As of December 31, 2014, I retired from full-time teaching in Humboldt State University's Department of History. While this website will remain online, it is no longer maintained.
History 110 -Dr. Gayle Olson-Raymer
Political, Economic and Social Consequences of Manifest Destiny
Our last two meetings focused on the geographical growth of the United States during the era of Manifest Destiny. Today, we will turn to the other part of our ongoing story - the political, economic, and social realities of Manifest Destiny.
We have seen how Americans rapidly moved across the North American continent and using their belief in Manifest Destiny, rounded out our borders in just 53 years. Now, let's look at another type of growth that arose during these same decades - the economic and political growth of the railroads.
When examining these maps, you can clearly see that the northern or federalist economic vision of America is marching westward.
And why is the vision of the industrial agenda of the federalists - of those living primarily in the North and who favor strong federal governmental involvement in the promotion of industry - is prevailing?
- The geography of the north favors industry over agriculture.
- Many northerners believed that strong industrial growth in textiles benefited the entire nation - southern cotton growers, northern industrialists, and western expansion advocates.
- But many powerful southerners believed that they were unfairly fueling the economy of the North.
These economic and political realities - the two separate visions for the expanding United States - will shape the era of Manifest Destiny and ultimately, will push us further on the pathway to war.
Discussion Goals - Political, Economic and Social Consequences
of Manifest Destiny, 1800 to 1860
- To explore the factors that facilitated the transition
between a local market economy and a national market economy.
- To discuss the consequences of economic change upon
- To discuss changes in the national political climate
and the ways such political changes were directly related to national economic
- To explore the presidency of Andrew Jackson and understand how it changed American politics.
- To understand the controversies over tariffs that arose during Jackson's presidency and how this moved us closer to war
- To examine the early reform movements designed to deal with the political, economic, and social consequences of Manifest Destiny.
Discussion Goal #1: To explore the factors that facilitated the transition
between a local market economy and a national market economy
Both the colonies and the fledgling United States were
tied into a free market economy - Americans depended upon the laws of supply and demand to voluntarily produce what people want and to sell their products to whom they want, with little to no interference from the government.
- Prior to the 1820s, the market economy was primarily dependent on international trade whereby goods were
generally produced within the United States, but most goods were sold to international markets..
- What this means is that while many parts of the U.S. produced goods locally, they traded these goods largely with Europe.
- Why - because we had not created the industrial or transportation infrastructure to allow us to trade among the new states.
- Beginning in the 1820s, the market economy began to depend on domestic trade whereby we not only produced our goods within the United States, but we also sold our good to domestic markets. In so doing, we created a national market economy.
The transition to a national
market economy was facilitated by three factors:
- The work force changed from manufacturing by hand
to industrial manufacturing.
- The invention of the cotton gin allowed cotton
production to dominate the economy and made its exportation a vital force
for the entire American economy.
- A national transportation and communication network
was created to link people and goods between regions.
FIRST FACTOR: Changing from Manufacturing by Hand to Industrial Manufacturing - a change fueled by new industrial technologies.
- Before 1800, the market economy in New England, the middle state, and the South shared the following characteristics:
- Manufactured goods were produced inside the homes and small shops by artisans
who made a small number of finished goods for local customers.
- Familes controlled and owned the means of production and products; workers/craftsmen were both employer and employee.
- Work was task oriented and the environment was unstructured
- geared to seasons and community values.
- Artisans took on apprentices who became part of the family.
Incentives for upward mobility existed for apprentices who worked hard
and developed skills; they could become owners of their own shops.
- In the South, cotton production was slow. Seeds were removed by hand;
a slave could clean one pound a day. Cotton crops were less profitable
than tobacco, rice, and indigo.
- Transportation of goods could only occur via water routes.
Only 100 miles of canals and 69 steamboats existed by 1820. No railroads.
- From 1815 to 1840, a national market economy arose. After 1815, both the old-style manufacturing system and the behavior and patterns of the work force began to change. The change from manufacturing by hand to industrial manufacturing was gradual and evolutionary - happening in stages throughout the 19th Century.
- Manufactured goods were now produced outside the home in small factories
by hired workers on a piecework basis that allowed for mass production
- The means of production and product were owned and controlled by business
owners. Owners were the employers; workers became the employees.
- Transportation of goods was facilitated by the growth of canals, steamboats, and roads.
- The first phase of American industrialization began as small factories appeared in the north where unskilled and semiskilled laborers tended new machinery based on new technology.
- Textile mills were the first factories to use new technology on a large scale.
- Between 1820-1840, textile manufacturing became the nation's leading industry. One of the largest in the nation was the Boott Cotton Mill built in 1823 in Lowell, Massachusetts shown in this drawing. Note its geographical location, right next to the Merrimack River upon which it depended for power.
