United States, 1783 to 1860
During the years directly subsequent to the Revolutionary War, play was redefined as a new American culture was delineated. While the high literacy rates in the United States could be traced to the colonial period, reading as a popular form of family entertainment was established by the 1790s. Americans continued to read British books, order British products, and emulate English models of metropolitan behavior. However, since Americans could not achieve the same level of wealth, play was subdued. Political ideology, western expansion, national reform movements, prescriptive literature, and economic forces all shaped play in antebellum America. Those who fought in the War of 1812 considered it to be America's second war for independence. While the United States won economic independence, the Union remained culturally dependent on England. American intellectuals were disturbed by the notion that the United States remained immature and lacking a national character. The American Revolution had been ...