BECK index

Summary & Evaluating America 1801-44

by Sanderson Beck

Jefferson’s Republic & Madison’s War 1801-17
United States 1817-1828
Jackson, Native Tribes & the West
Jacksonian Democracy
United States 1837-44
Slavery & Reformers 1801-44
American Philosophy & Literature 1801-44
Evaluating the United States 1801-44

United States Democracy & Slavery 1801-1844 has been published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

Jefferson’s Republic & Madison’s War 1801-17

      On 4 March 1801 President Thomas Jefferson began the era of Republican political influence as they sought to limit government and maximize freedom. Jefferson encouraged immigration, and the naturalization period was reduced to five years. His Treasury Secretary Gallatin worked to decrease the national debt, and military spending was reduced nearly 70% the first year. The Federalist Chief Justice John Marshall recognized treaties as the supreme law and in Marbury v. Madison established the Supreme Court’s power to declare laws unconstitutional. The US Army had only 3,350 men, but a military academy was established at West Point in 1802. In the 1802 elections the Republicans won even more seats in Congress. Ohio became the 17th state in 1803 and banned slavery but created “black laws.”
      In his first week President Jefferson consulted his cabinet about the Barbary pirates, and they sent a naval squadron led by Commodore Richard Dale in June. Because the United States stopped paying tribute, Tripoli declared war. In February 1802 Congress authorized the protection of commerce and American sailors. On June 25 Morocco declared war on the United States. In early 1803 Congress funded fifteen gunboats and four warships. American marines first landed on a foreign shore in June at Tripoli. In October the Philadelphia was lost, and 307 men were captured. The US Senate raised import duties to fund another squadron, and they attacked Tripoli in August 1804. Consul General Tobias Lear made a treaty with Morocco in October, and in June 1805 at Algiers he negotiated peace and the release of the 307 men. The US Senate ratified the Tripoli treaty in April 1806.
      Napoleon and Jefferson agreed to a revised treaty, and the US Senate ratified it in December 1801. Jefferson in January 1803 asked Congress for funding to buy New Orleans and to explore the Missouri River, and he sent James Monroe to France to negotiate a deal. France’s Foreign Minister Talleyrand offered to sell all of Louisiana, and the United States bought 828,000 square miles for $15 million. Congress approved it in October. The New Orleans Territory was governed by federal agents and then by unpopular William Claiborne and James Wilkinson. In 1806 people in Louisiana adopted the Code Noir segregation. Jefferson sent an expedition led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark that left St. Louis in May 1804 and explored the Missouri, Snake, Columbia and other rivers, reaching the Pacific Ocean in November. They got along with the Indians and brought back new plant and animal species. Lt. Zebulon Pike explored the sources of the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers, and Jefferson sent scientists to explore the Red River.
      The Marshall Supreme Court made significant decisions in Stuart v. Laird and Marbury v. Madison. They asserted judicial independence by interpreting the US Constitution and using their authority to strike down laws that they deemed unconstitutional. Treasury Secretary Gallatin advised reducing the Navy budget, and added duties on imports increased revenues in 1804 and helped pay down the national debt. Spain still claimed West Florida. A Federalist conspiracy to have New England secede failed to gain support. New York’s Governor George Clinton defeated Aaron Burr and was re-elected. Then the Republicans elected Clinton Vice President as President Jefferson easily won re-election. Republicans now outnumbered Federalists in Congress 141 to 35. Burr quarreled with Alexander Hamilton, killed him in a duel, and fled. Chief Justice Samuel Chase was impeached by the House of Representatives but was not convicted of any crime by the Senate. The Presbyterian Gideon Blackburn helped to educate the Cherokees, and they reformed their laws. In 1805 the Seneca’s Chief Red Jacket gave an eloquent speech asserting their right to choose their own religion.
      In his second term Jefferson continued his constructive efforts while maintaining peace. A Kentucky court in Thompson v. Wilmot upheld the rights of a freed slave. Increased revenues helped pay the public debt. Gov. William Henry Harrison made a treaty with tribes in the Indiana Territory, and Chickasaws, Cherokees, and Creeks sold land to Tennessee and Georgia. The British were at war and seized American ships; but they continued to be the main trading partner, and neutral Americans made money on exports. Spaniards complained about West Florida and also fought Americans in Texas. Mercy Warren published her history of the American Revolution. Joel Barlow wrote about education and scientific progress, and he urged the abolition of slavery. Jefferson agreed to a Non-importation Bill that went into effect in November 1806 as negotiations with the British continued. Tecumseh’s brother became the influential spiritual leader Tenskwatawa, and he persuaded some Indians to stop drinking alcohol. Tecumseh got aid from Canada for their Prophetstown community.
      Aaron Burr conspired with the governors Wilkinson in Louisiana and Claiborne in New Orleans trying to form an independent nation, and he obtained support from the British. Senator Dayton of New Jersey got $3,000 from Spain and encouraged Burr who secretly made plans with Wilkinson for an expedition down the Mississippi in November. Wilkinson warned Spaniards to leave the Orleans Territory in September. Harman Blennerhassett offered Burr an island where they could gather weapons and train volunteers. On September 27 Burr met with Andrew Jackson who later sent him $3,500 to build boats. On November 5 US District Attorney Daveiss for Kentucky began investigating Burr’s planned invasion of Mexico. On the 27th Jefferson warned citizens against participating in this unlawful expedition. Ohio’s Governor Tiffin ordered Burr’s boats seized. Wilkinson, having changed sides again, went to New Orleans and began arresting people. Burr was eventually captured on March 6. Chief Justice Marshall tried Burr and Blennerhassett for treason, but a jury did not find them guilty.
      The United States following its Constitution banned the slave trade starting in 1808, but slaves were still imported illegally. Republicans ended the salt tax, the last domestic tax. Jefferson rejected a treaty with England that would have let impressment of American sailors continue. On 22 June 1807 the British ship Leopard killed three men on the Chesapeake and removed four crewmen, and Jefferson ordered British ships to leave American waters. England and France were at war, and each declared that any ship trading with their enemy could be confiscated. Jefferson wanted to avoid war, and his Embargo Act became law on December 22. This stopped trade with American ships, but foreign ships could bring goods to American ports. The most seriously affected were the slaves in the West Indies who lacked food, and the business of merchants and others also suffered.
      In January 1808 the Enforcement Act made punishment more severe for violations of the embargo. The US Army was increased to 6,000 and added 24,000 volunteers. In March exports were banned to any foreign country including Canada and Spanish colonies. Jefferson ordered smuggling by Lake Champlain stopped in April, and in August he sent the Army and the Navy. Republican James Madison was elected President easily, and Clinton was re-elected Vice President. Federalists made gains in New England, New York, and Maryland but nowhere else. Jefferson acknowledged Congress’s right to declare war; but near the end of his term he hoped they would end the embargo because it had drastically reduced trade and caused economic hardship in America. Federalists met in Hartford, and in February 1809 Connecticut refused to enforce the embargo. On March 1 the Non-Intercourse Act ended all embargoes while closing American ports to the British and French. The embargo had cost much in lost exports; but it prevented war and stimulated American self-sufficiency and developed manufacturing. The Jefferson administration had reduced the national debt by about $40 million.

