- Specie Circular – July 1836 – Executive order issued by President Andrew Jackson requiring payment for the purchase of public lands be made exclusively in Gold or Silver after August 15, 1836. As a result, the use of paper money was seriously curtailed and deflationary and helped to cause the resulting credit crunch (lack of access to cash/money) and the economic crisis called the Panic of 1837. Congress repealed this order on May 21, 1838.
- Tocqueville’s Democracy in America – 1835 and 1840 – book published in two parts in French by Alexis de Tocqueville who visited and studied America for over 9 months in 1831. His work is considered to be the most insightful analysis of the American character by a foreigner. He believed that all Americans had one goal and that was to prosper or get rich. He recognized slavery to be a great stigma on American Society. However, Americans treated one another like equals unlike the class society in Europe. Tocqueville also saw that religion and government in the US worked together and religions really was the foremost of the political institutions in America in the sense that religion reinforced American democracy and liberty as a direct result of the Second Great Awakening.
- The Liberator – weekly newspaper of abolitionist crusader William Lloyd Garrison published for 35 years (Jan 1, 1831 – December 29, 1865). It was the most influential antislavery periodical in the pre-Civil War period of US History. It was published in Boston and advocated the emancipation of the millions of black Americans held as bonded slaves in the south. He believed the Declaration of Independence applied to all people regardless of color. His publication altered the course of the American antislavery movement by insisting abolition and not African colonization was the answer to the problem of slavery.
- Horace Mann – 1827-1833. An American education reformer, who was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1827 – 1833. He also served in the Massachusetts Senate from 1834 – 1837. IN 1837 he became the secretary of the newly created board of education in Massachusetts. He introduced many reforms including the disuse of corporal punishment in school discipline, more and better equipped school houses, longer school years (until 16 yrs old), higher pay for teachers, and a wider curriculum. He desired to build public schools and is considered to be the “Father of the Common School Movement.” That all children regardless of social standing should have a common learning experience such that it would provide opportunity for those less fortunate and equalize the condition of men.
- McGuffey Readers – were a series of graded primers that created a common curriculum and preached industry, honesty, sobriety, and patriotism and were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and in homeschooling. The first reader taught phonics, the second reader was used once a student could read. The third reader taught the definition of words (modern 5th or 6th grade level) and the fourth Reader was written for the highest levels of ability on the grammar school level. The series consisted of stories, poems, essays and speeches – the advanced readers contain excerpts from such writers and politicians such as John Milton, Lord Byron, and Daniel Webster.
- Manifest Destiny – July August 1845 - The 19th century American belief that the US was destined to expand across the entire continent and used by Democrats as justification for the war against Mexico. Proponents of Manifest Destiny often used lofty language and brought God and nature as sanctioning the expansion of free lands. The Whig party denounced the concept and the concept died out after the mid 19th century. John L O’Sullivan coined the term in the July/August 1845 issue of United States Magazine and Democratic Review in an article titled Annexation. Idea used by Democrats to support expansion plans of the Polk Administration but the idea faced opposition from the Whigs like Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Abraham Lincoln who would rather focus on creating a deeper and stronger economy than expansion.
- Wilmot Proviso – August 1846 – David Wilmot a Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania became the spokesmen for disaffected Northern Democrats. These democrats feared the expansion of slavery into California and New Mexico would deter free laborers from settling in those areas. He introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill for the upcoming negotiations with Mexico over Texas, New Mexico, and California. This Wilmot Proviso stipulated that slavery be prohibited in any territory acquired by the negotiations. The Proviso would hold Polk to the implicit understanding: Texas for slaveholders, California and New Mexico for free laborers. Proviso passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. The Proviso raised unsettling constitutional issues – Calhoun and southerners argued that slaves were property and that slaveholders could that them anywhere they choose under the Constitution’s protection of Property and he declared the Compromise of 1820 to be unconstitutional (prohibited slavery in the territories north of 36 degrees 30’) whereas the northerners cited the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, the Missouri Compromise, and the Constitution itself which gave Congress the power “to make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States” as justification for congressional legislation on Slavery. The impending 1848 election caused both sides to desire to hold their parties together and avert civil war and they searched frantically for a middle ground.
