12 setembro 2012

History of the United States

Discover how the West was really won and how Americans faced the supreme test: was this a nation destined to survive or to perish?

The West and Jacksonian democracy

"The voice of the democratic nationalism nourished in the West was heard when Clay of Kentucky advocated his American system of protection for industries; when Jackson of Tennessee condemned nullification in a ringing proclamation that has taken its place among the great American state papers; and when Lincoln of Illinois, in a fateful hour, called upon a bewildered people to meet the supreme test whether this was a nation destined to survive or to perish".
(Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard)

Part. IV - The West and Jacksonian democracy

By Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard *

The nationalism of Hamilton was undemocratic. The democracy of Jefferson was, in the beginning, provincial. The historic mission of uniting nationalism and democracy was in the course of time given to new leaders from a region beyond the mountains, peopled by men and women from all sections and free from those state traditions which ran back to the early days of colonization. The voice of the democratic nationalism nourished in the West was heard when Clay of Kentucky advocated his American system of protection for industries; when Jackson of Tennessee condemned nullification in a ringing proclamation that has taken its place among the great American state papers; and when Lincoln of Illinois, in a fateful hour, called upon a bewildered people to meet the supreme test whether this was a nation destined to survive or to perish. And it will be remembered that Lincoln's party chose for its banner that earlier device—Republican—which Jefferson had made a sign of power. The "rail splitter" from Illinois united the nationalism of Hamilton with the democracy of Jefferson, and his appeal was clothed in the simple language of the people, not in the sonorous rhetoric which Webster learned in the schools.

Preparation for Western Settlement

The West and the American Revolution.—The excessive attention devoted by historians to the military operations along the coast has obscured the rôle played by the frontier in the American Revolution. The action of Great Britain in closing western land to easy settlement in 1763 was more than an incident in precipitating the war for independence. Americans on the frontier did not forget it; when Indians were employed by England to defend that land, zeal for the patriot cause set the interior aflame. It was the members of the western vanguard, like Daniel Boone, John Sevier, and George Rogers Clark, who first understood the value of the far-away country under the guns of the English forts, where the Red Men still wielded the tomahawk and the scalping knife. It was they who gave the East no rest until their vision was seen by the leaders on the seaboard who directed the course of national policy. It was one of their number, a seasoned Indian fighter, George Rogers Clark, who with aid from Virginia seized Kaskaskia and Vincennes and secured the whole Northwest to the union while the fate of Washington's army was still hanging in the balance.
Western Problems at the End of the Revolution.—The treaty of peace, signed with Great Britain in 1783, brought the definite cession of the coveted territory west to the Mississippi River, but it left unsolved many problems. In the first place, tribes of resentful Indians in the Ohio region, even though British support was withdrawn at last, had to be reckoned with; and it was not until after the establishment of the federal Constitution that a well-equipped army could be provided to guarantee peace on the border. In the second place, British garrisons still occupied forts on Lake Erie pending the execution of the terms of the treaty of 1783—terms which were not fulfilled until after the ratification of the Jay treaty twelve years later. In the third place, Virginia, Connecticut, and Massachusetts had conflicting claims to the land in the Northwest based on old English charters and Indian treaties. It was only after a bitter contest that the states reached an agreement to transfer their rights to the government of the United States, Virginia executing her deed of cession on March 1, 1784. In the fourth place, titles to lands bought by individuals remained uncertain in the absence of official maps and records. To meet this last situation, Congress instituted a systematic survey of the Ohio country, laying it out into townships, sections of 640 acres each, and quarter sections. In every township one section of land was set aside for the support of public schools.
The Northwest Ordinance.—The final problem which had to be solved before settlement on a large scale could be begun was that of governing the territory. Pioneers who looked with hungry eyes on the fertile valley of the Ohio could hardly restrain their impatience. Soldiers of the Revolution, who had been paid for their services in land warrants entitling them to make entries in the West, called for action.
Congress answered by passing in 1787 the famous Northwest Ordinance providing for temporary territorial government to be followed by the creation of a popular assembly as soon as there were five thousand free males in any district. Eventual admission to the union on an equal footing with the original states was promised to the new territories. Religious freedom was guaranteed. The safeguards of trial by jury, regular judicial procedure, and
habeas corpuswere established, in order that the methods of civilized life might take the place of the rough-and-ready justice of lynch law. During the course of the debate on the Ordinance, Congress added the sixth article forbidding slavery and involuntary servitude.
This Charter of the Northwest, so well planned by the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, was continued in force by the first Congress under the Constitution in 1789. The following year its essential provisions, except the ban on slavery, were applied to the territory south of the Ohio, ceded by North Carolina to the national government, and in 1798 to the Mississippi territory, once held by Georgia. Thus it was settled for all time that "the new colonies were not to be exploited for the benefit of the parent states (any more than for the benefit of England) but were to be autonomous and
coördinatecommonwealths." This outcome, bitterly opposed by some Eastern leaders who feared the triumph of Western states over the seaboard, completed the legal steps necessary by way of preparation for the flood of settlers.
The Land Companies, Speculators, and Western Land Tenure.—As in the original settlement of America, so in the opening of the West, great companies and single proprietors of large grants early figured. In 1787 the Ohio Land Company, a New England concern, acquired a million and a half acres on the Ohio and began operations by planting the town of Marietta. A professional land speculator, J.C. Symmes, secured a million acres lower down where the city of Cincinnati was founded. Other individuals bought up soldiers' claims and so acquired enormous holdings for speculative purposes. Indeed, there was such a rush to make fortunes quickly through the rise in land values that Washington was moved to cry out against the "rage for speculating in and forestalling of land on the North West of the Ohio," protesting that "scarce a valuable spot within any tolerable distance of it is left without a claimant." He therefore urged Congress to fix a reasonable price for the land, not "too exorbitant and burdensome for real occupiers, but high enough to discourage monopolizers."
Congress, however, was not prepared to use the public domain for the sole purpose of developing a body of small freeholders in the West. It still looked upon the sale of public lands as an important source of revenue with which to pay off the public debt; consequently it thought more of instant income than of ultimate results. It placed no limit on the amount which could be bought when it fixed the price at $2 an acre in 1796, and it encouraged the professional land operator by making the first installment only twenty cents an acre in addition to the small registration and survey fee. On such terms a speculator with a few thousand dollars could get possession of an enormous plot of land. If he was fortunate in disposing of it, he could meet the installments, which were spread over a period of four years, and make a handsome profit for himself. Even when the credit or installment feature was abolished in 1821 and the price of the land lowered to a cash price of $1.75 an acre, the opportunity for large speculative purchases continued to attract capital to land ventures.
The Development of the Small Freehold.—The cheapness of land and the scarcity of labor, nevertheless, made impossible the triumph of the huge estate with its semi-servile tenantry. For about $45 a man could get a farm of 160 acres on the installment plan; another payment of $80 was due in forty days; but a four-year term was allowed for the discharge of the balance. With a capital of from two to three hundred dollars a family could embark on a land venture. If it had good crops, it could meet the deferred payments. It was, however, a hard battle at best. Many a man forfeited his land through failure to pay the final installment; yet in the end, in spite of all the handicaps, the small freehold of a few hundred acres at most became the typical unit of Western agriculture, except in the planting states of the Gulf. Even the lands of the great companies were generally broken up and sold in small lots.
The tendency toward moderate holdings, so favored by Western conditions, was also promoted by a clause in the Northwest Ordinance declaring that the land of any person dying intestate—that is, without any will disposing of it—should be divided equally among his descendants. Hildreth says of this provision: "It established the important republican principle, not then introduced into all the states, of the equal distribution of landed as well as personal property." All these forces combined made the wide dispersion of wealth, in the early days of the nineteenth century, an American characteristic, in marked contrast with the European system of family prestige and vast estates based on the law of primogeniture.

The Western Migration and New States

The People.—With government established, federal arms victorious over the Indians, and the lands surveyed for sale, the way was prepared for the immigrants. They came with a rush. Young New Englanders, weary of tilling the stony soil of their native states, poured through New York and Pennsylvania, some settling on the northern bank of the Ohio but most of them in the Lake region. Sons and daughters of German farmers in Pennsylvania and many a redemptioner who had discharged his bond of servitude pressed out into Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, or beyond. From the exhausted fields and the clay hills of the Southern states came pioneers of English and Scotch-Irish descent, the latter in great numbers. Indeed one historian of high authority has ventured to say that "the rapid expansion of the United States from a coast strip to a continental area is largely a Scotch-Irish achievement." While native Americans of mixed stocks led the way into the West, it was not long before immigrants direct from Europe, under the stimulus of company enterprise, began to filter into the new settlements in increasing numbers.
The types of people were as various as the nations they represented. Timothy Flint, who published his entertaining Recollections in 1826, found the West a strange mixture of all sorts and conditions of people. Some of them, he relates, had been hunters in the upper world of the Mississippi, above the falls of St. Anthony. Some had been still farther north, in Canada. Still others had wandered from the South—the Gulf of Mexico, the Red River, and the Spanish country. French boatmen and trappers, Spanish traders from the Southwest, Virginia planters with their droves of slaves mingled with English, German, and Scotch-Irish farmers. Hunters, forest rangers, restless bordermen, and squatters, like the foaming combers of an advancing tide, went first. Then followed the farmers, masters of the ax and plow, with their wives who shared every burden and hardship and introduced some of the features of civilized life. The hunters and rangers passed on to new scenes; the home makers built for all time.
The Number of Immigrants.—There were no official stations on the frontier to record the number of immigrants who entered the West during the decades following the American Revolution. But travelers of the time record that every road was "crowded" with pioneers and their families, their wagons and cattle; and that they were seldom out of the sound of the snapping whip of the teamster urging forward his horses or the crack of the hunter's rifle as he brought down his evening meal. "During the latter half of 1787," says Coman, "more than nine hundred boats floated down the Ohio carrying eighteen thousand men, women, and children, and twelve thousand horses, sheep, and cattle, and six hundred and fifty wagons." Other lines of travel were also crowded and with the passing years the flooding tide of home seekers rose higher and higher.
The Western Routes.—Four main routes led into the country beyond the Appalachians. The Genesee road, beginning at Albany, ran almost due west to the present site of Buffalo on Lake Erie, through a level country. In the dry season, wagons laden with goods could easily pass along it into northern Ohio. A second route, through Pittsburgh, was fed by three eastern branches, one starting at Philadelphia, one at Baltimore, and another at Alexandria. A third main route wound through the mountains from Alexandria to Boonesboro in Kentucky and then westward across the Ohio to St. Louis. A fourth, the most famous of them all, passed through the Cumberland Gap and by branches extended into the Cumberland valley and the Kentucky country.
Of these four lines of travel, the Pittsburgh route offered the most advantages. Pioneers, no matter from what section they came, when once they were on the headwaters of the Ohio and in possession of a flatboat, could find a quick and easy passage into all parts of the West and Southwest. Whether they wanted to settle in Ohio, Kentucky, or western Tennessee they could find their way down the drifting flood to their destination or at least to some spot near it. Many people from the South as well as the Northern and Middle states chose this route; so it came about that the sons and daughters of Virginia and the Carolinas mingled with those of New York, Pennsylvania, and New England in the settlement of the Northwest territory.
The Methods of Travel into the West.—Many stories giving exact descriptions of methods of travel into the West in the early days have been preserved. The country was hardly opened before visitors from the Old World and from the Eastern states, impelled by curiosity, made their way to the very frontier of civilization and wrote books to inform or amuse the public. One of them, Gilbert Imlay, an English traveler, has given us an account of the Pittsburgh route as he found it in 1791. "If a man ... " he writes, "has a family or goods of any sort to remove, his best way, then, would be to purchase a waggon and team of horses to carry his property to Redstone Old Fort or to Pittsburgh, according as he may come from the Northern or Southern states. A good waggon will cost, at Philadelphia, about £10 ... and the horses about £12 each; they would cost something more both at Baltimore and Alexandria. The waggon may be covered with canvass, and if it is the choice of the people, they may sleep in it of nights with the greatest safety. But if they dislike that, there are inns of accommodation the whole distance on the different roads.... The provisions I would purchase in the same manner [that is, from the farmers along the road]; and by having two or three camp kettles and stopping every evening when the weather is fine upon the brink of some rivulet and by kindling a fire they may soon dress their own food.... This manner of journeying is so far from being disagreeable that in a fine season it is extremely pleasant." The immigrant once at Pittsburgh or Wheeling could then buy a flatboat of a size required for his goods and stock, and drift down the current to his journey's end.

