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7th Edition

Chapter 9: Society and Politics in

The Early Republic

Pearson Education, Inc, publishing as Longman © 2006

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  • In the early republic, the vast majority of Americans drew their living from the land

    • 83% of the labor force was engaged in agriculture

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  • The Northeast region, stretching from eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey to New England, was dominated by family farms

    • In New England, farmers increasingly opted for dairying and livestock

    • In New York and Pennsylvania, farmers cultivated land intensively

    • Farmers in southeastern Pennsylvania and along New York’s Hudson River valley produced a surplus which was exchanged in nearby towns

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  • Across much of the rural Northeast, cash played a small part in economic exchange

  • Most farms were not large, generally no more than 100 to 150 acres by 1800

    • Size had decreased from previous century as a result of inheritance

  • In fact throughout the region productivity was declining

    • By 1800 nearly 20% of male taxpayers in southeastern Pennsylvania were single

    • In some areas as many as 30% of married taxpayers were landless

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  • Growing numbers of rural folk also worked for wages as artisans or day laborers or in small manufactories

  • Farm women contributed by helping with the livestock, preserving food, and making clothes for sale or exchange with neighbors

  • Reformers pushed for more scientific agricultural methods

  • The demand for heating fuel and new land quickly depleted the region’s forests

    • Iron furnaces, production of potash and turpentine, planks for houses and fencing for fields further depleted forest ranges

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  • The South stretch from Maryland to Georgia along the coast, and west to the newly forming states of Alabama and Mississippi

  • In 1800 much of southern agriculture was in disarray.

    • Low prices, land exhausted of fertility and loss of slaves had left Chesapeake in shambles

  • Planters had experimented with a number of grains, but had little success until cotton was imported from Europe

    • In 1790 the South produced 3,135 bales

    • By 1820 output was 334,378 bales

    • Cotton export went from 30% of nation’s agricultural exports to more than half by 1820

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  • Fortuitous circumstances for cotton growth

    • Growing demand for raw cotton by English and Northeastern textile mills

    • Productive virgin soil

    • Long, steamy growing season

    • Ample supply of slave labor

    • Southern planters’ long experience in producing and marketing staple crops

  • The invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney in 1793 allowed one laborer to clean up to 50 pounds of short-staple cotton a day

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  • Move to cotton raised the value of southern land and opened economic opportunity for countless southern whites

    • Increased the demand for slave labor and led to more importations

    • In 1803 alone Georgia and South Carolina imported 20,000 new slaves

    • Much of demand for slaves was met by the internal slave market as black labor moved from the Chesapeake farther south

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  • Trans-Appalachia, a broad and shifting “middle ground” of settlement, extended from the mountains to the Mississippi River and from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico

    • 1790: barely 100,000 had lived in region

    • 1810: nearly 1 million did

    • 1820: nearly 2 million

  • Settlers were drawn by the promotions of speculators

  • North of the Ohio River, settlement followed a grid pattern and involved free labor

  • South of the Ohio, white settlers and their black slaves distributed themselves more randomly

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  • Transience of the population coupled with large numbers of young, unattached males kept society unsettled

  • Settlers began transforming the heavily forested land by clearing the trees

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  • Although most Americans lived on the land or in small villages, a growing number chose to live in the expanding cities

    • From 1790 to 1830, nation’s population increased 230% and urban areas of more than 2500 increased twice as fast

  • The most aggressive urban growth was found in the Northeast due to established ports of commerce and booming economy

    • By 1830 the region contained four cities of more than 100,000 people

    • Cities were ethnically diverse

    • Urban life centered on wharves though manufacturing was growing and artisans slowly gave way before factory based labor

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  • Changes led to greater gaps between rich and poor with prosperous merchants at the top of the hierarchy followed by a middle-class of artisans, shopkeepers and professionals

    • Rising land values forced lower classes into alleys and tenements while wealthy began to cluster in fashionable neighborhoods

