Democracy in America

Yüklə 43.9 Kb.
ölçüsü43.9 Kb.



Alexis de Tocqueville – “Democracy in America” (1835)

- Frenchman who travels the U.S. and writes about his observations

  • describes every aspect of our govt. from national to local

  • shows how Americans are always trying to move forward and get ahead

  • shows how whites treated each other as equals but could be very cruel to other races and groups

  • shows growth of nation thru internal improvements (roads, canals) and growth of factories and expansion of trade


  • By 1840, already 1/3 of Americans were living between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River (in 1790 most Native Americans lived there and nearly no Americans)

  • Most migrants desired and expected a better version of the life they had known in the East (more land, bountiful crops)

  • Several factors nurtured this expectation: the growing power of the federal government, its often ruthless removal of the Indians from the path of white settlements, and a boom in the prices of agricultural commodities after the War of 1812.

The Sweep West

  • 1791-1803: VT, KY, TN, and OH were admitted. Then LA (1812) was the only state to be admitted in the next 10 years.

  • 1816-1821: IN, MS, IL, AL, ME, and MO were admitted.

  • Most people traveled with their families and settled near navigable rivers. Only with the spread of canals in the 1820s and `830s and later of railroads did people venture away from the rivers.

  • Most people wanted to settle with people like themselves or people they knew.

Western Society and Customs

  • Most westerners craved sociability.

  • They played games and sometimes they were violent. Women had sewing parties, carpet tacking, and chicken pluckings.

  • Labor was divided between gender. Men did most of the heavy work. Women tended to milking, making clothes, etc. They would also help to slaughter animals.

  • Many of the westerners prided themselves on being plain and simple.

    • Common belief was that west was home of “honest democracy” and the east was “soft and decadent”

The Far West

  • Few ventured west of the Mississippi River

  • “mountain men” took to fur trading, capturing their own animals instead of relying on Indian help. They became legends in their own day (Zedediah Smith, Kit Carson, Jim Beckwourth)

  • Zebulon Pike sighted the Colorado peak that was later named after him.

The Federal Government and the West

  • The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 provided for the orderly transformation of western territories into states.

  • Louisiana Purchase (1803) gave U.S. control of Mississippi River and lands west of it

  • The federal government stimulated settlement of the West by promising land to men who enlisted during the War of 1812.

  • 6 million acres were allotted to these so-called military bounties, so many people settled in the West.

  • To help westward migration, Congress authorized funds in 1816 for the extension of the NATIONAL ROAD, a highway begun in 1811 that reached Wheeling, VA and Vandalia, IL by 1838.

  • Virtually all the foreign policy successes during the Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe administrations worked to Native Americans; disadvantage.

  • The LA Purchase and the Transcontinental Treaty stripped them of Spanish protection.

  • The outcome of the War of 1812 also worked against the Native Americans; they were the only real losers of the war.

  • Early in the negotiations leading to the Treaty of Ghent, the British had insisted on the creation of an Indian buffer state between the US and Canada in the Old Northwest. But after the Battle of Plattsburgh, the British dropped the demand and essentially abandoned the Indians to the Americans.

The Removal of the Indians

  • There were many Natives in Americans path to expansion, especially in the South where the 5 civilized tribes were: the Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Seminoles.

  • The Cherokees, especially, were intermixed and developed a written language (by Sequoyah) and practiced agriculture.

  • The US wanted the tribes to move west of the Mississippi. Some Indians complied and sold their lands to the government, but many refused.

  • During the 1820s, white in AL, GA, and MS intensified pressure on the Indians. They would survey their lands and then squat on them. Southern legislatures passed laws that threatened to deprive them of the right to own their land. Other laws outlawed tribal government, and declared that no Indian could be a witness in a court case involving whites – which made it difficult for them to collect debts owed to them by whites).

  • President Andrew Jackson loathed the Indians and believed that they should not be allowed to have independent nations.

  • 1830 – Jackson secured passage of the INDIAN REMOVAL ACT – which authorized him to exchange public lands in the West for Indian territories in the East and appropriated $500,000 to cover the expenses of removal. But the real costs were vastly greater (human and monetary).

  • While Jackson was in office, the federal government forced the Indians to exchange 100 million acres of their lands for 32 million acres of public lands.

  • Some Indians left peacefully, some put up resistance. The Seminoles in Florida did not want to leave and the US spent $20 million on the Seminole War that lasted from 1835-1842.

