American history I: final exam review



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Francis C. Lowell (1775 – 1817)

  • By 1814, American entrepreneur Francis C. Lowell had built the first fully industrialized textile factory in the U.S. which took raw cotton and turned it into completely finished cloth goods in a single building

  • Lowell was one of the first American businessmen to sell shares of stock in his business in order to raise the capital (money) to build his factories

  • Lowell Girls”

  • For labor in his factories, Lowell hired mostly teenage girls and young women

  • These girls averaged over 70 hours a week in the factory and had to attend classes and church services and live up to strict moral standards

  • Most appreciated the opportunity to get an education as well as earn money that could be sent back home to their families

  • Sewing Machines

  • Developed by Elias Howe, among others, in the 1840s

  • Sewing machines opened the way for mass production of finished textiles (cheap, store-bought clothes and linens)

  • Why did the North industrialize?

  • More banks made it easy to get loans

  • Few government restrictions on businesses

  • Low tax rates

  • Cheap labor available

  • States passed laws which protected business owners from liability to investors for losses

  • Many streams and rivers to provide water power

  • Technology began to tie the North to the West

  • The Erie Canal

  • Man-made waterway completed in 1825

  • Connected New York’s Hudson River to the Great Lakes, thereby connecting New York City to the ports of Chicago and Detroit

  • Created a cheap way to travel for families moving west as well as for moving food from the farms of the Midwest to the cities of the North

  • Steamboats

  • Steam-powered ships were first put into practical commercial use in the U.S. in 1807 by Robert Fulton

  • They quickly became the preferred means of travel along major U.S. rivers and the Great Lakes, speeding up the movement of both people and goods

  • Toll Roads & Turnpikes

  • To keep up with demand, private companies began building roads to connect major Northern and Midwestern cities and charging travelers fees to use them

  • By 1821: 4000 miles of toll roads had been built (almost all in North)




    • Tom Thumb”

    • In 1830, Peter Cooper first used a steam engine to propel a cart along a set of iron rails

    • This first American built locomotive was nicknamed “Tom Thumb” and traveled at 10 mph along a 13 mile track around Baltimore, Maryland

    • Tom Thumb was used to convince investors that “railroads” were the answer to the nation’s transportation problems

    • The Telegraph

    • Developed by American Samuel Morse in 1837

    • New invention which allowed long-distance communication through coded electrical impulses sent through wires

    • For the first time, news could travel quickly, but the telegraph wires were built along rail lines, so, again, the North got the most benefit

    • The Steel Plow

    • Iron plows worked poorly in the loamy soil of the American Midwest, making farming the Great Plains impossible

    • In 1837, blacksmith John Deere designed a plow made out of steel instead (steel was lighter and kept a sharper prow)

    • Tens-of-thousands sold, making the Great Plains “America’s Bread Basket” and allowing Western grain to feed the industrial population of Northern cities

    • Mechanical Reaper

    • Invented by Cyrus McCormick (with the help of a slave) in 1834

    • McCormick’s reaper was a horse-drawn machine which harvested wheat, removing the need for large amounts of laborers in the field

    • When it went into mass production, it meant that the grain farmers of the Midwest would not need slaves to work their fields like Southern cotton farmers

    • Social Differences Fuel Sectionalism

    • Slavery

    • In 1808, Congress banned the importation of new slaves

    • 1820: 1.5 million slaves in the U.S.

    • 1850: 4 million slaves in U.S.

    • As demand for cotton grew, so did demand for slaves, turning slaves into an increasingly valuable asset

    • Slave ownership

    • 1850: South’s white pop = 6 million

    • 1850: South’s slave pop = 4 million

    • 350,000 slave owners (so less than 6% of Southern whites owned slaves)

    • 37,000 owned 20+ slaves

    • 8,000 owned 50+ slaves

    • 11 owned 500+ slaves

    • Immigration

    • 1825 – 1855: 5 million European immigrants arrived, almost entirely in the North

    • They arrived poor and concentrated in ethnic neighborhoods

    • This created a cheap labor force for Northern factories

    • Oddly, most immigrants were pro-slavery

    • Immigrants didn’t want to compete with freed slaves for jobs, so they supported Southern slave owners’ property rights

    • Many Irish, in fact, would fight for the South in the Civil War

    • Growth of Northern Cities

    • Urbanization: people move from the country into cities

    • Immigration: European immigrants arrived at Northern ports, tended to stay in the North or migrate West

    • Northern population growth worried the South

    • The number of seats in the House of Representatives is based purely on population, so the North was slowly gaining control of one house of Congress

    • Slaves only counted as 3/5ths of a person, while naturalized immigrants counted as a whole person for the purpose of counting population