  • In the Southeast, urban development centered on long established ports, which continued to serve as commercial entreports

    • Half their population was black, predominantly slaves

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  • In Trans-Appalachia, cities like Chicago and Pittsburg began to spring up along the Great Lakes and interior rivers

    • Interior cities held 30% of the nation’s urban population in 1830

  • Cities were relatively small, dangerous, and unhealthy

    • New York did not have safe drinking water until 1832

    • Rising land prices caused gardens and livestock to disappear, further weakening diet and health

    • Scarcely half he urban population reached 45, often less for women who were weakened by childbearing

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  • In 1790, vast areas of trans-Appalachia were controlled by Native American tribes

    • In old Northwest, Shawnee, Delaware, and Miami formed a confederacy capable of mustering several thousand warriors

    • In the South, Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole numbered 60,000

    • By 1830, balance had shifted in favor of the whites.

  • Indians developed strategies of resistance and survival

  • Cultural and social separation between Indians and whites sharpened during these years

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  • From 1790 to 1830, the federal government established policies toward Native Americans ostensibly to integrate them into white society but actually serving to transfer Indian lands to whites

  • The Indian’s refusal to view themselves as a conquered people forced the government to deal with the tribes through land treaties as confirmed by the Indian Intercourse Act of 1790

    • Native American leaders frequently ceded land for trade goods, annuity payments and assurances there would be no more demands for lands

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  • Federal policy also attempted to regulate the fur trade.

    • Rum devastated Indian communities, trade goods transmitted diseases and Indians often became dependent on trade.

    • Over-trapping increased intertribal conflict

    • The government attempt to ensure fairer trading through the factory system had failed by 1822

  • The government sought to “civilize” and “Christianize” Native Americans and assimilate them into white society

    • Missionaries went to try to convert the Indians

    • Education was the other weapon of assimilation

    • White assimilationists often cared deeply about the Indians by little about their culture

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STRATEGIES OF SURVIVAL: The Iroquois and Cherokee

  • Among the Iroquois, prophet Handsome Lake led his people through a religious renewal and cultural revitalization

  • The Cherokee, in control of millions of acres in Tennessee, Georgia and western Carolina, found their tribal autonomy undercut

    • 1801: Tennessee brought Cherokee land under the authority of state courts

    • After fierce debate, accommodationists won out over those who wanted to use force to resist

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STRATEGIES OF SURVIVAL: The Iroquois and Cherokee

  • 1808: Cherokee National Council adopted a written legal code and developed a constitution in 1827 and declared themselves an independent nation

    • 1829: Cherokee government made it punishable by death to transfer land to white ownership without the approval of tribal authorities

  • Cherokee turned to settled agriculture and moved from villages to individual farmsteads while others established stores

    • Concept of private property took hold

    • Some accumulated hundreds of acres of land and scores of black slaves

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STRATEGIES OF SURVIVAL: The Iroquois and Cherokee

  • During the early 19th-century, Cherokee slavery expanded and became harsher

    • 1824: tribal law forbade intermarriage with blacks

    • As accommodation increased, slave ownership became a mark of status

  • While changes made Cherokee stronger and reinforced their sense of identity, it increased the hostility of their white neighbors

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  • 1794: Washington sent army to crush Indians of Old Northwest at the Battle of Fallen Timbers

    • At the Treaty of Greenville, assembled chiefs ceded southern two-thirds of Ohio

    • Subsequent treaties further reduced the land base

  • By 1809, Shawnee leaders Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa were warning of danger and seeking to forge an alliance

    • Established center in northern Indiana and spread the message to Creek and Cherokee between 1809 and 1811

    • William Henry Harrison attacked the center and burned it to the ground

    • Tecumseh and followers joined the British at the start of the War of 1812 and launched devastating raids

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  • American victory at the Thames and the death of Tecumseh broke Indian resistance in Old Northwest and by 1815 white settlers surged into the area

