The Ballad of America: The History of the United States in Song and Story

By John Anthony Scott | Go to book overview
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III

THE
EARLY
NATIONAL
PERIOD

THE UNITED STATES, after having achieved independence, did not isolate itself from the European civilization of which it was a product. "Isolation" as a traditional American ideal originally expressed by Washington and Hamilton meant isolation only from the military conflicts of Europe. As the young nation matured, its links—spiritual, cultural, economic, and technological—with the parent civilization did not diminish, but increased.

The first years of independence, from 1790 to 1814, have been termed by historians "the early national period." American experience during this time vividly illustrates the country's profound involvement with Europe. The United States was then involved in the crisis in which the whole Western world found itself, and its life and thinking reflected that crisis. Only in the context of the international community within which American nationality was developing can we appreciate the meaning of the songs Americans were then writing and singing.

What was this context? In 1789, George Washington was inaugurated first President of the United States in New York City, and in that year the French Revolution began. In 1793,

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