    • North vs. South: Key Differences

    • North

    • Economy based on the “factory system”: manufacturing and commerce

    • Relied on plentiful immigrant labor

    • Favored high tariffs that protected US industries

    • Wanted a strong federal government to build transportation networks, protect trade, and regulate the economy

    • South

    • Economy based on the “plantation system”: large-scale farming of cash crops

    • Relied on slave labor

    • Opposed to high tariffs – imported many European goods, feared Europeans would retaliate by putting tariffs on Southern agricultural exports

    • Favored strong state government, feared a strong federal government would restrict slavery

    • The Presidency of John Tyler (Democrat, 1841-45)

    • Despite being a Democrat, he chose to run with Harrison on the Whig Party ticket in the 1840 election, making him many political enemies in both parties

    • Became the first Vice-President to inherit the Presidency upon the death of the President while in office

    • Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842)

    • Settled disputes between the U.S. and Britain over the border between the U.S. and Canada around Maine and Minnesota

    • Annexation of Texas

    • In 1845, Texas was finally admitted to the Union as the 28th state, just as Tyler was leaving office

    • Mexico was furious over the move and broke off diplomatic relations with the U.S.

    • A dispute quickly arose over where the actual border was between the U.S. and Mexico; the U.S. claimed as far south as the Rio Grande, while Mexico claimed as far north as the Nueces River

    • A President Without a Party

    • Outside of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty and annexation of Texas, Tyler’s presidency was largely unsuccessful

    • When Tyler refused to support many Whig initiatives, they kicked him out of the party; when the Democrats refused to take him back into their party, Tyler was left unable to seek a second term

    • After completing Harrison’s term, Tyler retired into obscurity; however, he later become the only former President to join the Confederacy

    • The Election of 1844

    • The Whigs nominated Henry Clay, who opposed annexing Texas because of slavery and for its potential to cause a war with Mexico

    • The Democrats chose to run former Governor of Tennessee James K. Polk, who openly supported annexing Texas and formally claiming Oregon, over former President Martin Van Buren who argued against annexing Texas

    • The Presidency of James K. Polk (Democrat, 1845-49)

    • Democrat, Southerner (born in North Carolina and was a UNC graduate), and slave-owner

    • Nicknamed both “Young Hickory” (for his similarities to “Old Hickory” – Andrew Jackson) and “Napoleon of the Stump” (for his commanding public speaking skills)

    • Made several basic promises in his campaign – he would secure Oregon and California, he would create an independent treasury, he would lower tariffs, and he would serve only one term – he kept all of these campaign promises

    • Polk’s Financial Achievements

    • Polk approved the Walker Tariff of 1846, which substantially lowered tariff rates – this made him popular in the South and West

    • That same year, Polk established a national treasury system for holding federal funds in federally owned treasuries, rather than in private or state banks – this effectively reversed the previous policy of President Andrew Jackson to use “pet banks” to hold federal funds and issue currency

    • Polk’s Cultural Achievements

    • Oversaw the groundbreaking for construction of the Washington Monument in 1848

    • Opened the United States Naval Academy in 1845

    • Authorized the U.S. Postal Service to issue postage stamps in 1847

    • Approved the creation of the Smithsonian Institution in 1846

    • Manifest Destiny”

    • Term coined by magazine editor John Louis O’Sullivan in 1845

    • Manifest Destiny is the idea that Americans had been given North America by God, who wanted them to settle it and push out Indians, Mexicans

    • Polk’s Bid for California

    • In 1845, President Polk sent an envoy, John Slidell, to Mexico City with an offer to purchase the Mexican territory of California for $30 million

    • The U.S. was interested in controlling territory along the Pacific, especially the valuable port of San Francisco, which would make trade with Asia easier

    • The openly hostile Mexicans, angry over the annexation of Texas, refused to even meet with Slidell and the two nation’s moved towards war

    • The Mexican War (1846-48)

    • In response to Mexico’s refusal to receive Slidell, Polk ordered U.S. troops under the command of Gen. Zachary Taylor to secure the Texas border at the Rio Grande

    • Mexico considered this an invasion of Mexican territory and an act of war

    • The Mexican army attacked Taylor’s forces, leading the U.S. to declare war on May 13, 1846

    • The war lasted for two very bloody years before Mexico finally surrendered after U.S. forces captured Mexico City

    • The two sides signed the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo in February 1848

    • Mexico ceded 500,000 sq. miles of territory (California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico)

    • Mexico accepted Rio Grande as southern border of Texas

    • In return, the U.S. paid Mexico $15 million and assumed $3.25 million in debts Mexico owed to American citizens

    • The Oregon Territory

    • The U.S. and Britain had agreed to share the Oregon Territory as part of the Convention of 1818, but by the 1840s, most of the settlers living in the region were Americans

    • This prompted many Americans to call for the region to become exclusively part of the U.S.

