- History of the United States (1789–1849)
This is an article that covers the History of the United States from 1789 through 1849, "
After the election of
George Washingtonas the first President in 1789, Congress passed the first of many laws organizing the government and adopted a bill of rightsin the form of ten amendments to the new Constitution—the Bill of Rights. During much of early America, there was no popular vote count in presidential elections.
Washington took action to establish the Executive Branch of the United States Government. Congress passed the
Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the entire federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court.
Louisiana Purchase, in 1803, gave Western farmers use of the important Mississippi Riverwaterway, removed the French presence from the western border of the United States, provided United States farmers with vast expanses of land, and furthered American leaders' vision of creating a "Great Nation".
War of 1812between the United States and the United Kingdom established the United States as a sovereign nation, fully capable of handling its own affairs without interference from the United Kingdom. With the end of the wartime British alliance with Native Americans east of the Mississippi River, white settlers also proceeded to colonize indigenous lands west of the Mississippi. In the 1830s, the Federal government forcibly deported the Southeastern tribes to less fertile territories to the west.
Americans did not question their right to colonize vast expanses of North America beyond their country's borders. By the mid-1840s, United States expansionism was expressed in terms of "
Manifest Destiny." Texaswas annexed in 1845, and in May 1846, after a Mexican cavalry detachment attacked a U.S. patrol in disputed territory, Congress declared war on Mexico. After its defeat, Mexico—in the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo— recognized the boundaries claimed by Texas (including the Rio Grande) and ceded California, Arizona, New Mexicoand portions of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to the United States.
Washington Administration: 1789–1797
George Washington, a renowned hero of the
American Revolutionary War, commander of the Continental Army, and president of the Constitutional Convention, became the first President of the United Statesunder the new U.S. Constitution
Perhaps the most popular figure in U.S. political history at the time, Washington was proclaimed the "Father of the Country", and won the 1789 election with virtually no opposition. He won the electoral vote unanimously, something that has not occurred since. There was no popular vote for Washington's election.
Under Washington's presidency, the first U.S. Census was taken in 1790, fulfilling the requirements of Section II in Article One of the Constitution. The census determined the number of
congressional districts in each state; from each district, a congressman was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Congress passed the
Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the entire federal judiciary. At the time, the act provided for a Supreme Court of six justices, three circuit courts, and 13 district courts. It also created the offices of U.S. Marshal, Deputy Marshal, and District Attorney. In addition, it established the Supreme Court as the mediator of all disputes between states and the federal government concerning conflicting state and federal laws.
Compromise of 1790helped delay a major conflict over slavery between the Northern and Southern states.
Whiskey Rebellionin 1794—when settlers in the Monongahela Valleyof western Pennsylvaniaprotested against a federal tax on liquor and distilled drinks—was the first serious test of the federal government. Washington ordered federal marshals to serve court orders requiring the tax protesters to appear in federal district court. By August 1794, the protests became dangerously close to outright rebellion, and on August 7, several thousand armed settlers gathered near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington then invoked the Militia Law of 1792to summon the militias of several states. A force of 13,000 men was organized, roughly the size of the entire army in the Revolutionary War. The army marched to Western Pennsylvaniaand quickly suppressed the revolt. Two leaders of the revolt were convicted of treasonbut pardoned by Washington. This response marked the first time under the new Constitution that the federal government had used strong military force to exert authority over the nation's citizens.
Many other major policies and decisions of Washington's two terms involved two of his cabinet members—Secretary of the Treasury
Alexander Hamiltonand Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson—whose different ideologies corresponded with the formation of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties, respectively. Although Washington warned against political parties in his farewell address, many felt that by the end of his term he was a Federalist. His Whiskey Rebellion suppression seems to indicate this.
Despite a desire on the part of Washington to follow a policy of neutrality, the United States would grow to have a rich diplomatic history.
Adams Administration: 1797-1801
Washington retired in 1797, firmly declining to serve for more than eight years as the nation's head. Vice President
John Adamswas elected the new President. Even before he entered the presidency, Adams had quarreled with Alexander Hamilton—and thus was handicapped by a divided Federalist party.
