American History Coursework

Category: American History
Last Updated: 07 Dec 2022
Essay type: Coursework
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Andrew Jackson’s coming to power, his election in 1828 and the inauguration that followed was a critical moment when a democratic spirit took possession of American culture and public life. But the democratic movement was too large and wide to be reflected perfectly in the rise of a single leader, however influential he might be. But before looking at Jackson’s role and in the national arena where he played this out, I think we need to understand the wider scope of opinion that turned America in a more democratic direction and made Jackson’s rise possible.

During the 1820’s and 30’s the term democracy first became in use as a way of describing how American institutions were supposed to work. The Founders had defined democracy as direct rule by the masses of the people; most of them rejected this approach to government because it was against their conception of a well balanced republic led by a natural aristocracy. For winners of popular government in the Jacksonian period the people were truly sovereign and could do no wrong. “The voice of the people is the voice of God” was the clearest expression in this principle.

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Conservatives were less certain of the knowledge of the common folk. But even they were coming to see that public opinion had to be won over before major policy decisions could be made. Besides giving a feeling of popular sovereignty the democratic movement seemed to stimulate a process of kind of like a social equality. Earlier Americans had usually assumed that the rich and wellborn should be treated with special respect and recognized as natural leaders of the community and guardians of its culture and values.

By the 1830’s there was a disappearance of inherited social ranks and clearly defined aristocracies or privileged groups was a radical feature of democracy in America. The election of 1828 saw the birth of a new era of mass democracy. Jackson’s presidency started with his endorsement of rotation of officeholders or the spoils system. He was the first president to defend this practice as a legitimate application of democratic doctrine. Jackson also established a new kind of relationship with the cabinet.

Under other administrations, cabinet officers had acted on their own responsibility, making major policy decisions and advising Congress on legislation without presidential direction. They would serve for the full term of the president who selected them. Key questions affecting the government as a whole had often been decided by a majority vote of cabinet. All of that changed when Jackson came into power and when he came into office he reorganized the cabinet. The Whigs were a new national party that got its name because of its associations with both English and American Revolutionary opposition to royal power and standards.

But the main force of their creation was because of the critical support from southern proponents of states rights who had been upset by the political nationalism of Jackson’s stand on nullification and his unconstitutional abuses of power in his withdrawal of federal deposits from the Bank of the U. S. Jackson’s presidency was marred with many scandals and impassioned ideals. But in my opinion how he handled the western expansion gave him an “F” on being a president. The example I want to use is the “Trail of Tears” and the ruthless land grabbing his administration was known for. Reference: Latner, Richard B.

The Presidency of Andrew Jackson: White House Politics, 1829- 1837. Athens: University of Georgia Press, (1979). #2) Discuss industrialization of the North during the antebellum period……… There are few developments in all of human history as important as the Industrial Revolution. This great movement created wealth, material goods, and services on a scale unimaginable to the people of any earlier society. It created the resources to provide a reasonable standard of living for virtually the entire society, and stands of education, medical care, and nutrition unknown anywhere in the world before.

Just as important was the contribution of the millions of men and women who made up the labor force in the new factory system. Industrialization had some unfortunate social consequences as well as beneficial economic ones, and the history of labor was not necessarily characterized by steady improvement in either wages or conditions. A number of factors determined the condition of workers in a particular period. Among them were the available supply of labor, the skills necessary to a particular job, the type of industry in which one was employed, and the attitudes of courts and together governmental agencies toward labor and business.

During much of our industrial history, the economic theory that considered labor a commodity whose value would fluctuate with supply and demand, just as the cost of raw materials or manufactured products might, dominated American thinking. The first half of the nineteenth century is an especially interesting period in American labor history. During those years, industrialization with its substantial technological innovations and the introduction of the factory system of labor happened quickly. Yet there was a wide spread fear or distrust for the new machinery and the new spirit of industrial growth.

There was also a well established social philosophy as to the position of classes, the responsibilities of the employer and the roles of men and women in the labor force and in the home. Such deep social beliefs are not easily removed and only slowly were they modified to meet the demands of the new industrialism. One interesting face of labor history during this period is the way in which some of the new capitalists attempted to reconcile the old social philosophy of the paternalistic employer and his responsibility for the worker with the factory system of labor and the introduction of women workers.

