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Chapter 11: The Expanding Republic, 1815-1840

Lecture to accompany the text The American Promise: A History of the United States, Volume I to 1877

Jason Holloway

on 1 December 2014

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Transcript of Chapter 11: The Expanding Republic, 1815-1840

Professor Holloway
Chapter 11: The Expanding Republic, 1815-1840
How does the opening story of the Grinke Sisters reflect on the history discussed in this chapter?
1. The Market Revolution
Prior to 1815 transit is not good, 30 miles inland is equal in cost to that across the Atlantic and it takes 4 days from Boston to New York.
Between 1815-1840 a number of improvements cut costs and quicken the pace roughly by half.
Along the rivers steamboats arise in great abundance.
A sense of urgency and competition leads to horrific accidents at times.
Roughly 3,000 die in steamboats alone.
These steamboats destroy forests on a large scale and create much air pollution.
Canals are also built all over too.
The Erie Canal is the most famous linking New York with the Great Lakes.
In the 1830s railroads first appear and shortly there are 3,000 miles though most exist in short isolated segments.
All the same their potential linkages is clearly a sign of the future.
Improvements in Transportation
Two big upcoming industries are textiles and shoes.
Textiles will use water power which shoes just requires a reorganization of labor.
The first factory arises in the 1790s producing yarn and by 1815 there are 170 more built largely in New England.
In Britain whole families are pulled into the process but in America it is mostly just young women.
Outside Boston the Lowell Mills are founded in 1821, the first factory town.
They strictly control social conditions and in the factories there is little safety or comfort controls.
Women are still alright with this as it allows them to develop small savings and a safe space outside the family.
Due to decreases in wages in the 1830s the first factory strikes occur but women are ultimately just replaced with immigrant labor.
With shoes men still do the cutting but women are used for the sewing work.
This means women begin contributing to the family income.
With lowering wages, women here had less chance at organized strikes than in the factories and it was mostly just accepted.
Factories, Working Women, and Wage Labor
The need for capital to construct factories leads to an expanded development of the banking system.
Banknotes are issued becoming the unofficial currency of the country.
Specie payment is always possible but harder though special knowledge is required for accepting banknotes.
Bankers are very powerful in determining the economics of the young country.
The Second Bank of the U.S. is founded in 1816 after the first one's charter expires.
Laws are gradually rewritten to be more favorable to business.
The laws of incorporation are created for example protecting individual investors from corporate debt.
States also create eminent domain laws to obtain land for railroads, canals, etc.
All these maneuvers allow a legal foundation for a market friendly society.
Andrew Jackson is deeply suspicious of some of these groups and will in office favor ending government support of them.
Bankers and Lawyers
One thing few could control was the volatility of the U.S. economy.
Panics are the names of the recessions during this period and they occur often.
The Panic of 1819 starts when banks call in loans and creates a money crunch in the country.
The value of U.S. crops decrease by 50% and all in all many are completely wiped out of savings and go bankrupt.
As a result of this panic even as the economy recovers many think twice about easy credit.
The metaphor about "pissing in your pants to keep your ass warm" sums up the situation.
Regardless the growing network of loans and credit continues and amplifies despite ongoing anxiety.
Booms and Busts
Economic growth and progress is accompanied by the same politically.
Andrew Jackson will win office in 1828 and 1832 and a new party system will establish itself in a moment called the Jacksonian Age.
2. The Spread of Democracy
The 1828 election is the first where the popular vote determined the election.
21 of 24 states use the popular vote to determine the electors.
1/2 of all white males participate in the election, a rate nearly double of the previous ones.
In the 1830s turnout of eligible voters approaches 70%.
These are also the first elections with campaigning, speeches, rallies, etc. but the candidates themselves do not participate.
Newspapers now are available on a wide scale and are important for the election leading to various movements sponsoring them.
Their stories travel around nationally and are reprinted often.
Fictional party loyalty begins to fall apart after the Adams and Jackson infighting and coalesces around two groups, the National Republicans (Whigs) and the Democratic Republicans (Democrats).
Popular Politics and Partisan Identity
This was also the first major election with scandal after scandal.
Questions exist over various perceptions of honor, morality and manhood.
Adams is portrayed as elitist, academic, and monarchical.
Jackson is portrayed as a bastard with an adulterous marriage.
Jackson's temper and frequent fighting are also on trial too with each side spinning things in different ways.
His nickname Old Hickory reflects this.
Jackson wins easily in the end with Southern and Western votes.
John C. Calhoun stays as the V.P. oddly enough.
By 1828 both sides start to see the advantage in instituting a party system and begin encouraging its formation.
The Election of 1828 and the Character Issue
Jackson wins a second term later on despite his health issues: his wife just died; he has a bullet inside him; he has mercury poisoning; he weighs 140 pounds despite being 6'1" and he is 62.
His second inauguration is the shortest ever at ten minutes.
He opens the White House up for a reception afterward and it is practically destroyed.
He is viewed as a man of the people.
Jackson breaks with precedence and appoints only loyal party men to the cabinet.