These domestic difficulties were compounded by international complications: France, angered by
John Jay's recent treaty with Britain, used the British argument that food supplies, naval storesand war material bound for enemy ports were subject to seizure by the French navy. By 1797, France had seized 300 American ships and had broken off diplomatic relations with the United States. When Adams sent three other commissioners to Paris to negotiate, agents of Foreign Minister Charles Maurice de Talleyrand(whom Adams labeled "X, Y and Z" in his report to Congress), informed the Americans that negotiations could only begin if the United States loaned France $12 million and bribed officials of the French government. American hostility to France rose to an excited pitch. The so-called " XYZ Affair" led to the enlistment of troops and the strengthening of the fledgling United States Navy.
In 1799, after a series of naval battles with the French (known as the
Quasi-War), war seemed inevitable. In this crisis, Adams ignored Hamilton's advice to go to war and sent three new commissioners to France. Napoleon, who had just come to power, received them cordially, and the danger of conflict subsided with the negotiation of the Convention of 1800, which formally released the United States from its 1778 wartime alliance with France. However, reflecting American weakness, France refused to pay $20 million in compensation for American ships seized by the French navy.
Hostility to France and to their internal American political opponents led the
Federalist-controlled Congress to pass, and Adams to sign, the Alien and Sedition Acts, which had severe repercussions for American civil liberties. The Naturalization Act, which changed the residency requirement for citizenship from five to 14 years, was targeted at Irish and French immigrants suspected of supporting the Democratic-Republican Party. The Alien Act, operative for only two years, gave the President the power to expel or imprison aliens in time of war. The Sedition Act proscribed writing, speaking or publishing anything of "a false, scandalous and malicious" nature against the President or Congress. The few convictions won under the Sedition Act only created martyrs to the cause of civil liberties and aroused support for the Democratic-Republicans.
The Acts met with resistance: Jefferson and
James Madisonsponsored the passage of the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutionsby the legislatures of the two states in November and December 1798. According to the resolutions, states could "interpose" their views on federal actions and "nullify" them. The doctrine of nullification would be used later for the Southern states' defense of their interests vis-a-vis the North on the question of the tariff, and more ominously, slavery.
By 1800, Americans were ready for a change. Under Washington and Adams, the Federalists had established a strong government, but sometimes failing to honor the principle that the American government must be responsive to the will of the people, they had followed policies that alienated large groups of Americans. For example, in 1798, to pay for the national debt and an Army and Navy, Adams and Federalists had enacted a tax on houses, land and slaves, affecting every property owner in the country. Worse, after a single instance of tax revolt (a mob having freed two tax evaders from prison), Adams ordered the U.S. Army into action to collect the taxes. While the Army could find no one to fight, Democratic-Republicans seized on this action as another example of Federalist tyranny.
Jefferson had steadily gathered behind him a great mass of small farmers, shopkeepers and other workers, and they asserted themselves as Democratic-Republicans in the election of 1800. Jefferson enjoyed extraordinary favor because of his appeal to American idealism. In his inaugural address, the first such speech in the new capital of
Washington, DC, he promised "a wise and frugal government" to preserve order among the inhabitants but would "leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry, and improvement" [LaGreca, Gen. [http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=0c2766df-28f4-4a96-a425-c574ac952428 Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson] . "Front Page Magazine": April 13, 2007] .
Jefferson encouraged agriculture and westward expansion, most notably by the Louisiana Purchase and subsequent
Lewis and Clark Expedition. Believing America to be a haven for the oppressed, he reduced the residency requirement for naturalization back to five years again.
By the end of his second term, Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury
Albert Gallatinhad reduced the national debt to less than $560 million. This was accomplished by reducing the number of executive department employees and Army and Navy officers and enlisted men, and by otherwise curtailing government and military spending.
To protect its shipping interests overseas, the U.S. fought the
First Barbary War(1801-1805) in North Africa. This was followed later by the Second Barbary War(1815).
Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812
The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 gave Western farmers use of the important Mississippi River
waterway, removed the French presence from the western border of the United States, and provided U.S. settlers with vast potential for expansion.