  • The Cherokees who were the most compliant, suffered the worst fate. In 1827, they proclaimed themselves an independent nation within Georgia. Georgia extended the state’s rights over this nation and the Cherokees petitioned the US Supreme Court

  • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) – Chief Justice John Marshall denied the Cherokees’ claim to status as a republic within Georgia. Rather, they were a “domestic, dependent nation”. He also said that since they were in Georgia for so long, they had a claim to their lands.

  • Their legal position was solidified in Worcester v. Georgia – by holding that they were a “distinct” political community entitled to federal protection from tampering by Georgia.

  • Jackson ignored Marshall’s order.

  • Federal agents managed to get minor Cherokee chiefs to sign the TREATY OF NEW ECHOTA (1835) – it ceded all Cherokee lands in the US for $5.6 million and free passage west. Congress ratified the treaty by one vote. Most Cherokees denounced it. The Cherokees took revenge by murdering the three principle signers.

  • In 1839, the Indians were forcibly removed to the new Indian territory in what is now Oklahoma. This became known as the TRAIL OF TEARS. Possibly 8,000 died during this journey or shortly thereafter – about 1/3 of the Cherokee nation.

  • Indians living in the Northwest Territory didn’t fare better. A series of treaties extinguished their land titles.

  • The removal of the northwestern Indians was notable for two uprisings.

    • 1. It was led by Red Bird, a Winnebago chief, began in 1827 but it was quickly crushed

    • 2. Led by a Sac and Fox chief, Black Hawk, who resisted removal until 1831 and then moved his people to west of the Mississippi. He and his people moved back to Illinois and were chased by militia led by future WI Governor Henry Dodge through Wisconsin to the Mississippi River where they were slaughtered by fire from a gunboat as they tried to cross. This brutal treatment persuaded other tribes to cede their lands to avoid similar treatment.

    • Between 1832 and 1837, the US acquired nearly 190 million acres of Indian land in the NW for $70 million in gifts and annual payments.

The Agricultural Boom

  • After the War of 1812, many settlers wanted more farmland because agricultural prices were skyrocketing.

  • There were several factors: during the Napoleonic wars the US had quickly captured former British markets in the West Indies and former Spanish markets in South America; with the conclusion of the wars Britain and France needed wheat and corn because they were exhausted from two decades of warfare; demand in the US became greater after 1815 because of a shift of workers to nonagricultural jobs (because of industrialization and urbanization); finally the West’s splendid river systems made it possible for farmers in Ohio to ship wheat and corn down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and from there south so it could then be shipped to the eastern U.S., West Indies, South America, or Europe.

  • Government policies made farming in the west possible and the price made it desirable for many people to do.

  • The invention of the cotton gin made it so Alabama and Mississippi could grow it profitably (also cotton clothing came into fashion which led to British textile mills having an enormous demand for cotton)

  • By 1815, Alabama and Mississippi were producing nearly half of the nation’s cotton. The British textile industry made high demand for raw cotton.

Cotton Exports:

      • 1802-1807 – cotton was less than 1/4 of all U.S. exports

      • By 1830 – just over 1/2

      • By 1836 – nearly 2/3 of the


  • After 1815, slavery became huge business because families no longer did subsistence farming, they began to take part in plantation farming for CASH CROPS. Farmers were entering the market economy at a very quick pace.

The Risks of the Market Economy

  • They had no control over fluctuating prices, there was a long interval between harvesting a cash crop and selling it, because of this they had to borrow money. Thus, commercial agriculture forced farmers into short-term debt in the hope of long-term profit.

  • The debt was often times worse than anyone had expected. The federal government was unable to devise an effective policy for transferring the public domain directly into the hands of small farmers.

Federal Land Policy

  • ORDINANCE OF 1785 – divided public lands into sections of 640 acres. They assumed that farmers would share plots and develop agricultural communities.

  • They wanted money so they would sell huge tracts of land to those who could afford it. Then, they would sell off small parcels to farmers at hefty profits.

  • LAND LAW OF 1800 – dropped the minimum purchase to 320 acres and allowed up to 4 years for full payment but kept the minimum purchase price at $2 acre. By 1832 it was dropped to 40 acres and by 1820 it was dropped to $1.25 an acre.

  • Land speculators took advantage of this system. They would buy the land and then sell it for much higher prices.

  • The growing availability of credit after the War of 1812 and the chartering of the Second Bank of the US had the dual effect of increasing the amount of money in circulation and stimulating the chartering of private banks within individual states (state banks).

  • Banks were seen as agencies that could lend them money for land speculation. Banks were often founded so that they could lend their directors money for personal investment in land speculation.

  • In 1819, the dollar value of sales of public land was over 1,000 percent greater than the average in 1800-1814.

The Speculator and the Squatter

  • Even before the creation of public domain, squatters had helped themselves to western land.