- Compromise of 1850 – When the Mexican war ended in 1848, the United States had exactly 15 free and 15 slave states. Ralph Waldo Emerson predicted an American victory in the Mexican War would be like swallowing Arsenic proved to be accurate. Slavery became a huge issue as the vast territory won during the war would upset the 50/50 balance. Then President Zachary Taylor was a slaveholder and took for granted the South’s need to protect slavery. Taylor did not think CA of New Mexico was suited for slavery. Taylor’s plan was to allow the individual states to make their decision. However the Whigs still opposed and Henry Clay drafted an Omnibus bill which included: Admission of CA as a free state, division of the remainder of the Mexican cession into two territories, New Mexico and Utah (formerly Deseret) – without federal restrictions on slavery, the settlement of Texas-New Mexico boundary dispute on terms favorable to New Mexico, as a pot-sweetener for Texas an agreement that the federal government would assume the considerable public debt of Texas, the continuance of slavery in the District of Columbia but the abolition of the slave trade, and a more effective fugitive slave law. Zachary Taylor died on July 9 while the debate still raged on and Vice President Millard Fillmore was more favorable than Taylor to the Senate’s compromise measure and appointed Daniel Webster secretary of state. Stephen A Douglas, the Illinois Democrat took over the floor from an exhausted Clay and chopped up the Clay Omnibus bill into its components and passed them individually – statehood for CA, territorial status for Utah and New Mexico – allowing popular sovereignty, resolution of the Texas-New Mexico boundary disagreement, federal assumption of the Texas debt, abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia, and a new fugitive slave law. Congress had essentially backed into the compromise of 1850. The measures barely passed and the compromise did not bridge the underlying differences between the two sections. The enforcement of the fugitive slave act would cause northerners to respond with fury. The act allowed southerners to pursue their slaves into the North and essentially stripped the slaves of any rights. Antislavery northerners assailed the law as the vilest monument of infamy in the nineteenth century and further division between the north and south would result.
- Free Soil Party – 1848 (election) – A faction of the Democratic Party In New York favored the Wilmot Proviso and called themselves “Barnburners”, they broke away from the party, linked up with the former Liberty party abolitionists, and courted antislavery “Conscience” Whigs to create the Free-Soil Party. Declaring their dedication for “Free Trade, Free Labor, Free Speech, and Free Men.” The Free-Soiler’s nominated Martin Van Buren on a platform opposing any extension of slavery. With Martin Van Buren as a third candidate for President against Zachary Taylor and of the Whigs and Lewis Cass of the Democrats, the party may have inadvertently put Zachary Taylor in office in a narrowly contested election. The main Parties had become fractured and allowed third parties to form. The party was shortlived and was also a notable third party (it sent two Senators and 14 Representatives to the 31st Congress which convened from 1848 to 1851) and single-issue party – mainly to oppose expansion of slavery into the western territories. This party was largely absorbed by the Republican Party in 1854 and paved the way for anti-slavery Democrats to join the new Republican coalition – an alliance between the Whigs and the Free Soil Party.
- Commodore Matthew Perry – Promoted to Commodore in 1842, from 1843 to 1844, he commanded the African Squadron, which was engaged in suppressing the slave trade. In 1853 to he was sent by President Millard Fillmore to establish trade with Japan. His first attempt was rejected by the Japanese when he arrived with a squadron of 4 ships in July 1853. The next time he arrived in February 1854, he came with seven ships (four sailing, three steamers, and one thousand six hundred men). After a standoff, he landed in peace and negotiated with Japan and on March 31, 1854, Perry singed the Treaty of Kanagawa on behalf of the US, which established permanent friendship between the two countries. The treaty guaranteed that Japan would save shipwrecked Americans and provide fuel for American Ships, but also opened trade between Japan and US. The signing of the treated ended Japanese isolation (since the 17th century) with the world.
- “The American Scholar” – August 31, 1837 – Speech given by Ralph Waldo Emerson on August 31, 1837 to the Phi Beta Kappa Society at Cambridge. Emerson was as Transcendentalist who believed that the United States, a young and democratic society, could produce as noble a literature and art as the more traditional societies of Europe. He wrote, “Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of other lands draws to a close.” He believed it was time for America to assert its independence and trust in itself let, “the single man plant himself indomitably on his instincts and there abide, the huge world will come around to him.”