The Admission of Kentucky and Tennessee.—When the eighteenth century drew to a close, Kentucky had a population larger than Delaware, Rhode Island, or New Hampshire. Tennessee claimed 60,000 inhabitants. In 1792 Kentucky took her place as a state beside her none too kindly parent, Virginia. The Eastern Federalists resented her intrusion; but they took some consolation in the admission of Vermont because the balance of Eastern power was still retained.
As if to assert their independence of old homes and conservative ideas the makers of Kentucky's first constitution swept aside the landed qualification on the suffrage and gave the vote to all free white males. Four years later, Kentucky's neighbor to the south, Tennessee, followed this step toward a wider democracy. After encountering fierce opposition from the Federalists, Tennessee was accepted as the sixteenth state.
Ohio.—The door of the union had hardly opened for Tennessee when another appeal was made to Congress, this time from the pioneers in Ohio. The little posts founded at Marietta and Cincinnati had grown into flourishing centers of trade. The stream of immigrants, flowing down the river, added daily to their numbers and the growing settlements all around poured produce into their markets to be exchanged for "store goods." After the Indians were disposed of in 1794 and the last British soldier left the frontier forts under the terms of the Jay treaty of 1795, tiny settlements of families appeared on Lake Erie in the "Western Reserve," a region that had been retained by Connecticut when she surrendered her other rights in the Northwest.
At the close of the century, Ohio, claiming a population of more than 50,000, grew discontented with its territorial status. Indeed, two years before the enactment of the Northwest Ordinance, squatters in that region had been invited by one John Emerson to hold a convention after the fashion of the men of Hartford, Windsor, and Wethersfield in old Connecticut and draft a frame of government for themselves. This true son of New England declared that men "have an undoubted right to pass into every vacant country and there to form their constitution and that from the confederation of the whole United States Congress is not empowered to forbid them." This grand convention was never held because the heavy hand of the government fell upon the leaders; but the spirit of John Emerson did not perish. In November, 1802, a convention chosen by voters, assembled under the authority of Congress at Chillicothe, drew up a constitution. It went into force after a popular ratification. The roll of the convention bore such names as Abbot, Baldwin, Cutler, Huntington, Putnam, and Sargent, and the list of counties from which they came included Adams, Fairfield, Hamilton, Jefferson, Trumbull, and Washington, showing that the new America in the West was peopled and led by the old stock. In 1803 Ohio was admitted to the union.
Indiana and Illinois.—As in the neighboring state, the frontier in Indiana advanced northward from the Ohio, mainly under the leadership, however, of settlers from the South—restless Kentuckians hoping for better luck in a newer country and pioneers from the far frontiers of Virginia and North Carolina. As soon as a tier of counties swinging upward like the horns of the moon against Ohio on the east and in the Wabash Valley on the west was fairly settled, a clamor went up for statehood. Under the authority of an act of Congress in 1816 the Indianians drafted a constitution and inaugurated their government at Corydon. "The majority of the members of the convention," we are told by a local historian, "were frontier farmers who had a general idea of what they wanted and had sense enough to let their more erudite colleagues put it into shape."
Two years later, the pioneers of Illinois, also settled upward from the Ohio, like Indiana, elected their delegates to draft a constitution. Leadership in the convention, quite properly, was taken by a man born in New York and reared in Tennessee; and the constitution as finally drafted "was in its principal provisions a copy of the then existing constitutions of Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana.... Many of the articles are exact copies in wording although differently arranged and numbered."
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.—Across the Mississippi to the far south, clearing and planting had gone on with much bustle and enterprise. The cotton and sugar lands of Louisiana, opened by French and Spanish settlers, were widened in every direction by planters with their armies of slaves from the older states. New Orleans, a good market and a center of culture not despised even by the pioneer, grew apace. In 1810 the population of lower Louisiana was over 75,000. The time had come, said the leaders of the people, to fulfill the promise made to France in the treaty of cession; namely, to grant to the inhabitants of the territory statehood and the rights of American citizens. Federalists from New England still having a voice in Congress, if somewhat weaker, still protested in tones of horror. "I am compelled to declare it as my deliberate opinion," pronounced Josiah Quincy in the House of Representatives, "that if this bill [to admit Louisiana] passes, the bonds of this Union are virtually dissolved ... that as it will be the right of all, so it will be the duty of some [states] to prepare definitely for a separation; amicably if they can, violently if they must.... It is a death blow to the Constitution. It may afterwards linger; but lingering, its fate will, at no very distant period, be consummated." Federalists from New York like those from New England had their doubts about the wisdom of admitting Western states; but the party of Jefferson and Madison, having the necessary majority, granted the coveted statehood to Louisiana in 1812.
When, a few years later, Mississippi and Alabama knocked at the doors of the union, the Federalists had so little influence, on account of their conduct during the second war with England, that spokesmen from the Southwest met a kindlier reception at Washington. Mississippi, in 1817, and Alabama, in 1819, took their places among the United States of America. Both of them, while granting white manhood suffrage, gave their constitutions the tone of the old East by providing landed qualifications for the governor and members of the legislature.
Missouri.—Far to the north in the Louisiana purchase, a new commonwealth was rising to power. It was peopled by immigrants who came down the Ohio in fleets of boats or crossed the Mississippi from Kentucky and Tennessee. Thrifty Germans from Pennsylvania, hardy farmers from Virginia ready to work with their own hands, freemen seeking freemen's homes, planters with their slaves moving on from worn-out fields on the seaboard, came together in the widening settlements of the Missouri country. Peoples from the North and South flowed together, small farmers and big planters mingling in one community. When their numbers had reached sixty thousand or more, they precipitated a contest over their admission to the union, "ringing an alarm bell in the night," as Jefferson phrased it. The favorite expedient of compromise with slavery was brought forth in Congress once more. Maine consequently was brought into the union without slavery and Missouri with slavery. At the same time there was drawn westward through the rest of the Louisiana territory a line separating servitude from slavery.

The Spirit of the Frontier

Land Tenure and Liberty.—Over an immense western area there developed an unbroken system of freehold farms. In the Gulf states and the lower Mississippi Valley, it is true, the planter with his many slaves even led in the pioneer movement; but through large sections of Tennessee and Kentucky, as well as upper Georgia and Alabama, and all throughout the Northwest territory the small farmer reigned supreme. In this immense dominion there sprang up a civilization without caste or class—a body of people all having about the same amount of this world's goods and deriving their livelihood from one source: the labor of their own hands on the soil. The Northwest territory alone almost equaled in area all the original thirteen states combined, except Georgia, and its system of agricultural economy was unbroken by plantations and feudal estates. "In the subdivision of the soil and the great equality of condition," as Webster said on more than one occasion, "lay the true basis, most certainly, of popular government." There was the undoubted source of Jacksonian democracy.

The Characteristics of the Western People.—Travelers into the Northwest during the early years of the nineteenth century were agreed that the people of that region were almost uniformly marked by the characteristics common to an independent yeomanry. A close observer thus recorded his impressions: "A spirit of adventurous enterprise, a willingness to go through any hardship to accomplish an object.... Independence of thought and action. They have felt the influence of these principles from their childhood. Men who can endure anything; that have lived almost without restraint, free as the mountain air or as the deer and the buffalo of their forests, and who know they are Americans all.... An apparent roughness which some would deem rudeness of manner.... Where there is perfect equality in a neighborhood of people who know little about each other's previous history or ancestry but where each is lord of the soil he cultivates. Where a log cabin is all that the best of families can expect to have for years and of course can possess few of the external decorations which have so much influence in creating a diversity of rank in society. These circumstances have laid the foundation for that equality of intercourse, simplicity of manners, want of deference, want of reserve, great readiness to make acquaintances, freedom of speech, indisposition to brook real or imaginary insults which one witnesses among people of the West."
This equality, this independence, this rudeness so often described by the traveler as marking a new country, were all accentuated by the character of the settlers themselves. Traces of the fierce, unsociable, eagle-eyed, hard-drinking hunter remained. The settlers who followed the hunter were, with some exceptions, soldiers of the Revolutionary army, farmers of the "middling order," and mechanics from the towns,—English, Scotch-Irish, Germans,—poor in possessions and thrown upon the labor of their own hands for support. Sons and daughters from well-to-do Eastern homes sometimes brought softer manners; but the equality of life and the leveling force of labor in forest and field soon made them one in spirit with their struggling neighbors. Even the preachers and teachers, who came when the cabins were raised in the clearings and rude churches and schoolhouses were built, preached sermons and taught lessons that savored of the frontier, as any one may know who reads Peter Cartwright's A Muscular Christian or Eggleston's The Hoosier Schoolmaster.

The West and the East Meet

The East Alarmed.—A people so independent as the Westerners and so attached to local self-government gave the conservative East many a rude shock, setting gentlemen in powdered wigs and knee breeches agog with the idea that terrible things might happen in the Mississippi Valley. Not without good grounds did Washington fear that "a touch of a feather would turn" the Western settlers away from the seaboard to the Spaniards; and seriously did he urge the East not to neglect them, lest they be "drawn into the arms of, or be dependent upon foreigners." Taking advantage of the restless spirit in the Southwest, Aaron Burr, having disgraced himself by killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel, laid wild plans, if not to bring about a secession in that region, at least to build a state of some kind out of the Spanish dominions adjoining Louisiana. Frightened at such enterprises and fearing the dominance of the West, the Federalists, with a few conspicuous exceptions, opposed equality between the sections. Had their narrow views prevailed, the West, with its new democracy, would have been held in perpetual tutelage to the seaboard or perhaps been driven into independence as the thirteen colonies had been not long before.
Eastern Friends of the West.—Fortunately for the nation, there were many Eastern leaders, particularly from the South, who understood the West, approved its spirit, and sought to bring the two sections together by common bonds. Washington kept alive and keen the zeal for Western advancement which he acquired in his youth as a surveyor. He never grew tired of urging upon his Eastern friends the importance of the lands beyond the mountains. He pressed upon the governor of Virginia a project for a wagon road connecting the seaboard with the Ohio country and was active in a movement to improve the navigation of the Potomac. He advocated strengthening the ties of commerce. "Smooth the roads," he said, "and make easy the way for them, and then see what an influx of articles will be poured upon us; how amazingly our exports will be increased by them; and how amply we shall be compensated for any trouble and expense we may encounter to effect it." Jefferson, too, was interested in every phase of Western development—the survey of lands, the exploration of waterways, the opening of trade, and even the discovery of the bones of prehistoric animals. Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat, was another man of vision who for many years pressed upon his countrymen the necessity of uniting East and West by a canal which would cement the union, raise the value of the public lands, and extend the principles of confederate and republican government.
The Difficulties of Early Transportation.—Means of communication played an important part in the strategy of all those who sought to bring together the seaboard and the frontier. The produce of the West—wheat, corn, bacon, hemp, cattle, and tobacco—was bulky and the cost of overland transportation was prohibitive. In the Eastern market, "a cow and her calf were given for a bushel of salt, while a suit of 'store clothes' cost as much as a farm." In such circumstances, the inhabitants of the Mississippi Valley were forced to ship their produce over a long route by way of New Orleans and to pay high freight rates for everything that was brought across the mountains. Scows of from five to fifty tons were built at the towns along the rivers and piloted down the stream to the Crescent City. In a few cases small ocean-going vessels were built to transport goods to the West Indies or to the Eastern coast towns. Salt, iron, guns, powder, and the absolute essentials which the pioneers had to buy mainly in Eastern markets were carried over narrow wagon trails that were almost impassable in the rainy season.
The National Road.—To far-sighted men, like Albert Gallatin, "the father of internal improvements," the solution of this problem was the construction of roads and canals. Early in Jefferson's administration, Congress dedicated a part of the proceeds from the sale of lands to building highways from the headwaters of the navigable waters emptying into the Atlantic to the Ohio River and beyond into the Northwest territory. In 1806, after many misgivings, it authorized a great national highway binding the East and the West. The Cumberland Road, as it was called, began in northwestern Maryland, wound through southern Pennsylvania, crossed the narrow neck of Virginia at Wheeling, and then shot almost straight across Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, into Missouri. By 1817, stagecoaches were running between Washington and Wheeling; by 1833 contractors had carried their work to Columbus, Ohio, and by 1852, to Vandalia, Illinois. Over this ballasted road mail and passenger coaches could go at high speed, and heavy freight wagons proceed in safety at a steady pace.

Canals and Steamboats.—A second epoch in the economic union of the East and West was reached with the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, offering an all-water route from New York City to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi Valley. Pennsylvania, alarmed by the advantages conferred on New York by this enterprise, began her system of canals and portages from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, completing the last link in 1834. In the South, the Chesapeake and Ohio Company, chartered in 1825, was busy with a project to connect Georgetown and Cumberland when railways broke in upon the undertaking before it was half finished. About the same time, Ohio built a canal across the state, affording water communication between Lake Erie and the Ohio River through a rich wheat belt. Passengers could now travel by canal boat into the West with comparative ease and comfort, if not at a rapid speed, and the bulkiest of freight could be easily handled. Moreover, the rate charged for carrying goods was cut by the Erie Canal from $32 a ton per hundred miles to $1. New Orleans was destined to lose her primacy in the Mississippi Valley.
The diversion of traffic to Eastern markets was also stimulated by steamboats which appeared on the Ohio about 1810, three years after Fulton had made his famous trip on the Hudson. It took twenty men to sail and row a five-ton scow up the river at a speed of from ten to twenty miles a day. In 1825, Timothy Flint traveled a hundred miles a day on the new steamer Grecian "against the whole weight of the Mississippi current." Three years later the round trip from Louisville to New Orleans was cut to eight days. Heavy produce that once had to float down to New Orleans could be carried upstream and sent to the East by way of the canal systems.
Thus the far country was brought near. The timid no longer hesitated at the thought of the perilous journey. All routes were crowded with Western immigrants. The forests fell before the ax like grain before the sickle. Clearings scattered through the woods spread out into a great mosaic of farms stretching from the Southern Appalachians to Lake Michigan. The national census of 1830 gave 937,000 inhabitants to Ohio; 343,000 to Indiana; 157,000 to Illinois; 687,000 to Kentucky; and 681,000 to Tennessee.
With the increase in population and the growth of agriculture came political influence. People who had once petitioned Congress now sent their own representatives. Men who had hitherto accepted without protests Presidents from the seaboard expressed a new spirit of dissent in 1824 by giving only three electoral votes for John Quincy Adams; and four years later they sent a son of the soil from Tennessee, Andrew Jackson, to take Washington's chair as chief executive of the nation—the first of a long line of Presidents from the Mississippi basin.


W.G. Brown, The Lower South in American History.
B.A. Hinsdale, The Old North West (2 vols.).
A.B. Hulbert, Great American Canals and The Cumberland Road.
T. Roosevelt, Thomas H. Benton.
P.J. Treat, The National Land System (1785-1820).
F.J. Turner, Rise of the New West (American Nation Series).
J. Winsor, The Westward Movement.


1. How did the West come to play a rôle in the Revolution?
2. What preparations were necessary to settlement?
3. Give the principal provisions of the Northwest Ordinance.
4. Explain how freehold land tenure happened to predominate in the West.
5. Who were the early settlers in the West? What routes did they take? How did they travel?
6. Explain the Eastern opposition to the admission of new Western states. Show how it was overcome.
7. Trace a connection between the economic system of the West and the spirit of the people.
8. Who were among the early friends of Western development?
9. Describe the difficulties of trade between the East and the West.
10. Show how trade was promoted.