  • Squatters formed claims associations to public land auctions and prevent speculators from bidding up the price of land. They also pressured Congress to allow them preemption rights – that is, the right to purchase at the minimum price land that they had already settled on and improved.

  • Congress responded by passing special preemption laws for squatters in specific areas and finally, in 1841, acknowledged a general right of preemption.

  • This did not help farmers who had to buy land from speculators. They often went into debt.

  • Many had to raise cash crops and they often exhausted the soil and had to continually move to find new soil.

The Panic of 1819

  • In 1819 the land boom collapsed

  • Banks issued notes that said that they could pay it back – however, they issued way more bank notes than they could cover.

  • Farmers borrowed way too much in order to buy more land, assuming they could pay it back when they sold their crops.

  • At this time, exporting goods began to decrease at a time when more farmers were relying on foreign demand of their goods (partly due to a British recession and bumper crops in Europe).

  • In the summer of 1818, reacting to the giving of more bank notes, the Bank of the US insisted that state banks redeem their notes that were held by the bank of the US.

  • People gave their notes to the Bank of the US, so state banks owed money to the US Bank, they didn’t have the money so they began to demand loan repayments from the farmers.

  • Crop prices decreased at the same time so farmers couldn’t pay back their loans from state banks and speculators.

  • This led to a general curtailment of credit throughout the nation and in particular the west.

  • The biggest losers were the land spectators. Land prices fell because the credit squeeze drove down the market prices of staples like wheat, corn, cotton, and tobacco.

  • Since they weren’t getting as much money for their crops – they didn’t have enough money to pay their debts back with. Since the speculators could not collect money owed them by farmers, the value of land that they still held for sale collapsed.

  • The significance of the panic lay not only in the economic damage it did but also in the conclusions that many Americans drew from it.

  • Much of this was blamed on the US Bank

  • Also, plummeting prices for cash crops demonstrated how much farmers were coming to depend on distant markets.

  • If transportation costs could be cut, farmers could keep a larger share of the value of their crops and thereby adjust to falling prices.

The Transportation Revolution: Steamboats, Canals, and Railroads

  • After 1820, attention and investment shifted to improving transportation on waterways, thus initiating the transportation revolution.

  • In 1807, Robert R. Livingston and Robert Fulton introduced the steamboat Clermont on the Hudson River.

  • Gibbons v. Ogden – (regarding a monopoly that Livingston and Fulton had on ferry travel). Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that Congress’s constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce applied to navigation and thus had to prevail over New York’s power to license the Livingston-Fulton monopoly.

  • Other state-granted monopolies collapsed and steamboat traffic increased rapidly.

  • They were much quicker than keelboats

  • People began looking to the building of canals.

  • 1817-1825 0 NY’s ERIE CANAL was constructed, it connected the Hudson River with Lake Erie. It allowed produce from Ohio to reach New York City by a continuous stretch of waterways.

  • The completion of the Erie Canal started a canal boom between the 1820s and 1830s

    • Transportation costs dropped

      • 1815 – $.30 a ton per mile

      • 1830 – $.03 or $.03 a ton per mile

  • Another economic depression hit in the 1830s and many states abandoned their costly canal projects.

  • As the canal boom was ending the railroad was being introduced.

    • For example, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B & O) which took business away from the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal

  • In 1825 the world’s first commercial railroad began operating in England, and by 1840 some 3,000 miles of track had been laid in America, about the same as the total canal mileage in 1840.

  • Railroads were cheaper to build, faster, and able to reach more places. They also helped to develop communities that weren’t close to waterways.

  • Most early railroads were for passengers, it was not until 1849 did freight revenues exceed passenger revenues, and not until 1850 was the East Coast connected by rail to the Great Lakes.

  • There were a few reasons that RRs spread slowly: Most RRs were constructed by private companies (not state governments), since they tried to save money they constantly had to be repaired because they were poorly constructed. It also remained cheaper to ship by canal.

The Growth of Cities

  • 1820-1860 the most rapid urbanization in U.S. history occurred.

  • River cities grew from small sizes in 1800 to larger cities

    • Pittsburgh – grew in the War of 1812 as its iron forges provided shot and weapons

    • Cincinnati – staging area for attacks on British in War of 1812

    • St. Louis – grew as fur trading center on Mississippi River

  • Erie Canal’s impact on cities:

    • Rochester, NY – “Flour City” grew due to the Erie Canal

    • Big cities grew along the Great Lakes (Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Milwaukee, Chicago)

    • River cities became less important

  • The Great Lakes area became more popular – people didn’t have to rely on rivers anymore with the canals.


