We Are One or Are We?
Musician: Linda C
How Can Music Help Us Understand History?
Music serves to unify groups of people and move them towards common action or represent common emotions. It expresses widely shared values or experiences during certain time periods in order to help define a group's identity.
Antebellum Period Research
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" is a traditional English lullaby brought to America by the French when they immigrated to America during the Antebellum period. The lyrics were arranged by Jane Taylor and the melody was arranged by Mozart. I chose this song for the event of immigration the French brought this tune with them and diffused it into the American culture, showing the impact that other ethnic backgrounds can make. In the Antebellum period, Irish, German, and French immigrants were not fully embraced by America at first because of religious differences. The immigrants, who were mostly Catholic and the native Protestants clashed. However, the country was able to move past that and form one of the most prominent American identities: diversity. America is often referred to as the "melting pot" because of the combination of all the different cultures and customs that are cherished and respected here. No matter a person's race, religion, or ethnic background, they can find a place to belong in America. America is unique in that various racial & ethnic groups all share many things in common. Different types of people are able to attend public school together, work the same jobs, and be together as one nation, which cannot be said for many other nations. Diversity is an American identity that sets us apart from other nations and makes our country unique.
Gone to Texas
"Ready to Run" by the Dixie Chicks is a country pop song that was released in 1999. The song is about being ready and restless to leave and move on to a better place in life. The people that went to Texas during the Antebellum period had the same goal, which is why I chose that song. I also chose the song because it's a country song, which suits Texas perfectly. Mexico won it's independence from Spain in 1823, which meant that Texas was owned by Mexico at the time. The Texans supported slavery while Mexico didn't, which caused tension. Santa Anna, the president of Mexico at the time, wiped out all local rights of Texans and raised an army to suppress them. We know that as history progressed, the Texan underdogs rose to the top and gained their independence, then later rejoined America as the 28th state. This was only possible because of the American identity of determination. This is a trait that shows up regularly in American history; even in the American Revolution, there was no way that our country could have gained our independence from Britain without an abundance of determination. The song "Ready to Run" refers to being determine to take you life's fate into your own hands and make it the best that it can be, This is America in a nutshell: constantly striving and determined to make the best for itself.
Second Great Awakening
The song "Amazing Grace" is a Christian hymn written by the English poet John Newton. The hymn spread like wildfire during the Second Great Awakening and now is arguable the most well-known Christian hymn. The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant revival movement during the early 19th century that was lead by Methodist preachers. I chose this piece of music for this event because it was one of the songs that became popular, and stayed popular up until present time, during this movement. The song and the event itself are the perfect examples of what is no doubt America's most important identity: freedom. The fact that this Great Awakening even occurred is thanks to the practice of freedom of religion. If you ask any American, and most likely even people from other countries, to describe America in one word, it will most likely be "free". Our pledge of allegiance even ends with the striking words "Liberty and Justice for All". You even see the concept of liberty, or being free, come up several other times in American history. With Patrick Henry's famous cry of "give me liberty or give me death", it is clear that freedom is a value that Americans hold near and dear to their hearts.
Women's Suffrage Reform Movement
"Run the World (Girls)" by Beyonce Knowles is a pop song that was released in 2011. The song is about empowerment of women and highlights the strength and importance of women in our world today. I chose this song to represent the Women's Suffrage Movement because of the song's emphasis on how powerful women are. In the Antebellum period, many women became active supporters of women's rights. In this time period, more women became able to receive educations and find work, although they were often ridiculed in their attempt and were limited in doing so. Many of the activist's goals, including the right to vote, were not achieved until the 20th century. Nevertheless, huge strides in women's rights were still made during this time period. This song and event both represent freedom, as well. Although it took time for different genders, races, economic classes, and social classes to obtain the right to vote, the goal was achieved and helped to give America a privilege that does not exist in many other countries.
Rise of the Common Man
"My Country Tis Of Thee" with lyrics by Samuel Smith was all the rage during the Antebellum period. The popularity of this song shows that there was a rise in nationalism because of an increase in opportunity. I chose this song because it represents the proud and hopeful spirit that the common American had during this period. The Rise of the Common Man was a period during the Jacksonian Democracy where common people felt like they were being represented and had more voice in the government. Jackson was the first president to come from the west and not Virginia or Massachusetts, He proclaimed himself "champion of the common man". The Rise of the Common Man and this song represent the identity of America that draws the most people to the country: opportunity. The hope of economic stability and receiving an education is why America is still considered "the land of opportunity" today. Immigrants are drawn to America because of the vision of opportunity that they see for themselves here. Even for a citizen that was born and raised in America, it's still considered a land of opportunity because of the variety of options for paths that you can take with your life. Social and economic classes are not rigid; there is room for movement and to rise between them. Opportunity in America is what appeals to immigrants and makes the country have a hopeful aura about it.
"Material Girl" by Madonna is a pop song that was released in 1984. This song is about being wrapped up in material things, like money, which represents the Industrial Revolution. During this time, many innovations were made; in particular, the cotton gin invented by Eli Whitney and the factory system created by Samuel Slater, otherwise known as the "Father of the Factory System". New England was the industrial center of America. During this time, new ideas made production easier and profits larger, earning the name of the "Industrial Revolution" because it was, in fact, revolutionary. This earned America the identity of motivation. It is clear in this era that the sharpest and most eager minds were striving to make America thrive economically . Women were now able to work and more jobs opened up for unskilled workers. During this time, America was able to strive towards becoming an economic powerhouse, which can only be done because of the motivation to do so.
Trail of Tears
"A Long Time Ago" by George Pope Morris was a popular song in the Antebellum period. The song is about mourning over the death of someone and reminiscing on how life was better in the past. This song represents the Trail of Tears because it was a tragic event, many people died, and the Native Americans longed for their old land and homes back. The Society for Propagating the Gospel Among Indians was founded in 1787 to Christianize Indians. The five civilized tribes in America at the time were the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. Jackson thought that the Natives were impinging on the white man's urge to expand, so he decided to move them. In 1830, the Indian Removal Act was enacted and many Native Americans were forced off their land to move west and many died along the journey. It was arguably one of the most cruel and tragic times in American history. As atrocious as it was, it shows the drastic measures that the country will take to move forward and the American identity of resolution. When America has a goal or vision for the future, they are resolved to do whatever it takes to achieve that. As admirable as that trait is, it can lead to drastic measures being taken that sometimes leave us with regret when we look back on history. Another example of this is the Internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. America's resolve to obtain a better future has it's pros and cons, but is definitely a prevalent American identity.
Advancements in Art, Literature, & Science
"Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor is a song that was released in 1982 about having the determination and skill to be the best This represents America in the antebellum period because the people were rising to the top and advancing in art, literature, and science. During this time, America adapted from the scientific findings of the Europeans and invented a plethora of practical gadgets. To accompany that, there was a Greek revival in American art. Also because of the wave of nationalism, American literature received a boost. Many prominent authors emerged from this period. Washington Irving was the first American to receive national recognition as a literacy figure and James Fenimore Cooper was the first American novelist to gain world fame. American culture was thriving during this time and the American identity of ambition came into play. This is a virtue to be cultivated as time goes on because of the increase in enrichment of American culture. This trait weaves together America's idealism, confidence, hard work, entrepreneurship, and optimism about the future.