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Growth and Conflict
George Washington was elected the first president of the United States.
However, though there had been an outline for a creation of a government in the
constitution, it was his job to put it in action. That summer, congress created new
executive departments to help. The Department of State (Thomas Jefferson), the
Department of the Treasury (Alexander Hamilton), Department of War (Henry
Knox). The Judiciary Act of 1789 also organized the Supreme Court (John Jay)
and created the Office of the Attorney General. Congress also began amending
the constitution, the federalists made good on their promise to add the first 10
amendments to the constitution. Known as the Bill of rights. The government
also inherited the debts from the continental congress and accepted the debts of
the states. Hamilton wanted to create a national bank to help pay these off.
Jefferson disagreed with Hamilton’s involvement in the economy. He argued
that creating a bank was not one of the government’s enumerated powers,
powers expressly stated in the Constitution. Hamilton cited Article I section 8
saying the government has the power “to make all laws which are necessary and
proper” to fulfill its responsibility. This became an implied power granted in the
constitution. A national bank was created. In order to help pay the debts a tax on
Whiskey outraged citizens, the rebelled in what became known as the whiskey
The whiskey rebellion created tensions amongst citizens, people who began
siding with Hamilton were known as federalist, and people who sided with
Jefferson were democratic-republicans. When George Washington left office, he
was replaced with a Federalist, John Adams. Tensions between the two parties
continued to grow and the federalist used their majority in congress to pass the
Alien and Sedition Acts which made it a crime to print anything “false,
scandalous and malicious” against the government. They also made it difficult
for foreigners to gain citizenship because they often voted republican.
The unpopular laws paved the way for Thomas Jefferson to take office. He was
determined to limit the power of the federal government, cut spending and pay
off debts. However, in 1803 he made the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size
of the United States for $11.25 Million. During this time, the British regularly
seized American ships at sea, Jefferson began an Embargo Act but under
president Madison, congress declared war. This was the war of 1812. During this
war, the British burned both the capitol building and the white house. In 1814
the treaty of Ghent was signed ending the war. After the war a sense of
nationalism began to spread across the country. As foreign nations continued to
eye the Americas, President Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine, which
declared that the American continent should no longer be open to colonization.
Transportation began to change in the 1800’s. In 1806 congress created the first
East-West Highway. Most goods still relied on river travel and with the creation
of the steam engine; it made it much easier for goods to travel both down stream
and upstream. Railroads also began appearing. The 1800’s also mark the
beginning of the industrial revolution when complex machining, began being
used in factories. The industrial revolution started in Brittan, but quickly spread
through the United States. Industrialization started in the northeast where many
flowing rivers provided waterpower to help run factories. Samuel Morse also
invented the telegraph and created Morse code, which revolutionized the speed
at which news and information could travel.
Industrialization caused, many people to leave farms looking for work in cities.
Many foreigners also arrived in the U.S. hoping for a better life. 5 million people
arrived from 1815-1860 working for lower wages. This caused a sense of
nativism and a desire to limit immigration. The long hours and low wages of the
factory workers caused people to begin organizing in labor unions to help create
better working conditions. Though industry was picking up in the north, until the
late 1800’s, farming still employed more American’s than anything else,
especially in the south. Southern states grew tobacco, rice and sugarcane, but the
largest crop by far was cotton. By 1860, Eli Whitney had invented the Cotton
Gin; cotton production increased and accounted for 2/3 of the U.S.'s export. This
expansion in cotton made the demand for slave labor skyrocket. The foreign
slave trade had been stopped by congress, but slavery still existed in the U.S.
The Louisiana purchase had expanded the territory in the U.S. and new states
began applying for statehood. The U.S. had expanded to 22 states, 11 free and
11 slave states when Missouri applied for state hood. Missouri was going to
upset the power balance in the senate. Free states felt slavery was wrong and did
not want it to expand west, slave states feared if more free states existed then
eventually they would have the power to outlaw slavery all together. When
Maine applied for state hood both states were allowed in, Maine as a free state,
Missouri as a slave state. When both were admitted, an amendment was passed
called the Missouri compromise. This limited the future of slavery in the
Louisiana territory. All states admitted north of Missouri’s southern boundary
would be free states.
The election of 1824 brought new problems with the constitution. Andrew
Jackson won both the popular vote and led in the electoral college, however he
did not have the number needed to win. As per the constitution the vote was
taken to the House of Representatives. Speaker of the house Henry clay had
placed 4th and was eliminated from the runoff. He put his support behind John
Quincy Adams, who won the votes in the House. When Adams became
president he appointed Clay in his cabinet. Jackson supporters believed they
made a “corrupt bargain”. The Democratic Republicans split into two groups.
Adam’s supporters stayed as the National republicans and Jackson supporters
became Democratic Republicans, which was later shortened to democrats.
