INtroduction to Americans of the Period

The United States was an experiment, as a nation and as a society. It brought together people of different backgrounds in a land of vast resources and possibilities; under the national banners of liberty, ambition and progress. While the founding fathers were establishing the United States as a political state, the people of the new nation were creating this distinctly American society.

Despite their different origins and backgrounds; most new Americans valued hard work, practicality, strength, ingenuity and independence. Although European visitors often described Americans as greedy pragmatists, many Americans were idealists who poured their hopes into the future of the country. Not everyone was accepting of new concepts and approaches, especially when they came into conflict with older traditions. In addition, the treatment of American Indians and, especially, the institution of slavery were grave sins on the American conscience, contradicting the national love of liberty and equality. Nevertheless, more than anywhere else in the world, the United States had become a place for new ideas, new achievements and new beginnings.