    • When Britain didn’t seem willing to negotiate, it led Americans to rally behind the slogan “54° 40’ or Fight!”

    • In the end, Britain and the U.S. peacefully resolved their dispute over where the boundary should lie between the U.S. and Canada in the Oregon Territory, splitting the region along the 49th degree of latitude

    • President Polk hoped that adding the slave-free Oregon Territory would balance the addition of pro-slavery territories in Texas and the Mexican Cession

    • The Wilmot Proviso

    • The Wilmot Proviso was proposed in 1846 by Rep. David Wilmot of Pennsylvania; he argued for a complete ban on slavery in any new territories the U.S. might acquire from Mexico

    • Sen. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina countered that the states own U.S. territories in common and Congress holds no authority to ban slavery in them

    • The U.S. Senate refused to vote on the Wilmot Proviso, but its proposal angered slavery supporters across the South

    • Hardening Attitudes About Slavery

    • John Calhoun even began to argue that slavery was not a “necessary evil” as had long been the South’s stance, but rather it was a “positive good” because white slave owners provided care for their slaves and introduced them to Christianity, thereby saving their souls

    • Popular Sovereignty”

    • Idea proposed by Sen. Lewis Cass of Michigan

    • Citizens of each new territory should be allowed to decide for themselves on whether to allow slavery there, rather than the federal government making a decision

    • Cass’s idea became popular because it kept Congress from having to make any decision about slavery

    • Split in the Whig Party

    • The slavery issue began to divide Whigs from the North into “Conscience Whigs” who opposed slavery and “Cotton Whigs” who supported slavery because Southern cotton fed their northern textile factories

    • After pro-slavery Zachary Taylor became the Whig nominee for president in 1848, Conscience Whigs quit the Whig Party and joined themselves with northern anti-slavery Democrats

    • This new party was called the Free Soil Party (they opposed expanding slavery to the “free soil” of the West).

    • Election of 1848

    • Keeping his campaign promise, Polk did not seek a second term (and, in fact, died from cholera just three months after leaving office)

    • Democratic candidate Lewis Cass campaigned on a platform of popular sovereignty and a promise to veto the Wilmot Proviso if it was ever passed

    • Free Soil candidate Martin Van Buren supported a complete ban on slavery in the new territories of the West

    • Whig candidate Zachary Taylor was pro-slavery, but believed to be a moderate on most other issues, so he took the election

    • The Presidency of Zachary Taylor (Whig, 1849–50)

    • “Old Rough and Ready”

    • Slave owner, but believed slavery wouldn’t work in the West because of the climate

    • A hero of the Mexican War, Taylor had never held an elected office before being elected president

    • Died in office from an intestinal illness

    • Gold Rush of 1849

    • Gold was discovered in Sutter’s Mill, California in 1848

    • This led to a surge of 80,000 new settlers (called ’49ers) who flooded California in 1849, hoping to get rich quick

    • This growth in population led California to quickly apply for statehood, but as a free state, rather than a slave state

    • The Presidency of Millard Fillmore (Whig, 1850 - 53)

    • Fillmore opposed slavery, but believed that it was necessary to protect it in order to keep the South happy and the Union whole

    • The Compromise of 1850

    • When California asked to join the Union as a free state, Congress hesitated because their entry would upset the balance between free and slave states

    • Henry Clay of Kentucky, working with Stephen Douglas of Illinois, proposed a series of compromises between North and South that would allow California to join the Union

    • Clay’s plan was opposed by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, but supported by the powerful Daniel Webster of Massachusetts

    • 5 separate bills were pushed through Congress by Clay, Douglas, and Webster over the opposition of Calhoun:

    • 1) California was admitted as a free state

    • 2) The slave trade (but not slave ownership) was banned in Washington D.C.

    • 3) The New Mexico Territory and Utah Territory were created and would be allowed to decide the slavery issue for themselves (popular sovereignty)

    • 4) Texas was paid $10 million in return for giving up its claims to lands in the New Mexico Territory

    • 5) The Fugitive Slave Act forced the return of runaway slaves

    • The Fugitive Slave Act

    • Law enforcement anywhere in the U.S. were required to arrest runaway slaves and return them to their owners

    • Anyone harboring a fugitive slave or refusing to help apprehend one was subject to fine and prison

    • Slaves were identified solely by the word of their owner or the owner’s representative and those accused of being a runaway received no trial

    • As a result, any free black was in danger – all it took was a claim that they were a runaway and they were arrested and sent into slavery

    • Uncle Tom’s Cabin

    • Novel written by Harriet Beecher Stowe

    • Published in 1852, the novel was written in direct response to the Fugitive Slave Act

