In Democracy in America deTocqueville examines what he sees as a national character. Although he was not as derogatory as many commentators on this "character," critics, both domestic and foreign, were dismayed by the lack of manners and the general attitude of many Americans in the 1830s (what we now label the Age of Jackson). This was particularly true of the inhabitants of the old Southwest-- a rural and unruly population; during this same era the genre of Southwestern humor emerged as a satirization of the Democratic masses for the enjoyment of Eastern sportsmen, but these antiheroes quickly became American icons. This site then is an examination of deTocqueville's conclusions on the American character-- a character that came to be celebrated (and slightly sanitized). It also tries to find a motivation for the embracing of a not entirely pleasant characterization; as the anthology included here reveals, even the celebratory tales reveal disturbing traits that are attached to mythic, national figures.

and the
Character of Americans
Southwestern Humor
and American
Gallery of Characters
Southwestern Humorists
Anthology of
Southwestern Humor

Created by John Molinaro
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