A few weeks afterwards, war broke out between Britain and
Napoleonic France. The United States, dependent on European revenues from the export of agricultural goods, tried to export food and raw materials to both warring Great Powers and to profit from transporting goods between their home markets and Caribbeancolonies. Both sides permitted this trade when it benefited them but opposed it when it did not.
Following the 1805 destruction of the French navy at the
Battle of Trafalgar, Britain sought to impose a stranglehold over French overseas trade ties. Thus, in retaliation against U.S. trade practices, Britain imposed a loose blockade of the American coast.
Believing that Britain could not rely on other sources of food than the United States, Congress and President Jefferson suspended all U.S. trade with foreign nations in the
Embargo Act of 1807, hoping to get the British to end their blockade of the American coast. The Embargo Act, however, devastated American agricultural exports and weakened American ports while Britain found other sources of food. James Madisonwon the U.S. presidential election of 1808, largely on the strength of his abilities in foreign affairs at a time when Britain and France were both on the brink of war with the United States. He was quick to repeal the Embargo Act, refreshing American seaports.
In response to continued British interference with American shipping (including the practice of
impressmentof American sailors into the British Navy), and to British aid to American Indians in the Old Northwest, the Twelfth Congress—led by Southern and Western Jeffersonians—declared war on Britain in 1812. Westerners and Southerners were the most ardent supporters of the war, given their concerns about defending and expanding western settlements and to having access to world markets for their agricultural exports. New EnglandFederalists opposed the war, and their reputation suffered in the aftermath of the war, causing the party to fade away.
The United States and Britain came to a draw in the war after bitter fighting that lasted until January 8, 1815. The
Treaty of Ghent, officially ending the war, essentially resulted in the maintenance of the " status quo ante bellum", but Britain's alliance with the Native Americans came to an end.
Battle of New Orleans(which took place after the treaty was signed because of slow cross- Atlanticcommunication) was a victory for the United States; it gave the country a psychological boost and propelled one of its commanders, Andrew Jackson, to political popularity.
Era of Good Feelings
Nationalism and Sectionalism
War of 1812, America began to assert a newfound sense of nationalism. America began to rally around national heroes such as Andrew Jacksonand patriotic feelings emerged in such works as Francis Scott Key's poem The Star Spangled Banner. Under the direction of Chief Justice John Marshall, the Supreme Court issued a series of opinions reinforcing the role of the national government. These decisions included McCulloch v Marylandand Gibbons v Ogden; both of which reaffirmed the supremacy of the national government over the states. In the Congress, Henry Clayled the call for natioanlism with the proposal of his American System to unite the nation through mutual economic development. The signing of the Adams-Onis Treatyhelped to settle the eastern border of the country through popular and peaceable means.
Even as nationalism increased across the country, its effects were limited by a renewed sense of
sectionalism. The New Englandstates that had opposed the War of 1812 felt an increasing decline in political power with the demise of the Federalist Party. This loss was tempered with the advent of a new industrial movement and increased deamnds for northern banking. The industrial revolutionin the United States was advanced by the immigration of Samuel Slaterfrom Great Britain and advent of textile millsbeginning in Lowell, Massachusetts. The Lowell Mill Girlswere typical of this new outlook on industrialization. In the south, the invention of the cotton ginby Eli Whitneyradically shaped the perception of slavelabor. The export of southern cottonwas now the predominant source of economic revenue in the south. The western states continued to thrive under the "frontier spirit". Individualism was prized as exemplified by Davey Crockettand James Fennimore Cooper's folk hero Natty Bumpo from The Leatherstocking Tales. Following the death of Tecumseh, Native Americans lacked the unity to stop white settlement. The Black Hawk Warin Illinoisand Indianaforshadowed the coming conflict between the two cultures.
Single Party Politics
Domestically, the presidency of
James Monroe(1817–1825) was termed the "Era of Good Feelings" because of the decline of partisan politics. In one sense, the term disguised a period of vigorous factional and regional conflict; on the other hand, the phrase acknowledged the political triumph of the Democratic-Republican Party over the Federalist Party, which collapsed as a national force. Instead the sectional interests in the Democratic-Republican Partybegan to struggle for contorl of the party's agenda. Over time, the party would come to be torn apart by sectional interests.
