I. A Changing Society
A. Era of Good Feelings
James Monroe was the last of the Virginia Dynasty of Presidents. Pictured in the famous painting of Washington’s Crossing of the Delaware, Monroe fought at the battle of Trenton. Known for his flawless character and honesty, Monroe was liked but not known for his intellect. Nevertheless, he came into the presidency after the fall of the Federalist Party and presided over a period of political calm, known by many as the Era of Good Feelings. Known as a hands-off president, he confidently delegated responsibilities to well-chosen and highly capable advisors and cabinet members.
There were several issues that emerged during the Monroe Presidency:
B. Missouri Compromise
The debate over slavery returned with the Missouri Compromise. Five new states had entered the Union since 1812, and three of them were slave states. Missouri petitioned for statehood, but what would its status be? If Missouri entered as a slave state, the slave states would have a two-vote advantage in the Senate. Under a compromise that was worked out, Missouri entered as a slave state but Maine entered as a free state to counteract it. Further, South of Missouri, future states would be open to slavery, but north of Missouri, slavery would be banned. No new states were admitted any time soon after, but Southern fears of an end to slavery and northern fears of the spread of slavery persisted. The issue of Texas raised the issue of slavery or freedom in new states again. That’s something for a future class.
C. Debate over Slavery
Monroe is also known for founding the American Colonization Society (ACS), an organization that organized journeys for slaves to return to Africa; many settled in Liberia; its capital was Monrovia. We should note that the colonization solution was put forward by whites who wanted to abolish slavery but who were not in favor of racial equality – they wanted to get blacks out of the country (ergo the push to “send them back” to Africa). Of course, the international slave trade had ended in 1808, and by the 1820s, there were generations of enslaved African-Americans who has been born in the United States; thus there would be relatively few free blacks to send “back” to Africa – they were Americans but were not able to enjoy the status of being American citizens.
D. Border Problems
Monroe’s administration experienced a few border disputes. Secretary of State Adams reached several agreements with the British pertaining to limiting naval ships and defining the U.S.-Canadian border.
But as negotiations were being finalized, the United States claimed much of Florida. To make matters worse, Indian raids against Georgia settlers, encouraged and abetted by British ships, infuriated the President. In 1818, Monroe sent Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815, to occupy Florida. Without permission, Jackson hunted down, captured and hanged British accomplices and proclaimed himself the governor of Florida. With the Cabinet divided, Monroe eventually agreed to support Jackson, and in 1819, with the Adams-Onis Treaty, Spain ceded (gave) Florida to the United States without a fight. Spain renounced any claims it had to the Pacific Northwest, and the United States also agreed to assume $5 million in claims that Americans had made against the Spanish government.
E. The Monroe Doctrine
Monroe is also known for an 1823 speech he made, in which he stated that “the American continents are henceforth not to be considered subjects for colonization of any European powers.” In 1852, it came to be known as the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe also stated that Europe should not interfere in the affairs of New World nations, and vice-versa, and the United States did not get involved in Latin America for quite a while after as a result.
F. The Election of 1824
The Election of 1824 pit four candidates against each other:
William Crawford, Secretary of the Treasury gained 40,856 popular votes, and 41 electoral votes
John Quincy Adams, Secretary of State gained 113,112 popular votes, and 84 electoral votes
Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, gained 47,531 popular votes, and 37 electoral votes
Andrew Jackson, hero of the War of 1812 and of Florida fame, gained 151,271 popular votes and 99 electoral votes.
While Jackson won the popular vote, and he had the most electoral votes, he did not have the required 50% of the electoral votes, and as specified in the Constitution, the election went to the House of Representatives to decide among the top three vote-getters.
William Crawford suffered a stroke, which eliminated him from consideration. Clay dropped out, and used his position as Speaker of the House to promote John Quincy Adams. Some deal was made, and the House quickly elected Adams. Adams in turn selected Clay as his vice-president. Immediately, Jackson suspected that a “corrupt bargain” had propelled Adams and Clay to office.
F. John Quincy Adams Presidency (1825-1829)
Adams had plans to promote science, education, road construction; absolutely nothing was accomplished. Congress blocked everything he tried to do. It didn’t help at all that Adams was exactly like his father, personality-wise. Eager to distance himself from allegations of corruption, he refused to play the patronage game. Thus, the government remained filled with people hostile to Adams.
