Nineteenth Century British Travellers to America Their Changing Judgments on the American Democratic Experiment

Admire, Gary
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
The nineteenth century was a period of development and consolidation in America. The birth of the American philosophy of government in the eighteenth century brought with it a set of untried rights and principles. It was during the nineteenth century that this new form of government was to undergo its trial by fire. This was a period of uncertainty; the adolescent nation was groping towards maturity. Throughout this period of development, America was being observed. Scores of visitors came to comment on the vast resources and brilliant future, while others were to mock the nation's clumsy actions and faltering steps. The British visitors were both numerous and outspoken in their comments on America. The absence of a language barrier enabled them to communicate more easily than other foreign visitors and to relay their opinions in print to the Anglo-American community as a whole. Some of their published impressions are examples of professional literature while others are of decidedly lesser merit. However, all serve as valuable sources of insight into the culture and society of a developing, young nation.
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