During the early 1800’s hundreds of thousands of white males gained the right to
vote because many states lowered or eliminated the property ownership
qualification. In 1828 1.13 Million People voted for president as opposed to the
355,000 that voted four years earlier. Another reason was people felt that
Jackson had been unfairly denied the presidency in the previous election. That
year, Jackson handily defeated Adams and a new era in government began.
Jackson was a man of the people and tried to make government that way. He
used the spoil system, the practice of appointing people to jobs based on party
loyalty; this helped rid Washington of some of the longtime politicians. He also
changed the way presidential candidates were chosen by having nominees
selected at a national convention, instead of a private caucus.
Jackson was a tough leader, when south Carolina began talks of succession
Jackson put a stop to it. South Carolina believed that states could nullify a law
since it was the states that created the government. Jackson viewed nullification
as an act of treason and sent warships to Charleston. Vice President Henry Clay,
from South Carolina helped pass a law, which lowered the taxes for several
years and diffused the situation.
Jackson also signed the Indian Removal Act, which relocated the Native
American’s to land West of the Mississippi. The Cherokee appealed this to the
supreme court. Chief Justice Marshall supported the Cherokee, However,
Jackson ignored it saying, “Marshall has made his opinion…now let him enforce
it.” Though some had mixed feelings about Jackson’s Native American policies,
most supported them. In 1838 Jackson’s successor, Martin Van Buren ordered
the Cherokee forcibly removed. 2000 were killed, another 2000 died on their
journey west known as the trail of tears. Jackson had gained so much support for
democrats that a new party emerged out of the National Republicans, the Whigs.
Industrialization also led to many social changes in the U.S. The second Great
awakening was a religious revival movement. The temperance movement
controlled the consumption of alcohol. Women, who could not vote, were left
out of education reform and left to tend to the house and children. Some
however, took the reform movement to create more educational opportunities for
women including the first institute for higher education. In 1848 Elizabeth Cady
Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention where she introduced the idea of
women’s suffrage, the women’s right to vote. Abolitionists began a movement
calling for an immediate end to slavery. There had been people opposed to
slavery since the revolution, but now prominent people like former president
James Monroe and Chief Justice John Marshall called for resettling African
Americans in Africa. In his newspaper, William Lloyd Garrison began calling
for the immediate emancipation of slaves. African Americans also took a role in
emancipation. Frederick Douglass an escaped slave began a paper called the
north star. Northerners were mixed, some though opposed to slavery feared
emancipation more because if the South’s economy crumbled, they could lose
huge sums of money in loans. In 1831 a slave rebellion in Virginia left 50 whites
dead, the south began threatening to succeed unless the abolition movement was
Between 1830 and 1860 nearly 250,000 people began venturing west towards
California and Oregon. People used the idea of the manifest destiny to spread the
nation to the Pacific. By the 1840’s several routes including the Oregon Trail,
The California Trail and Santa Fe Trail brought increased traffic through the
great plains, causing hostilities with the Indians. Tensions also grew in the Texas
region as Mexico who originally welcomed American settlers closed their
boarder to foreign immigrants. Texas leaders, like Sam Houston began to
organize their own government and a war with Mexico followed. The loss at the
battle of the Alamo rallied the Texans who defeated General Santa Ana at the
battle of San Jacinto. Following the victory, Texas wanted to be annexed by the
United States. President Jackson made no move for this as Texas wanted to enter
as a slave state. The following election James K. Polk promised to annex Texas
and Oregon if elected. He also vowed to buy California from Mexico furthering
the manifest destiny.
Texas and Oregon were easy for Polk however; the Mexican government was
furious about losing Texas and would not speak about selling California. A war
was declared against Mexico. Prior to that, General John C. Fremont began
organizing an uprising in California and they renamed California the Bear Flag
Republic in 1846. The U.S.’s war continued until seizing Mexico city. The treaty
of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed giving the U.S. Mexico’s territories of
California, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Arizona, New Mexico, Wyoming and
Colorado. Of course, whether these states would be admitted as free or slave
states created quite a controversy.
The Compromise of 1850, settled the disputes admitting California as a free
states. However, abolitionists saw the Fugitive Slave Act that was part of the
compromise, as immoral. This law made it legal for people to arrest suspected
escaped slaves and made it simple for courts to send them south, never allowing
the accused to testify. It also required federal marshals to assist slave catchers.
Abolitionists, like Harriet Tubman began defying the law and created the Under
Ground Railroad which helped escaped slaves work their way north. Other
problems with the Union were the Kansas Nebraska act, which caused many
northerners to head into Kansas trying to create an abolitionist legislature.
A rift in the nation continued to grow. The supreme court ruled the Missouri
compromise unconstitutional in the Dred Scott v Sandford. John Brown an
abolitionist took a weapon arsenal at Harpers Ferry attempting arm southern
slaves. Talks of succession began spreading in the south. After the election of
Abraham Lincoln, South Carolina and six other states tried to dissolve ties with
the Union. The Confederate States of America were born. The created the
Confederate Constitution and elected Jefferson Davis a former senator from
Mississippi as their president.
