Thomas Hamilton's "Men and Manners in America" is an especially interesting document, a detailed memoir of an outsider's observations and impressions of the USA circa 1830s. The report wasn't very flattering, to say the least. I would say that the author's observation was very
(not "honest", since that is a weasel-term and can only refer to judgement, not observation), particularly since Hamilton is an outsider, and the contrast with his own situation (in the Old World) would make the differences all the more glaring.
The book should be read in full (online in Google Books: Vol I , Vol II ). The more things change, the more things stay the same.
New Englanders are Jews:
Jefferson was scum:
Nevertheless, the American intellectual elite was quite impressive, at least around Boston circa 1830s:
The funniest bit is this, about the scam of general education: