Anglo-Jewry and the Development of American Jewish Life, 1775-1850

AMERICAN political independence, declared in 1776, was followed by decades of cultural dependence on Great Britain. Sydney Smith’s famous taunt in 1820, ^”In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book ? or goes to an American play ? or looks at an American picture or statue ?” evoked small response, for in truth even Americans were reading British books and going to British plays. In the decades between 1775 and 1850, however, Americans began to achieve a national culture independent of that of Britain. It is impossible to fix a date in which the balance of cultural payments shifted to favour America; according to many Europeans, it never has. In the major areas of American cultural life, however, the six decades between 1790 and 1850 may be noted as the years in which Americans, proud of their political independence, began to seek their destiny as a

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