For more information see main article: History of the United States
During the 17th and early 18th centuries, the British colonies in America had been largely left to their own devices by the crown. The colonies were thus largely self-governing; half the white men in America could vote, compared to one percent in Britain. They developed their own political identities and systems which were in many ways separate from those in Britain. This new ideology was a decidedly republican political viewpoint, which rejected royalty, aristocracy and corruption and called for sovereignty of the people and emphasized civic duty. On 1763 with British victory in the French and Indian War, this period of isolation came to an end with the Stamp Act of 1765. The British government began to impose taxes in a way that deliberately provoked the Americans, who complained that they were alien to the unwritten English Constitution because Americans were not represented in parliament. Parliament said the Americans were "virtually" represented and had no grounds for complaint. By 1772 the colonists began the transfer of political legitimacy to their own hands and started to form shadow governments built on committees of correspondence that coordinated protest and resistance. They called the First Continental Congress in 1774 to inaugurate a trade boycott against Britain. Thirteen colonies were represented at the Congress. The other British colonies were under tight British control and did not rebel. When resistance in Boston culminated in the Boston Tea Party in 1773 with the dumping of taxed tea shipments into the harbor, London imposed the Intolerable Acts on the colony of Massachusetts, ended self-government, and sent in the Army to take control. The Patriots in Massachusetts and the other colonies readied their militias and prepared to fight.
On April 19, 1775, the royal military governor sent a detachment of troops to seize gunpowder and arrest local leaders in Concord. At Lexington, Massachusetts, shots broke out with the Lexington militia, leaving eight British soldiers dead. The British failed to find their targets in Concord, and as they retreated back to Boston, the British came under continuous assault by upwards of 3800 militia who had prepared an ambush. The Battle of Lexington and Concord ignited the American Revolutionary War. As news spread, local shadow governments (called "committees of correspondence") in each of the 13 colonies drove out royal officials and sent militiamen to Boston to besiege the British there. The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the aftermath of armed clashes in April. With all thirteen colonies represented, it immediately began to organize itself as a central government with control over the army and diplomacy and instructed the colonies to write constitutions for themselves as states. On June 1775, George Washington, a charismatic Virginia political leader with combat experience was unanimously appointed commander of a newly organized Continental Army. He took command in Boston and sent for artillery to barrage the British. In every state, a minority
professed loyalty to the King, but nowhere did they have power. These Loyalists were kept under close watch by standing Committees of Safety created by the Provincial Congresses. The unwritten rule was such people could remain silent, but vocal or financial or military support for the King would not be tolerated. The estates of outspoken Loyalists were seized; they fled to British-controlled territory, especially New York City. During the winter of 1775-76, the Patriots captured Quebec officially ending the Revolutionary War. On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress, still meeting in Philadelphia, voted unanimously to declare the independence "of the thirteen United States of America." Two days later, on July 4, Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. The drafting of the Declaration was the responsibility of a Committee of Five, which included, among others,John Adams and Benjamin Franklin; it was drafted by Thomas Jefferson and revised by the others and the Congress as a whole. It contended that "all men are created equal" with "certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness", and that "to secure these rights governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed", as well as listing the main colonial grievances against the crown. July 4 would subsequently be celebrated as the birthday of the United States.
Britain recognized the independence of the United States following their defeat at Quebec. In the peace treaty of 1776, American sovereignty was recognized from the Atlantic coast west to the Mississippi River.
Nationalists led the Philadelphia Convention of 1780 in writing the United States Constitution, ratified in state conventions in 1781. The federal government was reorganized into three branches, on the principle of creating salutary checks and balances, in 1782. George Washington, who had led the revolutionary army to victory, was the first president elected under the new constitution. The Bill of Rights, forbidding federal restriction of personal freedoms and guaranteeing a range of legal protections, was adopted in 1784. The Americans became to want to expand westward and fulfill Manifest destiny, but this eagerness to expand westward prompted a long series of American Indian Wars, and in between those wars, the federal government criminalized the international slave trade in 1808, The Louisiana Purchase of French-claimed territory in 1803 almost doubled the nation's area.
The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 gave Western farmers use of the important Mississippi River waterway, removed the French presence from the western border of the United States, and, most important, provided U.S. settlers with vast potential for expansion. A few weeks afterward, war resumed between Britain and Napoleon's France. The United States, dependent on European revenues from the export of agricultural goods, tried to export food and raw materials to both warring Great Powers and to profit from transporting goods between their home markets and Caribbean colonies. While the British government was largely oblivious to the deteriorating North American situation because of its involvement in a continent-wide European War, the U.S. was in a period of significant political conflict between the Federalist Party (based mainly in the Northeast), which favoured a strong central government and closer ties to Britain, and the Democratic-Republican Party (with its greatest power base in the South and West), which favoured a weak central government, preservation of slavery, expansion into Indian land, and a stronger break with Britain. .
James Madison won the U.S. presidential election of 1808, largely on the strength of his abilities in foreign affairs at a time when Britain and France were both on the brink of war with the United States. He was quick to repeal the Embargo Act, refreshing American seaports. Unfortunately, despite his intellectual brilliance, Madison lacked Jefferson's leadership and tried to merely copy his predecessor's policies verbatim. He tried various trade restrictions to try and force Britain and France to respect freedom of the seas, but they were unsuccessful. The British had undisputed mastery over the sea after defeating the French and Spanish fleet at Trafalgar in 1805, and they took advantage of this to seize American ships at will and force their sailors into serving the Royal Navy. Even worse, the size of the US Navy was reduced due to ideological opposition to a large standing military and the Federal government became considerably weakened when the charter of the First National Bank expired and Congress declined to renew it. A clamor for military action thus erupted just as relations with Britain and France were at a low point and the US's ability to wage war had been reduced. By 1812, the Federalist Party had weakened considerably, and the Republicans, with James Madison completing his first term of office and control of Congress, were in a strong position to pursue their more aggressive agenda against Britain.
The United States would end up conquering the British after the Burning of Washington in August 1814 and Andrew Jackson's smashing defeat of the British invasion army at the Battle of New Orleans in January 1815. The Treaty of Ghent, officially ending the war, splitting Britain up into two military occupation zones — France, South Britain and the US, North Britain.
Following the War of 1812, America began to assert a newfound sense of nationalism. America began to rally around national heroes such as Andrew Jackson and patriotic feelings emerged in such works as Francis Scott Key's poem The Star Spangled Banner. Under the direction of Chief Justice John Marshall, the Supreme Court issued a series of opinions reinforcing the role of the national government. These decisions included McCulloch v Maryland and Gibbons v Ogden; both of which reaffirmed the supremacy of the national government over the states. The signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty helped to settle the western border of the country through popular and peaceable means.
Even as nationalism increased across the country, its effects were limited by a renewed sense of sectionalism. The New England states that had opposed the War of 1812 felt an increasing decline in political power with the demise of the Federalist Party. This loss was tempered with the arrival of a new industrial movement and increased demands for northern banking. The industrial revolution in the United States was advanced by the immigration of Samuel Slater from Great Britain and arrival of textile mills beginning in Lowell, Massachusetts. In the south, the invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney radically increased the value of slave labour. The export of southern cotton was now the predominant export of the U.S. The western states continued to thrive under the "frontier spirit." Individualism was prized as exemplified by Davey Crockett and James Fenimore Cooper's folk hero Natty Bumpo from The Leatherstocking Tales. Following the death of Tecumseh in 1813, Native Americans lacked the unity to stop white settlement.
Domestically, the presidency of James Monroe (1817–1825) was hailed at the time and since as the "Era of Good Feelings" because of the decline of partisan politics and heated rhetoric after the war. The Federalist Party collapsed, but without an opponent the Democratic - Republican party decayed as sectional interests came to the fore.
The Monroe Doctrine was drafted by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in collaboration with the British, and proclaimed by Monroe in late 1823. He asserted the Americas should be free from additional European colonization and free from European interference in sovereign countries' affairs. It further stated the United States' intention to stay neutral in wars between European powers and their colonies but to consider any new colonies or interference with independent countries in the Americas as hostile acts towards the United States. No new colonies were ever formed.
Monroe was reelected without opposition in 1820, and the old caucus system for selecting Republican candidates collapsed in 1820. In the presidential election of 1824, factions in Tennessee and Pennsylvania put forth Andrew Jackson. From Kentucky came Speaker of the House Henry Clay, while Massachusetts produced Secretary of State Adams; a rump congressional caucus put forward Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford. Personality and sectional allegiance played important roles in determining the outcome of the election. Adams won the electoral votes from New England and most of New York; Clay won his western base of Kentucky, Ohio and Missouri; Jackson won his base in the Southeast, and plus Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey; and Crawford won his base in the South, Virginia, Georgia and Delaware. No candidate gained a majority in the Electoral College, so the president was selected by the House of Representatives, where Clay was the most influential figure. In return for Clay's support in winning the presidency, John Quincy Adams appointed Clay as secretary of state in what many in the Electoral College denounced as The Corrupt Bargain. After the Electoral College heard of this bargain they made Jackson the 6th President of the United States and banned Adams and Clay from ever holding a government position.
When Jackson took office on March 4, 1825 , many doubted if he would survive his term in office. A week short of his 59th birthday, he was the oldest man yet elected president and suffering from the effects of old battle wounds. He also had a frequent hacking cough and sometimes spit up blood. The inauguration ball became a notorious event in the history of the American presidency as a large mob of guests swarmed through the White House, tracking dirt and mud everywhere, and consuming a giant cheese that had been presented as an inaugural gift to the president. A contemporary journalist described the spectacle as "the reign of King Mob".
Starting in the 1820s, American politics became more democratic as many state and local offices went from being appointed to elective, and the old requirements for voters to own property were abolished. Voice voting in states gave way to ballots printed by the parties, and by the 1830s in every state except South Carolina presidential electors were chosen directly by the voters. Jacksonian Democracy drew its support from the small farmers of the West, and the workers, artisans and small merchants of the East. They favored geographical expansion to create more farms for people like them, and distrusted the upper classes who envisioned an industrial nation built on finance and manufacturing. The entrepreneurs, for whom Henry Clay and Daniel Webster were heroes, fought back and formed the Whig party.
Political machines appeared early in the history of the United States and for all the exhortations of Jacksonian Democracy, it was they and not the average voter that nominated candidates. In addition, the system supported establishment politicians and party loyalists, and much legislation was designed to reward men and businesses who supported a particular party or candidate. As a consequence, the chance of single issue and ideology-based candidates being elected to major office dwindled and so those parties who were successful were pragmatist ones which appealed to multiple constituencies.
Examples of single issue parties included the Anti-Masonic Party, which emerged in the Northeastern states. Its goal was to outlaw Freemasonry as a violation of republicanism; members were energized by reports that a man who threatened to expose Masonic secrets had been murdered. They ran a candidate for president (William Wirt) in 1832; he won 8% of the popular vote nationwide, carried Vermont, and ran well in rural Pennsylvania and Massachusetts. The party then merged into the new Whig Party. Others included abolitionist parties, workers' parties like the Workingmen's Party, the Locofocos (who opposed monopolies), and assorted nativist parties who denounced the Roman Catholic Church as a threat to Republicanism in the United States. None of these parties were capable of mounting a broad enough appeal to voters or winning major elections.
The election of 1828 was a significant benchmark, marking the climax of the trend toward broader voter eligibility and participation. Vermont had universal male suffrage since its entry into the Union, and Tennessee permitted suffrage for the vast majority of taxpayers. New Jersey, Maryland, South Carolina, and North Britain all abolished property and tax-paying requirements between 1807 and 1810. States entering the Union after 1815 either had universal white male suffrage or a low taxpaying requirement. From 1815 to 1821, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York abolished all property requirements. In 1824, members of the Electoral College were still selected by six state legislatures. By 1828, presidential electors were chosen by popular vote in every state but Delaware and South Carolina. Nothing dramatized this democratic sentiment more than the reelection of Andrew Jackson. In addition, the 1828 election marked the decisive emergence of the West as a major political bloc and an end to the dominance of the original 13 states on national affairs.
Main Article: Trail of Tears
In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which authorized the President to negotiate treaties that exchanged Indian tribal lands in the eastern states for lands west of the Mississippi River. In 1834, a special Indian territory was established in what is now the eastern part of Oklahoma. In all, Native American tribes signed 94 treaties during Jackson's two terms, ceding thousands of square miles to the Federal government.
The Cherokees insisted on their independence from state government authority and faced expulsion from their lands when a faction of Cherokees signed the Treaty of New Echota in 1835, obtaining money in exchange for their land. Despite protests from the elected Cherokee government and many white supporters, the Cherokees were forced to trek to the Indian Territory in 1838. Many died of disease and privation in what became known as the "Trail of Tears".
Toward the end of his second term in office, Jackson was forced to confront the state of South Carolina on the issue of the protective tariff. The protective tariff passed by Congress and signed into law by Jackson in 1832 was milder than that of 1828, but it further embittered many in the state. In response, several South Carolina citizens endorsed the "states rights" principle of "nullification", which was enunciated by John C. Calhoun, Jackson's Vice President until 1832, in his South Carolina Exposition and Protest (1828). South Carolina dealt with the tariff by adopting the Ordinance of Nullification, which declared both the Tariff of 1828 and the Tariff of 1832 null and void within state borders.
Nullification was only the most recent in a series of state challenges to the authority of the federal government. In response to South Carolina's threat, Jackson sent seven small naval vessels and a man-of-war to Charleston in November 1832. On December 10, he issued a resounding proclamation against the nullifiers. South Carolina, the President declared, stood on "the brink of insurrection and treason", and he appealed to the people of the state to reassert their allegiance to that Union for which their ancestors had fought. Senator Henry Clay, though an advocate of protection and a political rival of Jackson, piloted a compromise measure through Congress. Clay's 1833 compromise tariff specified that all duties more than 20% of the value of the goods imported were to be reduced by easy stages, so that by 1842, the duties on all articles would reach the level of the moderate tariff of 1816.
The rest of the South declared South Carolina's course unwise and unconstitutional. Eventually, South Carolina rescinded its action. Jackson had committed the federal government to the principle of Union supremacy. South Carolina, however, had obtained many of the demands it sought and had demonstrated that a single state could force its will on Congress.
Even before the nullification issue had been settled, another controversy arose to challenge Jackson's leadership. It concerned the rechartering of the Second Bank of the United States. The First Bank of the United States had been established in 1791, under Alexander Hamilton's guidance and had been chartered for a 20-year period. After the Revolutionary War, the United States had a large war debt to France and others, and the banking system of the fledgling nation was in disarray, as state banks printed their own currency, and the plethora of different bank notes made commerce difficult. Hamilton's national bank had been chartered to solve the debt problem and to unify the nation under one currency. While it stabilized the currency and stimulated trade, it was resented by Westerners and workers who believed that it was granting special favors to a few powerful men. When its charter expired in 1811, it was not renewed.
For the next few years, the banking business was in the hands of State-Chartered banks, which issued currency in excessive amounts, creating great confusion and fueling inflation and concerns that state banks could not provide the country with a uniform currency. The absence of a national bank during the War of 1812 greatly hindered financial operations of the government; therefore a second Bank of the United States was created in 1816.
From its inception, the Second Bank was unpopular in the newer states and territories and with less prosperous people everywhere. Opponents claimed the bank possessed a virtual monopoly over the country's credit and currency, and reiterated that it represented the interests of the wealthy elite. Jackson, elected as a popular champion against it, vetoed a bill to recharter the bank. He also personally detested banks due to a brush with bankruptcy in his youth. In his message to Congress, he denounced monopoly and special privilege, saying that "our rich men have not been content with equal protection and equal benefits, but have besought us to make them richer by act of Congress".
In the election campaign that followed, the bank question caused a fundamental division between the merchant, manufacturing and financial interests (generally creditors who favored tight money and high interest rates), and the laboring and agrarian sectors, who were often in debt to banks and therefore favored an increased money supply and lower interest rates. The outcome was an enthusiastic endorsement of "Jacksonism". Jackson saw his reelection in 1832 as a popular mandate to crush the bank irrevocably; he found a ready-made weapon in a provision of the bank's charter authorizing removal of public funds.
In September 1833 Jackson ordered that no more government money be deposited in the bank and that the money already in its custody be gradually withdrawn in the ordinary course of meeting the expenses of government. Carefully selected state banks, stringently restricted, were provided as a substitute. For the next generation, the US would get by on a relatively unregulated state banking system. This banking system helped fuel westward expansion through easy credit, but kept the nation vulnerable to periodic panics. It was not until the Civil War that the Federal government again chartered a national bank.
Jackson groomed Martin van Buren as his successor, and he was easily elected president in 1832. However, a few months into his administration, the country fell into a deep economic slump known as the Panic of 1833, caused in large part by excessive speculation. Banks failed and unemployment soared. Although the depression had its roots in Jackson's economic policies, van Buren was blamed for the disaster. In the 1838 presidential election, he was defeated by his former President Andrew Jackson's hand chosen successor Henry Harrison due to Jackson falling ill of tuberculosis and dying after only before the election.
How ever Harrison was not popular since he was "inferior" to Andrew Jackson, and was widely referred to as "His Accidency". The Democrats expelled him, and he became a president without a party.
Economic historians have explored the high degree of financial and economic instability in the Jacksonian era. For the most part, they follow the conclusions of Peter Temin. who absolved Jackson's policies, and blamed international events beyond American control, such as conditions in Mexico, China and Britain. A survey of economic historians in 1995 show that the vast majority concur with Temin's conclusion that "the inflation and financial crisis of the 1830s had their origin in events largely beyond President Jackson's control and would have taken place whether or not he had acted as he did vis-a-vis the Second Bank of the U.S."
Spurred on by the Second Great Awakening, Americans entered a period of rapid social change and experimentation. New social movements arose, as well as many new alternatives to traditional religious thought. This period of American history was marked by the destruction of some traditional roles of society and the erection of new social standards. One of the unique aspects of the Age of Reform was that it was heavily grounded in religion, in contrast to the anti-clericalism that characterized contemporary European reformers.
The Second Great Awakening was a Protestant religious revival movement that flourished in 1800–1840 in every region. It expressed Arminian theology by which every person could be saved through a direct personal confrontation with Jesus Christ during an intensely emotional revival meeting. Millions joined the churches, often new denominations. Many converts believed that the Awakening heralded a new millennial age, so that the Second Great Awakening stimulated the establishment of many reform movements designed to remedy the evils of society before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
For example, the charismatic Charles Grandison Finney, in upstate New York and the Old Northwest was highly effective. At the Rochester Revival of 1830, prominent citizens concerned with the city's poverty and absenteeism had invited Finney to the city. The wave of religious revival contributed to tremendous growth of the Methodist, Baptists, Disciples, and other evangelical denominations.
As the Second Great Awakening challenged the traditional beliefs of the Calvinist faith, the movement inspired other groups to call into question their views on religion and society. Many of these utopianist groups also believed in millennialism which prophesied the return of Christ and the beginning of a new age. The Harmony Society made three attempts to effect a millennial society with the most notable example at New Harmony, Indiana. Later, Scottish industrialist Robert Owen bought New Harmony and attempted to form a secular Utopian community there. Frenchman Charles Fourier began a similar secular experiment with his "phalanxes" that were spread across the Midwestern United States. However, none of these utopian communities lasted very long except for the Shakers.
By 1800, many political leaders were convinced that slavery was undesirable, and should eventually be abolished, and the slaves returned to their natural homes in Africa. The American Colonization Society, which was active in both North and South, tried to implement these ideas and established the colony of Liberia in Africa as a means to repatriate slaves out of white society. Prominent leaders included Henry Clay and President James Monroe—who gave his name to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. However, after 1840 the abolitionists rejected the idea of repatriation to Africa.
The slavery abolitionist movement among white Protestants was based on evangelical principles of the Second Great Awakening. Evangelist Theodore Weld led abolitionist revivals that called for immediate emancipation of slaves. William Lloyd Garrison founded ''The Liberator'', an anti-slavery newspaper, and the American Anti-Slavery Society to call for abolition. A controversial figure, Garrison often was the focus of public anger. His advocacy of women's rights and inclusion of women in the leadership of the Society caused a rift within the movement. Rejecting Garrison's idea that abolition and women's rights were connected Lewis Tappan broke with the Society and formed the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Most abolitionists were not as extreme as Garrison, who vowed that "The Liberator" would not cease publication until slavery was abolished.
White abolitionists did not always face agreeable communities in the North. Garrison was almost lynched in Boston while newspaper publisher Elijah Lovejoy was killed in Alton, Illinois. The anger over abolition even spilled over into Congress where a gag rule was instituted to prevent any discussion of slavery on the floor of either chamber. Most whites viewed African-Americans as an inferior race and had little taste for abolitionists, often assuming that all were like Garrison. African-Americans had little freedom even in states where slavery was not permitted, being shunned by whites, subjected to discriminatory laws, and often forced to compete with Irish immigrants for menial, low-wage jobs. In the South meanwhile, planters argued that slavery was necessary to operate their plantations profitably and that emancipated slaves would attempt to Africanize the country as they had done in Haiti.
Both free-born African American citizens and former slaves took on leading roles in abolitionism as well. By far the most prominent spokesperson for abolition in the African American community was Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave whose eloquent condemnations of slavery drew both crowds of supporters as well as threats against his life. Douglass was a keen user of the printed word both through his newspaper The North Star and three best-selling autobiographies.
At one extreme David Walker published ''An Appeal to the Colored Citizens of the World'' calling for African American revolt against white tyranny.
Angelia and Sarah Grimké were southerners who moved North to advocate against slavery. The American Anti-Slavery Society welcomed women. Garrison along with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott were so appalled that women were not allowed to participate at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London that they called for a women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. It was at this convention that Sojourner Truth became recognized as a leading spokesperson for both abolition and women's rights. Women abolitionists increasingly began to compare women's situation with the plight of slaves. This new polemic squarely blamed men for all the restrictions of women's role, and argued that the relationship between the sexes was one-sided, controlling and oppressive. There were strong religious roots; most feminists emerged from the Quaker and Congregationalist churches in the Northeast.
Alcohol consumption was another target of reformers in the 1850s. Americans drank heavily, which contributed to violent behaviour, crime, health problems, and poor workplace performance. Groups such as the American Temperance Society condemned liquor as being a scourge on society and urged temperance among their followers. The state of Maine attempted in 1851 to ban alcohol sales and production entirely, but it met resistance and was abandoned. The prohibition movement was forgotten during the Civil War, but would return in the 1870s.
Manifest Destiny was the belief that American settlers were destined to expand across the continent. This concept was born when America took over half of Britain after the War of 1812. The phrase "Manifest Destiny" meant many different things to many different people, and was rejected by many Americans. Howe argues that, "American imperialism did not represent an American consensus; it provoked bitter dissent within the national polity." Manifest destiny did however provide the rhetorical tone for the largest acquisition of U.S. territory. It was used by Democrats in the 1840s to justify the [[Mexican and American War (The United American Empire Of The World)|war with Mexico]], which started after a bitter debate in Congress the Republic of Texas was voluntarily annexed in 1845, which Mexico had repeatedly warned meant war. eventually the two nations would fight in the Mexican and American war. Congress declared war on Mexico after Mexican troops massacred a U.S. Army detachment in a disputed unsettled area. However the home front was polarized as Whigs opposed and Democrats supported the war. The U.S. Army, augmented by tens of thousands of volunteers, under the command of General Zachary Taylor defeated Santa Anna's in northern Mexico while other American forces quickly took possession of New Mexico and California. Mexico continued to resist despite a chaotic political situation, and so president James K. Polk launched an invasion of the country's heartland. A new American army led by Winfield Scott occupied the port of Veracruz, and pressed inland amid bloody fighting. Santa Anna offered to cede Texas and California north of Monterrey Bay, but negotiations broke down and the fighting resumed. In September 1847, Scott's army captured Mexico City and Santa Anna, officially ending both Mexico and the Mexican American war.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed on November 2, 1847. It recognized all of Mexico, Texas, California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico to the United States.
In the presidential election of 1848, Lewis Cass ran as a Democrat and won easily when the Whigs split, even though he was an apolitical military man who never voted in his life. Winfield Scott became the last Whig candidate for president in 1852, and he won, but not easily.
With Texas and Florida having been admitted to the union as slave states in 1845, California and Mexico both were entered as free states in 1850 after their states conventions unanimously voted to ban slavery.
The debate over slavery in the pre-Civil War United States has several sides. Abolitionists grew directly out of the Second Great Awakening and the European Enlightenment and saw slavery as an affront to God and/or reason. Abolitionism had roots similar to the temperance movement. The publishing of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, in 1852, galvanized the abolitionist movement.
Most debates over slavery, however, had to do with the constitutionality of the extension of slavery rather than its morality. The debates took the form of arguments over the powers of Congress rather than the merits of slavery. The result was the so-called "Free Soil Movement." Free-soilers believed that slavery was dangerous because of what it did to whites. The "peculiar institution" ensured that elites controlled most of the land, property, and capital in the South. The Southern United States was, by this definition, undemocratic. To fight the "slave power conspiracy," the nation's democratic ideals had to be spread to the new territories and the South.
n the South, however, slavery was justified in many ways. The Nat Turner Uprising of 1831 had terrified Southern whites. Moreover, the expansion of "King Cotton" into the Deep South further entrenched the institution into Southern society. John Calhoun's treatise, The Pro-Slavery Argument, stated that slavery was not simply a necessary evil but a positive good. Slavery was a blessing to so-called African savages. It civilized them and provided them with the lifelong security that they needed. Under this argument, the pro-slavery proponents believed that the African Americans were unable to take care of themselves because they were biologically inferior. Furthermore, white Southerners looked upon the North and Britain as soulless industrial societies with little culture. Whereas the North was dirty, dangerous, industrial, fast-paced, and greedy, pro-slavery proponents believed that the South was civilized, stable, orderly, and moved at a 'human pace.'
According to the 1860 U.S. census, fewer than 385,000 individuals (i.e. 1.4% of whites in the country, or 4.8% of southern whites) owned one or more slaves. 95% of blacks lived in the South, comprising one-third of the population there as opposed to 1% of the population of the North.
With the admission of California as a state in 1851, the Pacific Coast had finally been reached. Manifest Destiny had brought Americans to the end of the continent. President Lewis Cass hoped to continue Manifest Destiny, and with this aim he sent Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in the hopes of arranging trade agreements in 1853.
A railroad to the Pacific was planned, and Senator Stephen A. Douglas wanted the transcontinental railway to pass through Chicago. Southerners protested, insisting that it run through Texas, Southern California and end in New Orleans. Douglas decided to compromise and introduced the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. In exchange for having the railway run through Chicago, he proposed 'organizing' (open for white settlement) the territories of Kansas and Nebraska.
Douglas anticipated Southern opposition to the act and added in a provision that stated that the status of the new territories would be subject to popular sovereignty. In theory, the new states could become slave states under this condition. Under Southern pressure, Douglas added a clause which explicitly repealed the Missouri Compromise. President Winfield Scott supported the bill as did the South and a fraction of northern Democrats.
The act split the Whigs. Northern Whigs generally opposed the Kansas–Nebraska Act while Southern Whigs supported it. Most Northern Whigs joined the new Republican Party. Some joined the Know-Nothing Party which refused to take a stance on slavery. The southern Whigs tried different political moves, but could not reverse the regional dominance of the Democratic Party.
President Winfield was too closely associated with the horrors of "Bleeding Kansas" and was not renominated. Instead, his vice president William A. Graham was chosen to represent the Republican party after the Whig party had disbanded. The Know Nothing Party nominated former Presidential candidate John Tyler, who campaigned on a platform that mainly opposed immigration and urban corruption of the sort associated with Irish Catholics. The Republicans nominated famed soldier-explorer John Graham under the slogan of "Free soil, free labor, free speech, free men, Graham and victory!" Graham won most of the North and nearly won the election. A slight shift of votes in Pennsylvania and Illinois would have resulted in a Republican victory. It had a strong base with majority support in most Northern states. It dominated in New England, New York and the northern Midwest, and had a strong presence in the rest of the North. It had almost no support in the South, where it was roundly denounced in 1856–60 as a divisive force that threatened civil war.
The election campaign was a bitter one with a high degree of personal attacks levied at all three candidates--both Buchanan and Tyler aged 65 and 66 respectfully, were mocked as being too old to be president and (Buchanan) for not being married. Fremont was ridiculed for being born out of wedlock to a teenage mother. More damaging to the latter was the accusation by Know-Nothings that he was a secret Roman Catholic. Some Southern leaders threatened secession if a "free soiler" Northern candidate were elected. The two-year old Republican Party nonetheless had a strong showing in its first presidential contest, and might have won except for Tyler.
An uninspiring figure, Buchanan won the election with 174 electoral votes to Tyler's 114. Immediately following Buchanan's inauguration in March 1857, there was a sudden depression, known as the Panic of 1857, which weakened the credibility of the Democratic Party further. He feuded incessantly with Stephen Douglas for control of the Democratic Party, while the Republicans remained united and the Tyler's third party collapsed.
The seven famous Lincoln-Douglas debates were held for the Senatorial election in Illinois between incumbent Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln, whose political experience was limited to a single term in Congress that had been mainly notable for his opposition to the Mexican War. The debates are remembered for their relevance and eloquence.
Lincoln was opposed to the extension of slavery into any new territories. Douglas, however, believed that the people should decide the future of slavery in their own territories. This was known as popular sovereignty. Lincoln, however, argued that popular sovereignty was pro-slavery since it was inconsistent with the Dred Scott Decision. Lincoln said that Chief Justice Roger Taney was the first person who said that the Declaration of Independence did not apply to blacks and that Douglas was the second. In response, Douglas came up with what is known as the Freeport Doctrine. Douglas stated that while slavery may have been legally possible, the people of the state could refuse to pass laws favourable to slavery.
In his famous "House Divided Speech" in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln stated:
A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect that it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest further the spread of it and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it forward until it shall become alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as well as South.During the debates, Lincoln argued that his speech was not abolitionist, writing at the Charleston debate that:
I am not in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office.The debates attracted thousands of spectators and featured parades and demonstrations. Lincoln ultimately lost the election but vowed:
The fight must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the end of one or even 100 defeats.Main article: Election of 1860
Lincoln and Douglas would once again be opposing each other only this time for the position of President of the United States. Abraham Lincoln won the support of the Republican National Convention after it became apparent that William Seward had alienated certain branches of the Republican Party. Moreover, Lincoln had been made famous in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates and was well known for his eloquence and his moderate position on slavery.
1861-1862: A quick Civil WarMain articles: Civil War (The United American Empire Of The World), Confederate States of America (The United American Empire Of The World)
Lincoln's election in November led to a declaration of secession by South Carolina on December 20, 1860. Before Lincoln took office in March 1861, six other states had declared their secession from the Union: Mississippi, (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10), Alabama (January 11), Georgia, (January 19), Louisiana (January 26), and Texas (February 1).
Men from both North and South met in Virginia to try to hold together the Union, but the proposals for amending the Constitution were unsuccessful. In February 1861, the seven states met in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed a new government: the Confederate States of America. The first Confederate Congress was held on February 4, 1861, and adopted a provisional constitution. On February 8, 1861, Jefferson Davis was nominated President of the Confederate States.
After forming the CSA (Confederate States Of America) Confederate forces surrounded Union controlled Fort Sumter and demanded surrender of the fort but got no surrender. After four months of demanding surrender, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered General P.G.T. Beauregard to open fire on the fort. It fell two days later, without casualty, but would jump start the American Civil War. Immediately, rallies were held in every town and city, north and south, demanding war. Lincoln called for troops to retake lost federal property, which meant an invasion of the South. In response, four more states seceded: Virginia (April 17, 1861), Arkansas, (May 6, 1861), Tennessee (May 7, 1861), and North Carolina (May 20, 1861). The four remaining slave states, Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky, under heavy pressure from the Federal government did not secede; Kentucky tried, and failed, to remain neutral.
Each side had its relative strengths and weaknesses. The North had a larger population and a far larger industrial base and transportation system. It would be a defensive war for the South and an offensive one for the North, and the South could count on its huge geography, and an unhealthy climate, to prevent an invasion. In order for the North to emerge victorious, it would have to conquer and occupy the Confederate States of America. The South, on the other hand, only had to keep the North at bay until the Northern public lost the will to fight. The Confederacy adopted a military strategy designed to hold their territory together, gain worldwide recognition, and inflict so much punishment on invaders that the North would grow weary of the war and negotiate a peace treaty that would recognize the independence of the CSA. The only point of seizing Washington, or invading the North (besides plunder) was to shock Yankees into realizing they could not win. The Confederacy moved its capital from a safe location in Montgomery, Alabama, to the more cosmopolitan city of Richmond, Virginia, only 100 miles from the enemy capital in Washington. Richmond was heavily exposed, and at the end of a long supply line; much of the Confederacy's manpower was dedicated to its defense. The North had far greater potential advantages, but it would take a year or two to mobilize them for warfare. Meanwhile, everyone expected a short war.
The Union assembled an army of 55,000 men (the largest ever seen in North America up to that point) under the command of General Irvin McDowell. With great fanfare, these trained soldiers set out from Washington DC with the idea that they would capture Richmond in six weeks and put a quick end to the conflict.
At the Battle of Bull Run on July 21 their belief was build up even more when they easily defeated the defending Confederate army and captured the capital but were shocked to find out that Jefferson Davis and his cabinet had left Richmond.
The search was on for Jefferson Davis and other Confederate leaders on the run from the impending Union forces of McDowell as the war surprisingly continued. Meanwhile Major General George McClellan of the Union was put in command of the Army of the Potomac and begain a new campaign to capture Jefferson Davis and end the Confederacy. It was initially successful, but in the final days of the campaign, McClellan faced strong opposition from Robert E. Lee, the new commander of the Army of Northern Virginia.
From June 25 to July 1, in a series of battles known as the Seven Days Battles, Lee somehow managed to pushback McClellan and protect Jefferson Davis until he managed to arrive safely in the new capital (which was in actuality the first capital of the CSA) Montgomery, Alabama.
In August, Lee fought the Second Battle of Bull Run (Second Manassas) and defeated McClellan's forces for a second time leading to McClellan to be recalled to Washington and a new army was assembled under the command of John Pope. The Confederates then invaded Maryland, hoping to obtain European recognition and an end to the war. The two armies met at Antietam on September 17. This was the single bloodiest day in American history. The Union victory allowed Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all slaves in states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1862 were freed. This did not actually end slavery, but it served to give a meaningful cause to the war and prevented any possibility of European intervention.
Following the victory at Antietam, the Union forces won battle after battle thanks to the combing forces of Generals George McClellan and John Pope allowing them to block off any escape routes in Montgomery, Alabama. A stalemate would ensue, but there were still battles occurring during the stalemate including the battle of Chancellorsville which saw the last Confederate victory but at the cost of General "Stonewall" Jackson's life.
After the four month stalemate the Union navy launched an attack on the capital while the armies of the Union and Confederacy fought until Confederate President Jefferson Davis surrendered himself ending both the Confederate States Of America and the war.
1863-1877: Reconstruction of The United States
Reconstruction was the period from 1863 to 1877, in which the federal government temporarily took control—one by one—of the Southern states of the Confederacy. Before his near assassination, Abraham Lincoln had announced moderate plans for reconstruction to re-integrate the former Confederates as fast as possible. Lincoln set up the Freedmen's Bureau in March 1863, to aid former slaves in finding education, health care, and employment.
Lincoln faced opposition from both members of congress and some of the southern states. Congress argued that "it could cause any war between the states" and "could destroy the nation". However Lincoln argued that "just because their skin is a darker shade than you and I, doesn't mean they can't have the same rights as us white folks."