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American Identity in the Romantic Era

            The Romantic era contributed greatly to the development of a new American identity. Prior to this time period, America had never necessarily held any distinct cultural identity, yet this age allowed the country to develop its own uniqueness. Due to the influences of American expansionism, the exploration of the frontier, and a growing interest in nature, a new American identity blossomed in the 19th century revolving around the advancement of the United States as a whole. Romantic ideals such as innovation and individualism allowed the country to make constant progress and develop significantly during this era, helping to bring about this new identity. .
             The first component that helped bring about this new identity was American expansionism. During the Romantic era, the United States was very focused on expanding its boarders, as shown by many historical events of the period. For example, the Louisiana Purchase occurred in 1803 and added close to one million square miles of territory to the country. By expanding its boarders and seeking new land, the United States began to establish itself as an actual country rather than simply a group of rebellious colonies. The developing identity of this period reflected this growth as a nation as it was centered on asking questions and being innovative. Without expansionism and purchases such as the Louisiana Purchase, the American identity seen in the Romantic period would most likely not have developed. .
             Also, a newfound American preoccupation with nature allowed progress within the country and eventually led to the development of a unique American identity. Due to Romantic influences, this period saw a heavy emphasis on the beauty and importance of nature. This is displayed through many works of literature written in the Romantic era, especially Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson and other authors of this period focused on the ideas associated with nature, as shown by the quote, "Nature, in its ministry to man, is not only the material, but is also the process and the result" (Emerson 691).

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