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Essay help on US History!

PorkFriEdRicEPorkFriEdRicE Registered User Posts: 268 Junior Member
I am a junior in high school, taking AP US History. We use the American Pageant for our book.

Well.. I am writing an essay for US History. I don't know how it is. I've read it over a few times.... blah blah. What are my general flaws in this essay? Is there any wrong information? Does it answer the question well? What are the specific mistakes I made? Grammatical errors? Redundancy (I tend to do that)?

I am especially unsure about the coherency in paragraph three.

Please, if you have enough time, read over my essay and correct it.


"How do the Knickerbocker group, Hudson River School, and transcendentalists all reflect the "nationalism" of early nineteeth century America? What particular American Values did each reflect?

"The Nationalism and American Values of 19th Century America"

By the early nineteen century, the fervor remaining from the early 1800's movement of the Second Great Awakening, much like the First Great Awakening, swept over America, leaving the country in a nationalistic state. With such motivation, citizens soon began to exemplify their nation's pride. Cultivating their enthusiasm, social reform groups were created to shape an even more superior America to be proud of, while others tried to enhance their nation's pride by achieving in the fields of science and technology. Philosophical groups gathered together to discuss the social workings of America. In the meantime, literature blossomed remarkably, and artwork flourished. The Americans involved in these massive movements were driven by their proud spirit to mold and display an enhanced America, while emphasizing their land's themes and values. Among these nationalistic groups were the Knickerbocker Group, the Hudson River School, and the transcendentalists, each reflecting American values in their proceedings.

The Knickerbocker Group of New York was comprised of several literary figures including Washington Irving, the author of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow; James Fenimore Cooper, who was known as the first American novelist; and William Cullen Bryant, a poet and journalist. As nationalism proliferated across the country, these writers exemplified their pride for their land by including American themes in their literature. James Fenimore Cooper was the first American novelist to gain recognition internationally and to make New World themes and values reputable. He wrote of the American Revolution, the republican experiment, the Native Americans, and many more themes. Like Cooper, Washington Irving was another American writer to gain international fame using American values such as western exploration and expansion. His Tour on the Prairies was an example of one of his western-themed books. Also furthering the worldwide recognition of American writers was William Cullen Bryant, who wrote the morbid poem, Thantopsis. This was an exceptional work that contributed to America’s burgeoning respectability in the literary world.

As the nation was left with the tenacious zeal of nationalism after the Second Great Awakening, artists started painting radiant and romanticized landscapes. An eminent party in this artistic movement was the Hudson River School. It was a group of landscape artists, composed of several generations of painters who worked primarily from 1825 to 1875. Thomas Cole fundamentally catalyzed this school in the summer of 1825 when he painted images inspired by the view of the Hudson River from the heights of Catskill. A plethora of artists then drew inspiration from Cole’s paintings, most of them living in New York and belonging to the same social environment. Some of these artists included Thomas Doughty, Albert Bierdstat, Homer Dodge Martin, Worthington Whittredge, and Norton Bush, among others. Together, they made up the Hudson River School, painting landscapes of the Hudson River Valley and surrounding areas. These artists incorporated the philosophy of romanticism (which was an intellectual movement originating in Europe emphasizing the importance of human emotion, imagination, nature, and rebellion against social conventions) in their paintings. The integrated romanticism theme of a social utopia greatly reflected the American values during the great reform period; social conventions viewed as flaws (such as public education problems, debtor’s prison, slavery, and alcoholism) were vehemently protested against. Hence, the romanticism found in the Hudson River paintings mirrored the American avidity to achieve an idealistic land. Significantly, these paintings also endeavored to capture the godliness of the environment. Hudson River artists generally believed that nature was a manifestation of God, and that American landscape was a setting in which humans and nature can coincide amicably. Hence, the paintings of the Hudson River Valley reflected three nationalistic American themes of the 1800’s: settlement, exploration, and discovery. The larger paintings of the Hudson River School, portraying boundless pristine land, were hung up in museums, drawing thousands of eager spectators. Each person was charged fifty cents for a glom at the artwork, which reminded and inspired people to civilize the untamed wilderness of the immense west.

Another instance of nationalism in early nineteenth century America was the transcendentalist movement in New England, which was based on ideas in literature, religion, philosophy, and culture. Followers of the movement believed that the true spiritual state was achieved by transcending one's spirit through intuition as opposed to doctrines of religions. They were individualist, self-reliant, and they generally strove for significant social reforms. Ralph Waldo Emerson, a prominent and vastly popular transcendentalist, expressed in his 1936 book, Nature, the fundamental ideas of this belief, thus sparking the beginnings of the transcendentalist movement. Furthermore, Emerson gave transcendentalism an honorable name by using its ideals to move thousands of lives through his inspiring essays. He encouraged people to rely on, improve upon, and draw confidence from themselves, while highlighting the significance of optimism and freedom. His inspirational expatiations were popular because they promoted and reflected the values of America at the time. Henry David Thoreau was another transcendentalist who fought intensively for social reforms such as slavery. Also facilitating the influence of transcendentalism was the Transcendental Club of Boston, Massachusetts. There, citizens vehemently discoursed their abhorrence for the social shortcomings of American culture. Ultimately, the amazing outburst of transcendentalism greatly reflected pride and nationalism; it showed how Americans were eager to improve their country's society.

It was apparent that the Knickerbocker Group, the Hudson River School, and the transcendentalists largely contributed to the nationalism of America with their portrayals and promotions of the land's values and themes. Thanks to the inspirational Second Great Awakening, the country was able to go through many movements in which the great pride of America's themes and was expressed. Ultimately, these movements in literature, artwork, and social philosophy contributed to a better America that was reformed for the better, and enriched in culture and history.

*Note.... None of the book titles or poems are italicized in this essay because I don't want to go through and code for it all.

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