      James Madison was inaugurated the fourth President of the United States on 4 March 1809, and in his address he reviewed the achievements of the Jefferson era and affirmed republican principles and peace and friendly relations. The embargo was over, and he decommissioned most gunboats and discharged 100,000 militia. He used diplomacy to avoid the war between England and France. Governor Harrison in Indiana bought three million acres from Indians in September. Chief Tecumseh complained that all tribes should have to agree to these deals, and he worked to unite the Indian nations while negotiating with the British and the Americans. Madison asked for much more military spending for 1810. The US Supreme Court in Fletcher v. Peck recognized property rights of those who took land from the Indians between Georgia and the Mississippi River. Madison proclaimed a fulfilled agreement with Napoleon’s France in November 1810. Americans occupied West Florida, and in January 1811 they invaded East Florida. In the 1810 elections the Republicans increased their majorities in Congress.
      The US Congress did not renew the charter of the national bank in February 1811, benefitting the state banks. Madison vetoed a bill that would have funded churches. Seneca’s Chief Red Jacket complained about land sales by some Indians for others. Madison replaced the incompetent Secretary of State Robert Smith with James Monroe in April. On November 7 war broke out between Harrison’s army and the Indians at Tippecanoe, and the Indians’ town was burned. Tecumseh returned from a visit to the Creeks and tried to negotiate peace. The British were still seizing American sailors and ships, and Madison asked for more Navy ships and harbor fortifications. In January 1811 Madison approved increasing the US Army to 35,000 men. Restored trade had multiplied by 32 the exports to Britain. Madison ordered that invaded territory in East Florida be returned to Spain. Louisiana with slaves became the 18th state. On June 1 Madison sent a message to Congress asking for war against the British, and the declaration passed on the 17th. England had repealed the offensive Orders in Council the day before, but it was too late.
      The United States planned to add 25,000 regulars and 50,000 volunteers for one year and authorized 100,000 militia for six months, but the Navy had less than a dozen warships while the British had 80 in the region and 700 at sea. Techumseh opposed the older chiefs and wanted to unite the tribes on the British side to regain some of their land. Northern Federalists and the Federal Republican in Baltimore opposed the war, and hundreds of angry men destroyed their building. Governor William Hull in the Michigan Territory was ordered to go to Fort Detroit where he was defeated by British soldiers led by General Brock. The US Army invaded Canada, but General Van Ransselaer was defeated at Queenstown in October. The state militia refused to leave the state. Many in New England opposed the war, and the British tried to win them over by not blockading their coast. Madison won re-election, but the Federalist minority gained eight senators and 32 seats in the House. In 1813 nearly 500 American privateers seized more than 400 British ships. The United States borrowed $12.5 million from New York and Philadelphia as expenditures went from $20 million to $32 million in 1813. In April the US Army and Navy attacked and burned the Canadian capital buildings at York. The United States imposed another Embargo Act in December.
      Madison agreed to peace talks in January 1814, and Congress authorized a $24 million loan. Andrew Jackson’s army continued to kill Creeks, and they capitulated on August 9 and sold 36 million square miles. The embargo stopped New England from trading with Canada, and the British blockaded the entire coast of the United States. Having defeated Napoleon, the British could send more soldiers. The British invaded from Montreal in September. Secretary of War Armstrong failed to defend Washington which the British attacked, burning the Capitol and the President’s House. The Madisons escaped with documents, and the Americans managed to defend Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The Library of Congress had been burned, and Jefferson sold his library to replace the books. The British had stopped impressing American sailors. John Taylor wrote a book on Jeffersonian economics that criticized the aristocratic views of John Adams and Hamilton’s capitalism, advising the removal of privileges. Federalists opposed to the war met at Hartford in December and proposed amendments to the Constitution. With little exporting the federal deficit for 1814 was about $41 million. A peace treaty was signed at Ghent on December 24, and Jackson defeated the British at New Orleans on 8 January 1815. The US Senate ratified the treaty on February 16, ending the war. The United States spent $105 million on the war, and 2,260 Americans were killed. Privateers took 1,700 ships, and manufacturing expanded.
      After the war Congress agreed to a standing Army of 10,000 men, and families of killed and wounded men got pensions. Jackson continued martial law after the war. A squadron was sent to Algiers so that American prisoners would be released. The United States made a commercial treaty with Britain that was ratified by the end of 1815. That summer treaties ended the war’s fighting with the Indians. The national debt reached $120 million, and prices had nearly doubled. Indians no longer owned land in Ohio, and settlers increased the population to 400,000. Indiana adopted a constitution that abolished slavery and became the 18th state in December. Madison approved a new national bank in April 1816, and a commission began planning the Erie Canal. People objected to Congressmen raising its pay substantially, and only a third of them were re-elected. Federalists lost 17 seats, and the lame-duck Congress repealed the Compensation Act. American trade naturally increased. Jackson made a treaty with the Cherokee nation and Chickasaws in September 1816, and the Choctaws also ceded land. Criticism of alcohol began a temperance movement, and peace societies formed in New York and Massachusetts. Bible societies increased, and many religious tracts were published. Abolitionists worked to end slavery, and some proposed sending free blacks back to Africa. Madison also retired after a second term, and Monroe was easily elected President.

United States 1817-1828

      President James Monroe (1817-25) completed 24 consecutive years and 32 of the first 36 years of the United States by four slaveholding presidents from Virginia. He had assisted President Madison as Secretary of State for six years. He followed the Republican nationalism of Jefferson and Madison, but he appointed John Quincy Adams as Secretary of State and John C. Calhoun as Secretary of War. Monroe reduced the US national debt by a third. The United States made a treaty with Britain for a peaceful northern border. Mississippi was admitted as a slave state and Illinois as a free state. The US had about 9 million people and 300 newspapers. Henry Clay was Speaker of the House 1815-20 and selected committees. Most states only allowed white men with property to vote. The US Congress approved pensions for Revolutionary War veterans. During the “era of good feeling” Monroe toured the south. He appointed General Andrew Jackson to govern the Florida territory. Jackson quarreled with Spanish officers and expelled them, and he resigned in November 1818.
      In 1818 the overextended US Bank restricted loans that depressed the economy. Land values fell sharply. Paper currency in state banks depreciated, and a financial panic swept across the United States in 1819. Debtors fled west, and the US sold land for $1.25 an acre. The US Supreme Court ruled in McCulloch v. Maryland that a state law violating the US Constitution is illegal. In the 1818 and 1819 elections the Democratic-Republicans increased their majorities in the US Congress. Governor Clinton chartered the Savings Bank of New York to help finance the Erie Canal. The US Congress approved $10,000 to educate Indians. In the Dartmouth College case Daniel Webster persuaded the US Supreme Court to protect corporate charters. The US Congress granted the American Colonization Society $100,000, and in January 1820 the first black emigrants sailed for Liberia.
      In 1820 the US Congress led by slave-holding Speaker Clay worked out a compromise that admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state. They agreed to prohibit slavery in future states in the Louisiana Purchase territory north of 36° 30′ latitude. The Land Act would reduce the debt on public lands by more than $6 million in four years. Congress named slave trading “piracy” and invoked the death penalty. Missouri’s pro-slavery constitution banned free Negroes. President Monroe was easily re-elected over John Quincy Adams who was for emancipating slaves. Clay persuaded the Senate to approve free Negroes in Missouri in a second compromise.
      From 1822 to 1824 the United States recognized several independent Latin American nations and the Central American Federation. Adams and Clay favored liberty and opposed intervention. Advised by Adams, in 1823 President Monroe issued his policy on the independence of Latin American republics with a warning to European powers not to interfere. By then the US had more than 500,000 students in public schools and 10,000 physicians.
      Clay’s “American system” favored tariffs to promote home industry. War Secretary Calhoun initiated the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The 1824 presidential race was between the three cabinet members Adams, Calhoun, and Treasury Secretary Crawford as well as Clay and General Jackson who got the most votes. With no majority Clay helped Adams win in the House of Representatives, gaining Jackson’s inveterate hatred.
      President John Quincy Adams promised to respect rights and continue internal improvements, but Jackson’s supporters gained control of Congress. The 363-mile Erie Canal was completed, helping cities grow, and another national road connected Washington and New Orleans. The 4-year J. Q. Adams administration reduced the national debt by $25 million. An American Temperance Society was founded and grew quickly. Clay made US trade agreements with Mexico and European nations. A murder related to Freemason secrecy led to Anti-Mason newspapers and a new party. Workers in northern factories increased to two million.
      In 1828 the “Tariff of Abominations” taxed imported goods and materials to help Jackson get votes. Calhoun criticized high tariffs, and in December the South Carolina legislature declared a state’s right to nullify a federal act. Although Adams and Andrew Jackson did not campaign, their supporters fought with newspapers and scandalous tracts. Jackson accepted slavery and promised Indian land to settlers, and Calhoun was his running mate. Duff Green was official printer for the US Senate and attacked Adams and Clay. In the election 1,555,340 men voted, and the South’s electoral votes helped Jackson win the presidency. At the Dover mill 800 girls went on strike in December. In January 1829 Walker’s Appeal urged slaves to revolt.