  • Britain led the industrial revolution. Wanting to keep the edge Britain banned skilled workers to emigrate to the US

  • Samuel Slater, passing himself off as a farm laborer came to the US, he really was a mechanic

  • In 1790 he helped design and build the first cotton mill in the US at Pawtucket, RI

  • Industrialization really took off in the 1810s and 1820s, especially in the production of cotton textiles and shoes.

  • It took off in New England and not in the South

    • South – people invested in slaves

    • New England – farming not as profitable so some invested in industry instead

  • It had several distinct components

    • It always involved the subdivision of labor (tasks)

    • It usually led to the gathering of workers in large factories

    • High speed machines replaced skilled handwork

  • It made skilled work less valuable and clocks regulated people. The sun no longer regulated them. They also had scheduled breaks; they couldn’t work at their own pace.

  • Products made by machinery was cheaper to purchase, which brought more luxuries and conveniences to the average person.

Causes of Industrialization

  • ENBARGO ACT OF 1808 – persuaded merchants barred from foreign trade to redirect their capital into factories.

  • Congress also enacted tariffs to protect our new industries.

  • They had rivers that created waterpower, and the transportation revolution also helped.

  • Americans were more free to find new technologies for factories

  • Eli Whitney had the idea of interchangeable parts

Textile Towns in New England

  • New England became America’s first industrial region.

  • Many men migrated west and the women left were a good source of cheap labor.

  • Cotton textiles led the way.

  • Walthem and Lowell mills differed in two ways from the earlier Rhode Island mills established by Samuel Slater. Slater’s mills performed only two of the operations needed to turn raw cotton into clothing. They separated cotton into fine strands (carding) and spinning the strands into yarn. He contracted the weaving to women working in their home.

  • The Walthem and Lowell mills turned out finished fabrics that required only one additional step, stitching into clothes.

  • The workers had to live in company boardinghouses or in licensed private dwellings, attend church on the Sabbath, observe a 10:00 pm curfew, and accept the company’s “moral police”. It was designed to put a good name on the companies so that it could attract respectable women.

  • The air needed to be humid so the overseers would nail the windows shut and sprayed water into the air. They also had to deal with flying dust and the loud noises of the machines. More competition and a worsening economy in the 1830s stepped up production while cutting wages. It was very impersonal.

  • 800 Lowell mill women quit work in 1834 to protest a wage reduction and two years later they held a strike with 1500 to 2000 women.

  • Outside of textiles, many industries continued to depend on industrial “outwork”

Artisans and Workers in Mid-Atlantic Cities

  • The production of consumer goods began to increase (mostly relying on outwork as they lacked the fast-flowing rivers like New England).

  • Artisans became businessmen if they had enough capital.

  • In the late 1820s, skilled male artisans in New York, Philadelphia, and other cities began to form trade unions and workingmen’s political parties to protect their interests.

  • They originally met to restore their status above unskilled workers.

  • However, they often fought for the same conditions as unskilled workers – like shorter workdays (for example coal miners in Pa. struck for 10 hour work day in 1835, and they were joined by cigar-makers, leatherworkers and other tradesmen in the first general strike in U.S. history).

  • Some benefited from the new advancements, but many still suffered and they began to wonder if their nation was truly a land of equality.


  • The following pertains to the North.

Growing Inequality: The Rich and the Poor

  • The gap between rich and poor increased in the first half of the 19th century.

  • The “rags to riches” myth of the time period was sustained by success stories like John Jacob Astor, who became rich in fur trading.

  • Those who became extremely wealthy usually started out with wealth. Fewer than five of every hundred wealthy individuals started poor, and close to ninety of every hundred started rich.

  • The usual way to wealth was to inherit it, marry into more, and then invest wisely.

  • The elite had clubs and clustered themselves geographically. Many of them also seemed to display equality when they went out into public.

  • Most of the people were poor, the depended on their children for labor and were often unemployed

  • Antebellum (antebellum means existing before a war, and usually in U.S. History relates to the time period just prior to the Civil War) America was overwhelmingly a nation of young people with little property; not all would remain without property, as they grew older.

  • When people of antebellum America spoke of poverty they were referring to a state of dependency, and inability to fend for oneself. They often called this dependency “pauperism.”

  • The lack of health insurance and old-age pensions condemned many aged people to pauperism. Widows whose children left home might also have a hard time avoiding pauperism. They were seen as the “deserving” poor. They were contrasted with the “undeserving” poor. Those were loafers and drunkards whose poverty was seen as being self-willed.

  • Many Irish immigrants came in the 1800s. They were very poor.

  • Many Irish congregated in New York’s infamous Five Points district. It became the worst slum in America.