- In 1821, a group of Boston capitalists purchased land and water rights along the river and a nearby canal, and began to build a major textile manufacturing center. The first factory employed young women recruited from the nearby countryside.
- Additional mills were constructed until, by 1840, ten textile corporations with thirty-two mills valued at more then ten million dollars lined the banks of the river and nearby canals.
- Adjacent to the mills were rows of company boarding houses and tenements which accommodated most of the 8,000 factory operatives.
- By the 1840s, the rise of textile factories and the use of less expensive labor enabled Americans to achieve competitive superiority over Britain. This edge increased with the widespread use of interchangeable parts.
- In these factories:
- Work was based on fixed rates of production; the working environment
was structured and based upon fixed schedules.
- Employers hired employees with whom they had only an economic
relationship. Employees had a chance of some upward mobility - largely from unskilled to semi-skilled or skilled workers and occasionally into management - but there was very little chance of becoming an owner/employer.
SECOND FACTOR: The invention of the cotton gin allowed cotton
production to dominate the economy and made its exportation a vital force
for the entire American economy
Cotton production vastly improved with invention of cotton
gin in 1793. Now, one slave could clean 50 pounds per day. Both
Southern and Northern economies improved - factories turn raw cotton into
cloth; merchants profit from shipping; plantation owners profited from growing
As the maps below indicates, by 1821 cotton production accounted for a large portion of the Southern economy.
And by 1859 when most farmers owned and used the cotton gin, cotton accounted for 75% of the world's supply and two-thirds of all American exports. In some states, its production had increased from 500-1000% (Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi)
Cotton production was not just good for the south.
- Southern planters sold the cotton to northern textile firms and used the income to purchase foodstuffs from the West and goods and services from the North.
- In turn, northern factories made money by turning raw cotton into cloth and northern merchants profited from shipping the cotton and reshipping the finished textiles.
THIRD FACTOR : A national transportation and communication network
was created to link people and goods between regions
During the first decade of the 19th Century, western settlers relied on roads and rivers for transportation.
- Roads. Most roads were turnpikes or toll roads. In 1811, construction began on the National Road from Maryland across the Appalachians to Wheeling, Virginia. By 1838, it stretched to Vandalia, Illinois.
- Rivers. Steamboats and canals led the way to creating a national market during this period.
- Steamboats. Steamboats were invented in the early 1800s, but it took Robert Fulton to demonstrate the commercial possibilities of propelling a boat by steam. In 1807, he took the Clermont from New York City to Albany on the Hudson River.
By the end of that year, only 17 steamboats were operating on western rivers; in 1820 there were 69 and by 1855, there were 727.
- The carrying capacity on western rivers increased 100-fold between 1820-1860 and the steamboat became the major form of western transportation during this time period.
- They were, however, quite dangerous: between 1825 and 1830, 42 exploding boilers killed 273 people.
- Canals. In 1816, the U.S. had 100 miles of canals, none longer than 28 miles. Farmers in New York pressed to build a canal to get their products to market in NYC. Thus, between1818-1825, the Erie Canal was completed and stretched 364 miles from Albany on the Hudson River to Buffalo on Lake Erie. The canal linked the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
- By 1840, over 3,300 miles of canals were completed, mostly with the help of state and some federal money.
- Transportation costs were greatly reduced: in 1820, cost of shipping a ton of goods from Buffalo to NY City was 19 cents a mile - the canal dropped the price to less than 3 cents a mile.
- New towns grew up along the canal routes and were populated by people involved in moving goods and serving markets.
By the 1850s the popularity of canals and steamboats was dwindling in favor of the increasingly dominant new transportation mode - the railroad.
- The first significant railroads appeared in the 1830s, mainly to serve as feeder lines to canals. In that year, 13 miles of track existed; by 1840, 3,325 miles of train track had been constructed; and by 1850, 8,879 were in operation.
- Along with the railroads came a new way to communicate - the telegraph. Railroad entrepreneurs wanted a way to quickly forward messages from one station to another to report arrivals, accidents, delays. Samuel B. Morse invented the telegraph which sent signals over wires strung from city to city.
- In 1843, the federal government gave Morse money to build the first line from Washington, D.C. to Baltimore. It was completed in 1844. Thereafter, a telegraph line ran alongside all railroad tracks.
In short, the transition to a national market economy was facilitated by improved manufacturing, advanced technology, and a new transportation system.
Discussion Goal #2: To discuss the consequences of economic change upon
- American farming experienced many changes.
- Farmers increased their yields and
sold their surplus at far-away markets. With the
profits, they cultivated more acres and bought more modern machinery -
like the first mechanical reaper invented by Cyrus McCormick in 1834 which
harvested grain seven times faster than by hand and with half the labor,
and the steel-tipped plow invented by John Deere in 1837 which cut planting
time in half.