Jackson, Native Tribes & the West

      In September 1817 seven tribes sold land in Ohio and the Michigan Territory and moved to reservations. Andrew Jackson adopted a Creek infant and had a paternalistic attitude toward Indians, believing they could not survive in the states. Conflicts occurred on the Spanish Florida-Georgia border, and the US order to remove Seminoles began a war. Secretary of War Calhoun demanded reparations from the Seminoles in December. In 1818 General Jackson led the Tennessee militia, allied with Creeks, and forced the Spanish to surrender St. Mark’s Fort. Jackson’s force destroyed hostile villages, and he executed two Britons. Seminoles aided his invasion of Spanish West Florida, and Spanish Governor Masot surrendered in May. Yet President Monroe restored Spanish authorities because Congress had not declared war. Jackson got the Chickasaws to sell a third of Tennessee in a corrupt deal. The US Senate censured Jackson for Florida violence. The US made a treaty with Britain in January 1819 and acquired Florida from Spain in February.
      Also in 1817 General Jackson persuaded Cherokees to sell land in Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama and to move to Arkansas Territory. Cherokees in 1819 again sold land in those states and in North Carolina. Sequoyah invented Cherokee letters, and Cherokee laws were published in 1821. In Johnson v. McIntosh (1823) the US Supreme Court justified Europeans’ domination of the American tribes. In December 1824 President Monroe advised peaceful solutions to tribal problems, but in January 1825 he urged resettling Indians west of the Mississippi. Osage and Kansas Indians in 1818 had ceded territory in Missouri to the US and moved west. By 1825 Cherokees had law codes and prosperous farms, and they got more schools in 1826. In 1827 their government in northwestern Georgia was based on the US Constitution. The Cherokee Phoenix began publishing in 1828. Gold was discovered near Cherokee land in July 1829. President Jackson in December advised tribes to emigrate beyond the Mississippi or submit to United States laws. In 1830 Georgia passed laws to confiscate Cherokee land and to nullify Cherokee laws.
      The lawyer Jeremiah Evarts supported the Cherokees’ right to stay in Georgia and the rights of the Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks, and Seminoles. In hisWilliam PennEssays” he analyzed the treaties made with the US and applied Christian principles. Eleazar Lord organized protests in New York City, and petitions were sent to Congress. The House passed the Removal Bill in May 1830, and the Cherokee Phoenix published Evarts‘ protest in July. Evarts died in May 1831. Abolitionists would use his ethical reasoning.
      The Indian Removal Act authorized $500,000 to move about 60,000 Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles. The Cherokees refused to leave Georgia, and William Wirt argued their case to the US Supreme Court which held they were not a sovereign nation. In March 1832 Worcester v. Georgia declared the Georgia law unconstitutional, but President Jackson refused to enforce the court’s judgment. Cherokees elected wealthy John Ross chief, and he led those refusing to move. In 1838-39 the US Army forced 18,000 Cherokees to make the 800-mile journey on the Trail of Tears, and about 6,000 died on the way. The Western Cherokee chief John Brown dissolved the Council, and three arriving leaders were murdered. The united East-West Cherokees adopted a constitution in September 1839 and began publishing the Cherokee Advocate in September 1844.
      Christian missionaries influenced Choctaws in Mississippi, and they developed schools. In 1821 Choctaws traded land in the United States for more land by the Arkansas and Red rivers in the West. In 1825 they ceded the eastern portion of their ancestral land. About 12,500 Choctaws emigrated from the state of Mississippi in 1831-33 as 2,500 died. About 5,000 Choctaws stayed in Mississippi.
      Chickasaws in western Tennessee and northern Mississippi also had schools and made US treaties in 1816, 1818, 1830, and 1834. President Jackson urged them to emigrate to preserve their culture. In 1837 Chickasaws leased land west of the Choctaws. On their move west in the winter of 1837-38 over 500 died of smallpox. Chickasaws faced conflicts with western tribes and Texans.
      In 1825 Creeks sold land in Georgia to the US for $217,600 and a perpetual annuity of $20,000, but 24 leaders got most of the money. In 1827 Creeks had land only in Alabama. In 1829 Jackson persuaded 1,200 Creeks to move to the Arkansas River. They suffered from epidemics until vaccines helped some. In March 1832 Creeks traded their land in Alabama for much less in the West. They signed a treaty at Fort Gibson in February 1833, and 10,000 troops removed 19,600 Creeks in the next two years; but 3,500 died of disease after arriving. Creeks still in Alabama fought a war against settlers in 1836. The next year 14,609 Creeks were forced to move west as over 3,500 died.
      Chief Black Hawk led the Sauks and Foxes. These tribes and others made a treaty with the US in August 1825. Black Hawk crossed the Mississippi back into Illinois in 1831 and made a treaty in June. He led 1,500 warriors into Illinois again in 1832. Militia and 1,300 US soldiers defeated them in July and August. Black Hawk escaped but surrendered on August 27. President Jackson summoned Black Hawk to Washington and met him in April 1833. After going on a tour Black Hawk spent his last years living with the Sauk in Iowa. Between 1837 and 1842 the United States purchased much land from midwestern tribes.
      Seminoles made a treaty with the US in September 1823 and were given a reservation in central Florida. Seminoles in May 1832 sold their land in Florida for about $80,000. They were required to move west in 1835, but that year the Second Seminole War broke out. The US sent an army of 5,000 men in January 1836, but by the end of the year they had removed only 400 Seminoles. In 1837 the US spent money and troops who removed 1,600 Seminoles by June. About 400 Seminoles defeated 1,100 soldiers in December, but they made peace in February 1838. That year the US removed 1,200 Seminoles, leaving less than 400 in Florida. The war ended in 1843, but it cost the United States $35 million and 1,535 military deaths.
      In 1825 the United States made treaties in the West with the Arikara, Cheyenne, Crow, Mandan, Ponca, and some Sioux. Cheyenne, Kiowas, and Comanches had conflicts from 1826 to 1840. In 1838 Cheyenne and Arapahos fought the Kiowas, Comanches, and some Apaches, but they made peace by the Arkansas River in 1840. US Indian Agent Major Taliafero tried to help civilize the Sioux in the 1820s and 1830s, and he considered white fur traders a bad influence. The treaties made at Prairie du Chien in August 1825 and July 1830 tried to stop tribal conflicts and provided annual gifts. In September 1837 the Sioux agreed to a lucrative treaty in Washington.
      Dr. Long of Mississippi led invasions of Texas in 1819 and 1821 that failed. Moses Austin got a grant in Texas from Spain in 1821, and before his death turned it over to his son Stephen. In 1823 he persuaded the Mexican Congress to let him settle 300 families in Texas and more in the years ahead. Many Americans brought slaves. Mexico banned slavery in 1829, and by 1832 Texas had 11,000 colonists. In 1833 committees led by Sam Houston worked on a constitution. Stephen Austin was arrested in January 1834 and held in Mexico City until August 1835. Texans in July had resolved to fight, and the revolt began in October near Gonzales. Austin led an army of 350 men who besieged San Antonio. A Texas provisional government began in November, and Houston was put in command. At the end of 1835 about 30,000 Americans in Texas outnumbered 3,000 Mexicans. Col. Travis refused to abandon the Alamo, and the men defending it were slaughtered by Santa Anna’s army on 6 March 1836. A Texas national convention adopted a constitution and elected David Burnet President. On March 27 Santa Anna had 332 Texan prisoners at Goliad executed. Houston’s army of 900 men won a major victory at San Jacinto in April and captured Santa Anna who agreed to remove the Mexican army from Texas.
      Texans elected Houston President in 1836, and he made peace with Comanches. In 1837 the United States recognized the Texas Republic, but the US Senate rejected annexation. Texas President Lamar (1838-41) supported education and opposed annexation. Failed diplomacy led to conflicts with Comanches and Cherokees, and Lamar ordered extermination. Texans’ attempt to form another republic by the Rio Grande in 1840 provoked a war with Mexico. Houston was elected President again in 1841, and he reduced spending, declining to spend for a war against Mexico. A Mexican army of 500 men invaded Texas in March 1842, and the Texas Congress declared war in June. A Mexican army of 1,000 occupied San Antonio in September. A general amnesty in September 1844 paroled prisoners. Texas spent money protecting the frontier from US Indians. By 1845 Texas had 24,401 slaves.
      Diminishing beaver gradually closed the era of the mountain men in the West. The Santa Fé Trail opened the way for Americans to move to and trade with Santa Fé in Mexico’s territory of New Mexico. A Texan expedition in 1841 to take over Santa Fé and New Mexico failed miserably. Mexico closed the Santa Fé Trail to Americans in 1844. Fur trappers and companies exploited the Oregon country that was shared by the United States and Britain, and this trapping also gave way to settlers who followed the Oregon Trail.