When Lincoln took office, he promised not to interfere with Slavery in the states
where it existed, but would not tolerate succession from the Union. Confederate
President Jefferson Davis attacked fort Sumter in Virginia, beginning the Civil
War. Lincoln gathered an army of 75,000 volunteers for 90 days and 4 more
states chose to leave, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee.
Lincoln then imposed martial law attempting to prevent any others from joining.
The same day Virginia succeeded, the top Military General Robert E. Lee
resigned from the U.S Army after being offered command of the Union troops,
he was from Virginia. Hundreds of other top officers followed. The south may
have had better military leadership, but the north had several advantages over the
south. First, most of the manufacturing was in the north, so troops could be
better supplied. Also, a more extensive network of railroad tracks. Congress also
created a national currency to help make more money available. The south
printed their own. By the end of the war inflation in the north was up 80% in the
South nearly 9000%. Lincoln also began suspending Habeas Corpus for anyone
who openly supported the rebels, which allowed them to be imprisoned without
due process of law
The South thought they could make the war last long enough for people in the
north to grow tired of the war and negotiate. Union generals wanted to initiate
the Anaconda Plan which involved blockading ports and dividing the
confederacy at the Mississippi River attempting to slowly strangle the south of
resources forcing surrender. Lincoln tried to strike early in the battle of Bull
Run, the following day he signed a bill to enlist 500,000 more men for three
Troops met in the battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American
History. It was an important victory for the Union as the British had begun
making plans to recognize the confederacy, which changed after the South was
defeated. It also convinced Lincoln it was time to end slavery in the South. On
September 22, 1862 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing all
slaves in rebellious states. In order to end slavery all together, a constitutional
amendment was required.
Under General Ulysses S. Grant, union soldiers laid siege in Vicksburg
Mississippi and forced surrender from their starving commander. Lee decided to
attack the North in Gettysburg. Lee ordered 15,000 to charge the Union, 7,000
died in less than a half hour. This became known as Pickett’s Charge.
As the war continued, Lincoln was reelected. He interpreted this as a mandate
from voters to add a constitutional amendment to end slavery. In 1865 the 13th
amendment was sent to the states. In April of that year, Lee’s army was on the
run. Union Cavalry blocked the road at Appomattox Courthouse and Lee was
surrounded. Lee surrendered to Grant April 9, 1865. Grant had generous terms
for surrender allowing the soldiers to return home on their horses to provide for
their family for winter. That action would help reconcile the country. Five days
later, John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Fords Theater.
Before his death, Lincoln had laid out a plan for reconciling the country in his
Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. Instead of punishing the South for
treason, amnesty was offered to all Southerners who took an oath of Loyalty to
the United States and accepted the proclamation concerning slavery. Resistance
surfaced from a group in congress known as the Radical Republicans. They
wanted prevent leaders of the confederacy from returning to power and
guarantee the rights of slaves to vote in the south as freedom for slaves meant
more representation in congress. Others thought Lincolns plan was too lenient
and the radicals were going to far with equality and voting rights for African
Americas. The Wade-Davis Bill imposed slightly harsher policies for
reconstruction. It passed in the legislature, but Lincoln vetoed it. Near the end of
the war, congress created the Freedman’s Bureau to feed and cloth freed slaves.
After Lincoln’s death Vice President Andrew Johnson took over and began
implementing the restoration plan, which resembled Lincolns plan. Congress
was furious when confederate leaders were elected to congress and they voted to
reject them. They also felt Black Codes that had been passed in the south too
closely resembled slavery in the South. As a result more moderate republicans
began joining the Radical Republicans. With the power, they introduced the 14th
amendment granting citizenship to all people born in the United States. During
the next election republicans gained a 3 to 1 majority over democrats and now
had the power to override any presidential veto.
In 1867 military reconstruction began which sent a Union general to maintain
peace in each former confederate state. Each state was also required to create
another constitution acceptable to congress, give all male citizens, the right to
vote and ratify the 14th amendment. Congress also passed the Command of the
Army Act and Tenure of Office Act limiting President Johnson power to
interfere with congresses plans. Johnson broke one of the new laws and was put
on trial to be impeached. The senate was 1 vote short of impeaching Andrew
Johnson. Grant one the next election. Congress also passed the 15th amendment
guaranteeing former slaves the right to vote. By 1870 all former states had
During reconstruction many Northerners traveled south and worked in the new
governments, they were called Carpetbaggers and Scalawags. With their new
voting rights, African Americans began organizing politically and schools were
established for them. By barring some Southern Whites from participating in
government, new Republican Governments appeared in the South. Secret
societies were organized to resist reconstruction like the Ku Klux Klan. During
Grants second term the republicans began to split and a democrat, Rutherford B.
Hayes was elected. Hayes removed Union troops from the south and a “new
south,” based on a strong industrial economy emerged. However, many African
Americans returned to plantations as tenant farmers and sharecroppers.
Reconstruction had failed to help them succeed economically.