Monroe is probably best known for the
Monroe Doctrine, which he delivered in his message to Congress on December 2, 1823. In it, he proclaimed the Americasshould be free from future European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States' intention to stay neutral in wars between European powers and their colonies but to consider any new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts towards the United States.
The decline of the Federalists brought disarray to the system of choosing Presidents and the end of the short "Era". At the time, state legislatures could nominate candidates. In presidential election of 1824,
Tennesseeand Pennsylvaniachose Andrew Jackson, with South CarolinaSenator John C. Calhounas his running mate. Kentuckyselected the Speaker of the House Henry Clay; Massachusettsselected Secretary of State John Quincy Adams; and a congressional caucus chose Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford.
Return of factionalism and political parties
Personality and sectional allegiance played important roles in determining the outcome of the election. Adams won the electoral votes from New England and most of New York; Clay won Kentucky,
Ohioand Missouri; Jackson won the Southeast, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolinaand South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Marylandand New Jersey; and Crawford won Virginia, Georgia and Delaware. No candidate gained a majority in the Electoral College, so, according to the provisions of the Constitution, the election was decided by the House of Representatives, where Clay was the most influential figure. In return for Clay's support, which essentially won him the presidency, John Quincy Adamsappointed Clay as Secretary of State in what became known as The Corrupt Bargain.
During Adams' administration, new party alignments appeared. Adams' followers took the name of "National Republicans", later to be changed to "Whigs". Though he governed honestly and efficiently, Adams was not a popular President, and his Administration was marked with frustrations. Adams failed in his effort to institute a national system of
roads and canals, known as the American System. His years in office appeared to be one long campaign for re-election, and his coldly intellectual temperament did not win friends.
Andrew Jackson, by contrast, had enormous popular appeal, especially among his followers in the newly named Democratic Party that emerged from the Democratic-Republican Party, with its roots dating back to Presidents Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. In the election of 1828, Jackson defeated Adams by an overwhelming electoral majority.
Andrew Jackson, eponym of the era of
Jacksonian democracy, was a founder of the Democratic Party. His two presidential administrations oversaw vast change in the American political, social, and economic landscape.
Jackson drew his support from the small farmers of the West, and the workers, artisans and small merchants of the East, who sought to use their vote to resist the rising commercial and manufacturing interests associated with the
The election of 1828 was a significant benchmark in the trend toward broader voter participation.
Vermonthad universal male suffragesince its entry into the Union, and Tennessee permitted suffrage for the vast majority of taxpayers. New Jersey, Maryland and South Carolina all abolished property and tax-paying requirements between 1807 and 1810. States entering the Union after 1815 either had universal white male suffrage or a low taxpaying requirement. From 1815 to 1821, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York abolished all property requirements. In 1824, members of the Electoral College were still selected by six state legislatures. By 1828, presidential electors were chosen by popular vote in every state but Delaware and South Carolina. Nothing dramatized this democratic sentiment more than the election of Andrew Jackson.
Trail of Tears
In 1830, Congress passed the
Indian Removal Act, which authorized the President to negotiate treaties that exchanged Indian tribal lands in the eastern states for lands west of the Mississippi River. In 1834, a special Indian territorywas established in what is now the eastern part of Oklahoma. In all, Native American tribes signed 94 treaties during Jackson's two terms, ceding thousands of square miles to the Federal government.
Cherokees, whose lands in western North Carolina and Georgia had been guaranteed by treaty since 1791, faced expulsion from their territory when a faction of Cherokees signed the Treaty of New Echotain 1835, obtaining money in exchange for their land. Despite protests from the elected Cherokee government and many white supporters, the Cherokees were forced to make the long and cruel trek to the Indian Territory in 1838. Many died of disease and privation in what became known as the "Trail of Tears".