Jacksonian Democracy

      President Andrew Jackson (1829-37) was a war hero but wanted to bring democratic reforms to the common people. He claimed he wanted to correct the abuses of patronage, but he replaced numerous government officials with his spoils system. He had many unofficial advisors but relied on his Secretary of State Martin Van Buren. He put term limits on some positions. Kendall discovered corruption in the Treasury Department. Some workers’ advocates were concerned about banks giving too much paper credit, and Jackson considered the US Bank unconstitutional. He wanted to purchase Texas for national security. His Democratic Party had a majority in both houses of Congress. Josiah Holbrook promoted popular education through town lyceums that spread rapidly. Improvements came from railways, canals, steam engines, and other industries.
      Vice President Calhoun and Senator Haynes of South Carolina were for states’ rights and nullifying federal laws, but Senator Daniel Webster opposed them and spoke for union and the US Constitution. Jacksonians favored making land available to more people, and they funded more roads and canals; but Jackson vetoed turning them over to states. Madison also criticized nullification. Fur trappers competed for diminishing beaver in the West. The US had 330 banks aiding the sale of public land. Senator Benton of Missouri opposed renewing the US Bank. Calhoun exposed Jackson’s conquest of Spanish Florida. In April 1831 Van Buren and War Secretary Eaton resigned, and Jackson replaced most of his cabinet. Free blacks met in Philadelphia and challenged prejudices. Calhoun warned against Jacksonian majority rule. The Anti-Masonic Party nominated Wirt for President, and the National Republicans named Henry Clay. Jackson claimed successes in foreign policy. Major newspapers got money from the US Government for printing. Stephen Smith’s Working Man’s Manuel opposed unequal property.
      After an investigation in 1832 the US Congress renewed the US Bank. President Jackson wanted to kill the Bank and vetoed the bill. He was concerned that foreigners had so much of the money and that westerners with land owed foreigners and Eastern investors. Jackson opposed the selfishness of the rich and powerful. Many in Congress objected, and Jackson appealed to the people. Bank notes were causing speculation and higher prices, and calling in loans led to collapse. Jackson tried to remove deposits from the US Bank but could not get Treasury secretaries to do so until Roger Taney transferred deposits to state banks. The US Senate refused to confirm Taney. Clay criticized Jackson, and the Senate censured the President. Democrat James Polk got the House to pass four resolutions on the Bank including an investigation. Sale of public land increased in 1835 and 1836 as an expanding money supply caused an economic surge.
      The 1832 protectionist tariff was opposed in South Carolina as its Governor Hamilton and Calhoun persuaded a convention to nullify the law in their state. They prepared to meet federal coercion with secession and many volunteers. Jackson called that treason and sent federal troops to Charleston harbor. Clay got compromise tariffs passed reducing the taxes. Virginians debated the emancipation of slaves. After two Americans were killed on Sumatra, US Marines were sent and killed 450 people. Jackson chose Van Buren to be Vice President, and they were easily elected over the Republican Clay. Frances Trollope published Domestic Manners of the Americans. Pioneers began following the Oregon Trail from Missouri to the Columbia River.
      In Jackson’s first term railways and steamships had increased, and 200 new banks helped investment. Oberlin provided the first co-educational college, and a Quaker college was started. In New York trade unions demanded a ten-hour workday. The national debt was reduced to $4,760,082. In 1832 and 1833 treaties were made with Seminoles, Cherokees, Creeks, and four other tribes. Edward Livingston published his book on humane prison reforms, and Mathew Carey asked the wealthy to help the poor. Settlers moved into the Michigan and Wisconsin territories. Jackson sent troops to end disorder in Maryland. Whigs gained control of New York’s city council. Clay, Webster, and Calhoun were Whig leaders. Congress established Indian country west of the Mississippi. Massachusetts ended imprisonment for debt. Democrats regained a majority in the US Senate in November 1834 elections.
      Many Irish immigrants arrived in the 1830s. Riots rose and fell in 1834-36, and some mobs attacked abolitionists. Amos Kendall became Postmaster General and turned a large debt into a surplus. Capitalists speculated in land in the West while workers in the East went on strike for a ten-hour day. Employers hired women, children, and convicts at lower wages. The Whigs had three nominees for President, and Democrats nominated Van Buren. Jackson appointed five Supreme Court justices including two more added by the Democratic Congress, and all five were from slave states. Taney was confirmed as Chief Justice. Jackson criticized abolitionists and asked Congress to regulate the Indian Territory. The Anti-Mason Party nominated General Harrison for President. Abolitionist mail was burned in Charleston, South Carolina. Sylvester Graham promoted a vegetarian diet.
      The United States sold more land in 1836 mostly for paper money. Prices were increasing, and the financial panic  began in January 1837. In eight years American exports had doubled, and imports quadrupled. The US Senate began rejecting abolitionist petitions without any debate, but John Quincy Adams challenged this and warned that war for Texas against Mexico over slavery would lead to a civil war. The US admitted the slave state Arkansas in 1836 and the free state of Michigan in January 1837. Women in Lowell textile mills went on strike. The Democrat Van Buren won a majority of the votes and easily defeated the divided Whigs to become President. Webster said that education and technical progress will increase prosperity. Most organized workers had a 10-hour day by 1836. In March 1837 the US Supreme Court was increased to nine justices. Jackson recognized Texas as a nation.

United States 1837-44

      President Martin Van Buren (1837-41) appeared to inherit a booming economy, but in February 1837 a riot over the price of flour in New York led to a financial panic in March caused by the collapse of the cotton market in New Orleans. Bankruptcies spread, and stocks lost their value. Jacksonians blamed banks; but Whigs criticized Jackson as specie reserves (gold and silver) had fallen sharply. On May 10 banks in New York City suspended specie payments which caused property values and prices to plummet. That week almost all banks in the US did the same. The War Department spent $11.5 million on Indian removal in June and July, reviving the national debt. Van Buren approved treasury notes to increase the money supply, and he opposed annexing Texas. Whigs gained a majority in six states. Some Winnebagos refused to leave Wisconsin, and the Seminole War was costly. A mob murdered the abolitionist editor Lovejoy in Alton, Illinois. John L. O’Sullivan and Francis Grund praised American democracy while Harriet Martineau advocated female education.
      A temporary economic recovery in 1838 would last until another panic emerged in 1839. Americans favored Canadian rebellions against the British, but Van Buren proclaimed neutrality in November 1837, and he sent a force led by General Winfield Scott who made peace in January 1838. Abraham Lincoln in Illinois warned against mob violence. A pro-slavery mob burned a meetinghouse in Philadelphia, but Robert Purvis organized the Underground Railroad to help free slaves. Americans avenging an attack on a ship were defeated by British militia in Canada and punished. Whigs made gains in elections and elected Seward governor of New York. The New York Customs Collector Swartwout had embezzled over $1 million and fled. James Smithson left his fortune to the United States to increase knowledge. Banks failed again in 1839, and cotton prices fell. The conflict between New Brunswick and Maine was resolved by General Scott in March. Clay’s Whigs emphasized American business, and he criticized abolitionists. Whigs made more gains in 1839 elections. Van Buren was the first US President to campaign for re-election. The new abolitionist Liberty Party nominated James G. Birney for President. Low grain prices of the financial depression reached western states in the fall.
      In March 1840 Van Buren approved the 10-hour day for federal workers. The 1840 census counted 2,487,355 slaves and estimated that 600,000 immigrants had arrived in the decade. Indian removal and the Seminole War had cost $50 million by 1840. Henry Clay in June promoted the Whigs’ economic program in a campaign speech in Virginia. Van Buren signed the Independent Treasury bill on July 4. The radical Orestes Brownson supported it because it helped exploited laborers. Brownson agreed with the views of Jesus, and he urged reforms for the rights of workers. Albert Brisbane promoted the socialist ideas of Charles Fourier in his Social Destiny of Man which was published in 1840. Van Buren kept the peace with Mexico by opposing the annexation of Texas. Horace Mann improved public education in Massachusetts. In the 1840 elections the Whigs gained power in twelve states while Democratic banking systems survived in five states. Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast described life on an American ship. Clay supported slavery to get southern votes, but the Whig convention nominated the military hero William Henry Harrison for President, and Clay declined to be his running mate. Van Buren was nominated for re-election and was portrayed as a wealthy aristocrat. The Whigs won all but five states and increased their majorities in Congress in an election in which 80% of those eligible voted. Harrison made Webster the Secretary of State.
      President Harrison caught a cold while making his inaugural address and died one month later. Vice President John Tyler, a slaveholder from Virginia, became President and would be accused of abandoning Whigs to become a Democrat. Whigs did well in Congressional elections held in May 1841. Tyler vetoed many bills. Five cabinet officers resigned in September, but Webster stayed until May 1843. Tyler selected Whigs and balanced north and south in his cabinet. After Whigs lost state elections in August, Tyler appointed states-rights Democrats to other positions. He signed Webster’s Bankruptcy Act. An 1842 treaty enabled the Senecas to stay in New York. Gilbert Vale published “Happiness for All Through Diffusion of Wealth.”
      In 1842 Webster and Clay helped Congress pass a loan bill with a tariff that gave funds to states. Massachusetts improved labor laws. Joshua Giddings of Ohio advocated in Congress on behalf of slaves. Lt. John C. Fremont led an expedition to explore the Rocky Mountains, and his wife Jessie helped write the popular report, increasing those going West on the Oregon Trail. Tyler vetoed tariffs but signed the “Black Tariff” that would reduce US imports. Webster negotiated a treaty with British Foreign Minister Ashburton that set the US-Canada border. The costly Seminole war was ended. In the fall the Whigs lost elections but retained a Senate majority. Tyler extended the Monroe Doctrine to protect Hawaii. Dorr’s Rebellion in Rhode Island stimulated election reform.
      Secretary of State Webster opposed slavery, disagreed with Tyler on Texas, and resigned in May 1843. The Mexican minister warned that US annexation of Texas would cause a war. Tyler claimed the Oregon Territory up to 54° 40' north latitude. Fremont mapped Oregon, California, and back by way of Santa Fé. Congress funded a telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore. Tyler made Calhoun the Secretary of State, and they worked on annexing Texas; but they could not get Congress to approve. The American Republican Party, who were called “Know-nothings” for their secrecy, formed to oppose immigrants, and they elected James Harper the Mayor of New York City. George Henry Evans urged a new homestead policy.
      In the 1844 elections abolitionists in the Liberty Party nominated Birney again. Henry Clay in April warned that annexing Texas would cause a war with Mexico and divide the United States. The Whig Party convention nominated Clay with the Christian Frelinghuysen for Vice President. The Democratic convention was divided between Van Buren and Lewis Cass, but then they nominated James Polk who promised to serve only one term. President Tyler was running too but quit and endorsed Polk. The 79% of eligible voters gave Polk a narrow advantage in the popular vote and 15 states. Yet if one-third of Birney’s 15,812 votes in New York had gone to Clay, he would have won the state and the election. Democrats held the House and took over the Senate.
      Alexis de Tocqueville was born in Paris and traveled in the United States in 1831 and 1832. His observations and analysis in his Democracy in America have been studied by many. He prophetically predicted that the US and Russia would become great powers, and he also noted significant differences.