- Farmers began to work longer hours
due to more markets, more yields, and more acreage.
- Farmers in certain regions of the
country began crop specialization: Eastern farmers could not compete with wheat
yields of western farms, so became involved in dairying and producing fruit; Western farmers grew foodstuffs, especially
grain; Southern farmers grew staple crops for export; and the Northeast became the manufacturing center
that looked to the growing western and southern domestic markets for raw
- Farmers began to rely entirely upon
cash and credit for purchases, rather than traditional bartering.
- Farmers began to deal with regional
merchants - middlemen - rather than marketing the crops themselves as they
had traditionally done.
2. Society made its first large shift
from rural to urban and at the same time, the U.S. population boomed. From 1820 to 1860, the U.S. witnessed the most rapid rate of urbanization in American history.
- While the United States remained primarily a rural nation, a significant rise in urbanization occurred between 1820 and 1860 - much of it due directly to the growth of the national market economy.
- In 1820, there were only 9 cities with populations over 10,000; only three of these had populations exceeding 50,000 - Baltimore, Philadelphia, and NY (largest).
- In 1820, the national census classified about 9% of the population as urban (living in towns with populations exceeding 2500); by 1860, 20% was urban.
- By 1860, two cities had over a half million people - NY and Philadelphia; six cities had populations between 250,000 and 500,000 - Boston, Baltimore, New Orleans, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Chicago. And six others had somewhere between 100,000 and 250,000 people - Louisville, Buffalo, Albany, Providence, Newark, and Washington.
- The rate of urbanization differed in the three geographical regions of the U.S.
- The Northeast was the most urbanized (by 1860, more than a third of population was urban). Most cities were commercial seaport centers: Boston, NY, Philadelphia.
- The South was the least urbanized (about 10% of its population was urban)
- The West was somewhere in between - although by 1850, 40% of the nation's urban population lived in interior cities.
- Why do you think Americans were building and flocking to cities at a rate higher than ever before?
3. More goods and services became available, were more reasonably priced, and were especially affordable to the growing middle class.
- Books and magazines were cheaper to print and buy.
- Clothing prices dropped with decreasing costs for manufacturing cloth. Fabric fell from 18 cents a yard in 1815 to 2 cents a yard by 1860.
- Availability and affordability of items like the Franklin stove, lamps, bathing stands and bowls provided greater comfort.
4. Labor became more specialized.
- Transportation made it possible for farmers to concentrate on producing more profitable crops while factories could focus on making a single item.
- The manufacturing process within the factories became more specialized through the division of labor.
- The division of labor contributed to the rise of a permanent working class of the unskilled which began shortly after substantial numbers the poor Irish began to arrive in the factories during the 1840s. With each succeeding decade, more white Americans lost their economic independence as they became wage earning employees with little employment security and control over their working condition - a condition referred to as wage slavery.
- Labor also became more diverse, with the work force increasingly fueled by immigrants. In the 1820s, about 128,000 immigrants came to America; by 1850s, 2.5 million had arrived.
5. Traditional laboring values and control
- Pride in craftsmanship gave way to increasing rates of productivity.
- Factory work required a sober, dependable, self-disciplined worker who must follow strict schedules.
- Factory work separated the laborers from managers and also prevented most laborers from ever rising to management positions.
6. Women's role in society was redefined at
the same time that the family structure was reorganized.
- As families adapted to the pressures of a competitive market society, the women’s role in society was gradually transformed. Rather than the household being an integral part of the family workplace, the home was increasingly a place where women and children dominated. Thus, the ideal of domesticity was born. Based upon the notion of separate sexual spheres, the ideal held that each sex had a part of life in which each reigned supreme.
- Men’s sphere was the outside world where they were the breadwinners. They were expected to be aggressive. Their occasional moral lapses of fidelity were to be tolerated by their families and society.
- Women’s sphere was the home where they were the caregivers who found fulfillment in dispensing love and comfort to their husband and children. Women were to be reliant upon male protection, morally strong, and sexually loyal. They were to be passive and were expected to submerge their identities to those of their husband.
- Early 19th Century women did not see domesticity as a rationale for male dominance. Rather they argued that making the home a female domain gave women real power as moral custodians of the nation’s future.
- In reality, the ideal of domesticity was only practiced in middle-and upper-class homes. Farmers wives had to work hard and constantly, and lower-class wives had to supplement the family’s income.
- The modern family began to evolve from the 1820s forward. Changes included:
- Rise of privacy - the family was seen as a sheltered retreat from the outside world.
- Marriage was delayed until a man was sufficiently established to support a wife and family - thus resulting in smaller families.
- Use of birth control and abortion - resulting in lower birth rate. Many urban middle-class women began to use birth control to space children farther apart and minimize risks of pregnancy. Recent estimates suggest that before 1860, one abortion was performed for every five or six live births. (Davidson, et. al., 423.)
