One Nation, One People, One Culture Essay, Research Paper
One Nation, One People, One Culture
As the eighteenth century drew to a close, the new American Republic teetered between the danger of collapse and the promise of greatness. By expanding westward to occupy most of North America, the United States might develop into imperial wealth and power; if the nation could survive its first vulnerable decades. The great paradox of the new nation was that its short-term prospects appeared dire and its long-term prospects appeared limitless. This paradox derived from the immense size and resources of the continent where riches that could either pull apart or pull together the people striving to possess them.
The continental scale of American history immediately threatened to overwhelm and fracture the young republic sprawled along the Atlantic seaboard from Maine to Georgia. The first president, George Washington, played an important role in promoting national unity, but Washington had a reputation for promoting executive power, which was not incompatible with the people’s welfare. In 1791, the Secretary of War warned the President: “The United States have come into existence as a nation, embarrassed with a frontier of immense extent.” Expansion westward might weaken the coastal states while creating new independent, and hostile settler states in the interior; and those politics might gravitate into the rival empires of the South. Moreover, the nations gamble on a republican frame of government enhanced the prospects of such a centrifugal dissipation.
The people were looking for stability and in April 1789, the first Congress began to construct the Bill of Rights. Giving the people individual liberties, and helped construct a boundary between federal and state authority. People who had not liked the Constitution were happier with the Bill of Rights, which had an immediate effect of solidifying a sense of national unity.
Women had active civic roles and responsibility. The republican women’s most important role was to reform and sustain the morality and manners of men and emphasize the importance of mothers as the teachers of virtuous sons. Gender relation remained unchanged since the Revolution, but literacy and knowledge for women was encouraged for maternal duty.
Even with the nation’s advances, many still worried about westward expansion and the fatigue of the government when it grew so large. With the fears set aside the 1790s witnessed new prosperity and economic growth, with changes in finance and growth in agriculture and transportation.
By the end of the 1790s commercial marketing for farmers had skyrocketed. The demand in Europe for cotton and grain increased overseas. Grain trade had generated many new jobs. Eli Whitney’s cotton gin turned the United States into one of the largest exporters of colon in the world. All the wealth of marketing gave new concepts to improve the transportation systems. Building roadways generated westward movement, and by 1800 four new states joined the union. Because the south was less populated, it began to fall behind the north in forms of transportation. The increase of oversea trade stimulated the findings of a commercial class in major port cities. The people of this class were wealthy who dealt with trade overseas and owned some of the ships that carried the goods. This was the creation of a new federal government, and the rise of commercial banks further stimulated the growing economy.
Alexander Hamilton, head of the Treasury wanted the Revolutionary War state debts to be “taken care of,” by the national government. He did not envision paying of the debt, but wanted to create a large permanent national debt. He believed that creditors, the wealthy class, would lend money to the government. Even though many opposed his plan including Jefferson and Madison, Congress passed Hamilton’s plan. The National Bank of the United States was also Hamilton’s plan, private corporation that would work for the public’s good. Jefferson and Madison opposed this idea, too, claiming it to be unconstitutional. But the bank bill passed, because Hamilton agreed that the “necessary and proper” constitutional clause gave the federal government the power to create that bank. Hamilton proposed an excise tax on whiskey and other distilled spirits to meet the interest payment on the national debt. Western farmers did not like this tax; they began protesting and terrorizing tax collectors. This was called the Whiskey Rebellion, which did not last long, but it was an example of a continuing conflict: the tension between minority rights and majority rights.
Many conflicts arose during Washington’s second term. As the westward movement continued, the fights with the Indians increased. After a while, tribes reluctantly agreed in the Treaty of Greenville to abandon most of their territory in exchange for treaty goods. England and Revolutionary France went to war in 1793. This raised the question whether the United States should support France. The United States during the Revolution promised aid to France if they ever fell under attack. Washington decided to declare neutrality, which many Americans, believing the United States was honor bound to France became angry. Washington then dispatched the dispatched the Jay Treaty, which was to secure agreement about general commercial ties between countries and to negotiate compensation for securing American ships (English). In the end, the treaty barely passed in Congress with the vote in both houses divided along precisely the lines of the Hamilton-Jefferson split on economic policy.