Toward the end of his first term in office, Jackson was forced to confront the state of South Carolina on the issue of the protective
tariff. The protective tariff passed by Congress and signed into law by Jackson in 1832 was milder than that of 1828, but it further embittered many in the state. In response, several South Carolina citizens endorsed the " states rights" principle of "nullification", which was enunciated by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's Vice President until 1832, in his South Carolina Exposition and Protest(1828). South Carolina dealt with the tariff by adopting the Ordinance of Nullification, which declared both the Tariff of 1828and the Tariff of 1832null and void within state borders.
Nullification was only the most recent in a series of state challenges to the authority of the federal government. In response to South Carolina's threat, Jackson sent seven small naval vessels and a man-of-war to Charleston in November 1832. On December 10, he issued a resounding proclamation against the nullifiers. South Carolina, the President declared, stood on "the brink of insurrection and treason", and he appealed to the people of the state to reassert their allegiance to that Union for which their ancestors had fought.
Senator Henry Clay, though an advocate of protection and a political rival of Jackson, piloted a compromise measure through Congress. Clay's 1833 compromise tariff specified that all duties in excess of 20% of the value of the goods imported were to be reduced by easy stages, so that by 1842, the duties on all articles would reach the level of the moderate tariff of 1816.
The rest of the South declared South Carolina's course unwise and unconstitutional. Eventually, South Carolina rescinded its action. Jackson had committed the federal government to the principle of Union supremacy. But South Carolina had obtained many of the demands it sought and had demonstrated that a single state could force its will on Congress.
Federal banking system
Even before the nullification issue had been settled, another controversy arose to challenge Jackson's leadership. It concerned the rechartering of the
Second Bank of the United States. The First Bank of the United Stateshad been established in 1791, under Alexander Hamilton's guidance and had been chartered for a 20-year period. Though the government held some of its stock, it was not a government bank; rather, the bank was a private corporation with profits passing to its stockholders. It had been designed to stabilize the currency and stimulate trade, but it was resented by Westerners and working people who believed that it was granting special favors to a few powerful men. When its charter expired in 1811, it was not renewed.
For the next few years, the banking business was in the hands of state-chartered banks, which issued currency in excessive amounts, creating great confusion and fueling
inflationand concerns that state banks could not provide the country with a uniform currency. In 1816, a Second Bank of the United States, similar to the first, was again chartered for 20 years.
From its inception, the second Bank was unpopular in the newer states and territories and with less prosperous people everywhere. Opponents claimed the bank possessed a virtual monopoly over the country's credit and currency, and reiterated that it represented the interests of the wealthy few. Jackson, elected as a popular champion against it,
vetoed a bill to recharter the bank. In his message to Congress, he denounced monopoly and special privilege, saying that "our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress" [Holliday, Wayne. [http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/books/070708/book1.shtml A portrait of America’s oligarchic nature] . " The Decatur Daily": July 8, 2007] . The effort to override the veto failed.
In the election campaign that followed, the bank question caused a fundamental division between the merchant, manufacturing and financial interests (generally creditors who favored tight money and high interest rates), and the laboring and
agrariansectors, who were often in debt to banks and therefore favored an increased money supplyand lower interest rates. The outcome was an enthusiastic endorsement of "Jacksonism". Jackson saw his reelection in 1832 as a popular mandate to crush the bank irrevocably—and found a ready-made weapon in a provision of the bank's charter authorizing removal of public funds.
In September 1833, Jackson ordered that no more government money be deposited in the bank and that the money already in its custody be gradually withdrawn in the ordinary course of meeting the expenses of government. Carefully selected state banks, stringently restricted, were provided as a substitute. For the next generation, the United States would get by on a relatively unregulated state banking system, which helped fuel westward expansion through cheap credit but kept the nation vulnerable to periodic panics. It was not until the Civil War that the United States again chartered a national bank.
The Age of Reform
Spurred on by the
Second Great Awakening, Americans entered a period of rapid social change and experimentation. New social movements arose as well as many new alternatives to traditional religious thought. This period of American history was marked by the destruction of some traditional role of society and the erection of new social standards.