"To the victor belongs the spoils" is Jackson's new system which becomes known as the spoils system.
Jackson in office favors limited Jeffersonian government and is likewise distrustful of the commercial elite.
His biggest goal is to open up western lands for the common man so as to counter the elites.
This means that the Native Americans in the east will have to go.
He also uses the veto more than any other president to date, 12 to 9 all together, in order to block government support of local and not national policies.
Jackson's Democratic Agenda
With two terms in office Jackson widens opportunities for all white men.
His biggest policy is Native American removal.
He also confronts Calhoun and South Carolina in the Nullification Crisis.
He eventually destroys the Second Bank of the U.S.
All in all he enormously enhances the power of the President.
3. Jackson Defines the Democratic Party
The biggest single issue of his mandate is the removal of Native Americans.
Thousands of Native Americans still live all over the eastern U.S. but are widely dispersed now.
Jackson has a storied career fighting them and believes that the only way to save them is to move west of the Mississippi.
Previous administrations have tried to 'civilize' the tribes.
Jackson ultimately thinks that that the Native Americans are not foreigners but essentially wards of the state whose assimilation will mean their extinction.
Congress passes the Indian Removal Act of 1830 and large amounts of land will be confiscated by the forced removal of tribes.
In the north many people are upset and petitions roll into D.C. but are ignored.
Also those groups in the North/Northwest are essentially decimated, the Black Hawk War is an example of the only resistance there truly is.
Indian Policy and the Trail of Tears
Jackson's situation with the Native Americans happens to coincide and support states' rights issues.
In another instance with S.C. though he will harshly deal with their challenge to federal authority.
High federal tariff rates exist of 33% and are deeply opposed by the Southern states as they hurt cotton exports.
In 1828 a revised tariff is passed soon called the Tariff of Abominations as some goods are now taxed 50%.
S.C. is deeply hurt by these tariffs and Calhoun as such leads a group against them favoring a doctrine called Nullification.
They argue that the states can nullify law when the federal government oversteps their power.
After Jackson becomes president he quickly shuts out Calhoun for this support who then resigns to serve as senator.
S.C. then says that on February 1st, 1833 all federal tariffs in the state and null and void.
Jackson acts immediately sending warships to Charleston and threatens to invade.
Congress passes the Force Bill and declares S.C. acts as treasonous and authorizes force to enforce the tariffs.
Also Congress revises the tariffs to be lower now.
In response S.C. removes the nullification of tariffs but nullifies the force bill in turn.
Both side then win in their way and the crisis is averted.
Issues nonetheless remain though over federal and state power, the threat of secession implicit in the Nullification crisis is unsolved when and if the federal government is perceived as overstepping their boundaries.
The Tariff of Abominations and Nullification
Jackson also picks a political fight with the prosperous Bank of the U.S. as it concentrates economic power in the hands of a few.
Whigs Daniel Webster and Henry Clay launch a scheme by persuading the bank to try and renew its charter early in 1832.
The plan works at first but Jackson's veto uses language that resonates with the common people and Jackson is overwhelmingly reelected.
The Bank of the U.S. thus is doomed to end in 1836.
Jackson hopes to hasten this end by withdrawing all federal funds which they retaliate against further helping his image.
The economy is now essentially unregulated and initially booms though inflation is high at 50%.
The states as a result create their own banks and further issue their own banknotes.
Land sales out west heat up quickly as well.
Between 1835 and 1837 the national debt disappears for the only time in history.
Much of the surplus though is in questionable currency and few realize that a economic bubble is forming.
The larger and more intact Southern tribes are a different story though.
The Cherokee actually plan to use the Supreme Court to resist legally.
The Cherokee in general are highly assimilated with their own alphabet and newspapers, they largely converted to Christianity, they intermarried with whites and even had slaves, etc.
Only 17,000 Cherokee exist though and still many follow older traditions.
The Cherokee sue the state of GA but are said to not have standing as wards of the state.
A second case holds that the Cherokee are a separate nation and free of the laws of the state of Georgia.
Two years later a faction of the Cherokee sign a treaty selling their land to the state providing an eventual casus belli of sorts for their removal.
During this time the other tribes in the South capitulate; 15,000 Creek, 12,000 Choctaw, 5,000 Chickasaw and several thousand Seminole are all removed to Indian Territory.
Later in 1838, Van Buren forces the Cherokee out with federal troops.
The 1,200 mile journey is called the Trail of Tears as it is exceptionally harsh and 1/4 of the people die.
Ultimately the removal of Native Americans was very controversial even for the time and the costs were exceptionally high.
The Bank War and Economic Boom
The growing economy begins to alter lifestyles everywhere.
In the Northeast standards of living rise, consumption increases, and work begins to change considerable.
The Second Great Awakening is an important social affair during this period.
Three main evils are said to exist during this period: alcohol consumption, non-marital sex and slavery.
4. Cultural Shifts, Religion, and Reform
Ultimately Jackson is too sick to run for a 3rd term so Martin Van Buren is elected.
Debates regarding abolition become ever more pressing in the country.
In 1837 and 1839 panics would happen leading to prolonged depressions ending Van Buren's shot at reelection.
5. Van Buren's One-Term Presidency