During the Election of 1796, the federalist candidate, John Adams ran against the Republican candidate Thomas Jefferson. The outcome was John Adams president for one term and Jefferson vice-president. Soon after Adams took office the XYZ affair occurred. The French government was angry at the American’s betrayal during their war and further insulted the American diplomats by demanding bribes before talks could take place. This led to a public outcry in the United States, especially with the Federalists, for war. This resulted in a “Quasi War” with France.
The election of 1800 was between Jefferson and Aaron Burr. It took a little while to decide who was president because there was a tie in the Electoral College. In the end Jefferson won. This was the beginning of the “Revolution of 1800″, along with the slave revolt planned by Gabriel. The revolt by Gabriel failed and twenty-seven conspirators were hung for taking to heart the rhetoric of revolutionary rights and contemplating rebellion.
Jefferson had a simple vision, which was to direct the nation back to the principles of the Revolution. He believed the independent farmer was the source of true freedom in America and that widespread landownership would make for a virtuous citizenry. In no time at all Jefferson found himself tangled in constitutional confrontation. He denied the appointment of many of John Adams “midnight judges”. In the landmark case of Marbury vs. Madison, federalist Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Marbury had a right to his appointment, but that ordering Secretary of State Madison to make it would be unconstitutional. At the end of the Seven Years War, the United Stated bought from France the entire Louisiana Purchase (828,000 square miles) for the United States. In 1804, with Jefferson still President, war between France and England looked very probable. Because of this in 1907, Jefferson passed the Embargo Act, prohibiting American ships from engaging in any trade with any foreign port, which caused a depression in the economy of the United States. The 1808 election came in the midst of this embargo-induced depression. James Madison was elected president. He lifted the embargo and resumed trade with France but kept the embargo against the English.
Maritime issues were only part of the reason for the conflict between the United States and Britain. With the constant fighting between the white settlers and the Indians, the Indians began to consolidate alliances with the British. US conflict with the Indians soon merged into a broader confrontation with England known as the War of 1812. On the home front, New Englanders, led by federalist merchants were opposed to the war and carried on with illegal trade with England. The worst part of the war was when British troops landed and marched into Washington, and setting fires to several buildings, including the capital and the White House. The War of 1812 ended with the 1814 Treaty of Ghent. This resulted in the Americans giving in on impressments and relinquishing any claims to Canada. The British abandoned their western forts and plans for an Indian buffer state in the northwest. The war really hurt the Indians who lost their support for England and the Federalist Party, whose opposition to both the war and the Republican administration contributed to its demise.
The elections of James Monroe in 1816 and 1820 continued the Republican presidency. In 1819, Missouri applied for admission to the union. Here cane about the Missouri compromise, which prohibited slavery above the southern latitude of Missouri at the 36th degree. The compromise was a resolution, but debate over it had revealed a strong undercurrent of sectionalism that would reach a crisis point in the 1850’s, leading to the Civil War. After the War of 1812, the United States most pressing foreign policy issue was Spain and her presence in the Americas. This led to the promulgation of the Monroe Doctrine, which declared the Americas closed to further colonization and stipulated that the US would consider any foreign challenge to the sovereignty of existing American nations as an unfriendly act towards the United Stat3es. In return the doctrine pledged noninterference by the US in European affairs.
In the election of 1824, John Quincy Adams won. The Jacksonians were outraged and expressed what they called a “corrupt bargain” throughout Adam’s tenure. Adams was considered to be one of the most qualified men ever to serve as president, but his term at office was largely a failure. President from 1828 to 1836, Andrew Jackson presided over a multitude of changes in the economy, society, and politics of the US, changes which profoundly affected American men and women, both in the workplace and family lives.