- Seneca Falls Declaration - July 19-20, 1848 – Ms. Mott and Ms. Stanton organized a women’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, NY, that proclaimed a Declaration of Sentiments. It is modeled after the Declaration of Independence and begins, “all men and women are created equal.” Thus begins the formal women’s rights movement and the call for women’s suffrage (right to vote) became the main demand of women’s rights advocates for the rest of the century.
- Hudson River School 1820-1870 – the school flourished – it realized that the American Landscape lacked the European landscape’s “poetry of decay” in the form of ruined castles and crumbling temples. The US landscape was fresh and new and untouched by humans which posed a problem for the Hudson River school painters. The school had about 50 painters who painted scenes of the region around the Hudson River. The painters wanted to do more than preserve the passing wilderness, their special contribution to American art was to emphasize emotional effect over accuracy. Because of the lack of antiquities, the painters use the natural landscape to capture grandeur with erupting volcanoes, thunderstorms, rich vibrant colors, and such other artistic touches such as billowing clouds, massive gnarled trees, towering peaks, and deep chasms to bring dramatic impact to their paintings. The painters sought to preserve a passing America on canvass.
- Minstrel Shows – 1840 – 1850 – the shows helped to forge the enduring stereotype that supported white American’s sense of superiority by diminishing black people. White men in black face took to the stage to present an evening of songs, dances and humorous sketches. The Minstrels did borrow some authentic elements of African-American culture, especially dances characterized by the sliding, shuffling steps of southern blacks. The shows reinforced the prejudices of working class whites against blacks and it was mostly the working class whites who made up the audiences. They depicted blacks as clumsy, stupid, and obsessively musical. The shows were very popular and they even entertained at the White House before President John Tyler, James K Polk, Millard Fillmore, and Franklin Pierce.
- Uncle Tom’s Cabin – 1852 – Novel published by Harriet Beecher Stowe – which aroused wide spread northern sympathy for fugitive slaves. Stowe was the daughter of the famed evangelical Lyman Beecher and sister of Catharine Beecher, a advocate of domesticity for women. Harriet greeted the Fugitive Slave Act with Horror and outrage. Her Novel is about Uncle Tom who is torn from his wife and child and sold south. He then saves a little girl from drowning, and the grateful father purchases Uncle Tom and brings him into his home. However, upon the father’s death, Uncle Tom was sold by the man’s mean wife to a cruel master Simon Legree who whips him to death. Stowe played upon the emotions of humans by showing how slavery tore families apart and during this time family life was revered. The north’s attitude toward slavery was never quite the same after this publication, it helped to sway many people on the fence to a more aggressive antisouth and antislavery stance.
- Kansas-Nebraska Act - May 1854 – Signed by President Pierce, the Act designed by Democratic Senator Stephen A Douglas, dealt a massive blow to the already weakened second party system. The Act retriggered a renewal of the sectional strife that the 1850 act had satisfactorily silenced. The Kansas –Nebraska Act separated Nebraska into two territories – Nebraska to the west of Ohio and Kansas to the West of Missouri and repealed the Missouri Compromise. Because Missouri was a slave state, most congressmen assumed the division aimed to secure Kansas for slavery and Nebraska for free soil. The bill set off a storm of protests and the Congress quickly tabled the Pacific Railroad plans and focused on the issue of slavery extension. “Independent democratic” northern congressmen who were composed of antislavery Whigs and free soil democrats decried the bill as “part and parcel of an atrocious plot” to violate the “sacred pledge” of the Missouri Compromise and to turn Kansas into a “dreary region of despotism, inhabited by masters and slaves.” The New Republican Party, which was created in opposition to the act aimed to stop the expansion of slavery and soon emerged as the dominant force throughout the north. Their rage galvanized southerners who had originally been indifferent to the bill and the furious onslaught of the antislavery northerners united the South behind the Kansas Nebraska bill by turning the issue into one of sectional pride as much as slavery extension. Not a single northern Whig representative in the House voted for the bill, whereas the Northern Democrats were divided evenly 44 to 44. The bill passed in the Senate 37-14, but it the house it barely passed 113 to 100.
