By 1820, the United States had fought two wars against Britain, after which the independence of the nation was irrevocably established. While Europe remained a model for the ãsophisticatedä arts, most Americans generally turned their attention to themselves and their countrymen. While Americans had long held industry, practicality and ingenuity to be important values; progress became something of a buzzword and touchstone concept for the antebellum period.
With the end of the Federalist era, the influence of the Democratic Republicans encouraged belief in the egalitarianism of the American democracy. The straightforward, common man approach was admired, and hard work and thrift were widely respected. Nevertheless, the push toward economic advancement may have influenced many Americans to seek social advancement. This, combined with the increasing growth of manufacturing and the emergence of an advertising industry, helped foster the growth of an American consumer culture.
As Americans worked to "better themselves" individually, they also sought to improve society as a whole. Thus, the Antebellum period was one characterized by a wide variety of reform mvements. Many of these movements, such as the temperence and abolition, had begun in previous years and continued to gain adherants. While attempts to improve the status of women and eradicate slavery would not bear substantial fruit until later, effort to "reform"American English and the American educational system affected the everyday lives of many Americans