When we last left off in our study of America’s story, we were in the late 1780s, with a young nation of 13 states along the Atlantic coast, struggling under a brand new Constitution. The North American continent was inhabited by the Spanish the French, the British, and native populations from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Americans were limited to a small radius outside of their homes, there was no developing national literary or art movement, and the economy was mostly limited to what was needed by local people. There was no major transportation system, no method of communication, no American settlement in the west, and no vision of the United States becoming the dominant country of the Western Hemisphere.
Fast forward to the mid 1850s. The United States has 31 states, spanning across North America. The British , Spanish, and French are gone … and much of the native population has been moved to the center of the nation. The economy is dominated by the larger market, not the local individual; transportation and communication have improved dramatically; and the nation was now seen as the dominant power of the Western Hemisphere. An American form of literature and art is developing, as is a slowly developing movement to push for equality. Political factions are playing a crucial role in the major decisions of the country, and slavery is dividing the nation like no other issue ever.
How did this incredible growth and change happen in such a short time period? It’s a mystery – a history mystery!
We will look at this mysterious growth though historian’s eyes as we examine THE GROWING NATION over the next few weeks. You should start a new notebook for American Studies, containing your history and English material about Poe. Give it a SPOOKY cover! To begin, read The Mysterious Slumber, a not-so-famous short story from the era. Can you solve the mystery? Let’s find out in our next class.he Mysterious Slumber
If you are interested in another sleepy story, check out Rip Van Winkle – the story and the video summary.