Some of the women of the period extended their concerns to areas such as the antislavery crusade after they had become inflamed by the discrimination they experienced as women. Many other first began working in abolition and humanitarian reform movements and turned their attention to the women’s rights crusade only after discovering that their meddling in these area evoked taunts and threats of women in public affairs. Their reforms ranged from dress styles that afforded more freedom to equality in marriage, law, and employment. Women entered industry, journalism, medicine, teaching and in many other areas.

But throughout the nineteenth century the majority of American women still saw their roles as those of wives and mothers. Females were still expected to devote all of their time and strength to providing a home for their husband and children. To write or lecture in political causes was unfeminine. Despite the reforms of the Jacksonian period, there is little evidence of substantial changes in either male or female attitudes towards women. Reference: Ware, Norman. The Industrial Worker: 1840-1860. Peter Smith: 1959, (1924). #3) Discuss the agrarian economics of the South during the antebellum period……

Southerners became increasingly alarmed by their region’s lack of economic self-sufficiency. Dependence on the North for capital, marketing facilities, and manufactured goods were seen as evidence of a dangerous subservience to external economic interests. Southern nationalists called for the South to develop its own industries, commerce, and shipping. Southerners did not believe that such diversification would require a massive shift to free wage labor. They saw no reason why slaves could not be used as the main work force in an industrial revolution.

Men with capital were doing too well in plantation agriculture to ask their money in other ventures. I think it would be difficult to determine whether it was some inherent characteristic of slavery as a labor system or simply the strong market demand for cotton and the South’s capacity to meet it that kept most slaves working on plantations and farms. A minority of about 5 percent during the 1850’s were successfully employed in industrial tasks. Besides providing most of the labor for mining, lumbering, and constructing roads, canals and railways slaves also worked in cotton mills and tobacco factories.

In the 1840’s and 50’s a debate raged among white capitalists over whether the South should use free whites or enslaved blacks as the labor supply for industry. Some wanted to defend a white labor policy arguing that factory work would provide new economic opportunities for a degraded class of poor whites. But others that were for industrialization feared that the growth of a free working class would lead to social conflict among whites and preferred using slaves for all supervised manual labor. Some factories employed slaves, others white workers and a few even experimented with integrated work forces.

As nearly as con be determined, mills that hired or purchased slave labor were just as profitable and efficient as those paying wages to whites. By 1800 slavery had been eliminated in the North and in 1808 Congress banned the further importation of slaves from Africa. Although some illegal importations continued, other factors primarily accounted for the extraordinary need and expansion of slavery in the nineteenth century. One factor was the invention of the cotton gin which allowed the quick cleaning of as much cotton as the slaves could pick.

A second contribution was the acquisition of vast new territories beyond the Mississippi River, which created a market for slaves and gave rise to the domestic slave trade within the United States. Between 1820 and 1860 the slave population increased by more than 400,000, Southern planters found slavery to be economically profitable. There was also the high birth rate among African Americans and before the Civil War there were four million black people lived as permanent, hereditary slaves.

This formed the chief labor force from tobacco fields of Virginia to the cotton fields of Alabama, blacks were very important to southern agriculture and to sever other parts of the southern economy. As chattels, bought and sold like livestock, they were an easily marketable property that could bring ready cash to the slave owner. Slaves brought with them their own culture and beliefs that when considering the size of the population did influence, and one could say, Africanized the South. Reference: Owens, Leslie H. This Species of Property: Slave Life and Culture in the Old South.

New York: Oxford University Press, (1976). #4) Discuss some of the major events which intensified the conflict between the North and South…….. Many have looked for the reason in the crisis that worked up to the disruption of the Union, but have failed to agree on exactly what they were. Some have said it was the clash of economic interests between agrarian and industrializing regions. But this does not reflect the way people at the time expressed their concerns. The main issues in the sectional debates of the 1850’s were whether slavery was right or wrong and whether it should be extended or contained.

Many disagreements over protective tariffs and other economic measures allegedly benefiting one section or the other were only secondary. It has never really been clear why the interests of northern industry and those of the South’s commercial agriculture were irreconcilable. There was really no reason for producers of raw materials to go to war with those who marketed or processed them. Some have blamed the crisis on irresponsible politicians and agitators on both sides as being the problem. But the modern view has the roots lying in the ideological differences over the morality and use of slavery as an institution.

