In 1820, the well-known British writer, Sydney Smith, mocked the United States for its lack of culture and sophistication:
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?"
This was a common sentiment at that time. America was a young country, barely forty years old, and most Europeans viewed it as a kind of low-brow, hillbilly backwater.
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