America: A Love Supreme

From Eastern Colonization to Westward Expansion, America has been considered "The Promised Land". Many artists and authors have worked to depict America the way they saw it, or the was they wanted it to become. We have come a long way in 300 years. We still have a long way to go.

This picture depicts a winter in New Haven Connecticut, the location of Yale University. Many American authors have studied at Yale, and New Haven has been a part of the literary scene since it's founding. Jonathan Edwards, a key figure in the First Great Awakening attended Yale. Nick Carraway and Tom Buchanan, characters in "The Great Gatsby" both studied in New Haven. The East to this day is perceived as a more intellectual community than the rest of the United States.
This lunch scene, painted by John F. Francis depicts a rich lunch of fruits, nuts, and wine. America has been called "The Land of Plenty", "The Promised Land", a "Beacon to the World". John Winthrop, the first governor of Massachusetts, would have seen this picture as a depiction of the grace of God on the American people. Except, he would have said the wine was sinful.
This piece, painted by Charles Marion Russell depicts Native Americans in their natural habitat. It is entitled "In the Enemy's Country" because the White man considered the Indian to be his enemy. Many of the settlers of the West in American History have considered Indians their enemies.
This piece shows a portrait of the American West, probably a location in Colorado. The West was mostly unsettled before the Civil War, but after the war, many people moved West. This migration prompted a movement in literature called "Regionalism". This meant that authors started writing about the regions in which they came from. No longer were authors solely from New England. They were beginning to be from all over the country.
This picture by George N. Barnard depicts the Chicago fire of 1871. Industrialization in the United States was a blessing and a curse. Production increased, but new dangers arose. Chicago became a booming city after the Civil War. It became one of the largest cities in the Midwest. People were moving westward. Expansion and Industrialization would influence changes in American Literature.
Charles Christian Nahl depicts miners in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California and Nevada. Westward expansion continued all the way to California, and the Pacific Ocean. In Jewett's, "The White Heron", the grandmother's son went to California to find a new life. Traditionally, the West has been considered a place were one would go to start over again, if they had failed in the East.
Jim Goldberg photographs African Americans sitting and talking, supposedly watching Oprah. Just the very fact that Oprah is a successful talk show host shows how much America has improved from it's time of slavery. Phyllis Wheatley was the first African American poet to be published, and she was a woman. Many African American women have followed her example and become successful writers. These women have inspired the nation. Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Maya Angelou, and Oprah herself are just a few examples. The African American Literary tradition has a life of it's own.
De Crevoceur would have loved this picture of a Chinese body guard in San Francisco. Immigration to America has been more or less steady since it's inception. De Crevoceur thought immigration was wonderful, today, many politicians think the immigration laws should be much stricter, especially for illegal immigrants. Are we preventing others from the American Dream, or are we simply protecting our own American Dream?
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