Research Topics

Northwest Ordinance.—Analysis of text in Macdonald, Documentary Source Book. Roosevelt, Winning of the West, Vol. V, pp. 5-57.
The West before the Revolution.—Roosevelt, Vol. I.
The West during the Revolution.—Roosevelt, Vols. II and III.
Tennessee.—Roosevelt, Vol. V, pp. 95-119 and Vol. VI, pp. 9-87.
The Cumberland Road.—A.B. Hulbert, The Cumberland Road.
Early Life in the Middle West.—Callender, Economic History of the United States, pp. 617-633; 636-641.
Slavery in the Southwest.—Callender, pp. 641-652.
Early Land Policy.—Callender, pp. 668-680.
Westward Movement of Peoples.—Roosevelt, Vol. IV, pp. 7-39.
Lists of books dealing with the early history of Western states are given in Hart, Channing, and Turner, Guide to the Study and Reading of American History (rev. ed.), pp. 62-89.
Kentucky.—Roosevelt, Vol. IV, pp. 176-263.



The New England Federalists, at the Hartford convention, prophesied that in time the West would dominate the East. "At the adoption of the Constitution," they said, "a certain balance of power among the original states was considered to exist, and there was at that time and yet is among those parties a strong affinity between their great and general interests. By the admission of these [new] states that balance has been materially affected and unless the practice be modified must ultimately be destroyed. The Southern states will first avail themselves of their new confederates to govern the East, and finally the Western states, multiplied in number, and augmented in population, will control the interests of the whole." Strangely enough the fulfillment of this prophecy was being prepared even in Federalist strongholds by the rise of a new urban democracy that was to make common cause with the farmers beyond the mountains.

The Democratic Movement in the East

The Aristocratic Features of the Old Order.—The Revolutionary fathers, in setting up their first state constitutions, although they often spoke of government as founded on the consent of the governed, did not think that consistency required giving the vote to all adult males. On the contrary they looked upon property owners as the only safe "depositary" of political power. They went back to the colonial tradition that related taxation and representation. This, they argued, was not only just but a safeguard against the "excesses of democracy."
In carrying their theory into execution they placed taxpaying or property qualifications on the right to vote. Broadly speaking, these limitations fell into three classes. Three states, Pennsylvania (1776), New Hampshire (1784), and Georgia (1798), gave the ballot to all who paid taxes, without reference to the value of their property. Three, Virginia, Delaware, and Rhode Island, clung firmly to the ancient principles that only freeholders could be intrusted with electoral rights. Still other states, while closely restricting the suffrage, accepted the ownership of other things as well as land in fulfillment of the requirements. In Massachusetts, for instance, the vote was granted to all men who held land yielding an annual income of three pounds or possessed other property worth sixty pounds.
The electors thus enfranchised, numerous as they were, owing to the wide distribution of land, often suffered from a very onerous disability. In many states they were able to vote only for persons of wealth because heavy property qualifications were imposed on public officers. In New Hampshire, the governor had to be worth five hundred pounds, one-half in land; in Massachusetts, one thousand pounds, all freehold; in Maryland, five thousand pounds, one thousand of which was freehold; in North Carolina, one thousand pounds freehold; and in South Carolina, ten thousand pounds freehold. A state senator in Massachusetts had to be the owner of a freehold worth three hundred pounds or personal property worth six hundred pounds; in New Jersey, one thousand pounds' worth of property; in North Carolina, three hundred acres of land; in South Carolina, two thousand pounds freehold. For members of the lower house of the legislature lower qualifications were required.
In most of the states the suffrage or office holding or both were further restricted by religious provisions. No single sect was powerful enough to dominate after the Revolution, but, for the most part, Catholics and Jews were either disfranchised or excluded from office. North Carolina and Georgia denied the ballot to any one who was not a Protestant. Delaware withheld it from all who did not believe in the Trinity and the inspiration of the Scriptures. Massachusetts and Maryland limited it to Christians. Virginia and New York, advanced for their day, made no discrimination in government on account of religious opinion.
The Defense of the Old Order.—It must not be supposed that property qualifications were thoughtlessly imposed at the outset or considered of little consequence in practice. In the beginning they were viewed as fundamental. As towns grew in size and the number of landless citizens increased, the restrictions were defended with even more vigor. In Massachusetts, the great Webster upheld the rights of property in government, saying: "It is entirely just that property should have its due weight and consideration in political arrangements.... The disastrous revolutions which the world has witnessed, those political thunderstorms and earthquakes which have shaken the pillars of society to their deepest foundations, have been revolutions against property." In Pennsylvania, a leader in local affairs cried out against a plan to remove the taxpaying limitation on the suffrage: "What does the delegate propose? To place the vicious vagrant, the wandering Arabs, the Tartar hordes of our large cities on the level with the virtuous and good man?" In Virginia, Jefferson himself had first believed in property qualifications and had feared with genuine alarm the "mobs of the great cities." It was near the end of the eighteenth century before he accepted the idea of manhood suffrage. Even then he was unable to convince the constitution-makers of his own state. "It is not an idle chimera of the brain," urged one of them, "that the possession of land furnishes the strongest evidence of permanent, common interest with, and attachment to, the community.... It is upon this foundation I wish to place the right of suffrage. This is the best general standard which can be resorted to for the purpose of determining whether the persons to be invested with the right of suffrage are such persons as could be, consistently with the safety and well-being of the community, intrusted with the exercise of that right."
Attacks on the Restricted Suffrage.—The changing circumstances of American life, however, soon challenged the rule of those with property. Prominent among the new forces were the rising mercantile and business interests. Where the freehold qualification was applied, business men who did not own land were deprived of the vote and excluded from office. In New York, for example, the most illiterate farmer who had one hundred pounds' worth of land could vote for state senator and governor, while the landless banker or merchant could not. It is not surprising, therefore, to find business men taking the lead in breaking down freehold limitations on the suffrage. The professional classes also were interested in removing the barriers which excluded many of them from public affairs. It was a schoolmaster, Thomas Dorr, who led the popular uprising in Rhode Island which brought the exclusive rule by freeholders to an end.
In addition to the business and professional classes, the mechanics of the towns showed a growing hostility to a system of government that generally barred them from voting or holding office. Though not numerous, they had early begun to exercise an influence on the course of public affairs. They had led the riots against the Stamp Act, overturned King George's statue, and "crammed stamps down the throats of collectors." When the state constitutions were framed they took a lively interest, particularly in New York City and Philadelphia. In June, 1776, the "mechanicks in union" in New York protested against putting the new state constitution into effect without their approval, declaring that the right to vote on the acceptance or rejection of a fundamental law "is the birthright of every man to whatever state he may belong." Though their petition was rejected, their spirit remained. When, a few years later, the federal Constitution was being framed, the mechanics watched the process with deep concern; they knew that one of its main objects was to promote trade and commerce, affecting directly their daily bread. During the struggle over ratification, they passed resolutions approving its provisions and they often joined in parades organized to stir up sentiment for the Constitution, even though they could not vote for members of the state conventions and so express their will directly. After the organization of trade unions they collided with the courts of law and thus became interested in the election of judges and lawmakers.
Those who attacked the old system of class rule found a strong moral support in the Declaration of Independence. Was it not said that all men are created equal? Whoever runs may read. Was it not declared that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed? That doctrine was applied with effect to George III and seemed appropriate for use against the privileged classes of Massachusetts or Virginia. "How do the principles thus proclaimed," asked the non-freeholders of Richmond, in petitioning for the ballot, "accord with the existing regulation of the suffrage? A regulation which, instead of the equality nature ordains, creates an odious distinction between members of the same community ... and vests in a favored class, not in consideration of their public services but of their private possessions, the highest of all privileges."
Abolition of Property Qualifications.—By many minor victories rather than by any spectacular triumphs did the advocates of manhood suffrage carry the day. Slight gains were made even during the Revolution or shortly afterward. In Pennsylvania, the mechanics, by taking an active part in the contest over the Constitution of 1776, were able to force the qualification down to the payment of a small tax. Vermont came into the union in 1792 without any property restrictions. In the same year Delaware gave the vote to all men who paid taxes. Maryland, reckoned one of the most conservative of states, embarked on the experiment of manhood suffrage in 1809; and nine years later, Connecticut, equally conservative, decided that all taxpayers were worthy of the ballot.
Five states, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, Rhode Island, and North Carolina, remained obdurate while these changes were going on around them; finally they had to yield themselves. The last struggle in Massachusetts took place in the constitutional convention of 1820. There Webster, in the prime of his manhood, and John Adams, in the closing years of his old age, alike protested against such radical innovations as manhood suffrage. Their protests were futile. The property test was abolished and a small tax-paying qualification was substituted. New York surrendered the next year and, after trying some minor restrictions for five years, went completely over to white manhood suffrage in 1826. Rhode Island clung to her freehold qualification through thirty years of agitation. Then Dorr's Rebellion, almost culminating in bloodshed, brought about a reform in 1843 which introduced a slight tax-paying qualification as an alternative to the freehold. Virginia and North Carolina were still unconvinced. The former refused to abandon ownership of land as the test for political rights until 1850 and the latter until 1856. Although religious discriminations and property qualifications for office holders were sometimes retained after the establishment of manhood suffrage, they were usually abolished along with the monopoly of government enjoyed by property owners and taxpayers.
 At the end of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the white male industrial workers and the mechanics of the Northern cities, at least, could lay aside the petition for the ballot and enjoy with the free farmer a voice in the government of their common country. "Universal democracy," sighed Carlyle, who was widely read in the United States, "whatever we may think of it has declared itself the inevitable fact of the days in which we live; and he who has any chance to instruct or lead in these days must begin by admitting that ... Where no government is wanted, save that of the parish constable, as in America with its boundless soil, every man being able to find work and recompense for himself, democracy may subsist; not elsewhere." Amid the grave misgivings of the first generation of statesmen, America was committed to the great adventure, in the populous towns of the East as well as in the forests and fields of the West.

 The New Democracy Enters the Arena
 The spirit of the new order soon had a pronounced effect on the machinery of government and the practice of politics. The enfranchised electors were not long in demanding for themselves a larger share in administration.
The Spoils System and Rotation in Office.—First of all they wanted office for themselves, regardless of their fitness. They therefore extended the system of rewarding party workers with government positions—a system early established in several states, notably New York and Pennsylvania. Closely connected with it was the practice of fixing short terms for officers and making frequent changes in personnel. "Long continuance in office," explained a champion of this idea in Pennsylvania in 1837, "unfits a man for the discharge of its duties, by rendering him arbitrary and aristocratic, and tends to beget, first life office, and then hereditary office, which leads to the destruction of free government." The solution offered was the historic doctrine of "rotation in office." At the same time the principle of popular election was extended to an increasing number of officials who had once been appointed either by the governor or the legislature. Even geologists, veterinarians, surveyors, and other technical officers were declared elective on the theory that their appointment "smacked of monarchy."
Popular Election of Presidential Electors.—In a short time the spirit of democracy, while playing havoc with the old order in state government, made its way upward into the federal system. The framers of the Constitution, bewildered by many proposals and unable to agree on any single plan, had committed the choice of presidential electors to the discretion of the state legislatures. The legislatures, in turn, greedy of power, early adopted the practice of choosing the electors themselves; but they did not enjoy it long undisturbed. Democracy, thundering at their doors, demanded that they surrender the privilege to the people. Reluctantly they yielded, sometimes granting popular election and then withdrawing it. The drift was inevitable, and the climax came with the advent of Jacksonian democracy. In 1824, Vermont, New York, Delaware, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana, though some had experimented with popular election, still left the choice of electors with the legislature. Eight years later South Carolina alone held to the old practice. Popular election had become the final word. The fanciful idea of an electoral college of "good and wise men," selected without passion or partisanship by state legislatures acting as deliberative bodies, was exploded for all time; the election of the nation's chief magistrate was committed to the tempestuous methods of democracy.
The Nominating Convention.—As the suffrage was widened and the popular choice of presidential electors extended, there arose a violent protest against the methods used by the political parties in nominating candidates. After the retirement of Washington, both the Republicans and the Federalists found it necessary to agree upon their favorites before the election, and they adopted a colonial device—the pre-election caucus. The Federalist members of Congress held a conference and selected their candidate, and the Republicans followed the example. In a short time the practice of nominating by a "congressional caucus" became a recognized institution. The election still remained with the people; but the power of picking candidates for their approval passed into the hands of a small body of Senators and Representatives.
A reaction against this was unavoidable. To friends of "the plain people," like Andrew Jackson, it was intolerable, all the more so because the caucus never favored him with the nomination. More conservative men also found grave objections to it. They pointed out that, whereas the Constitution intended the President to be an independent officer, he had now fallen under the control of a caucus of congressmen. The supremacy of the legislative branch had been obtained by an extra-legal political device. To such objections were added practical considerations. In 1824, when personal rivalry had taken the place of party conflicts, the congressional caucus selected as the candidate, William H. Crawford, of Georgia, a man of distinction but no great popularity, passing by such an obvious hero as General Jackson. The followers of the General were enraged and demanded nothing short of the death of "King Caucus." Their clamor was effective. Under their attacks, the caucus came to an ignominious end.
In place of it there arose in 1831 a new device, the national nominating convention, composed of delegates elected by party voters for the sole purpose of nominating candidates. Senators and Representatives were still prominent in the party councils, but they were swamped by hundreds of delegates "fresh from the people," as Jackson was wont to say. In fact, each convention was made up mainly of office holders and office seekers, and the new institution was soon denounced as vigorously as King Caucus had been, particularly by statesmen who failed to obtain a nomination. Still it grew in strength and by 1840 was firmly established.
The End of the Old Generation.—In the election of 1824, the representatives of the "aristocracy" made their last successful stand. Until then the leadership by men of "wealth and talents" had been undisputed. There had been five Presidents—Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe—all Eastern men brought up in prosperous families with the advantages of culture which come from leisure and the possession of life's refinements. None of them had ever been compelled to work with his hands for a livelihood. Four of them had been slaveholders. Jefferson was a philosopher, learned in natural science, a master of foreign languages, a gentleman of dignity and grace of manner, notwithstanding his studied simplicity. Madison, it was said, was armed "with all the culture of his century." Monroe was a graduate of William and Mary, a gentleman of the old school. Jefferson and his three successors called themselves Republicans and professed a genuine faith in the people but they were not "of the people" themselves; they were not sons of the soil or the workshop. They were all men of "the grand old order of society" who gave finish and style even to popular government.
Monroe was the last of the Presidents belonging to the heroic epoch of the Revolution. He had served in the war for independence, in the Congress under the Articles of Confederation, and in official capacity after the adoption of the Constitution. In short, he was of the age that had wrought American independence and set the government afloat. With his passing, leadership went to a new generation; but his successor, John Quincy Adams, formed a bridge between the old and the new in that he combined a high degree of culture with democratic sympathies. Washington had died in 1799, preceded but a few months by Patrick Henry and followed in four years by Samuel Adams. Hamilton had been killed in a duel with Burr in 1804. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams were yet alive in 1824 but they were soon to pass from the scene, reconciled at last, full of years and honors. Madison was in dignified retirement, destined to live long enough to protest against the doctrine of nullification proclaimed by South Carolina before death carried him away at the ripe old age of eighty-five.
The Election of John Quincy Adams (1824).—The campaign of 1824 marked the end of the "era of good feeling" inaugurated by the collapse of the Federalist party after the election of 1816. There were four leading candidates, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and W.H. Crawford. The result of the election was a division of the electoral votes into four parts and no one received a majority. Under the Constitution, therefore, the selection of President passed to the House of Representatives. Clay, who stood at the bottom of the poll, threw his weight to Adams and assured his triumph, much to the chagrin of Jackson's friends. They thought, with a certain justification, that inasmuch as the hero of New Orleans had received the largest electoral vote, the House was morally bound to accept the popular judgment and make him President. Jackson shook hands cordially with Adams on the day of the inauguration, but never forgave him for being elected.
While Adams called himself a Republican in politics and often spoke of "the rule of the people," he was regarded by Jackson's followers as "an aristocrat." He was not a son of the soil. Neither was he acquainted at first hand with the labor of farmers and mechanics. He had been educated at Harvard and in Europe. Like his illustrious father, John Adams, he was a stern and reserved man, little given to seeking popularity. Moreover, he was from the East and the frontiersmen of the West regarded him as a man "born with a silver spoon in his mouth." Jackson's supporters especially disliked him because they thought their hero entitled to the presidency. Their anger was deepened when Adams appointed Clay to the office of Secretary of State; and they set up a cry that there had been a "deal" by which Clay had helped to elect Adams to get office for himself.
Though Adams conducted his administration with great dignity and in a fine spirit of public service, he was unable to overcome the opposition which he encountered on his election to office or to win popularity in the West and South. On the contrary, by advocating government assistance in building roads and canals and public grants in aid of education, arts, and sciences, he ran counter to the current which had set in against appropriations of federal funds for internal improvements. By signing the Tariff Bill of 1828, soon known as the "Tariff of Abominations," he made new enemies without adding to his friends in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio where he sorely needed them. Handicapped by the false charge that he had been a party to a "corrupt bargain" with Clay to secure his first election; attacked for his advocacy of a high protective tariff; charged with favoring an "aristocracy of office-holders" in Washington on account of his refusal to discharge government clerks by the wholesale, Adams was retired from the White House after he had served four years.

The Triumph of Jackson in 1828.—Probably no candidate for the presidency ever had such passionate popular support as Andrew Jackson had in 1828. He was truly a man of the people. Born of poor parents in the upland region of South Carolina, schooled in poverty and adversity, without the advantages of education or the refinements of cultivated leisure, he seemed the embodiment of the spirit of the new American democracy. Early in his youth he had gone into the frontier of Tennessee where he soon won a name as a fearless and intrepid Indian fighter. On the march and in camp, he endeared himself to his men by sharing their hardships, sleeping on the ground with them, and eating parched corn when nothing better could be found for the privates. From local prominence he sprang into national fame by his exploit at the battle of New Orleans. His reputation as a military hero was enhanced by the feeling that he had been a martyr to political treachery in 1824. The farmers of the West and South claimed him as their own. The mechanics of the Eastern cities, newly enfranchised, also looked upon him as their friend. Though his views on the tariff, internal improvements, and other issues before the country were either vague or unknown, he was readily elected President.
The returns of the electoral vote in 1828 revealed the sources of Jackson's power. In New England, he received but one ballot, from Maine; he had a majority of the electors in New York and all of them in Pennsylvania; and he carried every state south of Maryland and beyond the Appalachians. Adams did not get a single electoral vote in the South and West. The prophecy of the Hartford convention had been fulfilled.
When Jackson took the oath of office on March 4, 1829, the government of the United States entered into a new era. Until this time the inauguration of a President—even that of Jefferson, the apostle of simplicity—had brought no rude shock to the course of affairs at the capital. Hitherto the installation of a President meant that an old-fashioned gentleman, accompanied by a few servants, had driven to the White House in his own coach, taken the oath with quiet dignity, appointed a few new men to the higher posts, continued in office the long list of regular civil employees, and begun his administration with respectable decorum. Jackson changed all this. When he was inaugurated, men and women journeyed hundreds of miles to witness the ceremony. Great throngs pressed into the White House, "upset the bowls of punch, broke the glasses, and stood with their muddy boots on the satin-covered chairs to see the people's President." If Jefferson's inauguration was, as he called it, the "great revolution," Jackson's inauguration was a cataclysm.

The New Democracy at Washington

The Spoils System.—The staid and respectable society of Washington was disturbed by this influx of farmers and frontiersmen. To speak of politics became "bad form" among fashionable women. The clerks and civil servants of the government who had enjoyed long and secure tenure of office became alarmed at the clamor of new men for their positions. Doubtless the major portion of them had opposed the election of Jackson and looked with feelings akin to contempt upon him and his followers. With a hunter's instinct, Jackson scented his prey. Determined to have none but his friends in office, he made a clean sweep, expelling old employees to make room for men "fresh from the people." This was a new custom. Other Presidents had discharged a few officers for engaging in opposition politics. They had been careful in making appointments not to choose inveterate enemies; but they discharged relatively few men on account of their political views and partisan activities.
By wholesale removals and the frank selection of officers on party grounds—a practice already well intrenched in New York—Jackson established the "spoils system" at Washington. The famous slogan, "to the victor belong the spoils of victory," became the avowed principle of the national government. Statesmen like Calhoun denounced it; poets like James Russell Lowell ridiculed it; faithful servants of the government suffered under it; but it held undisturbed sway for half a century thereafter, each succeeding generation outdoing, if possible, its predecessor in the use of public office for political purposes. If any one remarked that training and experience were necessary qualifications for important public positions, he met Jackson's own profession of faith: "The duties of any public office are so simple or admit of being made so simple that any man can in a short time become master of them."
The Tariff and Nullification.—Jackson had not been installed in power very long before he was compelled to choose between states' rights and nationalism. The immediate occasion of the trouble was the tariff—a matter on which Jackson did not have any very decided views. His mind did not run naturally to abstruse economic questions; and owing to the divided opinion of the country it was "good politics" to be vague and ambiguous in the controversy. Especially was this true, because the tariff issue was threatening to split the country into parties again.
The Development of the Policy of "Protection."—The war of 1812 and the commercial policies of England which followed it had accentuated the need for American economic independence. During that conflict, the United States, cut off from English manufactures as during the Revolution, built up home industries to meet the unusual call for iron, steel, cloth, and other military and naval supplies as well as the demands from ordinary markets. Iron foundries and textile mills sprang up as in the night; hundreds of business men invested fortunes in industrial enterprises so essential to the military needs of the government; and the people at large fell into the habit of buying American-made goods again. As the London Times tersely observed of the Americans, "their first war with England made them independent; their second war made them formidable."
In recognition of this state of affairs, the tariff of 1816 was designed: first, to prevent England from ruining these "infant industries" by dumping the accumulated stores of years suddenly upon American markets; and, secondly, to enlarge in the manufacturing centers the demand for American agricultural produce. It accomplished the purposes of its framers. It kept in operation the mills and furnaces so recently built. It multiplied the number of industrial workers and enhanced the demand for the produce of the soil. It brought about another very important result. It turned the capital and enterprise of New England from shipping to manufacturing, and converted her statesmen, once friends of low tariffs, into ardent advocates of protection.
In the early years of the nineteenth century, the Yankees had bent their energies toward building and operating ships to carry produce from America to Europe and manufactures from Europe to America. For this reason, they had opposed the tariff of 1816 calculated to increase domestic production and cut down the carrying trade. Defeated in their efforts, they accepted the inevitable and turned to manufacturing. Soon they were powerful friends of protection for American enterprise. As the money invested and the labor employed in the favored industries increased, the demand for continued and heavier protection grew apace. Even the farmers who furnished raw materials, like wool, flax, and hemp, began to see eye to eye with the manufacturers. So the textile interests of New England, the iron masters of Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, the wool, hemp, and flax growers of Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and the sugar planters of Louisiana developed into a formidable combination in support of a high protective tariff.
The Planting States Oppose the Tariff.—In the meantime, the cotton states on the seaboard had forgotten about the havoc wrought during the Napoleonic wars when their produce rotted because there were no ships to carry it to Europe. The seas were now open. The area devoted to cotton had swiftly expanded as Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana were opened up. Cotton had in fact become "king" and the planters depended for their prosperity, as they thought, upon the sale of their staple to English manufacturers whose spinning and weaving mills were the wonder of the world. Manufacturing nothing and having to buy nearly everything except farm produce and even much of that for slaves, the planters naturally wanted to purchase manufactures in the cheapest market, England, where they sold most of their cotton. The tariff, they contended, raised the price of the goods they had to buy and was thus in fact a tribute laid on them for the benefit of the Northern mill owners.
The Tariff of Abominations.—They were overborne, however, in 1824 and again in 1828 when Northern manufacturers and Western farmers forced Congress to make an upward revision of the tariff. The Act of 1828 known as "the Tariff of Abominations," though slightly modified in 1832, was "the straw which broke the camel's back." Southern leaders turned in rage against the whole system. The legislatures of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama denounced it; a general convention of delegates held at Augusta issued a protest of defiance against it; and South Carolina, weary of verbal battles, decided to prevent its enforcement.
South Carolina Nullifies the Tariff.—The legislature of that state, on October 26, 1832, passed a bill calling for a state convention which duly assembled in the following month. In no mood for compromise, it adopted the famous Ordinance of Nullification after a few days' debate. Every line of this document was clear and firm. The tariff, it opened, gives "bounties to classes and individuals ... at the expense and to the injury and oppression of other classes and individuals"; it is a violation of the Constitution of the United States and therefore null and void; its enforcement in South Carolina is unlawful; if the federal government attempts to coerce the state into obeying the law, "the people of this state will thenceforth hold themselves absolved from all further obligations to maintain or preserve their political connection with the people of the other states and will forthwith proceed to organize a separate government and do all other acts and things which sovereign and independent states may of right do."
Southern States Condemn Nullification.—The answer of the country to this note of defiance, couched in the language used in the Kentucky resolutions and by the New England Federalists during the war of 1812, was quick and positive. The legislatures of the Southern states, while condemning the tariff, repudiated the step which South Carolina had taken. Georgia responded: "We abhor the doctrine of nullification as neither a peaceful nor a constitutional remedy." Alabama found it "unsound in theory and dangerous in practice." North Carolina replied that it was "revolutionary in character, subversive of the Constitution of the United States." Mississippi answered: "It is disunion by force—it is civil war." Virginia spoke more softly, condemning the tariff and sustaining the principle of the Virginia resolutions but denying that South Carolina could find in them any sanction for her proceedings.
Jackson Firmly Upholds the Union.—The eyes of the country were turned upon Andrew Jackson. It was known that he looked with no friendly feelings upon nullification, for, at a Jefferson dinner in the spring of 1830 while the subject was in the air, he had with laconic firmness announced a toast: "Our federal union; it must be preserved." When two years later the open challenge came from South Carolina, he replied that he would enforce the law, saying with his frontier directness: "If a single drop of blood shall be shed there in opposition to the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man I can lay my hands on engaged in such conduct upon the first tree that I can reach." He made ready to keep his word by preparing for the use of military and naval forces in sustaining the authority of the federal government. Then in a long and impassioned proclamation to the people of South Carolina he pointed out the national character of the union, and announced his solemn resolve to preserve it by all constitutional means. Nullification he branded as "incompatible with the existence of the union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the Constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle on which it was founded, and destructive of the great objects for which it was formed."
A Compromise.—In his messages to Congress, however, Jackson spoke the language of conciliation. A few days before issuing his proclamation he suggested that protection should be limited to the articles of domestic manufacture indispensable to safety in war time, and shortly afterward he asked for new legislation to aid him in enforcing the laws. With two propositions before it, one to remove the chief grounds for South Carolina's resistance and the other to apply force if it was continued, Congress bent its efforts to avoid a crisis. On February 12, 1833, Henry Clay laid before the Senate a compromise tariff bill providing for the gradual reduction of the duties until by 1842 they would reach the level of the law which Calhoun had supported in 1816. About the same time the "force bill," designed to give the President ample authority in executing the law in South Carolina, was taken up. After a short but acrimonious debate, both measures were passed and signed by President Jackson on the same day, March 2. Looking upon the reduction of the tariff as a complete vindication of her policy and an undoubted victory, South Carolina rescinded her ordinance and enacted another nullifying the force bil.
The Webster-Hayne Debate.—Where the actual victory lay in this quarrel, long the subject of high dispute, need not concern us to-day. Perhaps the chief result of the whole affair was a clarification of the issue between the North and the South—a definite statement of the principles for which men on both sides were years afterward to lay down their lives. On behalf of nationalism and a perpetual union, the stanch old Democrat from Tennessee had, in his proclamation on nullification, spoken a language that admitted of only one meaning. On behalf of nullification, Senator Hayne, of South Carolina, a skilled lawyer and courtly orator, had in a great speech delivered in the Senate in January, 1830, set forth clearly and cogently the doctrine that the union is a compact among sovereign states from which the parties may lawfully withdraw. It was this address that called into the arena Daniel
 Webster, Senator from Massachusetts, who, spreading the mantle of oblivion over the Hartford convention, delivered a reply to Hayne that has been reckoned among the powerful orations of all time—a plea for the supremacy of the Constitution and the national character of the union.
The War on the United States Bank.—If events forced the issue of nationalism and nullification upon Jackson, the same could not be said of his attack on the bank. That institution, once denounced by every true Jeffersonian, had been
reëstablishedin 1816 under the administration of Jefferson's disciple, James Madison. It had not been in operation very long, however, before it aroused bitter opposition, especially in the South and the West. Its notes drove out of circulation the paper currency of unsound banks chartered by the states, to the great anger of local financiers. It was accused of favoritism in making loans, of conferring special privileges upon politicians in return for their support at Washington. To all Jackson's followers it was "an insidious money power." One of them openly denounced it as an institution designed "to strengthen the arm of wealth and counterpoise the influence of extended suffrage in the disposition of public affairs."
This sentiment President Jackson fully shared. In his first message to Congress he assailed the bank in vigorous language. He declared that its constitutionality was in doubt and alleged that it had failed to establish a sound and uniform currency. If such an institution was necessary, he continued, it should be a public bank, owned and managed by the government, not a private concern endowed with special privileges by it. In his second and third messages, Jackson came back to the subject, leaving the decision, however, to "an enlightened people and their representatives."
Moved by this frank hostility and anxious for the future, the bank applied to Congress for a renewal of its charter in 1832, four years before the expiration of its life. Clay, with his eye upon the presidency and an issue for the campaign, warmly supported the application. Congress, deeply impressed by his leadership, passed the bill granting the new charter, and sent the open defiance to Jackson. His response was an instant veto. The battle was on and it raged with fury until the close of his second administration, ending in the destruction of the bank, a disordered currency, and a national panic.
In his veto message, Jackson attacked the bank as unconstitutional and even hinted at corruption. He refused to assent to the proposition that the Supreme Court had settled the question of constitutionality by the decision in the McCulloch case. "Each public officer," he argued, "who takes an oath to support the Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it, not as it is understood by others."
Not satisfied with his veto and his declaration against the bank, Jackson ordered the Secretary of the Treasury to withdraw the government deposits which formed a large part of the institution's funds. This action he followed up by an open charge that the bank had used money shamefully to secure the return of its supporters to Congress. The Senate, stung by this charge, solemnly resolved that Jackson had "assumed upon himself authority and power not conferred by the Constitution and laws, but in derogation of both."
The effects of the destruction of the bank were widespread. When its charter expired in 1836, banking was once more committed to the control of the states. The state legislatures, under a decision rendered by the Supreme Court after the death of Marshall, began to charter banks under state ownership and control, with full power to issue paper money—this in spite of the provision in the Constitution that states shall not issue bills of credit or make anything but gold and silver coin legal tender in the payment of debts. Once more the country was flooded by paper currency of uncertain value. To make matters worse, Jackson adopted the practice of depositing huge amounts of government funds in these banks, not forgetting to render favors to those institutions which supported him in politics—"pet banks," as they were styled at the time. In 1837, partially, though by no means entirely, as a result of the abolition of the bank, the country was plunged into one of the most disastrous panics which it ever experienced.
Internal Improvements Checked.—The bank had presented to Jackson a very clear problem—one of destruction. Other questions were not so simple, particularly the subject of federal appropriations in aid of roads and other internal improvements. Jefferson had strongly favored government assistance in such matters, but his administration was followed by a reaction. Both Madison and Monroe vetoed acts of Congress appropriating public funds for public roads, advancing as their reason the argument that the Constitution authorized no such laws. Jackson, puzzled by the clamor on both sides, followed their example without making the constitutional bar absolute. Congress, he thought, might lawfully build highways of a national and military value, but he strongly deprecated attacks by local interests on the federal treasury.
The Triumph of the Executive Branch.—Jackson's
reëlectionin 1832 served to confirm his opinion that he was the chosen leader of the people, freed and instructed to ride rough shod over Congress and even the courts. No President before or since ever entertained in times of peace such lofty notions of executive prerogative. The entire body of federal employees he transformed into obedient servants of his wishes, a sign or a nod from him making and undoing the fortunes of the humble and the mighty. His lawful cabinet of advisers, filling all of the high posts in the government, he treated with scant courtesy, preferring rather to secure his counsel and advice from an unofficial body of friends and dependents who, owing to their secret methods and back stairs arrangements, became known as "the kitchen cabinet." Under the leadership of a silent, astute, and resourceful politician, Amos Kendall, this informal gathering of the faithful both gave and carried out decrees and orders, communicating the President's lightest wish or strictest command to the uttermost part of the country. Resolutely and in the face of bitter opposition Jackson had removed the deposits from the United States Bank. When the Senate protested against this arbitrary conduct, he did not rest until it was forced to expunge the resolution of condemnation; in time one of his lieutenants with his own hands was able to tear the censure from the records. When Chief Justice Marshall issued a decree against Georgia which did not suit him, Jackson, according to tradition, blurted out that Marshall could go ahead and enforce his own orders. To the end he pursued his willful way, finally even choosing his own successor.