Slavery & Reformers 1801-44

      Increasing cotton production by slaves enabled the state of Mississippi in 1817 and Alabama in 1819 to join the Union. Slaves in the United States increased from 1,538,133 in 1820 to 2,487,355 in 1840. Southern slaveholders used torture to speed up cotton pickers to keep up with textile machines in the North. Laws in the South treated African slaves as property to prevent them from being educated or gaining freedom. In the North most states did not allow free blacks to vote. Business firms bought slaves cheap in eastern states where cotton had depleted the soil and then sold them in western slave states. The price of slaves more than doubled during Jackson’s presidency. Getting black girls and women pregnant early and often increased the number of slaves. Slaves were imported to Florida and Louisiana. White masters forced African slaves to work long hours especially during the harvest. Slaves were punished for slight offenses, but whites were rarely charged for harming or killing slaves. The Fugitive Slave Law was used to catch runaway slaves. The American Colonization Society began in 1816 to transport blacks back to Africa, but most abolitionists would oppose this. About 15,000 blacks would emigrate. New York freed its 10,000 slaves in 1827. The 1840 US census counted 386,293 free blacks.
      The African slaves in the Americas often revolted. The educated Denmark Vesey led a conspiracy at Charleston that was discovered in May 1822 and suppressed. About 10,000 slaves revolted in Demerara, Guiana in 1823. The religious slave Nat Turner led a rebellion in Southampton, Virginia in August 1828. Many whites and blacks were killed before 33 slaves were tried and punished. The Confession of Nat Turner was published and distributed. In July 1839 slaves took over the Spanish ship La Amistad. They were put on trial in New Haven in November, and the Spanish claims were dismissed. In the appeal to the US Supreme Court John Quincy Adams persuaded eight justices that the Africans had a right to free themselves, and they were returned to Africa in January 1842. About 135 slaves took over the ship Creole in October 1841 and killed one man. They were arrested in Nassau but were eventually freed.
      Frederick Douglass was a slave in Maryland and managed to learn to read, and he was inspired by The Columbian Orator. When he was 15, he fought back against being whipped. In 1834 his master let him teach at a Sabbath school. Frederick learned how to caulk ships and earned money for his master that they shared. In September 1838 he escaped to New York. He got a job in New Bedford and subscribed to The Liberator. He opposed African emigration, met Garrison, and became a popular abolitionist speaker, traveling to many states. He published his Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in the spring of 1845.
      Charles Osborn started the anti-slavery newspaper The Philanthropist in September 1817. Levi Coffin in Indiana guided the escape of 3,000 slaves by the underground railroad. Quaker Benjamin Lundy helped Negroes emigrate to Haiti. He opposed the admission of any more slave states and the internal slave trade, and he advocated amending the US Constitution’s three-fifths compromise. He led the petition campaign to ban slavery in the District of Columbia and published The Genius of Universal Emancipation 1821-39. In 1826 Quakers helped 700 blacks emigrate to Haiti. The first Negro newspaper Freedom’s Journal began in 1827. On July 4 New York freed its 10,000 slaves. Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. David Walker in September published An Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World to end slavery.
      William Lloyd Garrison led the effort to abolish slavery in the US from 1829 and published The Liberator from 1831 until the goal was achieved in 1865. He wrote the poem “Universal Emancipation.” He was arrested for libel, and rewards were offered in the South for him and other abolitionists. He opposed African colonization and demanded immediate liberation.
      In 1833 the poet Whittier published Justice and Expediency. Another Quaker, Prudence Crandall, opened her school in Connecticut to 20 colored girls in April. They were harassed and had to close it in September 1834. In 1833 Samuel May wrote The Right of the Colored People to Education Vindicated, and Lydia Child published An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans and other works criticizing slavery. Arthur Tappan started The Emancipator in New York. In December 1833 at Philadelphia 64 delegates led by Garrison formed the American Anti-Slavery Society with an eloquent constitution. The renunciation of physical force was also explained in Garrison’s “Declaration of Sentiments.” David Lee Child criticized racism in The Despotism of Freedom.
      In 1835 blacks wrote and began disseminating works on human rights, and attacks by mobs against abolitionists increased. On October 21 they attacked a convention at Utica and the Female Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, nearly lynching Garrison. William Ellery Channing criticized slavery as irrational, immoral, and undemocratic. In 1836 abolitionists petitioned to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, and Angelina Grimké published An Appeal to the Christian Women of the South. The US Congress refused even to debate slavery from 1837 to 1844.
      In 1837 the Anti-slavery Women of America held a convention at New York. The abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy had his printing press destroyed by mobs several times, and he was killed at Alton, Illinois. Garrison believed in nonresistance (nonviolence) and won over others. In 1838 they formed a Nonresistance Society and published the Non Resistant. Abolitionists built Pennsylvania Hall, but during the Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women a mob burned down the building. Black Robert Purvis led the organization to help fleeing slaves by the “underground railroad.” Abolitionists boycotted segregated schools. Theodore Weld published American Slavery As It Is in 1839. Garrison also worked for women’s rights. He encouraged women to take leadership positions, and in May 1840 Lewis Tappan and others were outvoted, left the American Anti-Slavery Society, and formed another Anti-Slavery society that excluded women. By 1840 there were 2,000 abolitionist societies with about 200,000 members.
      Charles K. Whipple explained how the American Revolutionary War would have been better if it had been nonviolent. James Birney organized the Liberty Party and ran for US President twice. The black abolitionist Charles Remond lectured widely and criticized segregation on railways. Charles Torrey, Thomas Smallwood, and others supported the underground railroad. Stephen S. Foster and other abolitionists criticized pro-slavery churches. Garrison suggested that northern states should secede. After northern Methodists and Baptists opposed slavery, the southern churches formed separate organizations.