- New values stressed that a smaller family indicated self-restraint and the knowledge that one’s family must live within its means. Thus, family size was directly related to the success ethic.
5. Wealth became a sign of American status and a symbol of respect and recognition. As most Americans hoped to attain great wealth, a tolerance arose for accumulating wealth in any way possible. Few Americans were concerned about the method of becoming wealthy.
6. Environmental degradation occurred.
- Deforestation and soil erosion was widespread due to need for wood as fuel, clearing lands for agriculture, and housing construction.
- The flow of rivers changed to meet agricultural, sawmill, dam, and canal needs.
- Air pollution became a reality as a result of using coal as a major power source.
7. American society was both democratized and improved,
as well as stratified and hindered.
- Society became more urbanized and multicultural
due to immigration of foreigners and northern migration of blacks.
the same time, urban society became more socially and economically
stratified, as well as increasingly intolerant of Catholics, immigrants,
and freed blacks.
- Quality of life improves for middle and
upper classes who have more variety in their diet and cluster in wealthy
neighborhoods with fashionable furniture, cast-iron stoves.
- At the same
time, the quality of life decreases for lower classes who cluster in
crowded, dirty conditions in tenements.
- Many, like the young girls in the Boott Cotton Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, began to strike for better working conditions.
- A small but growing number of slaves receive
freedom. By 1860, almost 1/2 million free blacks live in the US, about
11% of the total black population.
- At the same time, free blacks
remain at the bottom of the social and economic scale. In 1850, average
white Bostonian earned $872 annually; freed blacks earned $91.
- Middle and upper class women stay at home
in their own "sphere" where they educate their families.
- At the same
time, lower class and farm families must depend on two incomes, forcing
women and children into jobs.
- Economic and social gap between upper and
middle classes decreases.
- At the same time, gaps between the upper
and lower classes increase and wealth is increasingly concentrated at the
top of the social scale. By 1800, 10% of nation's families owned between 1/3
and 1/2 of the nation's wealth; by 1860, 10% of the nation's families own
more than 2/3 of the nation's wealth.
- By 1840, half of all freemen over 30 have
acquired moderate wealth - a house, furniture, a little land, and some
savings. Upward mobility exists for middle class skilled workers.
the same time, half the nation's free workers labor for wages rather
than profit. Most wage earners/wage slaves are unable to move from unskilled to skilled
work. Low wages and unstable jobs gave them little hope for a better life.
- Recreation became more widely available
to middle and upper classes with the introduction of "penny" newspapers,
urban theaters, and museums.
- At the same time,
recreation is still not affordable for laboring classes who have niether
the time or money for leisure or enjoyment.
- Increased number of beautiful upper class
homes and neighborhoods.
- At the same time, increased problems
appear of disorder, violence, and riots associated with stratified neighborhoods.
This leads to the creation of police departments to keep the poor controlled
and confined their their areas of the city.
Discussion Goal #3: To discuss changes in the national political climate
and the ways such political changes were directly related to national economic
Before the Revolutionary War, Americans were interested in local matters and had little interest in national or state matters - economic or political. After the War, interest in national and state politics was minimal and involved only a minority of privileged, male Americans.
However, from 1800 forward, many people began to realize that federal, state, and local governments could support economic projects in which they would benefit. As a result of this new interest, more people became involved in the political process.
- More people gained a sense of national identity, without giving up their regional and state identities. They could be New Englanders and Bostonians, as well as Americans.
- More people were eligible to vote. No state admitted to the Union after 1815 set property requirements for voting.
- The new western states extended the right to vote to all white males over 21 years of age.
- By 1820, all new states and most of the older states had followed suit.
- By 1840, more than 90% of adult white males in the nation could vote.
- Despite their ability to vote, however, many Americans did not exercise that privilege. A study of early 19th Century voting patterns found that in presidential elections held in 1808, 1812, 1824, and 1828, turnouts of eligible, white men in the nine states with complete results were as low as 12.4% in Rhode Island's election of 1824 and as high as 75.8% in Ohio's election of 1828.
- In 1828, the average voter participation for all the states was 56.3%.
- Turnout began to increase in 1840 when there was 80.2%; 1860 there was 81.2%; 1876 = 81.8%.
Each of these were times when the public faced huge sectional disagreements and turned to the vote for help. Throughout most of these years, voters participated more extensively in state elections than those involving the presidency.
- And how do these rates compare with today? According to recent data from George Mason University, in the 2012 election, 58.7% of eligible Americans voted in the election.