Pause for 60-second Quiz #1: In what ways did the United States grow in size during the Monroe era? Which answer is NOT true?
a. The U.S. added the state of Florida
b. The U.S. added the state of Mississippi
c. The U.S. added the state of Missouri
d. The U.S. added a claim to dominion over Latin America
II. The Jacksonian Era
A. The Election of 1828
The Election of 1828 pitted Adams against Jackson, who had vowed revenge for losing in the “corrupt bargain.” It was one of the dirtiest campaigns in history, a smear campaign on both sides.
Jacksonians portrayed Adams as morally depraved: they said that he had slept with his wife before marriage, that he procured a prostitute for the visiting Czar of Russia, that he was a gambler and a Sabbath-breaker. The allegations were mainly untrue.
Adams’ campaign portrayed Andrew Jackson as a loose cannon with an unsavory reputation. A compulsive gambler, a possible war criminal, a man who had killed people in duels. They also attacked his wife Rachel Jackson, claiming (correctly) that she and Jackson were together before she was legally divorced. Exposed by a Cincinnati editor and a personal friend of Henry Clay, Jackson believed that Clay was to blame. Making himself out as the victim, Jackson took things personally, and worked to crush his political opponents.
Jackson won the election in a landslide. In December, 1828, Rachel died just after the election and before the inauguration, striking a major blow to Jackson. Like his father, JQA refused to attend the inauguration. In a strange twist, he returned to Washington in 1830 as an outspoken antislavery advocate and served several terms as a member of the House of Representatives from Massachusetts.
B. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson
1. First Term (1829-1833)
An intense and often intimidating man, Andrew Jackson asked to be called “General” rather than “President.” A brawler, fighter, gambler, duelist, he was known for his temper and for his dramatic outbursts. He might have made an ideal football coach!! His presidency was largely a war against individuals—individuals that slighted him, embarrassed him, or didn’t see things the way he did.
The first thing Jackson did was clean house—he fired all government employees left over from JQA and replaced government jobs with people loyal to him.
2. The Petticoat Affair
The Petticoat Affair became a major public scandal. Peggy Eaton, the wife of Secretary of War John Eaton, friends of Jackson from Tennessee caused a big controversy. Similar to Jackson and his wife, news broke that Mrs. Eaton had not been legally divorced prior to marrying John Eaton. Thus, John C. Calhoun’s wife and the wives of other cabinet members refused to socialize with her. Jackson told the Cabinet that they had to, but the women wouldn’t, and the saga played out for two years. Determined for his way or the highway, Jackson demanded that his cabinet resign, and they did.
Jackson went through four secretaries of state, five secretaries of the treasury; if anyone crossed him or disagreed with him, he cut them loose. He relied instead on informal advisors and confidantes that became known as his “Kitchen Cabinet.”
3. Indian Removal
Jackson also opened up the way for further westward expansion. With his recommendation, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It authorized Jackson to forcibly evict the Indian Tribes east of the Mississippi River. The Act affected the “Five Civilized Tribes”—the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee.
Cherokees in Georgia, highly civilized, lived in cabins like whites did. They had their own written constitution, their own alphabet and newspaper, and owned their own property. Largely of mixed ancestry, some even owned cotton plantations and slaves. As racial attitudes hardened and Georgia began to impose its will on the Cherokee, the case went to the Supreme Court, and in Worcester v. Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in favor of the Cherokee. Georgia had no right to impose its authority over Cherokee territory; and by extension, the ruling implied that neither did the United States.
In response to Worcester v. Georgia, Jackson, who had made his name in large part off Indian-killing and Indian-hating, announced of Marshall, “he made his ruling, now let him enforce it.”
The U.S. Army deported the Choctaws, Chickasaws and Creeks during the 1830s, and in Illinois Indians rose up but were defeated in the Blackhawk War. Cherokee held out until 1838, when the U.S. Army kidnapped and jailed the Cherokees’ leader John Ross. Rounded up at gunpoint, the U.S. Army seized the property of the Cherokee and forced them to march west to present-day Oklahoma. Along the journey, through the winter, ¼ of the 15,000 deportees died, and it became known as the Trail of Tears. A few isolated groups of Cherokee held out and others passed themselves off as whites or evaded capture, but for the most part, this land now became available for white settlement. The Seminoles evaded the United States until 1842, many by hiding in the everglades. Americans expressed little regret over the fate of the Eastern tribes; in fact Jackson said in his farewell address that it was for their own good.