      Women such as Elizabeth Ann Seton and Isabella Graham promoted charitable work. The major Female Moral Reform Societies started in Boston and New York. Public schools for girls began in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1824. Hannah Mather Crocker emphasized women’s rights as well as duties. Emma Willard founded the Troy Female Seminary in 1821, and in 1837 Mary Lyon started the Mount Holyoke Seminary. British writer Harriet Martineau visited the United States 1834-36 and published Society in America. She criticized dishonest politicians, “gentlemen” who persecuted abolitionists, one-sided reporters, and sectional prejudice. She denounced slavery and complained that women could not participate in politics,. Women in some states gained the right to own property, and Lowell women went on strike asking for a ten-hour day.
      In 1823 Catherine Beecher founded the Hartford Female Seminary and in 1833 the Western Female Institute in Cincinnati. She wrote several books on education and morals, and she urged the abolition of slavery. In 1841 she published her influential Treatise on Domestic Economy.
      Frances Wright was drawn to America as the land of freedom and genius, and she published Views of Society and Manners in America in 1821. She visited the New Harmony commune in 1824, and in 1825 Lundy published her Plan for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery. She purchased land near Memphis and founded the Nashoba community. She was influenced by the utilitarian Bentham and the socialist Robert Owen. She lectured widely, and her Course of Popular Lectures was published in 1829. She spoke for the neglected female mind and emphasized free inquiry to obtain just knowledge. She believed in sexual equality, and she promoted the ethical science of human actions rather than religion. She wanted free schools to educate all children. In 1830 Wright accompanied slaves who were freed in Haiti. She lectured on American government in 1836 and opposed banking. She founded a newspaper and advocated women’s property rights, sexual freedom, birth control, and reforming marriage laws.
      Dorothea Dix taught school and became a writer. She was influenced by William Ellery Channing, and she worked as a governess to his children. In 1832 she published American Moral Tales for Young Persons. In 1841 she discovered the miserable conditions of the insane in jails, and she began helping them. She studied how the insane were treated in prisons, jails, almshouses, and workhouses, and her report to the Massachusetts legislature persuaded them to expand the Worcester State Lunatic Hospital. She visited institutions in Connecticut and New York and raised money for a hospital in Rhode Island. In 1844 New York approved an asylum at Utica. Dix also went to Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.
      Lydia Child learned about native women as a youth in Maine and wrote novels about Narragansetts, Mohawks, Pequods, and Pokanokets. She made money editing the bimonthly Juvenile Miscellany 1826-34. She opposed plans to remove the Cherokees. She married David Child who was punished for criticizing Jackson and others. Her books, The Frugal Housewife, The Mother’s Book, and Good Wives offered practical advice to women of moderate means.
      The Childs supported the anti-slavery movement, and in 1833 Lydia published her comprehensive Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans; but David’s Despotism of Freedom was not as popular. As a lawyer he defended the crew of the Spanish Panda. In 1835 Lydia published her 2-volume multi-cultural History of the Condition of Women. She published three more anti-slavery tracts and her philosophical novel Philothea: A Romance. She worked for women’s rights and became a close friend of Margaret Fuller. The Childs edited the National Anti-Slavery Standard 1840-44. Lydia also wrote anti-slavery stories, and her “Letters from New York” took on prison reform and capitalism.
      Four Quaker women were prominent abolitionists and also worked for women’s rights. Prudence Crandall taught black girls until their school was damaged in 1834. Lucretia Mott organized the Philadelphia Female Antislavery Society in 1833, and in 1840 she attended the World Antislavery Convention in London. Sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimké left South Carolina to join Quakers in Philadelphia. They both wrote and lectured extensively for the abolition of slavery and equal rights for women.
      Margaret Fuller’s father pressured her to study, and she had a precocious childhood and became extremely well read. She learned several languages and taught her brothers and sisters. After her father’s death in 1835 she began teaching at schools. She met Emerson and became a Transcendentalist. She translated Eckermann’s Conversations with Goethe. She had close friendships with women and gave weekly Conversations for women at Elizabeth Peabody’s bookstore in Boston. In November 1841 Fuller began editing The Dial for Transcendentalists, and she also wrote articles. Her book, Summer on the Lakes, in 1843 about the Chippewa and Ottawa tribes was published in 1844, and her feminist Woman in the Nineteenth Century came out as a book in February 1845.

American Philosophy & Literature 1801-44

      David Dodge founded the New York Peace Society in 1815, the year he published War Inconsistent with the Religion of Jesus Christ. The moderate Massachusetts Peace Society had a thousand members by 1818, and Quakers formed the Pennsylvania Peace Society in 1822. The American Peace Society formed in 1828, and William Ladd became the leader. He had published The Essays of Philanthropos on Peace and War in 1825. Rev. Henry C. Wright went on a speaking tour for the society. In 1840 Ladd published An Essay on a Congress of Nations, but after his death in 1841 the conservative George Beckwith took over. In June 1843 the abolitionist Lewis Tappan attended the first World Peace Congress in London. Shakers were conscientiously opposed to participating in or supporting war as they practiced the spiritual way taught by Jesus.
      William Ellery Channing began preaching Unitarian Christianity about 1820 when he formed a conference of liberal Congregational ministers. He supported the Massachusetts Peace Society started by Noah Worcester and gave three “Discourses on War” in 1816, 1835, and 1838. Channing supported the abolitionists with his book Slavery in 1835. In 1837 he warned Henry Clay that annexing Texas could extend slavery and lead to war. Channing and others defended the Universalist Abner Kneeland who was jailed for 60 days for blasphemy in 1838. In 1840 Channing published his lectures “On the Elevation of the Laboring Classes.” He explained how the British had freed themselves of slavery.
      Charles Grandison Finney was a successful evangelist and promoted moral reform. Experiments in communal living were led by Robert Owen at New Harmony in Indiana 1825-27, by George Ripley at Brook Farm 1841-46, by Adin Ballou at Hopedale 1842-56, and by Bronson Alcott at Fruitlands 1842-44. Albert Brisbane studied with the socialist Charles Fourier in Paris, and in 1840 Brisbane’s Social Destiny of Man explained how society could be reformed.
      George Bancroft wrote an influential history of the United States, and in August 1835 he gave a magnificent speech on “The Common Man in Art, Politics, and Religion.” He described the human spirit, the power of education, the moral conscience, and government of equal rights.
      Joseph Smith had little education other than from the Bible, but he apparently had visions and felt guided to write a new bible for America. He dictated the text to a secretary from behind a curtain, and he published the Book of Mormon in March 1830. The book claims that a lost tribe of Israel came to America and that several centuries later Jesus Christ appeared there after he was resurrected. Eventually evil Lamanites wiped out the Nephites.
      Joseph Smith founded a Church of Christ in April 1830 and in 1832 renamed it the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. In 1831 Joseph led 70 Mormons from New York to Kirtland, Ohio. In March 1832 Joseph was abducted, tarred, and feathered. He made more revelations that were published in 1833. He forbade use of tobacco, liquor, coffee, and tea.  Smith predicted a war between North and South and Indian violence. Mormons had conflicts with neighbors, and he organized a militia in May 1834 and led them to Missouri. Mormons had no slaves; but Smith recognized the South’s right to hold slaves because it was in the Bible. He published the Book of Abraham in 1835 and began practicing plural marriage secretly. Their bank failed, and Mormons sent out missionaries. In 1838 Mormons came into conflict with the Missouri militia. Smith and other leaders were arrested.
      Brigham Young became a Mormon leader and missionary. He was away during the 1838 war in Missouri, but he became President of the Twelve Apostles and led about 3,000 Mormons to Quincy, Illinois. After being imprisoned for six months Joseph Smith in 1839 escaped and went to Quincy. He founded the Mormon town “Nauvoo” and sent Young and apostles to Britain. Smith visited Washington and lectured to large audiences. He had a temple built at Nauvoo in 1841, and he married more than thirty women. He quarreled with Mayor Bennett who became an adversary. Mormon women began running a Relief Society in 1842. Smith adopted some Freemasonry rituals, and he ran for US President in 1843. Problems escalated in 1844, and Smith declared martial law in Nauvoo. Joseph and his brother Hyrum were arrested, and armed men killed them in the jail on June 27. Most Mormons decided to follow Brigham Young.

      Ralph Waldo Emerson studied the works of many great authors. He became a Unitarian minister in Boston in 1829.  He discovered eastern philosophy, and in 1831 he resigned his ministry. In 1833 he traveled in Europe and talked to Thomas Carlyle. He began lecturing and served as a Unitarian minister 1835-38 in Lexington. In 1836 he described his philosophy in his first major work, Nature. He founded Transcendentalism and explained this idealistic philosophy by describing relations between Spirit and nature.
      Emerson and those drawn to him formed the Transcendental Club. He gave a series of lectures on the “Philosophy of History” which concluded with “Ethics.” He made an appeal for the expelled Cherokees and welcomed Henry David Thoreau into his home. In 1838 he published his speech The American Scholar, urging people to know themselves and study nature. In the soul he found divine justice, and he warned that deceiving is self-deception. He gave a lecture series on “Human Life.” The Transcendental Club selected Margaret Fuller to edit The Dial which started in July 1840. Emerson edited the last two volumes from July 1842 to April 1844.
      Emerson described war as an epidemic of insanity, and he explained how mature humanity can love instead of hate and have peace instead of war as civilization prevails over barbarism. He agreed with the nonresistance of Jesus and Garrison, and he urged transferring courage from war to the cause of peace. True heroes maintain peace. He predicted a Congress of Nations. In a lecture to apprentices he warned against selfishness, and he advised reforming government, schools, religion, marriage, trade, and science in accord with nature as love creates the greatest of all revolutions.
      In his first series of Essays in 1841 Emerson wrote “History” and “Self-Reliance.” Understanding history helps us live more fully. In self-reliance we learn to trust ourselves find our own talents without conforming. Integrity leads to genuine actions that develop character. Understanding justice is finding the truth, and virtue enhances reality. Goodness comes from the Spirit of God. To live nobly follow your heart, and the triumph of principles brings peace.
      In his essay “Compensation” Emerson described the spiritual law of karma or the cause and effect which brings about equal justice. We create our lives and are responsible for all our actions. Divine retribution balances every equation. Emerson also discussed human life in “Spiritual Laws.” Higher laws regulate all events. We are the world and measure justice, truth, and beauty. A person is arranged progressively. Yet transcendent of these laws is the divine soul and the whole reality of God.
      Emerson’s transcendence is expressed in “The Over-Soul” as the vision of divine wisdom. God is the cause of justice, love, freedom, and power. Even a simple person with integrity becomes God. Emerson drew wider ideas in his essay “Circles,” and in “Art” he foresaw a higher expression than mere imitation of nature.
      Emerson in his series of lectures on “The Times” described American society as he saw it in 1841-42. He contrasted the two parties of the past and the future, naturally favoring the latter. He described the party of the past in his essay “The Conservative.” In “The Transcendentalist” he explained some sources of his ideas in Asian philosophy and the intuitive ideas of Immanuel Kant. Emerson was influenced by innovative women such as Margaret Fuller and Lucretia Mott. He commended the British for their intelligent way of abolishing slavery in their nation and empire, and he suggested that the United States follow their example.

      Washington Irving grew up in New York City, read books, skipped college, traveled to Canada and Europe, and became a lawyer and a writer. He satirized New York culture in Salmagundi in 1807 and reported on Aaron Burr’s treason trial. His History of New York parodied its early period as a Dutch colony. While in Europe he wrote his Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon which contained essays and stories about Europe, mostly the English. Irving is most famous for his tale “Rip Van Winkle” about the American Revolution and his ghost story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” His essay “Traits of Indian Character” described American policy toward Indians in 1820.
      While in Europe, Irving also wrote Bracebridge Hall, or The Humorists in 1822 and Tales of a Traveler in 1824. He learned Spanish and wrote a popular biography of Christopher Columbus as well as the Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, Voyages and Discoveries of the Companions of Columbus, and The Alhambra. He served as a diplomat at Madrid before returning to the United States in 1832. Irving traveled west to help supervise Indian removal, and he wrote his Tour of the Prairies. He wrote Astoria: Or, Enterprise Beyond the Rocky Mountains on the fur trade for John Jacob Astor in 1836 and then The Adventures of Captain Bonneville about the changing West. President Tyler appointed Irving minister to Spain in 1842, but his health deteriorated in 1843. Irving also wrote biographies of Oliver Goldsmith and Muhammad, and he spent his later years writing his long biography of George Washington.
      James Fenimore Cooper became a sailor at 17 and served in the US Navy until 1810. His novel, The Spy: a Tale of the Neutral Ground, about the Revolutionary War published in 1821 was successful. His Leatherstocking character Nathaniel Bumppo first appeared in The Pioneers as a caring old hunter in 1793. Cooper wrote several novels about sea stories. The Pilot depicts John Paul Jones during the Revolutionary War. Cooper’s most popular novel, The Last of the Mohicans, portrays the French and Indian War in 1757 and Leatherstocking as the young man Hawkeye who was raised by Mohicans. The story shows how the English-French conflict affected the Americans and the natives on the frontier. In The Prairie set in 1804 Bumppo is old and is called “the trapper,” and he gets along better with the Indians than with the whites.
      Cooper’s novel The Red Rover is a sea story about a pirate set in the 18th century. In The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish a Puritan girl is married to an Indian chief in the 17th century. Like Irving, Cooper spent many years in Europe, and he wrote about a fictional American traveling there. The Water-Witch is another sea story about smuggling in the 1700s. He wrote three novels about Europe’s declining feudalism. In The Bravo the depravity of the Venetian aristocracy is exposed. The Heidenmauer is set in Bavaria during the Lutheran Reformation. The Headsman: The Abbaye des Vignerons is about an executioner and takes place in a Swiss canton.
      Cooper returned to America in 1833. He expressed his own liberal ideas in The American Democrat in 1838. He warned against a demagogue and misleading public opinion, but he valued press freedom. Cooper published two novels that reflected his legal difficulties over land at home. He satirized the American quest for money in New York. He wrote a History of the Navy. Natty Bumppo is a scout and a hero again in The Pathfinder, and justice is his most noble trait. Cooper also wrote a novel about Spain in 1492 and the first two voyages of Christopher Columbus. Cooper’s last Leatherstocking novel, The Deerslayer, is set in the 1740s and was published in 1841. Cooper’s 1799 sea story, The Wing-and-Wing ends with some characters pursuing a religious life. His novel French Governess begins at Paris in 1830 and moves to New York City and follows the story of a handkerchief. His novel Wyandotté portrays conflicts in 1775-76 involving an Indian chief in New York. Cooper’s later novels often had religious themes, and in 1844 he published two novels about a sailor.
      John Greenleaf Whittier was a Quaker who worked as an editor, and he wrote poems to promote the abolition of slavery.

Evaluating the United States 1801-44

      Jeffersonian democracy began in 1801 by reducing military expenditures and domestic taxes while using import duties to pay down the national debt. President Jefferson refused to pay tribute to the pirates in North Africa. The US Navy defeated them, and a peace treaty was worked out. Jefferson arranged the purchase of the immense Louisiana Territory and sent Lewis and Clark to explore its resources. Federalist John Marshall headed the US Supreme Court and upheld its power to recognize treaties as superior to laws and to cancel unconstitutional laws. More treaties and land purchases were made with Indian tribes, and diplomacy was used to get territory from Spain. Ambitious Aaron Burr killed Hamilton and tried to take over western territory. The conspiracy failed, and they were not punished; but it ended Burr’s political career. The United States made the slave trade illegal in 1808. Jefferson managed to avoid war with England by imposing embargoes that kept American ships out of danger. This severely reduced foreign trade and angered Federalists in New England and the middle states; but the experiment prevented the evils of war and strengthened American independence and manufacturing. Jefferson considered the embargo an experiment to prevent war, and despite its temporary difficulties it saved many lives, destruction, and the expenses of a war. The Jefferson administration reduced the national debt by about $40 million. In my opinion Jefferson’s presidency is the best so far.
      President Madison carried on the Republican policies of Jefferson but found it difficult to avoid war with Indians and the British. Chief Techumseh wanted justice after unfair land deals and tried to unite the tribes, but Governor Harrison in the Indiana Territory moved aggressively against their community at Tippecanoe. The British continued to impress American sailors and interfere with commerce, and American sentiment pushed for war. Just before the British change of policy Madison gave in and asked Congress to declare war. American invasions of Canada failed militarily and certainly did not win over Canadians or the British. The British had a powerful Navy, but American privateers seized hundreds of ships. Both sides had victories and losses while many Indians fought with the British to try to regain their land from the Americans.  Canada’s capital at York was burned, and in retaliation the British burned government buildings in Washington. Andrew Jackson led the military effort in the south and gained land from the Creeks, Chickasaws, and Choctaws. He defeated the British at New Orleans and continued martial law after the war. The war more than doubled the national debt. Social movements for temperance, the abolition of slavery, to distribute Bibles, and for peace began to grow after the war. Land taken over from Indians enabled the states of Indiana and Mississippi to join the Union.