Between 1815 and 1840 a growing need for transportation had became clear. Roads, canals, steamboats, and railroads lowered the cost and raised the speed of travel. Transportation had a huge effect as new mail, and people where traveling farther and faster. As markets developed, people reorganized their operations to increase production. The Waltham system, employed young single women who lived and worked for a few years in the mills, saving their wages or contributing them to their families. The number of state-chartered banks increased after 1815, to several hundred. This revolution was called the Market Revolution and led the way for a revolution in commercial law.
The United Stated, in the panic of 1819, endured its first economic problem. The panic caused unemployment, bank failures, falling crop priced and the collapse of land investments. The people of the US recovered quickly, but some were wary of rapid economic changes. Helping improve the economy was the passage of several tariffs on imported goods. But by 1824, when a tariff bill was passed, the South raised concerns over the unfair benefits. The last and most talked about tariff passed in 1824. It was an Agglomeration of dozen of tariffs from every section of the country and from every type of industry demanding protection. Southerners were against the measure, calling it the “tariff of abominations.” This tariff of 1828 would soon cause grave sectional and constitutional crises for the nation.
Between 1820 and 1840, a democratic revolution of sort takes place. Two major features of this democratization were the second-party system of Democrats and Whigs and importance of the candidate’s popularity with the “common man” in the determining the outcome of elections.
Jackson won the presidential election in 1828. His agenda was committed to extending power beyond entrenched elites, Jackson wanted to reduce the functions of the federal government and extend opportunities to the rising classes of the South and West. This was the time when the United States got increasingly wealthier each year while society was becoming unequal and transforming society and culture, from the workplace to the family.
There was a change in the family way of life. For example, the middle class family husband was to bring home the money and the wife was to stay home and do domestic activities. Women became the custodians of morality and benevolence providing religious and moral structures for their children and to counterbalance the acquisitive, materialistic impulses of their husbands. Children began to go to public schools starting in 1790. The education of boys and girls at that time was equal. Higher education was a different story. There were fewer colleges for girls to attend, than for boys.
The “penny press” of 1830 was one of the most important developments of the “communication revolution.” Thousands of new readers were informed in a variety of issues. The “penny press” was kind of like a “tabloid” holding entertainment, local news, and imposed all kind of information. In the 1830s, presentations of plays, poetry, and lectures were all new forms of entertainment. The theater also became very popular in the 1830s.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century the Second Great Awaking took place. The revivalists saw the nations redemption through stronger Christian beliefs. As a result the church membership doubled between, 1800 to 1820, in the United States. Out of all the reforms that came up in this period the temperance movement was one of the first. The movement was to limit or prohibit the consumption of alcohol. Another reform was the “moral reform,” which initially applied to public morals in general but quickly became restricted to a campaign to eradicate sexual sin. “Abolitionism,” the case of abolishing slavery, gained strength in the 1830s. David Walker, a black abolitionist, demanded freedom and called upon the northern whites to get rid of their racial prejudices. In the North and South abolitionist were consider dangerous radicals. With the antislavery campaigns all about came the fight for women’s rights.
Southerners and Northerners were different, and the main difference was in the South. This difference was slavery. During mid-nineteenth century the economic power shifted from the states along the eastern coast to the new states of the Southwest. The reason for the shift was the demand of cotton in the southern economy. Slaves picked seventy-five percent of the cotton, and as the crops grew, so did the slave population. By 1860, the South had the largest slave society in the New World. With such a great number of blacks in the South, whites found themselves to be in the minority. Black slavery, to an extent, helped the whites in telling the differences in class, wealth, education, and culture, as both slave less whites and slave masters opposed black freedom. Unfortunately, for the South, they lacked forms of economic activity, while the North developed a diversified economy, agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing, the South mainly stayed with agriculture.