  • In the South, the Creeks challenged intruders into their lands in northwestern Georgia and central Alabama

    • After the aggressive Red Stick faction carried out devastating raids, Andrew Jackson attacked and defeated them at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend in March 1814

    • The Creeks were forced to cede 22 million acres

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  • First major reform movement aimed at achieving social justice and bringing the conditions of daily life into conformity with democratic ideals was launched in early nineteenth century

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  • Social reform was inspired by the democratic ideals of the Revolution

  • Americans believed strongly in social equality which meant equality of opportunity and equality of worth

  • Also believed in “youthfulness” of United States which encouraged a sense of uniqueness, especially compared to Europe

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  • Second Great Awakening: wave of Protestant enthusiasm which swept across the nation starting in the 1790s and crossed boundaries of race and class

  • Revival camp meetings focused on saving the soul but also provided a sense of social belonging in a society undergoing rapid change

    • Emphasized the equality of all believers, held out promise of universal salvation and declared each individual responsible for his or her soul

    • Called on believers to demonstrate faith by lifting up downtrodden

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  • Women held less property then men and slaves held little more than most basic personal possessions while free blacks did little better

  • Property was broadly shared among white males in rural areas of the North and less so in the South though most even distribution was on frontier were most had little

    • U.S. had no permanent underclass though poverty was increasing

    • Economic recessions and winter hit the poor particularly hard

    • Three groups were conspicuous among the nation’s poor: Revolutionary War veterans, women and children

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  • Between 1819 and 1822, triggered by a financial panic caused by unsound practices of state banks, a depression caused bankruptcies and unemployment to soar

  • Reformers sought to alleviate poverty and increased benevolent institutions from 50 in 1790 to nearly 2000 by 1820

    • Tended to draw distinctions between “worthy poor” and “idle poor”

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  • Women achieved greater equality in divorce though most states allowed divorce only on grounds of adultery and South Carolina did not allow it at all

    • While coverture laws made divorce economically risky, new laws at least enabled women to file in court rather than appeal to the legislature for a divorce

    • The number of women filing for divorce did increase after the Revolutionary War as a result of desertion or movement west

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  • To properly prepare women for their role as “Republican Mothers,” a greater stress was placed on women’s education and a number of female academies were established between 1790 and 1830

  • Second Great Awakening drew more women into the church where they raised funds and acted as volunteers

    • Evangelical impulse reduced women’s roles in the church

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  • In the South, the aggressive growth of cotton cultivation made the price of slave labor skyrocket, even as post-revolutionary idealism was fading

  • Two major slave rebellions generated alarm among southern whites

    • Haitian rebellion caused tightening of Black Codes and cut importation of new slaves

    • 1800 rebellion outside Richmond, Virginia, led by a slave named Gabriel resulted in the deaths of 25 slaves, including Gabriel, but no whites.

  • Antislavery appeals al but disappeared from the South, even from once-vehement religious groups.

    • Slavery continued to exist in nation’s capital

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  • Antislavery reform also weakened in the Northeast where whites increasingly invoked the doctrine of black inferiority to justify racial exclusiveness and ensure their own continued control

    • Encouraged conciliatory attitudes toward southern slave holders

    • Supported growing sentiment for colonization of free blacks in West Africa, which allayed white concerns but often led to protests from blacks

  • Racism appeared in West as well

  • Slave trade ended in 1808 but efforts to suppress continuing practice were sporadic

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  • Vibrant black communities appeared in port cities along Atlantic coast as the black population in these cities reached 40,000

    • Provided better chances of finding a marriage partner and establishing a family

    • With the growth of numbers, blacks created organizations independent of white control and capable of serving the needs of black communities

  • Black churches (especially Baptist and Methodist) emerged as cornerstones of black community life

    • The separate African Methodist Episcopal Church was formed in 1815

    • Churches nurtured black forms of worship, provided education for children and offered secure places

