English Round Hand
The 1700's was a time when a variety of writing styles were taught and used in various groups. Your penmanship would reveal your age, gender, profession, and societal rank. However, while reading instruction was spreading, writing was only for the upper class and their secretaries, professionals, merchants, and clerks.
The upper-class colonists wrote in English Round Hand, also known as the English copperplate method. George Bickham's copybook, The Universal Penman, was incredibly influential in England upon its publishing in 1743. It set English copperplate as the standard.
In the late 1700's John Jenkins created a distinctly American style based heavily on English copperplate. His book, The Art of Writing, was published in 1791. Jenkins' American copperplate was the writing style from the colonial to the antebellum period. It was taught until 1840's.
Modified Round Hand
Duntonian Script was a modified round hand which became popular from the 1840's to 1865. At this time regular school attendance was up, and Duntonian Script was a style suitable for young pupils. Alvin R. Dunton, 1812-1892, created this writing style with a variety of writing needs in mind.
The most important and longest-taught American writing style of the 1800's, the Spencerian method, was created in the early 1820's. Platt R. Spencer broke down letter forms into easily reproducible common elements, which could be combined to form individual letters. This method was beautifully ornate, yet fairly easily learned. It proved incredibly popular and became the standard of the 1800's. It is still the standard among southerners of a certain standing.
The Palmer Method replaced the Spencerian handwriting system by the 1890's. A. N. Palmer, 1859-1927, created the style which would be popular in business and elementary schools into the early 1920's. This new method did away with much of the ornamental flourish, and the resulting plainer script was easier to write quickly. Its creation coincided with the advent of business and secretarial schools, and it was tauted as the business writing style.