Black resistance and rebellion became more commonplace. Some would run away, others would resist work by being defiant. Nat Turner’s uprising in 1831 was the most notorious of the antebellum period. Showing the slaves willingness to risk their lives for freedom. Most whites did not like free blacks, whose presence they believed to be the racial hierarchy that was the essence of slavery. Some free blacks prospered in skilled services, and with whites that appreciated them. Being free, blacks were able to own property, choose occupations, legally marry and pass their freedom to their children. Some even owned slaves themselves, wanting to “succeed” in a hostile white world.
Most white southerners were yeoman farmers that owned their own land. There were two kinds of yeoman societies and one plantation belt yeoman, and the other upcountry yeoman. Slavery or large plantations did not dominate yeomen and although they didn’t benefit directly from slavery, most yeomen and non-slaveholders supported or at least tolerated the institution. Other white Southerners who had no benefit from the plantation economy; were poor whites. Even though these poor whites were impoverished, they were ambitious and worked hard to become “respectable” yeoman farmers. The South was different from the North and everyone knew it. It was overwhelmingly rural and agrarian society based on a system of human bondage, a system very crucial to the Southern economy.
The economic growth never stopped. Important changes in agriculture occurred in the Midwest. The land was rich and plentiful, making farming a lucrative and expanding activity there. Manufacturing was on the rise with production of interchangeable parts, which became known as the “American System”. Railroads were providing faster travel, and linking the cities together leading to a huge economic growth.
As the northern society became industrialized, they developed the concept of “free labor”, which meant that northern society was open to all individuals, all white males, who were hard working, self-reliant, and independent. Agreeing that if one maintains these qualities throughout life, material success would result. Many men obtained the free-labor ideal, but most Americans did not. While others got hit with the reality no matter how hard you work, there was not material success and security, but a life of self-doubt and personal dissatisfaction. The free-labor ideal did not stop immigrants from Ireland and Germany from coming over. German-Americans, on the whole, attained the free labor ideal. The Irish were not so fortunate, and were looked down upon and discriminated against by most native-born Americans, because of their devotion to Catholicism which aroused Protestant resentment.
People began to look for perfection, and some described it as transcendentalism. Transcendentalism was the literary and philosophical movement that said individuals should transcend material reality, leaving behind the competitive, materialistic world to attain through intuitive reasoning oneness with the universe as a whole and with the spiritual forces that lay behind it. Some even began utopian experiments, which included the spirit of reform and the belief in the limitless possibilities of antebellum America.
As Americans continued westward into unknown territory, a new ideology was born. The Manifest Destiny, which reflected burgeoning mid-nineteenth century American nationalism. Resting on the ideal that the U.S. was destined by God and history, to expand its boundaries over the vast North America continent and in the process, bring to other cultures and people the great “uplifting” benefits of American democracy and the free-labor ideal.
The United States wanted Mexico’s land. We had just annexed Texas, but President Polk wanted Mexico’s other northern provinces and that made was impossible to avoid. The war had many opponents in the United States, Whig critics chief among them, who charged that from the beginning Polk had contrived the whole affair and that the war amounted to bullying of a weak nation by its greedy imperialist neighbor. Opposition intensified as the war continued and as the public home became aware of the casualties and expense. The U.S. won the war and gain new territory, but it had created a new set of troubling and divisive issues.
As you can tell America was getting richer, in land, manufacturing, and economically. But issues between the rich and poor brought out much diversity. The white Americans dealing with the Indians and their land also had created many controversial issues that America was again split on. The hypocrisy in the Declaration of Independence, being written by actual slave owners, and the way we dealt with the immigrants and their right in relation to the rest of the country were all very important issues that divided American and their views. These are some of the things and reasons that gave American people the reason to have split views on many of the issues from 1790 to 1850. America was also become very powerful and democratic, but because of the America’s diversity of people, religion, and culture, we had conflicting views on how America could be bettered as a whole. .