  • They were also Catholic which most Protestants despised.

  • Poor Protestant Americans fought with the poor Irish immigrant gangs there (like in the movie “Gangs of New York”).

  • But even the Protestant poor came in for rough treatment in the years between 1815 and 1840.

  • The more that Americans convinced themselves that success was within everyone’s grasp, the less they accepted the traditional doctrine that poverty was ordained by God, and the more they were inclined to hold the poor responsible for their own misery.

  • They practiced discrimination that kept some groups mired in enduring poverty. This was especially true in the case of northern free blacks.

Free Blacks In The North

  • Prejudice against blacks was deeply ingrained in white society.

  • Slavery was almost gone in the North by 1820

  • Yet, laws penalized blacks in many ways.

  • Their right to vote was restricted.

  • Laws frequently barred free blacks from migrating to other states and cities.

  • Segregation was the rule in northern jails, almshouses, and hospitals, schools.

  • The most pressure on them was that they were forced into the least skilled and lowest paying occupations throughout the northern cities.

  • Urban free blacks were only half as likely as city dwellers in general to own real estate.

  • Establishment of black churches gave them a sense of community and belonging and also an early source of activism.

The “Middling Classes”

  • Most people’s standard of living rose between 1800 and 1860, particularly between 1840 and 1860 when per capita income grew at an annual rate of around 1.5%.

  • There was a middling class. However, they were vulnerable to fluctuations in the market.

  • Small merchants and manufacturers, landowning farmers, self-employed artisans, and some other professionals made up this middle class.

  • Some artisans had become entrepreneurs and journeymen were starting to see little prospect of self-employment.

  • The middling classes had a high degree of transience, or spatial mobility, and moved due to season labor or the prospects of finding new jobs.


  • Americans questioned authority to an unprecedented degree. An attitude of individualism sprouted and took firm root in antebellum America. Now Americans used the word to signify positive qualities: self-reliance and the conviction that each person was the best judge of his or her own true interests.

  • Even as Americans widely proclaimed themselves a nation of self-reliant individualists and questioned the traditional basis of authority, they sought to construct new foundations for authority.

The Attack on the Professions

  • Intense criticisms of lawyers, physicians, and ministers exemplified this assault on authority.

  • It peaked between 1820 and 1850.

  • Professionals were often transients and thus not accepted completely in the towns and cities they moved to.

  • Samuel Thomson convinced people that you didn’t need education or a license to practice medicine, so by 1845 every state had repealed laws that required licenses and education to practice medicine.

  • Also, people would dismiss their pastors if they didn’t like their message.

  • Dueling became a widespread frontier practice.

The Challenge to Family Authority

  • Children engaged in a quiet questioning of parental authority.

  • Economic change gave children the choice of working at home for their parents or venturing out on their own.

  • They wanted to decide for themselves when and whom to marry

  • It also became more common for women to get married out of birth order from their sisters.

  • There became a growing number of long engagements as women wanted to wait to give up their independence.

Wives and Husbands

  • Relations between wives and husbands were changing during the 1820s and 1830s toward a form of equality

  • They adopted a separate but equal doctrine. Men were superior in making money and governing the world and women as superior for their moral influence on family members.

  • Women had to raise children and became more involved in deciding how many children they wanted to have.

  • By 1900 the average woman was bearing 3.98 children compared to 7.04 children in 1800. This was due to the shift in the type of work that was needed by child laborers.

  • The decline in birthrate was accomplished by abstinence from sexual intercourse (including between married couples) or by abortion.

  • By 1865, popular tracts had familiarized Americans with a wide range of birth-control methods, including the condom and the diaphragm.

  • Supporters of the ideal of separate spheres did not advocate full legal equality for women. However, it did enhance their power within marriage.

Horizontal Allegiances and the Rise of Voluntary Associations

  • The traditional patriarchal family was an example of a vertical allegiance: the wife and children looked up to the father for leadership. Authority flowed from the top down.

  • Vertical Allegiances: people in a subordinate position identify their best interests with the interests of their superiors rather than with those of other individuals in the same subordinate position

  • Vertical relationships became less important in people’s lives

  • Horizontal allegiances: People began identifying more with people in a similar situation as they are.

  • Maternal and debating societies exemplified the American zeal for voluntary associations – associations that arose apart from government and sought to accomplish some goal of value to their members (for example temperance societies)

  • Moral-reform societies represented collective action by middle-class women to increase their influence in society. Targets were alcoholism and prostitution.

Verilənlər bazası müəlliflik hüququ ilə müdafiə olunur © 2016
rəhbərliyinə müraciət

    Ana səhifə