What sorts of social/cultural/economic changes are ongoing during this period?
How did Jackson represent this age and how did his mandate represent great political changes?
What were the three big moral issues of this chapter?
What parties formed in response to important political divisions of this epoch?
Conclusion: The Age of Jackson or the Era of Reform?
An idea exists and continues to develop of separate spheres and duties for the two sexes.
The man is at work and the woman at home.
These ideas increase as work changes in response to market relations, commercialization, etc.
Wives' duties are complicated by difficult tasks without direct financial value.
Women also earn income on some tasks too to supplement the male's.
These ideas gain ascendancy because of the Northeast's literary production.
These ideas fit with expectations of the times as men engage with the market.
The Family and Separate Sphere
By 1830 state schooling is commonplace for 12-14 year old so they can perform in the market.
Another reason for female teachers is they are cheaper to hire and taxpayers have to pay for the new public schools.
More colleges open throughout the states like Oberlin.
Most don't go on to college, most people at 14 go for apprenticeships of one kind or the other.
Many women go to the mill towns afterward in the northeast.
Lots of people are concerned with these young people away from their families so an industry in advice books proliferates.
The Education and Training of Youths
The Second Great Awakening starts after 1800 and is at its height in the 1820s and 30s.
Large outdoor revivals occur all over based on emotionalism.
Between 1800 and 1820 Church membership doubles mostly in evangelical groups like the Baptists and the Methodists.
Market forces create social conditions that are at times less desirable and lead to these revivals.
The movement leads towards a stoppage of affairs on Sundays.
Woman often lead these movements or at the very least are incredible influential in these movements to reform society.
The Second Great Awakening
Evangelical drives push towards eliminating alcohol and sexual sin.
Up to 1830 drinking in society increases the average American drinks the equivalent of 39 gallons of liquor.
Presently the U.S. drinks 2.5 gallons a year, 37% don't drink at all, compared with 3.4 in Germany,4.2 in Russia, and 0.06 in Saudi Arabia.
The drinking culture in society is common everywhere, colleges serve beer with lunch, even the military has a rum ration.
In 1826 the American Temperance Society is formed liking drinking with social ills.
Drinking declines radically amongst the middle classes in response.
Some employers even require temperance pledges.
The American Temperance Union now begins to become political and have states to act against alcohol.
By 1845 alcohol consumption is 1/4 of the level in 1830.
In 1851 Maine bans alcohol the first state to do so.
Women's groups start campaigning as well against sexual sins.
They target prostitution, brothels, their johns, casanovas, etc.
The Temperance Movement and the Campaign for Moral Reform
Organizing Against Slavery
Most whites everywhere could not embrace the message of the radicals.
Lots of mob action actually occurs against these abolitionists and free blacks in the north.
Women are particularly active in these movements too.
Their role is also deeply controversial as well.
In 1830 abolition is the most controversial cause celebre in the country.
Some sides see the struggle for black civil rights as parallel with women's rights but most do not.
Most of these reformers gravitate to the government intervention camp which is essentially the Whigs.
The most radical social/religious movement is against slavery.
This comes largely from Britain in the late 1700s.
The American Colonization Society forms in 1817 aims to send slaves to Liberia but is not real successful.
Free blacks in the north organize against slavery and racism in general. Many advocate immigration to Canada as an escape.
Maria Stewart is one of these organizers but her struggles for both blacks and women is too much for many.
Eventually the famous newspaper the Liberator is founded by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.
Garrison urges for an immediate abolition and forms the New England Anti-Slavery Society.
Other groups form in New York and Philadelphia alongside smaller branches throughout the North.
By 1837 these organization have 1/4 million members almost entirely in the north.
Van Buren is deeply skilled in party politics.
Jackson supports him for the presidency but in 1832 conventions start to actually choose the candidates.
Van Buren wins the nomination over Calhoun though the issues of race and slavery is a huge divider.
Calhoun causes problems because he and others are increasingly concerned with abolitionist sentiments coming from the north.
In 1835 abolitionists attempt to circulate one million pamphlets in the South which are subsequently burned by the postmaster in Charleston.
Jackson approves of these actions but many see this as censorship of the mail.
Near constant petitions are sent to Congress regarding an end of slavery in Washington D.C. which leads to a 1836 Gag Rule on them.
The Politics of Slavery
Prior elections are based more on personality, the 1836 election is the first time that it is based more on party.
Democrats run candidates everywhere on a national, state, and local level.
Whigs do the same but in 1836 have no one single candidate for president.
Van Buren wins but at the cost of associating himself and the party with slavery.
Shortly after the elections the panic of 1837 occurs after a bad european harvest.
The results of this crash and efforts to place blame lead to the first American socialist groups forming in the 1840s.
In 1839 a second panic occurs and Van Buren is forced to advocate for an independent treasury system to replace the Bank of the U.S.
He has lots of opposition to this and with the panics loses all hope of reelection.
In the following election, there is 78% voter turnout, the highest ever.
During the campaign William Henry Harrison plays
Elections and Panics
Full transcript