United States: birth of a nation
During the 19th century the United States began to grow into rich and powerful nation that it is today. In this period the Americans and successive the Europeans immigrant moved west, colonizing the lands of Native Americans, creating cities and railroads. The railroads were an important element for the development of US economy, because transported agricultural crops, livestock and wood to commercial centers and ports. With the exception of the Civil War and the expansion westward, the most important event in American history were connected to innovations in productive technology: invention like combine harvester, refrigeration and the factory assembly line constituted an increase productivity and profits and, at the same time, reduced the costs.
Slavery, civil war and segregation
The US gradually integrated into society the European immigrants, excluding at the same time the blacks, who had been transported from Africa to work on the cotton plantations. The abolition of slavery happens only later than in Europe when the northern public opinion was influenced by the anti-slavery novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Another reason of emancipation was the necessity to employ the blacks in the factories, in the place of whites, to pay them less and to make them work more hours. In the South, meanwhile, there were more extreme forms of segregation like prohibiting the blacks from going to white’s school or riding on the same bus. The rule, written or not, was always that blacks had to remain apart.
The shaping of the American dream
The modern American Nation was born from the migration of millions of immigrants from Europe in search of freedom, new home and a better life. Freedom and home defined the American way of life during the 19th century. The American dream rooted to the idea of a suburban idyll, where one’s neighbors were of the same socio-economic and ethnic group. This ideal was yet in marked contrast to many philosophical and ethical principles of American Literature: in fact the writings imagined America as a society of brothers of different creeds and ethnic origins, equal and unite in their pursuit of democracy. For them, America was to be a land of exceptions rather than rules and standards, defined by its plurality of voices.