The Rise of the Whigs

Jackson's Measures Arouse Opposition.—Measures so decided, policies so radical, and conduct so high-handed could not fail to arouse against Jackson a deep and exasperated opposition. The truth is the conduct of his entire administration profoundly disturbed the business and finances of the country. It was accompanied by conditions similar to those which existed under the Articles of Confederation. A paper currency, almost as unstable and irritating as the worthless notes of revolutionary days, flooded the country, hindering the easy transaction of business. The use of federal funds for internal improvements, so vital to the exchange of commodities which is the very life of industry, was blocked by executive vetoes. The Supreme Court, which, under Marshall, had held refractory states to their obligations under the Constitution, was flouted; states' rights judges, deliberately selected by Jackson for the bench, began to sap and undermine the rulings of Marshall. The protective tariff, under which the textile industry of New England, the iron mills of Pennsylvania, and the wool, flax, and hemp farms of the West had flourished, had received a severe blow in the compromise of 1833 which promised a steady reduction of duties. To cap the climax, Jackson's party, casting aside the old and reputable name of Republican, boldly chose for its title the term "Democrat," throwing down the gauntlet to every conservative who doubted the omniscience of the people. All these things worked together to evoke an opposition that was sharp and determined.

Clay and the National Republicans.—In this opposition movement, leadership fell to Henry Clay, a son of Kentucky, rather than to Daniel Webster of Massachusetts. Like Jackson, Clay was born in a home haunted by poverty. Left fatherless early and thrown upon his own resources, he went from Virginia into Kentucky where by sheer force of intellect he rose to eminence in the profession of law. Without the martial gifts or the martial spirit of Jackson, he slipped more easily into the social habits of the East at the same time that he retained his hold on the affections of the boisterous West. Farmers of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky loved him; financiers of New York and Philadelphia trusted him. He was thus a leader well fitted to gather the forces of opposition into union against Jackson.
Around Clay's standard assembled a motley collection, representing every species of political opinion, united by one tie only—hatred for "Old Hickory." Nullifiers and less strenuous advocates of states' rights were yoked with nationalists of Webster's school; ardent protectionists were bound together with equally ardent free traders, all fraternizing in one grand confusion of ideas under the title of "National Republicans." Thus the ancient and honorable term selected by Jefferson and his party, now abandoned by Jacksonian Democracy, was adroitly adopted to cover the supporters of Clay. The platform of the party, however, embraced all the old Federalist principles: protection for American industry; internal improvements; respect for the Supreme Court; resistance to executive tyranny; and denunciation of the spoils system. Though Jackson was easily victorious in 1832, the popular vote cast for Clay should have given him some doubts about the faith of "the whole people" in the wisdom of his "reign."
Van Buren and the Panic of 1837.—Nothing could shake the General's superb confidence. At the end of his second term he insisted on selecting his own successor; at a national convention, chosen by party voters, but packed with his office holders and friends, he nominated Martin Van Buren of New York. Once more he proved his strength by carrying the country for the Democrats. With a fine flourish, he attended the inauguration of Van Buren and then retired, amid the applause and tears of his devotees, to the Hermitage, his home in Tennessee.
Fortunately for him, Jackson escaped the odium of a disastrous panic which struck the country with terrible force in the following summer. Among the contributory causes of this crisis, no doubt, were the destruction of the bank and the issuance of the "specie circular" of 1836 which required the purchasers of public lands to pay for them in coin, instead of the paper notes of state banks. Whatever the dominating cause, the ruin was widespread. Bank after bank went under; boom towns in the West collapsed; Eastern mills shut down; and working people in the industrial centers, starving from unemployment, begged for relief. Van Buren braved the storm, offering no measure of reform or assistance to the distracted people. He did seek security for government funds by suggesting the removal of deposits from private banks and the establishment of an independent treasury system, with government depositaries for public funds, in several leading cities. This plan was finally accepted by Congress in 1840.
Had Van Buren been a captivating figure he might have lived down the discredit of the panic unjustly laid at his door; but he was far from being a favorite with the populace. Though a man of many talents, he owed his position to the quiet and adept management of Jackson rather than to his own personal qualities. The men of the frontier did not care for him. They suspected that he ate from "gold plate" and they could not forgive him for being an astute politician from New York. Still the Democratic party, remembering Jackson's wishes, renominated him unanimously in 1840 and saw him go down to utter defeat.
The Whigs and General Harrison.—By this time, the National Republicans, now known as Whigs—a title taken from the party of opposition to the Crown in England, had learned many lessons. Taking a leaf out of the Democratic book, they nominated, not Clay of Kentucky, well known for his views on the bank, the tariff, and internal improvements, but a military hero, General William Henry Harrison, a man of uncertain political opinions. Harrison, a son of a Virginia signer of the Declaration of Independence, sprang into public view by winning a battle more famous than important, "Tippecanoe"—a brush with the Indians in Indiana. He added to his laurels by rendering praiseworthy services during the war of 1812. When days of peace returned he was rewarded by a grateful people with a seat in Congress. Then he retired to quiet life in a little village near Cincinnati. Like Jackson he was held to be a son of the South and the West. Like Jackson he was a military hero, a lesser light, but still a light. Like Old Hickory he rode into office on a tide of popular feeling against an Eastern man accused of being something of an aristocrat. His personal popularity was sufficient. The Whigs who nominated him shrewdly refused to adopt a platform or declare their belief in anything. When some Democrat asserted that Harrison was a backwoodsman whose sole wants were a jug of hard cider and a log cabin, the Whigs treated the remark not as an insult but as proof positive that Harrison deserved the votes of Jackson men. The jug and the cabin they proudly transformed into symbols of the campaign, and won for their chieftain 234 electoral votes, while Van Buren got only sixty.
Harrison and Tyler.—The Hero of Tippecanoe was not long to enjoy the fruits of his victory. The hungry horde of Whig office seekers descended upon him like wolves upon the fold. If he went out they waylaid him; if he stayed indoors, he was besieged; not even his bed chamber was spared. He was none too strong at best and he took a deep cold on the day of his inauguration. Between driving out Democrats and appeasing Whigs, he fell mortally ill. Before the end of a month he lay dead at the capitol.
Harrison's successor, John Tyler, the Vice President, whom the Whigs had nominated to catch votes in Virginia, was more of a Democrat than anything else, though he was not partisan enough to please anybody. The Whigs railed at him because he would not approve the founding of another United States Bank. The Democrats stormed at him for refusing, until near the end of his term, to sanction the annexation of Texas, which had declared its independence of Mexico in 1836. His entire administration, marked by unseemly wrangling, produced only two measures of importance. The Whigs, flushed by victory, with the aid of a few protectionist Democrats, enacted, in 1842, a new tariff law destroying the compromise which had brought about the truce between the North and the South, in the days of nullification. The distinguished leader of the Whigs, Daniel Webster, as Secretary of State, in negotiation with Lord Ashburton representing Great Britain, settled the long-standing dispute between the two countries over the Maine boundary. A year after closing this chapter in American diplomacy, Webster withdrew to private life, leaving the President to endure alone the buffets of political fortune.
To the end, the Whigs regarded Tyler as a traitor to their cause; but the judgment of history is that it was a case of the biter bitten. They had nominated him for the vice presidency as a man of views acceptable to Southern Democrats in order to catch their votes, little reckoning with the chances of his becoming President. Tyler had not deceived them and, thoroughly soured, he left the White House in 1845 not to appear in public life again until the days of secession, when he espoused the Southern confederacy. Jacksonian Democracy, with new leadership, serving a new cause—slavery—was returned to power under James K. Polk, a friend of the General from Tennessee. A few grains of sand were to run through the hour glass before the Whig party was to be broken and scattered as the Federalists had been more than a generation before.