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  • White hostility remained a reality of black urban life

  • In southern cities the majority of blacks were enslaved (90% in Charleston) and that plus black codes inhibited community building

  • In New Orleans, prior Spanish policies had produced the larges free black (libre) and mixed race (mulatto) population in North America

    • Libres prospered and by 1820 were 46% of the black population

    • Their privileges were threatened by new slaves imported for sugar economy, alarm over black rebellion in Haiti, and introduction of rigid racial ideologies by new white setters

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  • James Madison was elected in 1808

  • War fever mounted as U.S. ships ventured back into the Atlantic and British ships resumed their depredations

  • The ensuing War of 1812 ended the period of neocolonialism, when U.S. was still vulnerable to the actions of England and other European powers

    • The following two presidencies fashioned a momentous new role for the United States

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  • War Hawks of Congress, predominantly from the South and West, felt the U.S. had tolerated enough of Britain’s presence on American soil, encouragement of Indian raids and attacks on American commerce

    • President Madison finally asked Congress for a declaration of war on June 1, 1812

    • Opposition came entirely from New England and the Mid-Atlantic states

    • War declaration occurred just as Britain, due to domestic pressure, removed continental blockade

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  • Britain beat back several American forays into Canada and launched attacks on Gulf Coast

  • British forces occupied Washington in 1814, burning the Capital and presidential mansion

    • Only preoccupation with Napoleon prevented British from pressing the advantage

    • Delegates from the five New England states met at Hartford in 1814 and asserted the right of the state to “interpose” its authority against “unconstitutional” acts by the government

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  • Oliver Hazard Perry defeated the British fleet on Lake Erie in 1813 and Andrew Jackson smashed British forces in New Orleans in 1815 but by then the preliminary terms of peace had already been signed on Christmas eve in Ghent

    • British agreed to evacuate the western posts but treaty ignored issues of impressment, neutral rights and American access to Canadian fisheries

  • Four thousand African Americans (about 20% of U.S. seamen) fought in the war while others sided with the British

    • Francis Scott Key wrote “Star Spangled Banner”

    • Americans considered this a second war of independence

  • After 1815, nation focused its energies on internal development

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  • While Americans were pleased that Latin Americans seemed to be following the U.S. lead in seeking independence starting in 1808, they were concerned about racially mixed populations and history of colonial oppression

    • After initial reluctance, President Monroe proposed formal recognition of Latin American republics

    • November 1822, major European powers talked of helping Spain regain its American empire, alarming both the United States and Britain

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  • President Monroe decided to ignore a British offer of a joint declaration and instead issued an 1823 statement on Latin America, known today as the Monroe Doctrine:

    • The American colonies were closed to new European colonization

    • The political systems of the Americas were separate from those of Europe

    • The United States would consider as dangerous to its peace and safety any attempts to extend Europe’s political influence to the Western Hemisphere

    • The United States would refrain from interference in established colonies in the New World or meddling in European affairs

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  • Given the country’s primitive modes of travel, limited forms of communication, and small central government, problems of national unity continued to bedevil the American people

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  • By the 1820s, improvements in transportation and communication had begun to knit the nation together

    • There was a flurry of turnpike construction in northeastern states, though travel rarely reached 25 miles a day, twice that by 1830

    • Congress in 1806 authorized construction of a National Road from Cumberland, Maryland, to the West and by 1818 it had reached Wheeling, reducing travel time from 8 days to 3

  • Water was the main means of transportation and by the early years of the century, the first steamboats appeared along the Atlantic coast and in the rivers.

