Wheel of Reason Activity: Analyze the Logic of The 19th Century American
The 19th Century American
Background Information: This excerpt is from the book, The American Mind, by the distinguished historian Henry Steele Commager.

In one realm the American was a conformist, and that was the realm of morals. Although he did not always observe them, he accepted without question the moral standards of the Puritans, and if a later generation was to find him repressed and inhibited, there is little evidence that he was conscious of his sufferings... Conformity and conventionalism in matters of morals sometimes assumed aggressive form, and the willingness to resign control of the whole field of culture to women combined with the tradition of Puritanism to encourage intolerance and justify censorship. Language was emasculated, literature expurgated, art censored. Piano legs were draped with pantalets, words like belly and breast dropped from polite conversation, the discussion of sex confined to men and obstetrics to women, while Shakespeare and Fielding joined French writers generally in disrepute. Early in the century a furor was raised when Hiram Powers exhibited his undraped "Greek Slave," and at the end of the century Thomas Eakins, perhaps the greatest of American painters, was driven from the Pennsylvania Academy when he used male models in mixed classes. Dancing, plays, and mixed bathing came under the ban. Censorship of art and literature slid easily into censorship of morals, especially those having to do with love and drinking; modesty degenerated into Comstockery and the temperance movement into prohibition.
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