Change in Thinking and Belief
Second Great Awakeningchallenged the traditional beliefs of the Calvinistfaith, the movement inspired other groups to call into question their views on religion and society. One of the earliest movements was that of eightpence in which members of a community hold all of their possession in "common" and live in a self-supporting society, Many of these Utopian groups also believed in millennialismwhich prophesied the return of Christ and the beginning of a new age. The Harmony Societymade three attempts to bring about a millennial society with the most notable example at New Harmony, Indiana. Later Scottish industrialist Robert Owenbought New Harmony and attempted to form a secular Utopian community there. Frenchman Charles Fourierbegan a similar secular experiment with his “phalanxes” that were spread across the Midwestern United States. Two other notable millennialist societies included the Shakersfounded by Mother Ann Leeand the Perfectionistsled by John Humphrey Noyesin Oneida, New York. Joseph Smithalso experienced a religious conversion at this time. Under his guidance the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saintswas begun.
For Americans wishing to bridge the gap between the earthly and spiritual worlds,
spiritualismprovided a means of communing with the dead. Spiritualists used mediumsto communicate between the living and the dead through a variety of different means. The most famous mediums, the Fox sistersclaimed a direct link to the spirit world, although it was later proven to be falsified. Spiritualism would gain a much larger following after the heavy number of casualties during the American Civil Warwith former First Lady Mary Todd Lincolnbecoming an outspoken proponent.
So many of these new religious orders began within miles of each other in upstate New York that this area was given the name the
Burned-over districtbecause there were so few people left who had not experienced a conversion.
Other groups seeking spiritual awaking gained popularity in the mid-1800s. Poet
Ralph Waldo Emersonbegan the transcendentalistmovement in order to promote self-reliance and better understanding of the universe through contemplation of the over-soul. Like many of the movements, the transcendentalists split over the idea of self-reliance. While Emerson and Henry David Thoreaupromoted the idea of independent living, George Ripleybrought transcendentalists together in a phalanx at Brook Farmin order to live cooperatively. Other authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorneand Edgar Allen Poerejected transcendentalist beliefs.
The Public Education Movement
Education in the United States had long been a local affair while schools governed by locally elected school boards. As with much of the culture of the United States, education varied widely in the North and the South. In the New England states
public educationwas common, although it was often class-based with the working class receiving little benefits. Instruction and curriculum were all locally determined and teachers were expected to meet rigorous demands of strict moral behavior. Schools taught religious values and applied Calvinistphilosophies of discipline which included corporal punishmentand public humiliation. In the South, there was very little organization of a public education system. Public schools were very rare and most education took place in the home with the family acting as instructors. The wealthier planter families were able to bring in tutors for instruction in the classicsbut many yeoman farming families had little access to education outside of the family unit.
The reform movement in education began in
Massachusettswhen Horace Mannstarted the common school movement. Mann advocated a statewide curriculum and instituted financing of school through local property taxes. Mann also fought protracted battles against the Calvinist influence in discipline, preferring positive reinforcement to physical punishment. Mann was also criticized for his introduction of Protestant values into the school curriculum. The adoption of the McGuffey Readersseries instructed moral values as well as literacy. The reform of education was not limited to Massachusetts alone, across the United States education reforms such as kindergartensand the lyceummovement blossomed.
The Asylum Movement
The social conscience that was raised in the early 1800s helped to elevate the awareness of mental illness and its treatment. A leading advocate of reform for mental illness was
Dorothea Dix, a Massachusetts woman who made an intensive study of the conditions that the mentally ill were kept in. Dix’s report to the Massachusetts state legislature along with the development of the Kirkbride Planhelped to alleviate the miserable conditions for many of the mentally ill. Although these facilities often fell short of their intended purpose, reformers continued to follow Dix’s advocacy and call for increased study and treatment of mental illness.