    • Steamboats revolutionized water transport within a few years

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  • Between 1790 and 1830, significant breakthroughs occurred in print communication

    • By 1830 there were more than 1000 newspapers, about 1/3 were dailies

    • By 1820 the ratio of newspapers to people was higher than in Great Britain

    • Demand for newspapers was fed by rising literacy rate, demand for information generated by expanding market economy, democratic belief in the importance of an informed citizenry and the growing importance of newspapers to party politics

    • Expanded people’s horizons

  • American postal system expanded to 8500 post offices in 1820 and the price of sending a letter declined by half

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  • National pride during this era was shaped by the War of 1812 and the religious revivalism of the Second Great Awakening

  • Rituals of patriotic celebration also helped to unify the country

  • Also important were landmark decisions by the Supreme Court

    • Marbury v. Madison 1803: principle of judicial review

    • Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee 1816: appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of state courts

    • McCulloch v. Maryland 1819: support for loose interpretation of the Constitution

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  • Despite the rampant nationalism following the War of 1812, political unity in the nation was fragile

  • Most divisive was the issue of slavery in the vast, new territory west of the Mississippi River

    • Concerned over the larger northern population, Southerners insisted slavery had to expand

  • Missouri Compromise: Missouri was admitted to the Union as a slave state and Maine was admitted as a free state, maintaining a balance in the Senate

    • A line was drawn west from 36º 30’ to the Rocky Mountains with only lands south of the line open to slavery

    • Missouri was also forced to reassure Congress that a clause in its constitution prohibiting free blacks would not be used to abridge the rights of U.S. citizens

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  • Jeffersonian Republicans monopolized the presidency and dominated Congress between 1800 and 1820

    • Federalist party languished

  • By late 1820s, Jeffersonian-Federalist system was in disarray and new political alignments began to appear

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  • Following the War of 1812, the Federalists were plagued by accusations of disloyalty and tainted by their aristocratic image

    • Federalists continued to believe that political leadership should be restricted to “the wise and the good,” causing the party to gradually collapse

  • Trying to appeal to a broad base of Americans, Madison’s administration began a program of nationally sponsored economic development through road and canal construction, protective tariffs, and the creation of the second Bank of the United States

    • By early 1820s, some were proposing an even more ambitious plan of tariffs and internal improvements under the name of the American System

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  • Old Republicans were critical of many of these actions

  • Election of 1824, where 5 candidates competed for the Presidency, triggered the collapse of the Federalist-Jeffersonian system

    • When the election went to the House of Representatives, an alliance of supporters of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams gave the election to Adams even though he trailed Andrew Jackson in electoral votes

  • Adams’ call for a variety of federal programs fell victim to sectional conflict

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  • Elite American women forged an American style of parlor politics

    • Attended many political events

    • Utilized networks of friendship, dinner parties and social gatherings to reinforce political alliances, lobby political appointments and promote legislation

    • Contributed to new government’s effectiveness while challenging the lines separating public (male) and private (female) spheres

  • Other women were politically isolated

    • Part of backlash against radicalism of French Revolution

    • Also result of growing importance of male political parties

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  • White men flocked to the polls in unprecedented numbers with voter turnout reaching 80%

    • Aided by growing strength of democratic beliefs and state decisions to eliminate property requirements for voting

    • State programs of road and canal building, bank regulation, temperance enforcement, and poor relief activated people’s self-interest

  • A new generation of political leaders—skilled in party organization, sophisticated in the use of a partisan press and uninhibited by a fear of factionalism—perfected the techniques of mass, democratic politics

  • The 1828 election of Andrew Jackson marks the first time the techniques of mass politics were applied to presidential electioneering

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  • Turns of the Centuries Exhibit

  • Birch’s Views of Philadelphia in 1800

  • Nineteenth-Century Views of Manhattan

  • Charlottesville: A Brief Urban History

  • The Seminole Tribe of Florida

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  • The Iroquois of the Northeast

  • Native Americans in North Georgia

  • Divining America: Religion and the National Culture, the 19th Century

  • Colonization

  • A History of African Americans of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore

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  • Judith Sargent Murray Society

  • Casebook: The War of 1812

  • James Madison

  • Nationalism

  • The Marshall Cases for the American Revolution

  • The Missouri Compromise

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