The Interaction of American and European Opinion

Democracy in England and France.—During the period of Jacksonian Democracy, as in all epochs of ferment, there was a close relation between the thought of the New World and the Old. In England, the successes of the American experiment were used as arguments in favor of overthrowing the aristocracy which George III had manipulated with such effect against America half a century before. In the United States, on the other hand, conservatives like Chancellor Kent, the stout opponent of manhood suffrage in New York, cited the riots of the British working classes as a warning against admitting the same classes to a share in the government of the United States. Along with the agitation of opinion went epoch-making events. In 1832, the year of Jackson's second triumph, the British Parliament passed its first reform bill, which conferred the ballot—not on workingmen as yet—but on mill owners and shopkeepers whom the landlords regarded with genuine horror. The initial step was thus taken in breaking down the privileges of the landed aristocracy and the rich merchants of England.
About the same time a popular revolution occurred in France. The Bourbon family, restored to the throne of France by the allied powers after their victory over Napoleon in 1815, had embarked upon a policy of arbitrary government. To use the familiar phrase, they had learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Charles X, who came to the throne in 1824, set to work with zeal to undo the results of the French Revolution, to stifle the press, restrict the suffrage, and restore the clergy and the nobility to their ancient rights. His policy encountered equally zealous opposition and in 1830 he was overthrown. The popular party, under the leadership of Lafayette, established, not a republic as some of the radicals had hoped, but a "liberal" middle-class monarchy under Louis Philippe. This second French Revolution made a profound impression on Americans, convincing them that the whole world was moving toward democracy. The mayor, aldermen, and citizens of New York City joined in a great parade to celebrate the fall of the Bourbons. Mingled with cheers for the new order in France were hurrahs for "the people's own, Andrew Jackson, the Hero of New Orleans and President of the United States!"
European Interest in America.—To the older and more settled Europeans, the democratic experiment in America was either a menace or an inspiration. Conservatives viewed it with anxiety; liberals with optimism. Far-sighted leaders could see that the tide of democracy was rising all over the world and could not be stayed. Naturally the country that had advanced furthest along the new course was the place in which to find arguments for and against proposals that Europe should make experiments of the same character.
De Tocqueville's Democracy in America.—In addition to the casual traveler there began to visit the United States the thoughtful observer bent on finding out what manner of nation this was springing up in the wilderness. Those who looked with sympathy upon the growing popular forces of England and France found in the United States, in spite of many blemishes and defects, a guarantee for the future of the people's rule in the Old World. One of these, Alexis de Tocqueville, a French liberal of mildly democratic sympathies, made a journey to this country in 1831; he described in a very remarkable volume, Democracy in America, the grand experiment as he saw it. On the whole he was convinced. After examining with a critical eye the life and labor of the American people, as well as the constitutions of the states and the nation, he came to the conclusion that democracy with all its faults was both inevitable and successful. Slavery he thought was a painful contrast to the other features of American life, and he foresaw what proved to be the irrepressible conflict over it. He believed that through blundering the people were destined to learn the highest of all arts, self-government on a grand scale. The absence of a leisure class, devoted to no calling or profession, merely enjoying the refinements of life and adding to its graces—the flaw in American culture that gave deep distress to many a European leader—de Tocqueville thought a necessary virtue in the republic. "Amongst a democratic people where there is no hereditary wealth, every man works to earn a living, or has worked, or is born of parents who have worked. A notion of labor is therefore presented to the mind on every side as the necessary, natural, and honest condition of human existence." It was this notion of a government in the hands of people who labored that struck the French publicist as the most significant fact in the modern world.
Harriet Martineau's Visit to America.—This phase of American life also profoundly impressed the brilliant English writer, Harriet Martineau. She saw all parts of the country, the homes of the rich and the log cabins of the frontier; she traveled in stagecoaches, canal boats, and on horseback; and visited sessions of Congress and auctions at slave markets. She tried to view the country impartially and the thing that left the deepest mark on her mind was the solidarity of the people in one great political body. "However various may be the tribes of inhabitants in those states, whatever part of the world may have been their birthplace, or that of their fathers, however broken may be their language, however servile or noble their employments, however exalted or despised their state, all are declared to be bound together by equal political obligations.... In that self-governing country all are held to have an equal interest in the principles of its institutions and to be bound in equal duty to watch their workings." Miss Martineau was also impressed with the passion of Americans for land ownership and contrasted the United States favorably with England where the tillers of the soil were either tenants or laborers for wages.
Adverse Criticism.—By no means all observers and writers were convinced that America was a success. The fastidious traveler, Mrs. Trollope, who thought the English system of church and state was ideal, saw in the United States only roughness and ignorance. She lamented the "total and universal want of manners both in males and females," adding that while "they appear to have clear heads and active intellects," there was "no charm, no grace in their conversation." She found everywhere a lack of reverence for kings, learning, and rank. Other critics were even more savage. The editor of the Foreign Quarterly petulantly exclaimed that the United States was "a brigand confederation." Charles Dickens declared the country to be "so maimed and lame, so full of sores and ulcers that her best friends turn from the loathsome creature in disgust." Sydney Smith, editor of the Edinburgh Review, was never tired of trying his caustic wit at the expense of America. "Their Franklins and Washingtons and all the other sages and heroes of their revolution were born and bred subjects of the king of England," he observed in 1820. "During the thirty or forty years of their independence they have done absolutely nothing for the sciences, for the arts, for literature, or even for the statesmanlike studies of politics or political economy.... In the four quarters of the globe who reads an American book? Or goes to an American play? Or looks at an American picture or statue?" To put a sharp sting into his taunt he added, forgetting by whose authority slavery was introduced and fostered: "Under which of the old tyrannical governments of Europe is every sixth man a slave whom his fellow creatures may buy and sell?"
Some Americans, while resenting the hasty and often superficial judgments of European writers, winced under their satire and took thought about certain particulars in the indictments brought against them. The mass of the people, however, bent on the great experiment, gave little heed to carping critics who saw the flaws and not the achievements of our country—critics who were in fact less interested in America than in preventing the rise and growth of democracy in Europe.


J.S. Bassett, Life of Andrew Jackson.
J.W. Burgess, The Middle Period.
H. Lodge, Daniel Webster.
W. Macdonald, Jacksonian Democracy (American Nation Series).
Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties, Vol. II.
C.H. Peck, The Jacksonian Epoch.
C. Schurz, Henry Clay.


1. By what devices was democracy limited in the first days of our Republic?
2. On what grounds were the limitations defended? Attacked?
3. Outline the rise of political democracy in the United States.
4. Describe three important changes in our political system.
5. Contrast the Presidents of the old and the new generations.
6. Account for the unpopularity of John Adams' administration.
7. What had been the career of Andrew Jackson before 1829?
8. Sketch the history of the protective tariff and explain the theory underlying it.
9. Explain the growth of Southern opposition to the tariff.
10. Relate the leading events connected with nullification in South Carolina.
11. State Jackson's views and tell the outcome of the controversy.
12. Why was Jackson opposed to the bank? How did he finally destroy it?
13. The Whigs complained of Jackson's "executive tyranny." What did they mean?
14. Give some of the leading events in Clay's career.
15. How do you account for the triumph of Harrison in 1840?
16. Why was Europe especially interested in America at this period? Who were some of the European writers on American affairs?

Research Topics

Jackson's Criticisms of the Bank.—Macdonald, Documentary Source Book, pp. 320-329.
Financial Aspects of the Bank Controversy.—Dewey, Financial History of the United States, Sections 86-87; Elson, History of the United States, pp. 492-496.
Jackson's View of the Union.—See his proclamation on nullification in Macdonald, pp. 333-340.
Nullification.—McMaster, History of the People of the United States, Vol. VI, pp. 153-182; Elson, pp. 487-492.
The Webster-Hayne Debate.—Analyze the arguments. Extensive extracts are given in Macdonald's larger three-volume work, Select Documents of United States History, 1776-1761, pp. 239-260.
The Character of Jackson's Administration.—Woodrow Wilson, History of the American People, Vol. IV, pp. 1-87; Elson, pp. 498-501.
The People in 1830.—From contemporary writings in Hart, American History Told by Contemporaries, Vol. III, pp. 509-530.
Biographical Studies.—Andrew Jackson, J.Q. Adams, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, J.C. Calhoun, and W.H. Harrison.



"We shall not send an emigrant beyond the Mississippi in a hundred years," exclaimed Livingston, the principal author of the Louisiana purchase. When he made this astounding declaration, he doubtless had before his mind's eye the great stretches of unoccupied lands between the Appalachians and the Mississippi. He also had before him the history of the English colonies, which told him of the two centuries required to settle the seaboard region. To practical men, his prophecy did not seem far wrong; but before the lapse of half that time there appeared beyond the Mississippi a tier of new states, reaching from the Gulf of Mexico to the southern boundary of Minnesota, and a new commonwealth on the Pacific Ocean where American emigrants had raised the Bear flag of California.

The Advance of the Middle Border

Missouri.—When the middle of the nineteenth century had been reached, the Mississippi River, which Daniel Boone, the intrepid hunter, had crossed during Washington's administration "to escape from civilization" in Kentucky, had become the waterway for a vast empire. The center of population of the United States had passed to the Ohio Valley. Missouri, with its wide reaches of rich lands, low-lying, level, and fertile, well adapted to hemp raising, had drawn to its borders thousands of planters from the old Southern states—from Virginia and the Carolinas as well as from Kentucky and Tennessee. When the great compromise of 1820-21 admitted her to the union, wearing "every jewel of sovereignty," as a florid orator announced, migratory slave owners were assured that their property would be safe in Missouri. Along the western shore of the Mississippi and on both banks of the Missouri to the uttermost limits of the state, plantations tilled by bondmen spread out in broad expanses. In the neighborhood of Jefferson City the slaves numbered more than a fourth of the population.
Into this stream of migration from the planting South flowed another current of land-tilling farmers; some from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, driven out by the onrush of the planters buying and consolidating small farms into vast estates; and still more from the East and the Old World. To the northwest over against Iowa and to the southwest against Arkansas, these yeomen laid out farms to be tilled by their own labor. In those regions the number of slaves seldom rose above five or six per cent of the population. The old French post, St. Louis, enriched by the fur trade of the Far West and the steamboat traffic of the river, grew into a thriving commercial city, including among its seventy-five thousand inhabitants in 1850 nearly forty thousand foreigners, German immigrants from Pennsylvania and Europe being the largest single element.
Arkansas.—Below Missouri lay the territory of Arkansas, which had long been the paradise of the swarthy hunter and the restless frontiersman fleeing from the advancing borders of farm and town. In search of the life, wild and free, where the rifle supplied the game and a few acres of ground the corn and potatoes, they had filtered into the territory in an unending drift, "squatting" on the land. Without so much as asking the leave of any government, territorial or national, they claimed as their own the soil on which they first planted their feet. Like the Cherokee Indians, whom they had as neighbors, whose very customs and dress they sometimes adopted, the squatters spent their days in the midst of rough plenty, beset by chills, fevers, and the ills of the flesh, but for many years unvexed by political troubles or the restrictions of civilized life.
Unfortunately for them, however, the fertile valleys of the Mississippi and Arkansas were well adapted to the cultivation of cotton and tobacco and their sylvan peace was soon broken by an invasion of planters. The newcomers, with their servile workers, spread upward in the valley toward Missouri and along the southern border westward to the Red River. In time the slaves in the tier of counties against Louisiana ranged from thirty to seventy per cent of the population. This marked the doom of the small farmer, swept Arkansas into the main current of planting politics, and led to a powerful lobby at Washington in favor of admission to the union, a boon granted in 1836.
Michigan.—In accordance with a well-established custom, a free state was admitted to the union to balance a slave state. In 1833, the people of Michigan, a territory ten times the size of Connecticut, announced that the time had come for them to enjoy the privileges of a commonwealth. All along the southern border the land had been occupied largely by pioneers from New England, who built prim farmhouses and adopted the town-meeting plan of self-government after the fashion of the old home. The famous post of Detroit was growing into a flourishing city as the boats plying on the Great Lakes carried travelers, settlers, and freight through the narrows. In all, according to the census, there were more than ninety thousand inhabitants in the territory; so it was not without warrant that they clamored for statehood. Congress, busy as ever with politics, delayed; and the inhabitants of Michigan, unable to restrain their impatience, called a convention, drew up a constitution, and started a lively quarrel with Ohio over the southern boundary. The hand of Congress was now forced. Objections were made to the new constitution on the ground that it gave the ballot to all free white males, including aliens not yet naturalized; but the protests were overborne in a long debate. The boundary was fixed, and Michigan, though shorn of some of the land she claimed, came into the union in 1837.
Wisconsin.—Across Lake Michigan to the west lay the territory of Wisconsin, which shared with Michigan the interesting history of the Northwest, running back into the heroic days when French hunters and missionaries were planning a French empire for the great monarch, Louis XIV. It will not be forgotten that the French rangers of the woods, the black-robed priests, prepared for sacrifice, even to death, the trappers of the French agencies, and the French explorers—Marquette, Joliet, and Menard—were the first white men to paddle their frail barks through the northern waters. They first blazed their trails into the black forests and left traces of their work in the names of portages and little villages. It was from these forests that Red Men in full war paint journeyed far to fight under the fleur-de-lis of France when the soldiers of King Louis made their last stand at Quebec and Montreal against the imperial arms of Britain. It was here that the British flag was planted in 1761 and that the great Pontiac conspiracy was formed two years later to overthrow British dominion.
When, a generation afterward, the Stars and Stripes supplanted the Union Jack, the French were still almost the only white men in the region. They were soon joined by hustling Yankee fur traders who did battle royal against British interlopers. The traders cut their way through forest trails and laid out the routes through lake and stream and over portages for the settlers and their families from the states "back East." It was the forest ranger who discovered the water power later used to turn the busy mills grinding the grain from the spreading farm lands. In the wake of the fur hunters, forest men, and farmers came miners from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri crowding in to exploit the lead ores of the northwest, some of them bringing slaves to work their claims. Had it not been for the gold fever of 1849 that drew the wielders of pick and shovel to the Far West, Wisconsin would early have taken high rank among the mining regions of the country.
From a favorable point of vantage on Lake Michigan, the village of Milwaukee, a center for lumber and grain transport and a place of entry for Eastern goods, grew into a thriving city. It claimed twenty thousand inhabitants, when in 1848 Congress admitted Wisconsin to the union. Already the Germans, Irish, and Scandinavians had found their way into the territory. They joined Americans from the older states in clearing forests, building roads, transforming trails into highways, erecting mills, and connecting streams with canals to make a network of routes for the traffic that poured to and from the Great Lakes.
Iowa and Minnesota.—To the southwest of Wisconsin beyond the Mississippi, where the tall grass of the prairies waved like the sea, farmers from New England, New York, and Ohio had prepared Iowa for statehood. A tide of immigration that might have flowed into Missouri went northward; for freemen, unaccustomed to slavery and slave markets, preferred the open country above the compromise line. With incredible swiftness, they spread farms westward from the Mississippi. With Yankee ingenuity they turned to trading on the river, building before 1836 three prosperous centers of traffic: Dubuque, Davenport, and Burlington. True to their old traditions, they founded colleges and academies that religion and learning might be cherished on the frontier as in the states from which they came. Prepared for self-government, the Iowans laid siege to the door of Congress and were admitted to the union in 1846.
Above Iowa, on the Mississippi, lay the territory of Minnesota—the home of the Dakotas, the Ojibways, and the Sioux. Like Michigan and Wisconsin, it had been explored early by the French scouts, and the first white settlement was the little French village of Mendota. To the people of the United States, the resources of the country were first revealed by the historic journey of Zebulon Pike in 1805 and by American fur traders who were quick to take advantage of the opportunity to ply their arts of hunting and bartering in fresh fields. In 1839 an American settlement was planted at Marina on the St. Croix, the outpost of advancing civilization. Within twenty years, the territory, boasting a population of 150,000, asked for admission to the union. In 1858 the plea was granted and Minnesota showed her gratitude three years later by being first among the states to offer troops to Lincoln in the hour of peril.