Increased tension during the Mexican War began because the Constitution had not predetermined the status of slavery in future states and led to the Missouri crisis that resulted in compromise that was designed to decide future cases and remain a rough division between slave and free states by drawing a line between them and extending it westward through the unsettled portions of what was them American soil. When Texas was admitted as a slave state, northern expansionists could still look to Oregon to counter balance, but the Mexican war raised the prospect that California and New Mexico would be acquired and then what.

Then with the free-soil crusade and the proposed amendment to the military appropriation bill that would ban slavery in any territory that would be acquired from Mexico trouble began to brew. A chain of events in late 1859 and early 1860 turned southern anxiety about northern attitudes and policies into a crisis of fear. These events alarmed slaveholders because they appeared to threaten their safety and dominance in a new and direct way. The first was the incident of John Brown’s raid on Harper Ferry.

Brown was a fervent abolitionist who had shown in Kansas the he was prepared to use violence against the enemies of black freedom. Brown’s aim was to arm the local slave population to commence a guerrilla war from havens in the Appalachians that would eventually extend to the plantation regions of the lower south. After Brown was sentenced to be hung Southerners were stunned and outraged by the outpouring of sympathy and admiration that Brown got from the North before his execution.

Southerners interpreted the wave of northern sympathy as an expression of the majority of opinion and the real attitude of the North. Then there was Lincoln’s election that provoked the secession of seven states of the Deep South even though it did not lead immediately to an armed conflict. After Lincoln’s election there were doubts as to if he could do the job because of his lack of experience and with the collapse of compromise efforts only increased the tensions that brought this country closer to the Civil War.

But probably the most important reason for the south to be so upset was because of Lincoln’s belief in ending slavery, a very important factor in Southern life. Reference: Donald, David H. Liberty and Union. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. , (1978). #5) Why was the Confederacy unsuccessful in establishing its Independence... By early 1863 the Confederate economy was in shambles and its diplomacy with England had collapsed. The social order of the South was also showing signs of severe strain.

Masters were losing control of their slaves, and non slaveholding whites were becoming disillusioned with the hardships of a war that some of them described as “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight. ” As slaves fled from the plantations, increasing numbers of lower-class whites deserted the army or refused to be drafted in the first place. Whole counties in the southern backcountry became deserter havens. Appalachian mountaineers, who had remained loyal to the Union, resisted the confederacy more directly by mounting a small scale war behind southern lines.

Yet the North was slow to capitalize on the South’s internal weaknesses because of its own serious morale problems. The long series of defeats on the eastern front had engendered war weariness and the new policies that military necessity forced the government to adopt encountered fierce opposition. The last two and a half year of the struggle saw the implementation of more radical war measure. The most important of them was the North’s attempt to follow through with Lincoln’s passion to free the slaves and bring the black population into the fight on the Union side.

The battle turned in the summer of 1863, but the south continued to resist for 2 more years until it was overtaken by the weight of the North’s advantages in manpower and resources. The limits of the Jeffersonian vision were very apparent even to contemporaries. The people who spoke of equality often owned slaves. It was not surprising that leaders of the Federalist Party accused the Republicans, especially those who lived in the South of hypocrisy and in Massachusetts Federalists defined Jeffersonian democracy as a plantation owner with many slaves.

The race issue simply would not go away. Jeffersonian did not fulfill even their own expectations. As members of an opposition party during the presidency of John Adams, they insisted upon a strict interpretation of the Constitution. Large navies were vital in the scramble for colonies, and in the 1870’s the United States had almost no navy. One of the most powerful fleets in the world during the Civil War, the American navy fell into rapid decline.

With the military effort to seize control of the Mississippi Valley halted at Shiloh, the Union navy soon contributed dramatically to the pursuit. On April 26th a fleet under flag officer David Farragut, coming up from the Gulf, captured the port of New Orleans after boldly running past the forts below the city. The occupation of New Orleans, besides securing the moth of the Mississippi climaxed a series of naval and amphibious operations around the edges of the Confederacy that had already succeeded in Capturing South Carolina’s Sea Islands and North Carolina’s Roanoke Island.

Strategically located bases were provided to enforce the blockade of the southern coast. The last serious challenge to the North’s naval supremacy was when the Confederate ironclad vessel the Merrimack had demolished wooden hulled northern ships was repulsed by the Monitor an armored Union gunship. It was later both ships were lost, the Merrimack at Norfolk and the Monitor in a gale in December. Reference: McPherson, James M. Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. New York: Knopf, (1982).

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American History Coursework. (2016, Jul 12). Retrieved from

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