4. Nullification Crisis
Jackson’s presidency also saw a state’s rights standoff—the South Carolina Nullification Crisis. Angry over tariffs that hurt the South, South Carolina under John C. Calhoun’s leadership, claimed the right to “nullify” the tariff. Similar to the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, Calhoun declared that the people of each state, acting in special popular conventions, had the right to nullify any federal law that exceeded the powers granted to Congress under the Constitution. The law would then become null and void in the state, and Congress could either repeal it or propose a constitutional amendment clarifying things. If the amendment was ratified, the state could either accept it or secede from the union.
When Congress passed another tariff that was equally as undesirable to South Carolina, the state called for a popular convention. To defuse the crisis, Congress modified the tariff, and South Carolina backed down altogether.
C. Jackson’s Second Term
Jackson had survived the petticoat affair, the Indians, secessionists--During Jackson’s second term, he faced a new challenge: The Bank of the United States
In 1832, Congress voted, prematurely, to renew the charter of the Bank of the United States. It was a political move, led by Speaker Clay and the bank’s president Nicholas Biddle. Jackson despised the two, and called the Bank a “hydra-headed monster.” Subscribing to the belief that the bank was a corrupt institution and would benefit some Americans at the expense of others, he determined to smash the Bank of the United States and to prevent its re-charter.
Jackson vetoed the Bank’s re-charter calling it unconstitutional in 1833. He then instructed his Secretary of the Treasury to redirect federal deposits into various state banks called “Pet Banks.” The first secretary, and then the second, refused, finally, this was done. Jackson was defiant. Although Congress censured him for his unconstitutional act, the Democrats succeeded in getting the censure rescinded and deleted from the Congressional record.
D. Martin Van Buren Presidency (1837-1841)
The next president, Martin Van Buren, became known as a “wanna be” aristocrat, portrayed with some accuracy, as what we would call today, a metrosexual and an epicure.
The Panic of 1837 and the Panic of 1839, times of enormous economic difficulty, unemployment and bankruptcy caused by the fall of cotton prices plagued the nation, and Van Buren did nothing about it. A poor decision maker, he preferred to do nothing at all.
E. William Henry Harrison Presidency (1841)
In 1840, the Whigs nominated William Henry Harrison, a frontier general from Ohio, an Indian fighter and a supporter of the Bank of the United States. The campaign featured open rallies, songs and slogans, including “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too.” Using the symbol of a log cabin against Van Buren’s English coach, the sixty-eight year old Harrison overcame accusations that he was too old and won the election.
Eager to prove the allegations that he was too old and unfit to be president, Harrison delivered the longest inaugural address ever, on a cold day in early-March in Washington, a two hour speech. Further, he refused to wear a hat or coat, and was struck with pneumonia; he died 31 days later, the first President to die in office.
Pause for 60-second Quiz #2: In what ways did the United States grow in power during the Jackson era? Which answer is NOT true?
a. The executive branch of the U.S. government claimed the power to remove Indians from their lands
b. The executive branch of the U.S. government claimed the power to force states to accept federal law (instead of nullifying it)
c. The executive branch of the U.S. government claimed the power to divert federal deposits from the Bank of the United States into “pet banks”
d. The executive branch of the U.S. government claimed the power to resume the Atlantic Slave Trade
III. The Market Revolution
The 1820s and 1830s was a time of prosperity and growth, a period known as “The Market Revolution.” This mainly applies to the North and West.
A. The North: Market Economy and Society
In the eighteenth century the world of independent small farmers gradually transformed into a world of businessmen. The independent family farmer gradually became dependent on the market rather than subsistence farming and bartering and either became a capitalist farmer, a wage laborer, or a westward migrant.
Historians have disagreed about the causes of this “transition.” To some, the desire to free ones’ family from debt and to improve the family’s standard of living drove it. To others, increased access to transportation networks and the availability of labor encouraged larger scale production. Further, environmental damage from logging and other ecologically destructive practices, coupled with population increase and inheritance made good land tougher to come by and made competition more intense. As farms shrank and the soil became depleted, competency became unattainable, neighborly cooperation fell by the wayside, and competition increased. Farmers had several options: they could sell their farms to capitalists and move west; they could migrate to the cities once they had lost their lands or could no longer support their families—providing the sweatshop, piecework, mass-production-type labor that stimulated industrial development and urbanization; or those that held on could become capitalist farmers. Embedded in the market, capitalist farmers concentrated on staple crops or specialized production, changed their techniques, sought a bourgeoisie lifestyle, purchased machinery and hired laborers.