The Cult of Domesticity
Following the end of the
American Revolutionand the birth of the new republic, American women were able to gain a limited political voice in what is known as republican motherhood. Under this philosophy women, such as Abigail Adams, were seen as the protectors of liberty and republicanism. Mothers were charged with passing down these ideals to their children through instruction of patriotic thoughts and feelings. By the turn of the 19th century, the role of women had changed significantly. In what is known as the cult of domesticityor “cult of true womanhood middle class women lost much of their political voice. Under the doctrine of two spheres, women were to exist in the “domestic sphere” at home while their husbands operated in the “public sphere” of politics and business. Women took on the new role of “softening” their husbands and instructing their children in piety and not republican values, while men handled the business and financial affairs of the family. The coverturelaws of ensured that men would hold political power over their wives. By the mid-1800s women associated with the abolitionmovement began to question their legal status in the United States as well. Leaders such as Lucretia Mottand Elizabeth Cady Stantonbroke from the cult when they organized the Seneca Falls Conventionto call for women's rights.
Some of the strongest advocates for abolition were women, both black and white, who saw the legal limits placed on them magnified in slavery. Angelia and Sarah Grimke were southern women who moved North to advocated against slavery. William Lloyd Garrison welcomed women into the
American Anti-Slavery Society. Garrison along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were so appalled that women were not allowed to participate at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London that they called for a women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. It was at this convention that Sojourner Truthbecame recognized as a leading spokesperson for both abolition and women’s rights.
The Abolition Movement
The white abolition movement
The white abolition movement was based on a combination of evangelical principles of the
Second Great Awakening, the desire for racial purity in the United States, and the concern in the Northern states over the growing economic power of the South. One of the first abolitionist movements in the United States was the American Colonization Societywhich established the colony of Liberiain Africa as a means to repatriate slaves out of white society. Other white abolitionists rejected the idea of repatriation to Africa. Evangelist Theodore Weldled abolitionist revivals that called for immediate emancipationof slavery. William Lloyd Garrisonfounded The Liberator, an anti-slavery newspaper, and the American Anti-Slavery Societyto call for abolition. A controversial figure, Garrison often was the focus of public anger. His advocacy of women’s rights and inclusion of women in the leadership of the Society caused a rift within the movement. Rejecting Garrison’s idea that abolition and women’s rights were connected Lewis Tappanbroke with the Society and formed the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. White abolitionists did not always face agreeable communities in the North. Garrison was almost lynched in Boston while newspaper publisher Elijah Lovejoywas killed in Alton, Illinois. The anger over white abolition even spilled over into Congress where a gag rulewas instituted to prevent any discussion of slavery on the floor of either chamber.
The black abolition movement
Both free black citizens and former slaves took on leading roles in the abolition movement as well. By far the most prominent spokesperson for abolition in the black community was
Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave whose eloquent railings against slavery drew both crowds of supporters as well as threats against his life. Douglass was a keen user of the printed word both through his newspaper The North Starand three best-selling autobiographies. For many white abolitionists, Douglass’ views were too extreme and his interracial marriage went too far in pushing the boundaries of “acceptable” interaction between whites and blacks. Like the white abolition movement, black advocates also differed in their message. David Walker published An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World calling for black revolt against white tyranny. Other activists preferred to take action in order to assist the slaves in the American South. The Underground Railroadwas established to help slaves out of the South through a series of trails and safe houses known as “stations.” Known as “conductors”, escaped slaves volunteered to return to the South to lead others to safety; former slaves, such as Harriet Tubman, risked their lives on these journeys.
After Napoleon's defeat and the
Congress of Viennain 1815, an era of relative stability began in Europe. U.S. leaders paid less attention to European trade and more to the internal development in North America. With the end of the wartime British alliance with Native Americans east of the Mississippi River, white settlers were determined to colonize indigenous lands beyond the Mississippi. In the 1830s, the federal government forcibly deported the southeastern tribes to less fertile territories to the west.
Westward expansion by official acts of the U.S. Government was accompanied by the western (and northern in the case of New England) movement of settlers on and beyond the frontier.
Daniel Boonewas one frontiersman who pioneered the settlement of Kentucky. This pattern was followed throughout the West as American hunters and trappers traded with the Indians and explored the land. As skilled fighters and hunters, these Mountain Mentrapped beaver in small groups throughout the Rocky Mountains. After the demise of the fur trade, they established trading posts throughout the west, continued trade with the Indians and served as guides and hunters for the western migration of settlers to Utah, Oregonand California.