On to the Pacific—Texas and the Mexican War

The Uniformity of the Middle West.—There was a certain monotony about pioneering in the Northwest and on the middle border. As the long stretches of land were cleared or prepared for the plow, they were laid out like checkerboards into squares of forty, eighty, one hundred sixty, or more acres, each the seat of a homestead. There was a striking uniformity also about the endless succession of fertile fields spreading far and wide under the hot summer sun. No majestic mountains relieved the sweep of the prairie. Few monuments of other races and antiquity were there to awaken curiosity about the region. No sonorous bells in old missions rang out the time of day. The chaffering Red Man bartering blankets and furs for powder and whisky had passed farther on. The population was made up of plain farmers and their families engaged in severe and unbroken labor, chopping down trees, draining fever-breeding swamps, breaking new ground, and planting from year to year the same rotation of crops. Nearly all the settlers were of native American stock into whose frugal and industrious lives the later Irish and German immigrants fitted, on the whole, with little friction. Even the Dutch oven fell before the cast-iron cooking stove. Happiness and sorrow, despair and hope were there, but all encompassed by the heavy tedium of prosaic sameness.

A Contrast in the Far West and Southwest.—As George Rogers Clark and Daniel Boone had stirred the snug Americans of the seaboard to seek their fortunes beyond the Appalachians, so now Kit Carson, James Bowie, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, and John C. Frémont were to lead the way into a new land, only a part of which was under the American flag. The setting for this new scene in the westward movement was thrown out in a wide sweep from the headwaters of the Mississippi to the banks of the Rio Grande; from the valleys of the Sabine and Red rivers to Montana and the Pacific slope. In comparison with the middle border, this region presented such startling diversities that only the eye of faith could foresee the unifying power of nationalism binding its communities with the older sections of the country. What contrasts indeed! The blue grass region of Kentucky or the rich, black soil of Illinois—the painted desert, the home of the sage brush and the coyote! The level prairies of Iowa—the mighty Rockies shouldering themselves high against the horizon! The long bleak winters of Wisconsin—California of endless summer! The log churches of Indiana or Illinois—the quaint missions of San Antonio, Tucson, and Santa Barbara! The little state of Delaware—the empire of Texas, one hundred and twenty times its area! And scattered about through the Southwest were signs of an ancient civilization—fragments of four-and five-story dwellings, ruined dams, aqueducts, and broken canals, which told of once prosperous peoples who, by art and science, had conquered the aridity of the desert and lifted themselves in the scale of culture above the savages of the plain.
The settlers of this vast empire were to be as diverse in their origins and habits as those of the colonies on the coast had been. Americans of English, Irish, and Scotch-Irish descent came as usual from the Eastern states. To them were added the migratory Germans as well. Now for the first time came throngs of Scandinavians. Some were to make their homes on quiet farms as the border advanced against the setting sun. Others were to be Indian scouts, trappers, fur hunters, miners, cowboys, Texas planters, keepers of lonely posts on the plain and the desert, stage drivers, pilots of wagon trains, pony riders, fruit growers, "lumber jacks," and smelter workers. One common bond united them—a passion for the self-government accorded to states. As soon as a few thousand settlers came together in a single territory, there arose a mighty shout for a position beside the staid commonwealths of the East and the South. Statehood meant to the pioneers self-government, dignity, and the right to dispose of land, minerals, and timber in their own way. In the quest for this local autonomy there arose many a wordy contest in Congress, each of the political parties lending a helping hand in the admission of a state when it gave promise of adding new congressmen of the "right political persuasion," to use the current phrase.
Southern Planters and Texas.—While the farmers of the North found the broad acres of the Western prairies stretching on before them apparently in endless expanse, it was far different with the Southern planters. Ever active in their search for new fields as they exhausted the virgin soil of the older states, the restless subjects of King Cotton quickly reached the frontier of Louisiana. There they paused; but only for a moment. The fertile land of Texas just across the boundary lured them on and the Mexican republic to which it belonged extended to them a more than generous welcome. Little realizing the perils lurking in a "peaceful penetration," the authorities at Mexico City opened wide the doors and made large grants of land to American contractors, who agreed to bring a number of families into Texas. The omnipresent Yankee, in the person of Moses Austin of Connecticut, hearing of this good news in the Southwest, obtained a grant in 1820 to settle three hundred Americans near Bexar—a commission finally carried out to the letter by his son and celebrated in the name given to the present capital of the state of Texas. Within a decade some twenty thousand Americans had crossed the border.
Mexico Closes the Door.—The government of Mexico, unaccustomed to such enterprise and thoroughly frightened by its extent, drew back in dismay. Its fears were increased as quarrels broke out between the Americans and the natives in Texas. Fear grew into consternation when efforts were made by President Jackson to buy the territory for the United States. Mexico then sought to close the flood gates. It stopped all American colonization schemes, canceled many of the land grants, put a tariff on farming implements, and abolished slavery. These barriers were raised too late. A call for help ran through the western border of the United States. The sentinels of the frontier answered. Davy Crockett, the noted frontiersman, bear hunter, and backwoods politician; James Bowie, the dexterous wielder of the knife that to this day bears his name; and Sam Houston, warrior and pioneer, rushed to the aid of their countrymen in Texas. Unacquainted with the niceties of diplomacy, impatient at the formalities of international law, they soon made it known that in spite of Mexican sovereignty they would be their own masters.
The Independence of Texas Declared.—Numbering only about one-fourth of the population in Texas, they raised the standard of revolt in 1836 and summoned a convention. Following in the footsteps of their ancestors, they issued a declaration of independence signed mainly by Americans from the slave states. Anticipating that the government of Mexico would not quietly accept their word of defiance as final, they dispatched a force to repel "the invading army," as General Houston called the troops advancing under the command of Santa Ana, the Mexican president. A portion of the Texan soldiers took their stand in the Alamo, an old Spanish mission in the cottonwood trees in the town of San Antonio. Instead of obeying the order to blow up the mission and retire, they held their ground until they were completely surrounded and cut off from all help. Refusing to surrender, they fought to the bitter end, the last man falling a victim to the sword. Vengeance was swift. Within three months General Houston overwhelmed Santa Ana at the San Jacinto, taking him prisoner of war and putting an end to all hopes for the restoration of Mexican sovereignty over Texas.
The Lone Star Republic, with Houston at the head, then sought admission to the United States. This seemed at first an easy matter. All that was required to bring it about appeared to be a treaty annexing Texas to the union. Moreover, President Jackson, at the height of his popularity, had a warm regard for General Houston and, with his usual sympathy for rough and ready ways of doing things, approved the transaction. Through an American representative in Mexico, Jackson had long and anxiously labored, by means none too nice, to wring from the Mexican republic the cession of the coveted territory. When the Texans took matters into their own hands, he was more than pleased; but he could not marshal the approval of two-thirds of the Senators required for a treaty of annexation. Cautious as well as impetuous, Jackson did not press the issue; he went out of office in 1837 with Texas uncertain as to her future.
Northern Opposition to Annexation.—All through the North the opposition to annexation was clear and strong. Anti-slavery agitators could hardly find words savage enough to express their feelings. "Texas," exclaimed Channing in a letter to Clay, "is but the first step of aggression. I trust indeed that Providence will beat back and humble our cupidity and ambition. I now ask whether as a people we are prepared to seize on a neighboring territory for the end of extending slavery? I ask whether as a people we can stand forth in the sight of God, in the sight of nations, and adopt this atrocious policy? Sooner perish! Sooner be our name blotted out from the record of nations!" William Lloyd Garrison called for the secession of the Northern states if Texas was brought into the union with slavery. John Quincy Adams warned his countrymen that they were treading in the path of the imperialism that had brought the nations of antiquity to judgment and destruction. Henry Clay, the Whig candidate for President, taking into account changing public sentiment, blew hot and cold, losing the state of New York and the election of 1844 by giving a qualified approval of annexation. In the same campaign, the Democrats boldly demanded the "Reannexation of Texas," based on claims which the United States once had to Spanish territory beyond the Sabine River.
Annexation.—The politicians were disposed to walk very warily. Van Buren, at heart opposed to slavery extension, refused to press the issue of annexation. Tyler, a pro-slavery Democrat from Virginia, by a strange fling of fortune carried into office as a nominal Whig, kept his mind firmly fixed on the idea of reëlection and let the troublesome matter rest until the end of his administration was in sight. He then listened with favor to the voice of the South. Calhoun stated what seemed to be a convincing argument: All good Americans have their hearts set on the Constitution; the admission of Texas is absolutely essential to the preservation of the union; it will give a balance of power to the South as against the North growing with incredible swiftness in wealth and population. Tyler, impressed by the plea, appointed Calhoun to the office of Secretary of State in 1844, authorizing him to negotiate the treaty of annexation—a commission at once executed. This scheme was blocked in the Senate where the necessary two-thirds vote could not be secured. Balked but not defeated, the advocates of annexation drew up a joint resolution which required only a majority vote in both houses, and in February of the next year, just before Tyler gave way to Polk, they pushed it through Congress. So Texas, amid the groans of Boston and the hurrahs of Charleston, folded up her flag and came into the union.

The Mexican War.—The inevitable war with Mexico, foretold by the abolitionists and feared by Henry Clay, ensued, the ostensible cause being a dispute over the boundaries of the new state. The Texans claimed all the lands down to the Rio Grande. The Mexicans placed the border of Texas at the Nueces River and a line drawn thence in a northerly direction. President Polk, accepting the Texan view of the controversy, ordered General Zachary Taylor to move beyond the Nueces in defense of American sovereignty. This act of power, deemed by the Mexicans an invasion of their territory, was followed by an attack on our troops.
President Polk, not displeased with the turn of events, announced that American blood had been "spilled on American soil" and that war existed "by the act of Mexico." Congress, in a burst of patriotic fervor, brushed aside the protests of those who deplored the conduct of the government as wanton aggression on a weaker nation and granted money and supplies to prosecute the war. The few Whigs in the House of Representatives, who refused to vote in favor of taking up arms, accepted the inevitable with such good grace as they could command. All through the South and the West the war was popular. New England grumbled, but gave loyal, if not enthusiastic, support to a conflict precipitated by policies not of its own choosing. Only a handful of firm objectors held out. James Russell Lowell, in his Biglow Papers, flung scorn and sarcasm to the bitter end.
The Outcome of the War.—The foregone conclusion was soon reached. General Taylor might have delivered the fatal thrust from northern Mexico if politics had not intervened. Polk, anxious to avoid raising up another military hero for the Whigs to nominate for President, decided to divide the honors by sending General Scott to strike a blow at the capital, Mexico City. The deed was done with speed and pomp and two heroes were lifted into presidential possibilities. In the Far West a third candidate was made, John C. Frémont, who, in coöperation with Commodores Sloat and Stockton and General Kearney, planted the Stars and Stripes on the Pacific slope.
In February, 1848, the Mexicans came to terms, ceding to the victor California, Arizona, New Mexico, and more—a domain greater in extent than the combined areas of France and Germany. As a salve to the wound, the vanquished received fifteen million dollars in cash and the cancellation of many claims held by American citizens. Five years later, through the negotiations of James Gadsden, a further cession of lands along the southern border of Arizona and New Mexico was secured on payment of ten million dollars.
General Taylor Elected President.—The ink was hardly dry upon the treaty that closed the war before "rough and ready" General Taylor, a slave owner from Louisiana, "a Whig," as he said, "but not an ultra Whig," was put forward as the Whig candidate for President. He himself had not voted for years and he was fairly innocent in matters political. The tariff, the currency, and internal improvements, with a magnificent gesture he referred to the people's representatives in Congress, offering to enforce the laws as made, if elected. Clay's followers mourned. Polk stormed but could not win even a renomination at the hands of the Democrats. So it came about that the hero of Buena Vista, celebrated for his laconic order, "Give 'em a little more grape, Captain Bragg," became President of the United States.