The transition to a market-economy brought cultural and economic changes.
B. Cultural Changes:
As farm families went into the villages—the hubs of economic activity—to trade, worship, vote, or visit. There they saw new furnishings and standards of domesticity and order and aspired to transform their material world to gain “respectability.” Larkin and Stuart Blumin noted that furniture, clocks, cook stoves, engravings, china, silverware, and other commodities streamed into rural markets. The attraction for refined living increased the demand for consumer and luxury items which in turn stimulated domestic manufacturing and industry. Cities grew and a professional class of white-collar workers, supervisors, and managers, increasingly separated from those who labored with their hands, emerged. Thus, a totally different class dynamic emerged in the North than in the South.
A certain culture of “uplift” and “improvement” emerged, something that we’ll talk about later, an idea that any one could refine himself and improve.
Many people went to work in urban factories and mill towns, as cotton cloth production increased dramatically from 4 million yards in 1817 to 323 million yards in 1840; about half of the workers were women.
Places like Lowell, Massachusetts and Paterson, New Jersey saw the rise of giant textile mills, in which the cotton was woven into cloth. The mills employed women who lived in company boardinghouses under constant supervision and strict rules. Female employees had independence from their families and the companionship of each other but had long hours, poor pay, difficult working conditions, and numerous rules to live by. They could be fined for lateness, they were not allowed to drink or play cards, male visitors were limited, and there was a 10 P.M. curfew. They worked over eleven hours a day, six days a week. They lived in poorly lit and stuffy factories. Single, and between 16-30 years old, these young women often sent money back home to their families, poor farm families in New England and New York state that could no longer support them.
Women published their own newsletters/magazines such as the Lowell Offering of the Factory Girl’s Garland, in which they often announced the stress of factory work. By the 1850s, Irish women began to replace the New England farm women in the mils.
The growth of craft industries also became a major development of this period, with semi-skilled workers at first working out of their homes to supplement the family’s income and then moving to urban centers, transportation hubs, and producing those goods to send to larger markets.
In the North, shoemaking is the best example of this, in the South, Columbia, SC’s furniture industry (which spread from New Jersey), is a good example.
C. Economic changes:
There were massive economic changes as part of this transition, or that actually fueled the transition.
The Invention of the Cotton Gin—the invention of the cotton gin in 1793, a mechanical device that plucked the seeds from the cotton, made it possible to process cotton 50 times faster. By the 1820s, cotton production had spread to the deep South and moved Westward, with Mississippi and east Texas surpassing South Carolina by 1840. Combined, the South produced more than 60 percent of the world’s supply.
The transportation revolution—it became easier and faster to transport goods from farms to markets.
Rights to the Mississippi River and to the use of New Orleans definitely helped. The invention of the steamship made it possible to go upstream with ease. Steamboats reduced the trip from New Orleans to Louisville from 90 days to only eight days.
Canals, especially the Erie Canal, though costly, allowed for transportation from Albany to Buffalo, or from Albany to the Great Lakes. It shortened the trip from 20 to six days and costs decreased by a factor of 20. In 1835, the canal was widened and deepened. By 1840, canals crisscrossed the Northeast and Midwest; canals were mainly a thing of the 1820s-1830s, replaced by railroads.
In the 1830s, the construction of railroad tracks grew rapidly. In 1833, the nation’s second railroad ran from Charleston to North Augusta.
The Deep South built fewer canals, railroads, and factories and remained mostly rural.
Pause for 60-second Quiz #3: What was the Market Revolution and what are some examples of changes it brought to American society?
a. Canals allow farmers and merchants to more easily ship goods and make money
b. Depleted nutrients in the soil of farms on the East Coast prompt farmers to move westward in search of more fertile land
c. Invention of the cotton gin allows cotton farming to overtake tobacco as a highly profitable agricultural pursuit in southern states
d. Access to New Orleans allows merchants and farmers to access to the Mississippi River
Key for 60-second Quizzes: