Unit 4- Jacksonian Democracy

Yawp Chapters 8, 9 & 10

Chapter 8: The Market Revolution

In the early years of the nineteenth century, Americans’ endless commercial ambition—what one Baltimore paper in 1815 called an “almost universal ambition to get forward”—remade the nation.1 Between the Revolution and the Civil War, an old subsistence world died and a new more-commercial nation was born. Americans integrated the technologies of the Industrial Revolution into a new commercial economy. Steam power, the technology that moved steamboats and railroads, fueled the rise of American industry by powering mills and sparking new national transportation networks. A “market revolution” was busy remaking the nation.

The revolution reverberated across the country. More and more farmers grew crops for profit, not self-sufficiency. Vast factories and cities arose in the North. Enormous fortunes materialized. A new middle class ballooned. And as more men and women worked in the cash economy, they were freed from the bound dependence of servitude. But there were costs to this revolution. As northern textile factories boomed, the demand for southern cotton swelled and the institution of American slavery accelerated. Northern subsistence farmers became laborers bound to the whims of markets and bosses. The market revolution sparked not only explosive economic growth and new personal wealth but also devastating depressions—“panics”—and a growing lower class of property-less workers. Many Americans labored for low wages and became trapped in endless cycles of poverty. Some workers—often immigrant women—worked thirteen hours a day, six days a week. Others labored in slavery. Massive northern textile mills turned southern cotton into cheap cloth. And although northern states washed their hands of slavery, their factories fueled the demand for slave-grown southern cotton that ensured the profitability and continued existence of the American slave system. And so, as the economy advanced, the market revolution wrenched the United States in new directions as it became a nation of free labor and slavery, of wealth and inequality, and of endless promise and untold perils. Read the rest of Chapter 8 from the American Yawp.

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. What was the place of women in American society between 1815 and 1860, especially with reference to the legal concept of coverture and social expectations placed upon women? How did class and changes in the class order shape the lives of women?
  2. Describe “companionship marriage.” In what ways might have “companionship marriage” improved the status of women?
  3. What were the ways that class changed in America between 1815 and 1860? How did the upper and middle classes live? How did that differ from the lower classes, especially factory and mill workers who were wage workers?
  4. How was education and childhood different for upper and middle class children compared to lower class children?
  5. Describe the Waltham-Lowell System that influenced the early textile industry in the United States. How did it work? What was its primary labor force?
  6. How did transportation change in the United States between 1815 and 1860? What was the role of new technology in transportation improvements? What was the role of government?
  7. Why did the Erie Canal make New York City the nation’s most economically important city?
  8. Why did slavery decline in northern states after 1780? What sorts of laws did northern states pass with respect to slavery? How did companies located in the northern states profit from slavery in the South?
  9. How did slavery become even more important in the South between 1815 and 1860? What was the role of the cotton gin and cotton in making slavery more profitable in the South?
  10. Discuss the arrival of large numbers of Irish and German immigrants to the United States between 1840 and 1860. Why did these groups of immigrants come to the United States in such large numbers? Where did they tend to settle? What sorts of jobs did they tend to take? How were they treated?

 Chapter 9: Democracy in America

On May 30, 1806, Andrew Jackson, a thirty-nine-year-old Tennessee lawyer, came within inches of death. A duelist’s bullet struck him in the chest, just shy of his heart (the man who fired the gun was purportedly the best shot in Tennessee). But the wounded Jackson remained standing. Bleeding, he slowly steadied his aim and returned fire, and the other man dropped to the ground, mortally wounded. Jackson—still carrying the bullet in his chest—later boasted, “I should have hit him, if he had shot me through the brain.”1

The duel in Logan County, Kentucky, was one of many that Jackson fought during the course of his long and highly controversial career. And the tenacity, toughness and vengefulness that carried Jackson alive out of that duel–and the mythology and symbolism that would be attached to it–would also characterize many of his later dealings on the battlefield and in politics. By the time of his death almost forty years later, Andrew Jackson would become an enduring and controversial symbol, a kind of cipher to gauge the ways that various Americans thought about their country. Read the rest of Chapter 9 from the American Yawp.

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. How did many of the Founding Fathers view the idea of democracy? How did that change between 1820 and 1840?
  2. How did ordinary men come to participate more in politics between 1820 and 1840? What trends showed that ordinary Americans were often critical of elites during this period?
  3. Describe the Missouri Compromise. How was it a compromise on slavery and westward expansion? In what ways did it leave disagreements between the North and South unresolved?
  4. What transpired in the 1824 election? Why did Andrew Jackson and his supporters consider John Quincy Adam’s victory the result of a “corrupt bargain”?
  5. In what ways was the election of 1828 a contentious election? Why was Jackson’s victory seen as a victory for the common man?
  6. In his view, how did Andrew Jackson defend the interests of common people as president in controversies such as the Nullification Crisis, the Eaton Affair and the debate over the Second Bank of the United States?
  7. How did the Eaton Affair show that women could play an important role in politics? Why did Andrew Jackson side with Peggy Eaton and what were the political results?
  8. Why did the Nullification Crisis occur? What were the main issues involved? How did Andrew Jackson resolve this crisis peacefully and preserve the Union?
  9. How did Andrew Jackson play a key role in both the rise of the Democratic party and the Whig party?
  10. Why did the Panic of 1837 take place? What impact did it have on the American economy?
  11. How did the Whigs win the election of 1840? Why were the unable to implement much of their political agenda in the aftermath of the election?
  12. What sorts of prejudices did African-Americans and Catholic immigrants face between 1820 and 1840? How was this reflected in the politics of this period?

Chapter 10: Religion and Reform

The early nineteenth century was a period of immense change in the United States. Economic, political, demographic, and territorial transformations radically altered how Americans thought about themselves, their communities, and the rapidly expanding nation. It was a period of great optimism, with the possibilities of self-governance infusing everything from religion to politics. Yet it was also a period of great discord, as the benefits of industrialization and democratization increasingly accrued along starkly uneven lines of gender, race, and class. Westward expansion distanced urban dwellers from frontier settlers more than ever before, even as the technological innovations of industrialization—like the telegraph and railroads—offered exciting new ways to maintain communication. The spread of democracy opened the franchise to nearly all white men, but urbanization and a dramatic influx of European migration increased social tensions and class divides. Read more from Chapter 10 of the American Yawp.

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. What factors led to the Second Great Awakening? In what ways did the revivals of the Second Great Awakening appeal to ordinary Americans? In what ways did the Second Great Awakening represent a democratization of religion?
  2. How did the Second Great Awakening lead to the establishment of new religious groups? What ideas in particular influenced these new religious groups?
  3. Compare and contrast the ideas of the Mormons, the Shakers and the Oneida Perfectionists to marriage and sexuality. What might have the existence of these religious groups with different ideas about marriage and sexuality say about this period in American History?
  4. The United States saw the establishment of a number of utopian communities in the first half of the nineteenth century in which property was shared. What economic and social problems in this period might have made utopian communal life appealing for some Americans?
  5. Describe the growing problem of alcoholism in early nineteenth century America. How did the Temperance movement seek to fight alcoholism? In the end, how successful was the Temperance movement?
  6. What was the “Benevolent Empire”? What sorts of social reforms and associations were part of this “Benevolent Empire”? 
  7. Why did Evangelical missionaries oppose the removal of the Cherokee and other Natives from the East? How did this mark the beginning of Evangelical participation in politics?
  8. What were the religious roots of the Abolitionist movement? Why did radical abolitionists demand immediate emancipation? What actions did abolitionists take in the 1830s to convince the American public to end slavery?
  9. Why did the public and the Congress react either with indifference or negatively to abolitionists in the 1830s? How was this reaction bipartisan and both in the North and the South?
  10. Discuss the views of William Lloyd Garrison on abolitionism and women’s rights. How did Garrison’s views on women’s rights come to divide the abolitionist movement?
  11. Discuss the abolitionist activities of Frederick Douglass. Why was Douglass such an important abolitionist figure?
  12. What was the place of women in American society, especially considering the legal concept of coverture and the social idea of the “Cult of Domesticity”?
  13. What connections did the women’s rights movement have to the Second Great Awakening and social reform movements of the period? How did the women’s rights movement offer an alternative view of the place of women in American society?
  14. What sorts of specific demands did the women’s rights movement make at the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848? Why were they initially unsuccessful with their demands? How did Seneca Falls lay the groundwork for future women’s rights activism?