    • Uncle Tom Sold 300,000 copies in its first year of publication

    • The novel brought the suffering of slaves to life for many readers and helped increase the abolitionist ranks

    • President Lincoln would later credit Uncle Tom’s Cabin with being one of the causes of the Civil War

    • The Underground Railroad

    • Abolitionists organized a network of individuals who helped hide and move runaway slaves

    • The Underground Railroad moved thousands of slaves to freedom in Canada, since just getting them into the North was no longer sufficient due to the Fugitive Slave Act

    • These people risked imprisonment and lynching (hanging without a trial) to help these slaves escape

    • Harriet Tubman (1820 – 1913)

    • The most famous of the “conductors” on the Underground Railroad

    • Tubman was an escaped slave who risked herself by returning to the South over and over to guide runaways along the Underground Railroad, despite being an epileptic herself

    • Later worked as a spy for the Union Army during the Civil War and as a women’s rights activist following the Civil War

    • A Changing of the Guard

    • John C. Calhoun died at age 68 in 1850 after 39 years of serving in Washington

    • Henry Clay died at age 75 in 1852 after 46 years of serving in Washington

    • Daniel Webster died at age 70 after 39 years of serving in Washington

    • The deaths of these longtime Congressional leaders left a younger, angrier generation of Senators to debate the slavery issue; these new leaders proved less willing to strike compromises

    • Election of 1852

    • The Whigs dumped sitting President Millard Fillmore in favor of Mexican War hero, General Winfield Scott

    • Democrats nominated former New Hampshire senator Franklin Pierce, another compromise candidate after party frontrunners like Lewis Cass and James Buchanan proved too divisive

    • On election day, Pierce won in a landslide

    • The Presidency of Franklin Pierce (Democrat, 1853-1857)

    • Pierce supported the acquisition of Cuba from Spain, but his ministers who were sent to broker a deal created a scandal when they threatened Spain with military force if they refused to sell Cuba (an incident called the Ostend Manifesto)

    • Due to this scandal and his support of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Pierce was not nominated for a second term by his party in 1856

    • The Perry Expedition

    • Commodore Matthew Perry had been sent with a fleet of U.S. Navy ships by President Fillmore to open trade with Japan

    • The Expedition arrived and opened negotiations with the isolated Japanese in 1853, after Pierce had taken office

    • Perry threatened the Japanese with military destruction if they did not agree to the United States’ terms

    • The Expedition was seen as a major success at the time, but led to poor relations with Japan

    • The Gadsden Purchase

    • In 1853, just five years after the Mexican War had ended, the U.S. purchased an additional 30,000 sq. mile strip of Mexico for $10 million

    • The land was needed to build a planned southern transcontinental railroad from New Orleans to California, although the line was never built

    • The Kansas-Nebraska Act (Passed in 1854)

    • Act of Congress which created two new territories out of the Great Plains – Kansas and Nebraska

    • The act repealed the Missouri Compromise and allowed the 2 new territories to exercise popular sovereignty to decide the issue of slavery

    • Bleeding Kansas”

    • Settlers moving into the Kansas Territory from Missouri brought their slaves with them

    • The New England Emigrant Aid Company began organizing and equipping northern settlers to move to Kansas and oppose slavery

    • Both sides were armed and willing to fight and periods of serious violence ensued

    • Andrew P. Butler (1796 – 1857)

    • Senator from South Carolina

    • Co-author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act

    • Butler was a strong, outspoken supporter of slavery

    • Butler was verbally attacked in the Senate in 1856 by abolitionist Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts over Butler’s support of slavery

    • Charles Sumner (1811 – 1874)

    • Senator from Massachusetts

    • Opposed the Fugitive Slave Act and the Kansas-Nebraska Act

    • In May 1856, Sumner delivered a 3-hour “Crime Against Kansas” speech, which made personal attacks against Sen. Butler, including making fun of Butler’s speech which had been impaired from a stroke

    • Preston Brooks (1819 – 1857)

    • Representative from South Carolina

    • Nephew of Andrew Butler

    • Enraged by Sumner’s attacks, Brooks decided to act to defend the honor of his disabled uncle and of the state of South Carolina

    • Brooks first considered challenging Sumner to a duel but decided that was too much of an honor and doubted Sumner would even accept the challenge anyway

    • The Sumner-Brooks Incident (May 22, 1856)

    • Brooks attacked Sumner with a cane on the floor of the Senate, savagely beating him until the cane broke

    • Sumner took 3 years to recover from his injuries

    • Dozens of proud Southerners sent Brooks new canes in support

    • Brooks would resign his seat and be fined $300 for assault, but went otherwise unpunished (he did, however, die the next year from the flu)
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