The Pacific Coast and Utah

Oregon.—Closely associated in the popular mind with the contest about the affairs of Texas was a dispute with Great Britain over the possession of territory in Oregon. In their presidential campaign of 1844, the Democrats had coupled with the slogan, "The Reannexation of Texas," two other cries, "The Reoccupation of Oregon," and "Fifty-four Forty or Fight." The last two slogans were founded on American discoveries and explorations in the Far Northwest. Their appearance in politics showed that the distant Oregon country, larger in area than New England, New York, and Pennsylvania combined, was at last receiving from the nation the attention which its importance warranted.
Joint Occupation and Settlement.—Both England and the United States had long laid claim to Oregon and in 1818 they had agreed to occupy the territory jointly—a contract which was renewed ten years later for an indefinite period. Under this plan, citizens of both countries were free to hunt and settle anywhere in the region. The vanguard of British fur traders and Canadian priests was enlarged by many new recruits, with Americans not far behind them. John Jacob Astor, the resourceful New York merchant, sent out trappers and hunters who established a trading post at Astoria in 1811. Some twenty years later, American missionaries—among them two very remarkable men, Jason Lee and Marcus Whitman—were preaching the gospel to the Indians.
Through news from the fur traders and missionaries, Eastern farmers heard of the fertile lands awaiting their plows on the Pacific slope; those with the pioneering spirit made ready to take possession of the new country. In 1839 a band went around by Cape Horn. Four years later a great expedition went overland. The way once broken, others followed rapidly. As soon as a few settlements were well established, the pioneers held a mass meeting and agreed upon a plan of government. "We, the people of Oregon territory," runs the preamble to their compact, "for the purposes of mutual protection and to secure peace and prosperity among ourselves, agree to adopt the following laws and regulations until such time as the United States of America extend their jurisdiction over us." Thus self-government made its way across the Rocky Mountains.

The Boundary Dispute with England Adjusted.—By this time it was evident that the boundaries of Oregon must be fixed. Having made the question an issue in his campaign, Polk, after his election in 1844, pressed it upon the attention of the country. In his inaugural address and his first message to Congress he reiterated the claim of the Democratic platform that "our title to the whole territory of Oregon is clear and unquestionable." This pretension Great Britain firmly rejected, leaving the President a choice between war and compromise.
Polk, already having the contest with Mexico on his hands, sought and obtained a compromise. The British government, moved by a hint from the American minister, offered a settlement which would fix the boundary at the forty-ninth parallel instead of "fifty-four forty," and give it Vancouver Island. Polk speedily chose this way out of the dilemma. Instead of making the decision himself, however, and drawing up a treaty, he turned to the Senate for "counsel." As prearranged with party leaders, the advice was favorable to the plan. The treaty, duly drawn in 1846, was ratified by the Senate after an acrimonious debate. "Oh! mountain that was delivered of a mouse," exclaimed Senator Benton, "thy name shall be fifty-four forty!" Thirteen years later, the southern part of the territory was admitted to the union as the state of Oregon, leaving the northern and eastern sections in the status of a territory.
California.—With the growth of the northwestern empire, dedicated by nature to freedom, the planting interests might have been content, had fortune not wrested from them the fair country of California. Upon this huge territory they had set their hearts. The mild climate and fertile soil seemed well suited to slavery and the planters expected to extend their sway to the entire domain. California was a state of more than 155,000 square miles—about seventy times the size of the state of Delaware. It could readily be divided into five or six large states, if that became necessary to preserve the Southern balance of power.
Early American Relations with California.—Time and tide, it seems, were not on the side of the planters. Already Americans of a far different type were invading the Pacific slope. Long before Polk ever dreamed of California, the Yankee with his cargo of notions had been around the Horn. Daring skippers had sailed out of New England harbors with a variety of goods, bent their course around South America to California, on to China and around the world, trading as they went and leaving pots, pans, woolen cloth, guns, boots, shoes, salt fish, naval stores, and rum in their wake. "Home from Californy!" rang the cry in many a New England port as a good captain let go his anchor on his return from the long trading voyage in the Pacific.

The Overland Trails.—Not to be outdone by the mariners of the deep, western scouts searched for overland routes to the Pacific. Zebulon Pike, explorer and pathfinder, by his expedition into the Southwest during Jefferson's administration, had discovered the resources of New Spain and had shown his countrymen how easy it was to reach Santa Fé from the upper waters of the Arkansas River. Not long afterward, traders laid open the route, making Franklin, Missouri, and later Fort Leavenworth the starting point. Along the trail, once surveyed, poured caravans heavily guarded by armed men against marauding Indians. Sand storms often wiped out all signs of the route; hunger and thirst did many a band of wagoners to death; but the lure of the game and the profits at the end kept the business thriving. Huge stocks of cottons, glass, hardware, and ammunition were drawn almost across the continent to be exchanged at Santa Fé for furs, Indian blankets, silver, and mules; and many a fortune was made out of the traffic.
Americans in California.—Why stop at Santa Fé? The question did not long remain unanswered. In 1829, Ewing Young broke the path to Los Angeles. Thirteen years later Frémont made the first of his celebrated expeditions across plain, desert, and mountain, arousing the interest of the entire country in the Far West. In the wake of the pathfinders went adventurers, settlers, and artisans. By 1847, more than one-fifth of the inhabitants in the little post of two thousand on San Francisco Bay were from the United States. The Mexican War, therefore, was not the beginning but the end of the American conquest of California—a conquest initiated by Americans who went to till the soil, to trade, or to follow some mechanical pursuit.
The Discovery of Gold.—As if to clinch the hold on California already secured by the friends of free soil, there came in 1848 the sudden discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in the Sacramento Valley. When this exciting news reached the East, a mighty rush began to California, over the trails, across the Isthmus of Panama, and around Cape Horn. Before two years had passed, it is estimated that a hundred thousand people, in search of fortunes, had arrived in California—mechanics, teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, miners, and laborers from the four corners of the earth.

 California a Free State.—With this increase in population there naturally resulted the usual demand for admission to the union. Instead of waiting for authority from Washington, the Californians held a convention in 1849 and framed their constitution. With impatience, the delegates brushed aside the plea that "the balance of power between the North and South" required the admission of their state as a slave commonwealth. Without a dissenting voice, they voted in favor of freedom and boldly made their request for inclusion among the United States. President Taylor, though a Southern man, advised Congress to admit the applicant. Robert Toombs of Georgia vowed to God that he preferred secession. Henry Clay, the great compromiser, came to the rescue and in 1850 California was admitted as a free state.
Utah.—On the long road to California, in the midst of forbidding and barren wastes, a religious sect, the Mormons, had planted a colony destined to a stormy career. Founded in 1830 under the leadership of Joseph Smith of New York, the sect had suffered from many cruel buffets of fortune. From Ohio they had migrated into Missouri where they were set upon and beaten. Some of them were murdered by indignant neighbors. Harried out of Missouri, they went into Illinois only to see their director and prophet, Smith, first imprisoned by the authorities and then shot by a mob. Having raised up a cloud of enemies on account of both their religious faith and their practice of allowing a man to have more than one wife, they fell in heartily with the suggestion of a new leader, Brigham Young, that they go into the Far West beyond the plains of Kansas—into the forlorn desert where the wicked would cease from troubling and the weary could be at rest, as they read in the Bible. In 1847, Young, with a company of picked men, searched far and wide until he found a suitable spot overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. Returning to Illinois, he gathered up his followers, now numbering several thousand, and in one mighty wagon caravan they all went to their distant haven.
Brigham Young and His Economic System.—In Brigham Young the Mormons had a leader of remarkable power who gave direction to the redemption of the arid soil, the management of property, and the upbuilding of industry. He promised them to make the desert blossom as the rose, and verily he did it. He firmly shaped the enterprise of the colony along co-operative lines, holding down the speculator and profiteer with one hand and giving encouragement to the industrious poor with the other. With the shrewdness befitting a good business man, he knew how to draw the line between public and private interest. Land was given outright to each family, but great care was exercised in the distribution so that none should have great advantage over another. The purchase of supplies and the sale of produce were carried on through a coöperative store, the profits of which went to the common good. Encountering for the first time in the history of the Anglo-Saxon race the problem of aridity, the Mormons surmounted the most perplexing obstacles with astounding skill. They built irrigation works by coöperative labor and granted water rights to all families on equitable terms.
The Growth of Industries.—Though farming long remained the major interest of the colony, the Mormons, eager to be self-supporting in every possible way, bent their efforts also to manufacturing and later to mining. Their missionaries, who hunted in the highways and byways of Europe for converts, never failed to stress the economic advantages of the sect. "We want," proclaimed President Young to all the earth, "a company of woolen manufacturers to come with machinery and take the wool from the sheep and convert it into the best clothes. We want a company of potters; we need them; the clay is ready and the dishes wanted.... We want some men to start a furnace forthwith; the iron, coal, and molders are waiting.... We have a printing press and any one who can take good printing and writing paper to the Valley will be a blessing to themselves and the church." Roads and bridges were built; millions were spent in experiments in agriculture and manufacturing; missionaries at a huge cost were maintained in the East and in Europe; an army was kept for defense against the Indians; and colonies were planted in the outlying regions. A historian of Deseret, as the colony was called by the Mormons, estimated in 1895 that by the labor of their hands the people had produced nearly half a billion dollars in wealth since the coming of the vanguard.
Polygamy Forbidden.—The hope of the Mormons that they might forever remain undisturbed by outsiders was soon dashed to earth, for hundreds of farmers and artisans belonging to other religious sects came to settle among them. In 1850 the colony was so populous and prosperous that it was organized into a territory of the United States and brought under the supervision of the federal government. Protests against polygamy were raised in the colony and at the seat of authority three thousand miles away at Washington. The new Republican party in 1856 proclaimed it "the right and duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery." In due time the Mormons had to give up their marriage practices which were condemned by the common opinion of all western civilization; but they kept their religious faith. Monuments to their early enterprise are seen in the Temple and the Tabernacle, the irrigation works, and the great wealth of the Church.

Summary of Western Development and National Politics

While the statesmen of the old generation were solving the problems of their age, hunters, pioneers, and home seekers were preparing new problems beyond the Alleghanies. The West was rising in population and wealth. Between 1783 and 1829, eleven states were added to the original thirteen. All but two were in the West. Two of them were in the Louisiana territory beyond the Mississippi. Here the process of colonization was repeated. Hardy frontier people cut down the forests, built log cabins, laid out farms, and cut roads through the wilderness. They began a new civilization just as the immigrants to Virginia or Massachusetts had done two centuries earlier.
Like the seaboard colonists before them, they too cherished the spirit of independence and power. They had not gone far upon their course before they resented the monopoly of the presidency by the East. In 1829 they actually sent one of their own cherished leaders, Andrew Jackson, to the White House. Again in 1840, in 1844, in 1848, and in 1860, the Mississippi Valley could boast that one of its sons had been chosen for the seat of power at Washington. Its democratic temper evoked a cordial response in the towns of the East where the old aristocracy had been put aside and artisans had been given the ballot.
For three decades the West occupied the interest of the nation. Under Jackson's leadership, it destroyed the second United States Bank. When he smote nullification in South Carolina, it gave him cordial support. It approved his policy of parceling out government offices among party workers—"the spoils system" in all its fullness. On only one point did it really dissent. The West heartily favored internal improvements, the appropriation of federal funds for highways, canals, and railways. Jackson had misgivings on this question and awakened sharp criticism by vetoing a road improvement bill.
From their point of vantage on the frontier, the pioneers pressed on westward. They pushed into Texas, created a state, declared their independence, demanded a place in the union, and precipitated a war with Mexico. They crossed the trackless plain and desert, laying out trails to Santa Fé, to Oregon, and to California. They were upon the scene when the Mexican War brought California under the Stars and Stripes. They had laid out their farms in the Willamette Valley when the slogan "Fifty-Four Forty or Fight" forced a settlement of the Oregon boundary. California and Oregon were already in the union when there arose the Great Civil War testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated could long endure.


G.P. Brown, Westward Expansion (American Nation Series).
K. Coman, Economic Beginnings of the Far West (2 vols.).
F. Parkman, California and the Oregon Trail.
R.S. Ripley, The War with Mexico.
W.C. Rives, The United States and Mexico, 1821-48 (2 vols.).


1. Give some of the special features in the history of Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.
2. Contrast the climate and soil of the Middle West and the Far West.
3. How did Mexico at first encourage American immigration?
4. What produced the revolution in Texas? Who led in it?
5. Narrate some of the leading events in the struggle over annexation to the United States.
6. What action by President Polk precipitated war?
7. Give the details of the peace settlement with Mexico.
8. What is meant by the "joint occupation" of Oregon?
9. How was the Oregon boundary dispute finally settled?
10. Compare the American "invasion" of California with the migration into Texas.
11. Explain how California became a free state.
12. Describe the early economic policy of the Mormons.

Research Topics

The Independence of Texas.—McMaster, History of the People of the United States, Vol. VI, pp. 251-270. Woodrow Wilson, History of the American People, Vol. IV, pp. 102-126.
The Annexation of Texas.—McMaster, Vol. VII. The passages on annexation are scattered through this volume and it is an exercise in ingenuity to make a connected story of them. Source materials in Hart, American History Told by Contemporaries, Vol. III, pp. 637-655; Elson, History of the United States, pp. 516-521, 526-527.
The War with Mexico.—Elson, pp. 526-538.
The Oregon Boundary Dispute.—Schafer, History of the Pacific Northwest (rev. ed.), pp. 88-104; 173-185.
The Migration to Oregon.—Schafer, pp. 105-172. Coman, Economic Beginnings of the Far West, Vol. II, pp. 113-166.
The Santa Fé Trail.—Coman, Economic Beginnings, Vol. II, pp. 75-93.
The Conquest of California.—Coman, Vol. II, pp. 297-319.
Gold in California.—McMaster, Vol. VII, pp. 585-614.
The Mormon Migration.—Coman, Vol. II, pp. 167-206.
Biographical Studies.—Frémont, Generals Scott and Taylor, Sam Houston, and David Crockett.
The Romance of Western Exploration.—J.G. Neihardt, The Splendid Wayfaring. J.G. Neihardt, The Song of Hugh Glass.

* Avaiable at The Project Gutenberg EBook of History of the United States, by Charles A. Beard and Mary R. Beard

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