- Bleeding Kansas – 1854-1858 – or Bloody Kansas or the Border War, was a series of violent events involving anti-slavery Free-Staters and the pro-slavery Border Ruffian that took place in the Kansas Territory and the western frontier towns of the US state of Missouri. At the heart of the conflict was the question of whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free state or as a slave state. Bleeding Kansas was a proxy war between Northerners and Southerners over the issue of Slavery in the United States. The Term “Bleeding Kansas” was coined by Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune and the events it encompasses directly presaged the American Civil War. In March 1855, thousands of proslavery Missourian “border ruffians” led by Senator David R. Atchison, crossed into Kansas to vote illegally in the first election for a territorial legislature. The proslavery advocates probably would have won legally anyway but by stealing the election they committed a tactical blunder. A cloud of fraud hung over the proslavery legislature in Kansas. As a result of the legislatures outrageous actions such as expelling antislavery legislature, a opposition was formed in Topeka, KS. The “sack of Lawrence” was the response to the opposition and the proslavery legislature sent a mob which burned buildings and destroyed two free-state printing presses in Lawrence, Kansas, riding under the flags emblazoned with southern rights and let Yankees tremble. IN retaliation, John Brown and his men wet upon 5 men associated with the Lecompton government (pro slavery) and shot and killed one and hacked the others to pieces. The Pierce administration shot itself in the foot after recognizing only the Lecompton Government and denouncing the Topeka one. Pierce forced the northern Democrats into the awkward position of allying with the South in support of the fraudulently elected legislature in Lecompton. IN addition, Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts lambasted Senator Andrew Butler of South Carolina for choosing slavery as his mistress and his drooling as he spoke because of his age – the senators where shocked at his speech. Butler, two days later, attacked Sumner with his cane (which broke) and he required stitches and would be unable to come back to the senate for three years. Essentially the lines had been drawn and the groundwork was laid for the Civil War.
- Dred-Scott Decision – 1857 – Supreme court decision in the case of Dred Scott vs Sandford. Dred Scott was a slave who had been taken from the slave state of Missouri into Illinois and Wisconsin – states closed to slavery. Upon his masters death, Dred Scott sued for his freedom on the grounds of his residence in free territory. Chief justice Taney, appointed by Andrew Jackson, ruled that Scott, a slave could not sue for his freedom. He further ruled that no black whether slave or free could be a citizen of the US. He further declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional. Taney wrote that the Compromise violated the Fifth Amendment’s protection of property including slaves. Republicans restrained themselves from open defiance of the ruling by insisting that it did not bind the nation: Taney’s comments on the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise were merely opinions superfluous to the case. President Buchanan’s hope that the decision would lead to a compromise over the issue of slavery extension was dashed. No judicious or nonpartisan solution to slavery extension was possible.
- Yeoman Farmers – Non slaveholding family farmers, comprised the largest single group of southern whites. Most were landowners. Landholding Yeoman, because they owned no slaves of their own, frequently hired slaves at harvest time to help in the fields. Yeoman were typically subsistence farmers, but most grew some crops to sell. They owned lands but most likely in the range of 50 to 200 acres much less than the planters who had 500 or more acres. Yeoman were all over the south but they tended to congregate in the upland region. Their main characteristic was they valued their self-sufficiency. Their ideal was self-sufficiency with modest profit whereas planters was profit with modest self-sufficiency. Yeoman living in the low country and delta regions dominated by planters were considered to be “white trash” whereas in the upland areas, they were the dominant group and were highly respectable. They coexisted peacefully with slaveholders who typically only owned a few slaves as large planters were rare in the upland areas. Planters relied distant commercial agents to market their crops whereas the economic transactions of the yeomen usually occurred amongst their neighborhood of farms.
- Hinton R. Helper – 1857 – Published The Impending Crisis of the South, which called upon non-slaveholders to abolish slavery for their own interests revealed a persistence of a degree of white opposition to slavery. He wrote that slavery was and impediment to the growth of the South and hurt the economic prospects of non-slaveholders. Though Hinton was a Southerner, the South believed he was an agent of the North attempting to split the Southern Whites along class lines. By 1860, any southerner found with a copy of Helper’s Impending Crisis had reason to fear for his life. Though most of the south were not slaveholders, its seems they supported slavery as perhaps they wanted to one day become slaveholders and they simply accepted the racist assumptions upon which slavery had its foundation.
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