By the middle of the century, more people began to vote in national elections than ever before, especially as political parties emerged with which people could identify. Increased voting and more interest in political parties combined with a new recognition among Americans that the federal government could be the instrument
of stimulating or depressing local economies. Consequently, federal stimulation of the economy largely occurred via two avenues:
- Series of Supreme Court decisions
that created an economic climate favorable to investment and which, in
turn, protected the new forms of businesses that comprised a national market
economy. In five major decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court under
the leadership of Chief Justice John Marshall between 1801-1835, economic
risk-taking was clearly protected and encouraged. The decisions collectively
protected property and contracts by limiting state interference and creating
a climate of business confidence.
- National political leadership fell
to men who wanted to use the federal
government to promote rapid economic development. Led by Henry Clay, John
C. Calhoun, and John Quincy Adams, they adopted economic policies designed
to foster prosperity in all regions and to strengthen the political union
between all states.
States, in turn, enacted measures to stimulate
commerce and economic development. Such policies created the commonwealth
system, which elevated the public good (common-wealth) above that of private
individuals, and which involved two actions:
- Granting corporate charters to private
businesses to promote private investment in roads, bridges, canals, railroads,
banks, iron-mining, textile manufacturing,etc.
- Using private corporations for public
purposes by promoting economic development thought to be for the good of
Thus, the economy grew - at the same time
that the economic and political power of capitalist entrepreneurs also
grew and more white men were able to vote. And with this new economic growth, came political growth and further differences between the federalists and anti-federalists. We can especially see this in two very interesting presidential elections in 1824 and 1828.
- The Election of 1824. While four men actually ran for office, the race came down to two very different candidates:
- John Quincy Adams - the federalist - believed that a strong federal government should stimulate economic growth by investing in internal improvements and supporting protective tariffs.
- Andrew Jackson, a military hero, believed in strong state governments and a federal government that did not meddle in economic growth.
Jackson believed that the federal government should support state and local investment in internal improvements and free trade - and such state and local investments must not be subject to federal interference (laissez faire) .
- These issues - which made party politics increasingly partisan and fractured - were exacerbated by the results of the Election of 1824:
- Andrew Jackson won both the popular and electoral vote, but not the majority electoral vote required by the constitution.
- Under the 12th Amendment, in such a situation, the election then goes to the House of Representatives who selects the President from among the top three. Adams was elected in what has become known as the "Corrupt Bargain."
- This election marked the seventh consecutive presidential victory for the federalist, Democratic-Republican Party, which, to this day, is still the longest presidential winning streak in American history.
- Jackson was furious with the decision. Thus, he immediately began campaigning for the 1828 presidential election - an election that was characterized by a highly politicized approach.
- In the Election of 1828, Jackson was finally victorious.
Discussion Goal #5: To explore the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1828-1836) and understand how it changed American politics
With Jackson's eight-year term, the nation's
political climate and the presidency gradually changed in at least 5 ways:
- The powers of the presidency greatly expanded under the first activist president. The powers of the president were increased while those of congress decreased.
- More Americans were involved in Jackson's
election than ever before. More "common men" voted
then in any other national election. More people voted because the
franchise had been gradually extended; and more people choose to vote -
56% of the eligible electorate cast a vote.
- Jackson's presidency ushered in a series of "firsts." Jackson became the first president
- To elevate negative campaigning into the national limelight. According to historian Daniel Walker Howe, this election was "probably the dirtiest in American history."
- To determine that the office of the president was the direct gift of the people and that no institution - not Congress or the courts - should stand between the people and the presidency.
- To convert the veto into an effective executive weapon by vetoing 12 bills. There were only 9 others for all previous six presidents combined.
- To argue that previous treaties with Indian nations were irrelevant and that they had to be removed for the security of the nation and to guarantee westward expansion.
- To create his own newspaper, the Globe, over which he had absolute power in what was printed about his administration and what was not.
- To demand that all diplomatic correspondence should be made directly to the President and not to the House and Senate.
- To be censured by the Senate. On March 28, 1834, in response to Jackson’s ability to get Congress to deny the re-chartering of the U.S. Bank, and in a 26 to 20 vote, the Senate voted "That the President ... has assumed upon himself authority and power not conferred by the Constitution and laws, but in derogation of both." The censure was expunged shortly before he left office.
- This election marked the beginning of patronage in national politics. For the first time in our history, advisors were not selected because they were qualified for the job, but rather because they supported Jackson for President and because they would unquestioningly follow his orders.
- Jackson used the patronage system once he was installed in the White House. He made it clear that he would purge all federal personnel who had not endorsed him for president.
- Jackson appointed a Kitchen Cabinet of informal advisors who were not part of his official cabinet and who owed their power base absolutely to the president. Thus he began an institution that today would be the equivalent to the presidential White House staff - the so-called "West Wing."
- This is not to say that some sort of patronage had not existed before. It just was not as institutionalized. Former presidents had appointed supporters to their cabinets, but none had either a kitchen cabinet or had removed so many federal officials. During his first year, he removed 10 percent of all government employees.
- The first time that all regions of the country united to creat national political
party. With Jackson's election, the Democrats brought
together people from all three regions of the nation - north, south, and
west. People joined because of the issues and their belief in democratic
leadership as espoused by Jackson - that the "people" should run the country, not
the wealthy "aristocrats."
Jackson's two terms as president ended in 1836 with the election of Democrat, Martin Van Buren.
- Van Buren, a Democrat, was only in office a few months before an oversupply of cotton brought the price of cotton down on the international markets; in response, nervous investors rushed to banks to redeem their paper money for hard cash. After a brief recovery, a full-on depression hit in early 1839 which lasted until 1843.
- The public identified the depression with the Democrats and Van Buren who opposed a new national bank, refused to allow the new Treasury department to accept paper money for payment, and forbade the issue of federal money to state banks for loans that might stimulate the economy.
Thus, the Election of 1840 brought in a Whig (the newest Federalist party) - William Henry Harrison - who was president only for a month. Harrison died and vice-president Tyler, a Democrat who was a lawyer and a strict constructionist of the Constitution, gained control. Thus, the Democrats entered the 1840s in control of the White House.
Discussion Goal #5: To understand the controversies over tariffs that arose during Jackson's presidency and how this moved us closer to war
Protective Tariffs and Internal Improvements
- What is a tariff? A tax on imports and exports of raw materials and manufactured goods. In the 1800s, a tariff was one of the major sources of federal revenue.
- What is a protective tariff? A tax that protects one sector of the economy or one geographical region over another sector or geographical region.
- What is an internal improvement? An investment of governmental money into improvements that would benefit the growth of the economy - especially transportation and communication that would link regional economies and markets.
- What was the political conflict?
- The Federalists/National Republicans believed in protective tariffs levied by the federal government that would promote both American manufacturing and agricultural enterprises.
- They supported the federalist vision of the industrial march throughout the west – a vision that was aided by favorable geography and waterways that could fuel industrial growth.
- They argued that by making foreign commodities more expensive and less available to American markets, American industry would grow and create new internal markets for manufactured and agricultural goods that would benefit the nation as a whole.
- They believed the federal government should make substantial investments for internal improvements that would benefit the entire nation.
- The Democratic Republicans/Democrats believed in free trade that allowed southern planters to buy and sell from competitors around the world.
- They supported the anti-federalist vision of an agricultural march throughout the west – a vision that shunned industry because their geography was more favorable to agriculture, but also because they believed mono-crop agriculture and slave labor was more profitable.
- They argued that protective tariffs protected just one economic enterprise – industrial manufacturing – and one region of the nation – the North – at the expense of Southern agriculture.
- They believed that state and local governments should make substantial investments in internal improvements and that a strong federal hand in such improvements would give the federal government so much power that it could eventually prohibit slavery.
The Tariff Crisis: By the 1820s, South Carolinians had become the most vocal state in its opposition to federalism. They especially feared that a strong federal government would look to the abolition of slavery.
Britain had just abolished slavery in the West Indies and Haiti - the former French slave colony - had become an independent black republic.
To try to limit the powers of the federal government, they chose to target the tariff.
They were especially angry about three protective tariffs passed during the Adams and Jackson presidencies.
- Tariff of 1824 (John Quincy Adams - Democratic Republicans) - A protective tariff of 35% was levied on imported manufactures
- especially iron goods, woolen and cotton cloth. Adams sought to
protect eastern manufacturers.
- Tariff of 1828 (Jackson - Democrats) - A protective tariff was levied on raw materials, agricultural
imports, and some manufactures - including a 50% duty on cotton cloth.
Jackson wanted to protect small farmers, especially in the west.
- Problem: Southern planters
were hurt by the tariff. South was the world's largest and cheapest
producer of raw cotton; however, with the tax, southerners had to buy either
the high-cost American cloth which enriched northern businesses and workers,
or highly-taxed British goods which helped pay the costs of a growing federal
government. It is estimated that the tariff - which the southerners
called the "Tariff of Abominations" - cost southern planters about $100
- Tariff of 1832 (Jackson - Democrats). Further duties were placed on cotton and iron.
South Carolinians, like many other Southerners, felt the tariffs were not truly national measures, but rather was a sectional tax that helped only some regions of the country while harming others.
So, in November 1832, South Carolina’s Nullification Congress declared the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 "null, void, and no law, nor binding upon this state, its officers or citizens after Feb. 1, 1833."
Any state or federal officer who attempted to collect tariff duties would be legally penalized and would be denied appeal to a federal court.
They threatened to seceed if the federal government tried to collect taxes.
The state law was based upon the theory of nullification created by Vice-President John C. Calhoun
Jackson responded with his Proclamation of Nullification which had been largely borrowed from Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts
Nullification - As Conceived by Vice President, John C. Calhoun. The Union was a compact between sovereign
states. Thus, the people of each state had the right - through special
conventions - to nullify any federal law that exceeded the powers which
the Constitution had given to Congress. If a popular convention declared
a law unconstitutional, it would become null and void in that state. Congress
could either: yield to the state and repeal the law, or propose a constitutional amendment expressly
giving the federal government the power in question.
If the amendment was ratified and added to
the Constitution, the nullifying state could then either accept the decision, or exercise its right as a sovereign state by
seceding from the Union.
In short, nullification protected the rights
of the minority - the South.
of Nullification - As conceived by Senator Daniel
Webster and formally presented as a response to South Carolina by President
The Union was not a compact of sovereign
states; the people, not the states, had created the Constitution. Thus,
the government was made by and for the people and was answerable to the
people. The Federal government had sovereign powers in areas where it
had been delegated responsibility. The Supreme Court, not the states,
had the final authority to determine the meaning of the Constitution.
Jackson believed that the Union was perpetual
and that under the Constitution, no state had the right of secession. While he was a strong supporter of the rights of states over their own
affairs, Jackson would not tolerate a state veto on matters of national
policy such as a tariff. Nulli-fication, then, was treasonous? He warned
South Carolina that the tariff laws would be rigidly enforced, and that
the army and navy would be used to quell any insurrection. A compromise
was signed by Jackson on March 1, 1833 which called for gradual lowering
of duties over next decade.
Discussion Goal #6: To examine the early reform movements designed to deal with the political, economic, and social consequences of Manifest Destiny
During the 1820s and 1830s, unprecedented numbers of men and women joined organizations that sought to improve or reform society. Reform efforts were especially strong in several areas: religion, alcohol consumption, education, criminal justice, social justice, labor, and slavery.
- Religious Reform. Like many other aspects of American life, religion was democratized during this period. Americans began to expect that ministers would preach doctrines that appealed to ordinary men and women - not just the elite and the intellectual. More and more, Americans discarded Calvinism and began to believe that anyone could get to heaven if they behaved appropriately while on earth.
- Revivalism became especially popular in the West and East.
- In the West, men and women were moved to a frenzy at many revivalist meetings where preachers emphasized that religion was a matter of the heart rather than the intellect, and that its practice should promote law, order, and morality on the frontier.
- In the East, "evangelical Protestantism" evolved, primarily at the hands of a lawyer-turned-Protestant minister - Charles Grandison Finney. Between 1830-31, Finney preached that sin was a voluntary act and those who willed themselves to sin could just as easily will themselves not to sin. Finney’s followers experienced an emotional religious conversion in which they were "born again." These people knew that their destinies were not preordained, but that they were in charge of their own destinies.
- Three other popular but very controversial organized religions also grew during their period:
- Unitarianism - those who believed Jesus Christ was less than fully divine and who argued that character building was far more important and long-lasting than a sudden emotional conversion.
- Mormonism - discussed in previous lecture.
- The Shakers - Founded by the English immigrant Ann Lee, the Shakers established several tight-knit agricultural-artisan communities. Lee insisted that her followers abstain from sexual intercourse, taught that when Jesus returned to earth he would take the form of a woman, and used a convulsive religious dance as part of their ceremony.
- Alcohol Consumption Reform - Temperance. Alcohol abuse was a growing American problem: per capita consumption of hard alcohol exceeded seven gallons per year by 1830 - nearly triple the current rate. Reformers saw alcohol excess as a male indulgence that had bitter social consequences for the men, their families, and society in general.
- The American Temperance Society was founded in 1826 and its members flooded the country with information denouncing the evils of alcohol.
- The laboring classes were their chief targets. By the 1840s, they could claim some success - the rate of consumption was less than that of 20 years earlier.
- Educational Reform. Public and private schools had existed in colonial America - but they were not mandatory, universally-attended, or systematized in terms of methods and curriculum. In general, schools reflected the prevailing attitudes of the community that sponsored it - and as such, was primarily secular in nature.
- By the 1830s, schooling of some sort was widely available to young people who lived in the more settled areas of America.
- However, education remained widely diverse in terms of its methods, teaching styles, and substance.
- Massachussetts led the nation in the reform effort. Horace Mann became the state’s first secretary of the newly-created board of education. Under his leadership, the financial support of schools were shifted from parents to the state, the school year was extended, standardized texts introduced, students were classified by age and level of educational attainment, attendance became mandatory, and uniform cultural values reflecting those of middle-class American society were taught.
- Criminal Justice Reform. At the same time the nation was growing, so were the instances of crime and poverty. Beginning in the 1820s, reformers tried to fight these "evils" by establishing correctional institutions.
- The reformers discarded colonial attitudes about such criminal behavior - that criminal behavior was a sinful defect in a person’s character - and instead believed that the failure of parental guidance, love, and discipline lay at the root of the problem. Thus, they turned to moral influences to improve human nature.