Americans did not question their right to colonize vast expanses of North America beyond their country's borders, especially into Oregon, California, and Texas. By the mid-1840s, U.S. expansionism was articulated in terms of the ideology of "
In May 1846, Congress declared war on Mexico. The U.S. defeated Mexico, which was unable to withstand the assault of the American artillery, was short on resources, and was plagued by a divided command. The
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1848, recognized the Rio Grandeas the southern boundary of Texasand ceded California and New Mexico to the United States. Over the next thirteen years, the territories ceded by Mexico became the focal point of sectional tensions over the expansion of slavery.
Major events in the western movement of the U.S. population were the
Homestead Act, a law by which, for a nominal price, a settler was given title to 160 acres (65 ha) of land to farm; the opening of the Oregon Territoryto settlement; the Texas Revolution; the opening of the Oregon Trail; the Mormon Emigrationto Utahin 1846–47; the California Gold Rushof 1849; the Colorado Gold Rushof 1859; and the completion of the nation's First Transcontinental Railroadon May 10, 1869.
* [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Gazetteer/Places/America/United_States/_Topics/history/_Periods/frontier/home.html Frontier History of the United States] at Thayer's American History site
* [http://dca.tufts.edu/features/aas/index.html A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns, 1787-1825]
Studies of the decade 1810-1820: [From: H-SHEAR Subject: Studies of the decade 1810-20From: John Weiss firstname.lastname@example.org ]
* William Freehling: the Road to Disunion, Vol. 1
* Charles Sellers: the Market Revolution.
* Joyce Appleby, "Inheriting the Revolution: the First Generation of Americans". 2000. Covers the period from 1790-1830 through the lives of those born after 1776.
Cultural and Intellectual History
* Lewis Perry: Intellectual Life in America
Henry Steele Commager, the Empire of Reason: How Europe Imagined and America Realized the Enlightenment
Interpretations of the spirit of the age:
* v 1 ch 1-5 on America in 1800
* C. Edward Skeen, "1816: America Rising". 2004 surveys postwar America & sees a new nation being born'
* Perry Miller: the Life of the Mind in America: from the Revolution to The Civil War (Harcourt, 1965)
* Vernon L. Parrington: Main Currents in American Thought (1927) (Vol 2: the Romantic Revolution, 1800-1860)
* Charles Sellers: the Market Revolution: Jacksonian America 1815-46
* Page Smith: the Shaping of America: a People's History of the Young Republic (1980)
* Steven Watts: the Republic Reborn: War and the Making of Liberal America, 1790-1820 (1987) (a richly documented study which offers dozens of case studies and snapshots of life in the early republic)
* Kastor, Peter J. "The Nation's Crucible: The Louisiana Purchase and the Creation of America." 2004.
* Ratcliffe, D.J.: Party Spirit in a Frontier Republic: Democratic Politics in Ohio, 1793-1821. (1998)
* Richard Bushman, "Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling". 2005. 'An excellent cultural history of New England and upstate New York, Ohio, Missouri, Illinois, as well as terrific biography of a most interesting American from 1805-1844'
From legal perspective:
* Morton J. Horwitz: the Transformation of American Law, 1780-1860 (1977) (uses the evolution of the law, especially as seen in the decisions of state courts in the north, as a way of measuring intellectual and cultural changes in the whole society)
* James Willard Hurst, Law and the Conditions of Freedom in the Nineteenth Century United States (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1956)
* Lawrence M. Friedman's a History of American Law, 2d Ed. (1985)
* G. Edward White (With Gerald Gunther): the Marshall Court and Cultural Change, 1815-1835 (Abr. Ed., 1990)
* R. Kent Newmyer, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story: Statesman of the Old Republic (1985).
* Gaillard Hunt: As We Were: Life in America 1814 (1914(?), Republished In 1993 by Berkshire House Publishers, Originally Titled Life in America
* Jack Larkin: the Reshaping of Everyday Life, 1790-1840 (Harper & Row, 1988 )
* Daniel J. Boorstin, the Americans: the National Experience
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