so you ended up with some lengthly articles and writings.
Romanticism is sentimental, it was not Ivanhoe, Sir Lancelot, Nights of the Round Table, they would write about the beauty of it the nobility and it was kind of like soap operas.
Sir Walter Scott is a ‘Romance’ writer; Mark Twain claims that Walter Scott is the cause of the Civil War.
He said the whole idea from southern plantations; southern aristocracy & nobility came from Sir Walter Scott. Of course Twain thinks nobility is rotten to the core and writes about all that.
The trouble with Romanticism is that when it confronts reality, it come crashing down. In romanticism, they portray the villain as all bad – evil.
People wrote western novels (the dying novels) and would glorify people like “Billy the Kid”; a lot of the writers lived in the east and had never been out west and didn’t know anything about it.
James Fenimore Cooper (Father founded Coopers Town in NY); he went to school in the east; Harvard. He was the early author of western novels that made no sense in the realm of reality. He had no idea what life was like in the west and those that lived it; Indians; settlers; cowboys; etc…
Romanticism was being created and written during the time of the Civil War.
In reaction to this was the creation of “Realism” (Realistic Tradition). It originated in France and is a ‘Literary Tradition’. By the end of the 19th century you could see the portrayal of realism in the works of paintings. Photography was considered to be the ultimate form of realism, and the artists tried to portray this in their paintings.
The American’s; the prime mover in American ‘realistic tradition’ was William Dean Howells. He started writing and became the manager of the Atlantic Monthly of Boston. It was the magazine that made you a writer. If you got your work published in the Atlantic Monthly, you were on your way. You were considered a real American writer.
The Civil war is still the bloodiest war in American history.
10% of American males died in this war. One out of ten people that were between the ages of 18 ~ 45 years old died in this war. In the south it was 3 out of ten or 30% of men ages 18 ~ 45 years old died in this war.
The population back then was about 31 million people, the north had about 22 million people; the south had about 9 million people. Most of the good General’s graduated from West Point were from the south.
Texas seceded from Mexico because in Mexico slavery was outlawed. They needed slaves to work the cotton fields so they decided to become a state so they could possess slaves; not the only reason for cessation but one of the reasons.
The Emancipation Proclamation was ratified in 1865 and was passed in order to “Free the Salves in the SOUTH”; It doesn’t free the slaves in the border states and in the north, it frees the slaves in the south.
The 13th amendment to the constitution freed the slaves all over the United States.
The South is basically agrarian (farming)
Thomas Jefferson said that people who labored with the earth are blessed by God, this is where you should be working not in factories in the cities in the north.
Potato famine in Ireland and the Irish were immigrating to New York, the Government instituted the draft at this time in order to build up the Union forces. The Army was taking the Irish men right off the boat and putting them in the Army. As a result, the Irish rioted against this and started to burn down New York City; to the point that the Governor had to call in the Union Army to restore order.
Back in this time period people didn’t travel much, the road system, network was difficult to move on.
Harriet Beecher Stowe – whose family were abolitionists’ and Baptist ministers; she wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Most believe that this was a character that succumbed to the servitude of rich people. This was further from the truth. Uncle Tom is kind of a minister who carries the bible around and preaches the bible and is a very heroic guy. He is beaten to death because he refuses to divulge the whereabouts of two hidden runaway slaves.
After the civil war, they had minstrel shows, where white people would dress up as blacks and perform and play music. One of the more popular acts was the show “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. In the book a pregnant woman jumps off the river boat while on the Mississippi and drowns herself and her baby because she was told that she and her baby were going to be sold down the river (in to the deep south); hence the phrase, “being sold down the river”. House slaves that go sold down the river died while working in the fields because of the ferocious heat. They would also separate families. In these days, a slave marriage was only viable as long as your master allowed it.
Twain wrote a book called the “Gilded Age”, something that is covered in gold; not solid gold. This was the era of the industrial revolution and the period of time when wealth was accumulated by a few men.
In 1858 it took 4 weeks to get a letter from coast to coast. The pony express cut it down to 2-1/2 days. In 1861 the telegraph was invented
In 1866 Graham Bell invented the telephone; Twain was the first owner of the telephone.
In 1869 (After the civil war, the transcontinental railroad was opened).
Wagon trains took 5 months to get across the US.
When the railroads were built, your town thrived if the railroad ran through it, otherwise it died.
In 1886 electric current was introduced; around 1900 we saw light bulbs vs. natural gas as street lights.
From 1870 to 1890 the US population doubled. Chicago population grew 20 times due to the beef packing industry.
In the meantime, the south was undergoing reconstruction after the war. As a side note, if you served in the Confederate Army, you were forbidden from running for Congressional Office. The Union troops remained in the south to manage and run this part of the country. While the Union troops were present, the Blacks were entitled to the rights and privileges of whites. As the southern reconstruction came to an end, the southern states said that we will not do this anymore or we will go back to war with you again; the North; if you are going to force us to accept blacks as equals with us. As a result, the troops left, because they were tired of fighting the civil war and thus emerged the “Jim Crowe” laws; segregation, etc…
Women got the right to vote in 1920~1922; Women’s suffrage.
Colleges and Universities – the early teachers were Ministers. Puritan influenced.
Emily Dickenson & Harriet Beecher Stowe greatest women writers; Ladies Home Journal
After 1865 these are the new Realists; a host of writers appeared. Bret Harte, William B. Howells, Mark Twain, there background and training; unlike the older generation were middleclass. They had a taste for realism. The movement of Literary Tradition was Realism. They sought to portray American life as it really was. Insisting that the ordinary and the local were just as suitable for portrayal as the magnificent and the remote. The idea was to have the common man (Howell said) walk down main street speaking.
Realism had originated in France; a literary doctrine that called for reality and truth. In general, when people evaluate something as literature or not literature, it has to do with “truth”. So reality and truth in the depiction of ordinary life. The writers we are going to be looking at are local color writers; Freeman “The New England Nun” is New England Local Color; Brett Harte is the local color from the mining camps of California, Tennessee’s Partner; The Goopherd Grapevine, Charles Chesnutt is local color of the South. This means that they wrote about the area that they knew, they wrote and described the people and the sights and sounds of these local/regional areas.
The arbitrator of literary realism was William Dean Howells he defined realism as nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material. He collaborated with Mark Twain,
New England Spinster – a woman who never got married All of Mary Wilkins Freeman’s story was surrounded by the New England spinsters.