Theoretical Part

History of America

Puritanism

This movement appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries in England. It was a movement for reform in the Church of England that had a deep influence on the social, political, ethical, and theological ideas of England and America. Historically Puritanism began early in the reign of Queen Elizabeth I as a movement for religious reform. The early Puritans felt that the Elizabethan religious establishment was too political and too Catholic. They believed that the Scriptures did not allow the setting up of bishops and churches by the state. The aim of the early Puritans was to purify the church (hence their name), not to separate from it. During the reign of James I, the Puritans unsuccessfully attempted to impose their ideas on the established English church. The result was a persecution of the Puritans, which that brought about Puritan migration to Europe and America. Those groups that remained in England grew as a political party and rose to their greatest power between 1640 and 1660 as a result of the English civil war. During the Restoration, the Puritans were oppressed and kicked out of the Church of England.

Colonization of America

Columbus discovered America in the year 1492. He called the inhabitants of those lands Indians because he first thought that he had reached India. Those were the native Americans who had their own culture. Europeans of all nationalities began to establish colonies on those lands, but with the end of the 16th century, England became the most supreme power that controlled the sea and lands and established the largest number of colonies. By 1502, the Florentine merchant and explorer Amerigo Vespucci had figured out that Columbus was wrong. On his third voyage, he discovered present-day Rio de Janeiro. Believing he had discovered a new continent, he called South America the New World. In 1507, America was named after him.

Puritans in America

The first settlers in America came to be known as the forefathers of the American people. They included adventurous people, fortune hunters and persecuted people who left England willingly or were banished. King Charles I persecuted the Puritans who were famous for their strict religious sense and their radical views. This forced them to escape to the new colonies away from this corrupt king. The Puritans followed God’s orders strictly and they could never forgive anyone accused of breaking any of the rules of religion. They would severely punish those who may sin against God. The control of the Church and the men of religion was too strong to be opposed or objected to. After migrating to America, the Puritans settled first in New England. 35 churches were formed by 1640. The Puritans in New England had their own theory of the church in which membership consisted only of those who publicly confessed their experience of conversion. Ministers had great political influence, and civil authorities exercised a large measure of control over church affairs. To the Puritans, a person was wholly sinful by nature and could achieve good only by severe discipline. Hard work was considered a religious duty and emphasis was placed on constant self-examination and self-discipline. After the 17th century, the Puritans as a political organization nearly disappeared, but Puritan attitudes and ethics continued to have an influence on American society. They made a virtue of qualities that made for economic success—self-reliance, industry, and energy—and through them influenced modern social and economic life.

Declaration of Independence

The American War of Independence was the result of the fact that the English demanded that the American colonists contribute to the cost of their own protection. Therefore, a series of Acts of Parliament imposed a variety of taxes on the colonists during the 1760s and early 1770s. For many colonists, the ties that had linked them to Britain for almost 150 years became the chains of servitude, foreign domination, and injustice. The War of Independence ended in the expulsion of the occupying British forces and the United States of America became an independent country. Some of the principles of the Declaration of Independence included:

·         The colonies, states, are united.

·         These united states have the right to be free and independent.

·         All political connections between these states and Great Britain are ended and destroyed.

George Washington served as the first President of the United States from 1789 to 1797 and was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He served as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and later presided over the 1787 convention that drafted the United States Constitution. He is popularly considered the driving force behind the nation's establishment and came to be known as the "father of the country". The American Dream 

The American Dream is the set of ideals (democracy, rights, liberty, opportunity, and equality) in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility for the family and children, achieved through hard work in a society with few barriers. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth. The American Dream is rooted in the Declaration of Independence, which proclaims that "all men are created equal" with the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

The Civil war

The Civil War (1861-1865) between the Northern States and the Southern ones was the main event of that century since it led to the change of the society from an agricultural to an industrial one. Slavery was the reason for the Civil War since the South was still agrarian and greatly needed the work of those slaves. Yet, the industrial North wanted to abolish slavery and to emancipate those slaves, which took place in 1863 at the hands of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and perhaps its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. In doing so, he preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.

Black Liberation Movement

This movement called for the liberation of the black race. With the coming of the 20th century and the appearance of several black leaders such as Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois, black life witnessed a new revolution since the former slaves wanted to get back their rights in a world of injustice. The rise of consciousness gave the blacks the motivation to call for their share in the American Dream.

Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement put the ideas of the black liberation movement into action by organizing and leading rallies, sit-ins, and demonstrations asking for justice and equality. The 1950s witnessed the greatest rise of the civil rights movement with the appearance of two main figures: Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) and Malcolm X (1924-1965). Like almost all other black leaders, King and X agreed only on the purpose of their struggle: social equality, but there was a very wide gap between their strategies. King was an advocate of non-violence as a means to win freedom for his people, while Malcolm called for violence and fighting back as a strategy of self-defence. However, the two leaders met the same end; they were both assassinated.

American Renaissance

            The political and social atmosphere in America affected the literary scene and led to the appearance of a new type of literature depending on a sense of nature with new ideas, new themes, new forms, and new authors. It also led to the development of a national literature of great variety. American literature witnessed its renaissance in the 19th century with the New England Renaissance, which took place when young men began to visit Europe and bring back new ideas and books. They brought with them the seeds of Romanticism to this area that was already known for its traditional Puritan respect for intellectual life. Early American writers thus came to be influenced by European models. For more than half a century, New England came to be the most important cultural center in the United States. The New England writers of that period were divided into two groups: the radicals who aimed to break completely with the past and thus were seen as revolutionaries; and the conservatives who were closer to the old traditions.

Romanticism and Transcendentalism in America

            Romanticism in America stressed the emotions and trusted feelings more than the intellect. This helped to liberate literature and make it more imaginative. The Romantics thought that they can achieve happiness by living close to nature; so, they saw any form of civilization as corrupt. In New England, such Romantics were called Transcendentalists. Transcendentalism was an intellectual movement developed by a number of young men in the Boston area in the 1830s. The pioneers of that movement included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and others. The word “transcendentalism” meant that man could reach the truth about himself and his universe through direct spiritual experience. This means that intuition can know truths that “transcend” the sphere of understanding. Transcendentalism stated that if every man could understand the truth by way of direct intuition, then there was no need for any other authority whether political or religious.

Modernism: The 1900s

            The 20th century saw the emergence of modernism. Modernism was caused by, and contributed to, social changes, and developments in philosophy, psychology, anthropology and science. Since the term "modernism" was first used earlier in the 20th century, its meaning has developed. It is now agreed to mean the influential international movement in literature, drama, art, music and architecture which began by the end of the 19th century and flourished until at least the 1920s. 

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