- Criminals were not merely to be incarcerated in new, highly regimented penitentiaries; they were to be reformed in an atmosphere that served as a substitute for parental discipline. Either solitary conditions that forbade prisoners to look or converse with one another or solitary confinement was believed to be the best method for purging offenders of their violent habits.
- The poor were taken from their demoralizing surroundings and put into highly regimented institutions that reformers believed would change them into virtuous, productive citizens.
- Social Justice Reform. Many intellectuals were convinced that the problems occurring during the early years of urbanization and industrialization were social in nature. If social living conditions were perfected, many believed, vice, misery, and poverty would disappear. To that end, many small, planned communities arose.
New Harmony was founded in 1825 in Indiana by Robert Owen who had a vision for "a New Moral World" of happiness, enlightenment, and prosperity through education, science, technology, and communal living. Owen's utopian community would create a "superior social, intellectual and physical environment" as invisioned in the community's constitution, "The New Harmony Community of Equality" whose objective was to achieve happiness based on principles of equal rights and equality of duties. Cooperation, common property, economic benefit, freedom of speech and action, kindness and courtesy, order, preservation of health, acquisition of knowledge, and obedience to the country's laws were included as part of the constitution.
New Harmony was dissolved in 1829 due to constant quarrels as parcels of land and property were returned to private use.
- Other experimental communities followed in the 1830s and 1840s - especially those of a group of religious philosophers called transcendentalists - intellectuals including Ralph Waldo Emerson who believed that Christianity could be revitalized by proclaiming that individual men and women had infinite spiritual capacities.
- The Oneida community in NY was the most controversial. Established in 1848, its members challenged conventional notions of religion, gender roles, marriage, sex, dress, and motherhood.
- Labor Reform. Some workers began to organize to protect their rights as factory workers and traditional ways of life. In 1834, some individual "unions" came together to form the National Trades' Union which gained steady strength until the depression of 1839 - few workers would organize during hard times.
- Labor leaders argued that workers were degraded by factory conditions - long hours, low pay, low status. Individuals were not rewarded by the value of their labor, but rather, the idle rich enslaved the industrious poor.
- Some leaders claimed workers had become "slaves to a monied aristocracy" or "wage slaves." They argued that Americans had fought the Revolution to destroy the aristocracy of birth. But they had not been able to stop the growth of an aristocracy of capital whereby the prices of products were not reflective of the labor required to make it and the profits went to the employers rather than the producers.
- Union leaders and members agitated for higher wages, abolition of imprisonment for debt, political action by workers, and effective unions as the means to guarantee social equality and to restore labor to its former honored position.
- Slavery Reform or Abolition (to be discussed several lectures from now.)
and Economic Change, 1800 - 1840
- A national economic market developed
concurrently with a national political system. Indeed, one was dependent
upon the other.
- The transition from a local market economy
to a national market economy was facilitated by three factors:
- The work force changed from manufacturing
by hand to industrial manufacturing - a change fueled by new industrial technologies.
- The invention of the cotton gin allowed cotton
production to dominate the economy and made it exportation a vital force
for the entire American economy.
- A national transportation and communication
network was created to link people and goods between regions.
- This economic transition affected American
society in many ways: American farming experienced modernity; society
made its first large shift from rural to urban; labor became more specialized;
women's roles in society were redefined and family structure was reorganized;
wealth became a sign of American status and a symbol of respect and recognition;
traditional labor values and control systems disappeared; and such social
changes encouraged the grown of reform efforts.
- The gradual urbanization of American
society democratized and improved lifestyles for many and stratified and
hindered lifestyles for others.
- The electoral process became more democratic
and the direct vote became more widely used.
- The powers of the Presidency were greatly
increased under Jackson.
- Americans acquired new expectations of
politicians who were supposed to represent "the common man" and were
required to carry out the will of the people.
- Political parties became crucial to
the election process. Because not all members of the public had the
same goals for their "public servants," the need arose for competing parties
that would meet the needs of all the people and that would check and balance
any political abuses.
- The basic pattern for successful national
politics was established: two political parties, the need to appeal
to voters in all sections of the country, and the need to appeal to a range
of social classes.
- An evolutionary chapter in national
American politics began. Very little was surprisingly new or revolutionary
in national politics during the first 40 years of the nineteenth century.
- The political and economic conflicts at the
national level all related to questions of appropriate federal and state
- Regional differences continued and grew, especially
with the addition of new regions to the United States.
- The vast majority of Americans were disenfranchised
- The gap between the rich and poor widened.
- A significant portion of the American population
were afraid of social, economic, political, and/or spiritual changes, as
well as persons who were different from, or whose behavior differed, from
the status quo.
to Unit III Index