      Monroe was the last US President of the 32-year Virginia dynasty of slaveholders. Usually only white men of means could vote, and half the states had slaves. General Jackson governed the Florida territory acquired from Spain. Abuse by the US Bank and state banks led to a financial panic in 1819 that depressed the economy. The Erie Canal was financed to improve trade, and a little was provided to educate Indians and deport blacks. The 1820 compromise added Missouri as a slave state along with the free state of Maine, drawing a line to prevent future slave states in the north. Monroe’s foreign policy in 1823 supported Latin American independence and advised Europeans not to intervene.
      Henry Clay’s tariffs provided most of the US Government’s revenue, and he opposed Jackson’s militarism and helped elected John Quincy Adams President. He respected human rights and fostered improvements, reducing the US debt by $25 million. Yet workers as well as slaves suffered in poverty. In 1828 Jackson opposed an abominable tariff, accepted slavery, and promised Indian land to get elected President.
      General Jackson was sent to Spanish Florida and used military force and native allies to take over that territory for the United States by 1819. Cherokees in the South developed agriculture, publishing, and constitutional government. The lawyer Evarts led the protests against removal of the five civilized tribes in the South. President Jackson’s 1830 Indian Removal Act aimed to move about 60,000 Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creeks, and Seminoles west of the Mississippi, and about 6,000 Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears in 1838-39. Choctaws in Mississippi and Chickasaws north of them made treaties with the US, and most migrated west by the 1830s. Creeks sold their land in Georgia in 1825 and moved to Alabama. Most left there by 1837 as many died, some in the Alabama war of 1836. Large numbers of people lost their lives during the transition of moving from their ancestral homelands west to drier land west of the Mississippi River.
      Most of the Indian tribes in the North had been moved to reservations in the West. The Black Hawk War in 1832 was one of the last Indian fights east of the Mississippi in the Midwest. The Second Seminole War (1835-43) removed most Seminoles from Florida and cost the US $35 million and 1,535 military deaths. Cheyenne, Kiowas, and Comanches had conflicts in the West, and Indian Agent Taliafero tried to make peace. The Sioux made a major treaty in 1837. Stephen Austin pioneered the colonization of Texas, and many settlers brought slaves. Sam Houston led the army that won the war for independence and was elected the first President of the Republic of Texas. Americans also explored and trapped for furs in the New Mexico Territory that belonged to Mexico and in the Oregon country shared with Britain.
      Jackson’s administration tried to improve life for people, and he aimed to transform the government with those who agreed with him. South Carolina politicians demanded states’ rights while Webster and others defended the US Constitution. Jackson used vetoes to increase the power of the federal government. He blocked renewal of the US Bank and tried reforms to control the rich and powerful. In 1832 a protectionist tariff provoked nullification of it in South Carolina; but military confrontation was avoided as Clay passed compromise tariffs. His first term improved transportation and reduced the national debt while stimulating the economy, and Jacksonian Democrats re-elected him over the Republican Clay. The Whig Party emerged, but Democrats regained the Senate in 1834. Mobs caused riots in Jackson’s last three years, and some attacked abolitionists. Workers struggled for a ten-hour day which employers opposed. Land speculation and inflation led to a financial panic in 1837. Slave interests blocked debate over the abolition of slavery in the US Congress, and the number of slave and free states was kept equal. Unions achieved the 10-hour work day.
      An economic depression began in the United States in 1837 with bankruptcies and falling values. Whigs began gaining power. Pro-slavery mobs still attacked abolitionists who helped runaway slaves. Banks failed again in 1839, and prices fell even in western states. Conflicts with the British broke out on the Canadian border and were pacified. The Whigs won the elections of 1840 as 80% of qualified men voted, electing the military hero Harrison, but his death after a month made John Tyler of Virginia President. He vetoed many bills and appointed Democrats but kept his cabinet balanced between North and South. Clay helped Congress pass a tariff Bill that Tyler signed. Fremont’s expeditions helped open the West. Daniel Webster made a treaty that resolved conflicts with Canada. Dorr’s efforts improved voting in Rhode Island. Webster was against slavery and annexing Texas, and he resigned in May 1843. Tyler made Calhoun Secretary of State, but Congress blocked annexing Texas. The American Republican Party was anti-immigrant. Clay warned that annexing Texas would cause a war with Mexico and a divided nation, but he barely lost the 1844 presidential election, ironically because of abolitionist votes in New York for the Liberty Party. Democrats also gained a majority in the Senate. De Tocqueville’s Democracy in America described the political workings and their challenges.
      The number of slaves in half the United States increased, and faster picking produced more cotton. Slave codes kept blacks in bondage without education, and most northern states discriminated against free blacks. Slaves on plantations revolted occasionally, but two slave rebellions on ships were more successful. Frederick Douglass taught himself how to read, made money caulking ships, escaped to New York, became a prominent speaker for the abolition of slavery, and published his first autobiography. The anti-slavery newspaper The Philanthropist began in 1817, and Lundy published The Genius of Universal Emancipation 1821-39. New York freed its 10,000 slaves in 1827, and Mexico abolished slavery in 1829. Walker’s Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World urged an uprising.
      Garrison’s Liberator was a powerful advocate for ending slavery. He and others formed the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and they held to nonviolence. The Quaker Prudence Crandall tried to teach black girls, and several books criticized slavery. Mobs rioted against abolitionists in several cities in 1835, but the movement to end slavery could not be stopped. In 1838 Garrison formed the Nonresistance Society. Women had abolitionist societies, but in 1840 Garrison helped them participate in the American Anti-Slavery Society. In 1840 abolitionists had 2,000 societies with 200,000 members. Abolitionists helped escaping slaves and opposed racial segregation in the North. Unfortunately Clay’s defeat for the presidency in 1844 would lead to war against Mexico.
      Some women were educated and taught others and worked for their rights. Harriet Martineau contributed her excellent Society in America. Frances Wright was a radical voice for freedom, equality, and ethical action. Dorothea Dix starting in 1841 brought major reforms to the neglected treatment of the insane first in Massachusetts and then in many other states. Lydia Child wrote novels about relations with native tribes, and her practical books helped women. She opposed Indian removal and wrote comprehensive books on the history of slavery and the condition of women. Lydia and David Child promoted the abolition of slavery. The Quakers Lucretia Mott and the Grimké sisters taught and worked for equal rights for Africans and women. Margaret Fuller read the best literature in so many languages that Emerson called her the “best read person.” She promoted Transcendentalist ideas in her Conversations and argued for women’s development in her excellent Woman in the Nineteenth Century.
      The American Peace Society united local groups in 1828, and they debated nonresistance and the Congress of Nations that Ladd proposed. Shakers followed the peaceful way taught and exemplified by Jesus Christ. William Ellery Channing became an influential Unitarian preacher and explained how wars could be avoided in his three “Discourses on War.” He criticized slavery and warned that annexing Texas would lead to war, and he explained how the US could abolish slavery as the British did. Experiments in communal living reached a peak in the early 1840s. George Bancroft expressed very well the democratic spirit for equal rights and universal education. Joseph Smith published the Book of Mormon and founded the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. Mormons were often persecuted and fought back in Missouri. Brigham Young was successful as a Mormon missionary, and most Mormons chose to follow him after the murder of Joseph Smith in 1844.
      Ralph Waldo Emerson learned from reading great writings, praying, and observing nature to develop and express transcendental philosophy in his lectures and books. The Transcendental Club published The Dial 1840-44. Emerson condemned war and described the way to peace. He suggested transforming society from selfishness to loving relations. Emerson’s essays on history and self-reliance explain how to develop human understanding and good character by learning to trust oneself. Humanity benefits from his explanation of the spiritual principle of karma or justice in his essay “Compensation” and his elaboration on divine justice in “Spiritual Laws.” Emerson’s essays “The Over-Soul,” “Circles,” and “Art” lift the human consciousness into wider and deeper dimensions of awareness. Emerson was concerned about the evils of his time and suggested solutions to the problems such as selfish conservatives and slavery.
      Washington Irving was a witty and clever writer who could entertain with unusual stories and satires and then inform readers with essays, histories, and biographies. He was also a lawyer and served the US Government in the West and in Spain. James Fenimore Cooper wrote many popular novels including his Leatherstocking tales about an American influenced by Indians as well as sea stories and novels set in various European nations. He returned to America in 1833 and wrote a book about democracy in the United States. Cooper wrote novels reflecting legal troubles and several with religious themes. John Greenleaf Whittier was a Quaker poet who wrote and worked for the abolition of slavery.

      The only major war during this era of 1801-1844 was the War of 1812 that ended early in 1815. Population grew with immigration and increasing prosperity. The extreme capitalism that perpetuated the slavery of Africans as property in the South enriched a few slaveowners and impoverished others. In the North the industrial revolution exploited workers in factories who struggled to reduce the work-day to ten hours. Women and children were also exploited and could not vote. The free states in the North had free Negroes who faced discrimination but were much better off than slaves in the South. Abolitionists peacefully tried to help blacks and persuade people to end slavery, but most American politicians tolerated the slave system and opposed abolition. Women lacked political rights, but some outstanding women managed to educate themselves and work for many reforms.  

Copyright © 2020-2021 by Sanderson Beck

United States Democracy & Slavery 1801-1844 has been published as a book. For ordering information, please click here.

United States & Civil War 1845-1865

Jeffersonian Democracy 1801-1809
Madison & the War of 1812
US Era of Monroe & J. Q. Adams 1817-29
Native Tribes, Removal & the West
Jacksonian Democracy 1829-37
US Depression, Van Buren & Tyler 1837-44
US Slavery & Abolitionists 1801-44
Women Reforming America 1801-44
American Philosophy & Religion 1801-44
Emerson’s Transcendentalism
Literature of Irving, Cooper & Whittier
Summary & Evaluating America 1801-44

World Chronology to 1830
Chronology of America

BECK index