Ap u. S. History Chapter 14: Forging the National Economy: 1790-1860 Focus Question

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AP U.S. History

Chapter 14: Forging the National Economy: 1790-1860
Focus Question
“In the period 1815 to 1860, improvements in transportation and increased inter-regional trade should have united Americans, but instead led to sectional divisions and finally disunion.” Analyze this statement with reference to the impact of improved transportation and increased inter-regional trade on the Northeast, the South, and the West.
Learning Objectives

  • Describe the growth and movement of America’s population in the early nineteenth century.

  • Describe the largely German and Irish wave of immigration beginning in the 1830s and the reactions it provoked among native Americans.

  • Explain why America was relatively slow to embrace the industrial revolution and the factory.

  • Describe the early development of the factory system and Eli Whitney’s system of interchangeable parts.

  • Outline early industrialism’s effects on workers, including women and children.

  • Describe the impact of new technologies, including transportation and communication systems, on American business and agriculture.

  • Describe the development of a continental market economy and its revolutionary effects on both producers and consumers.

  • Explain why the emerging industrial economy could raise the general level of prosperity, while simultaneously creating greater disparities of wealth between rich and poor.


  1. What factors gave rise to a more dynamic, market-oriented, national economy in early nineteenth-century America?

The Westward Movement (276)

  1. What was life on the frontier like for most pioneer families? What characteristics typified pioneering Americans marooned by geography? Why was life on the frontier especially difficult for women?

Shaping the Western Landscape (277)

  1. What aspects of the movement west do historians refer to as "ecological imperialism"? What action did George Catlin advocate regarding the western lands?

The March of the Millions (278)

  1. What were the major elements of population growth in early-nineteenth-century America?

  2. What were negative results of the dramatic growth of American cities between 1800 and 1860?

  3. How much of a factor was immigration in the United States' population growth? How were many immigrants enticed to leave their homelands?

The Emerald Isle Moves West (280)

  1. What was the overwhelming event for Ireland in the 1840s? What was Ireland's great export during this period?

  2. Why did the Irish flocking to the United States in the 1840s typically stay in the larger seaboard cities?

  3. Why did native-born Protestant Americans distrust and resent the Irish? What factors characterized the relationship between Irish immigrants and U.S. citizens?

  4. How many Irish arrived in America Between 1830 and 1860? In what sort of occupations did Irish immigrants typically work?

The German Forty-Eighters (281)

  1. How did German immigrants in the early nineteenth century preserve their own language and culture?

  2. Why did most German immigrants come to the United States? What factors typified their settlement in the United States?

Flare-ups of Antiforeignism (284)

  1. How was the Order of the Star-Spangled Banner a response to the rapid influx of Irish immigrants? What is the term for the sentiment of fear and opposition to open immigration?

  2. Why did Native-born Americans fear Catholic immigration to the United States?

  3. What might account for the clashes between native-born Americans and immigrants not more frequent and violent than they were?

Creeping Mechanization (285)

  1. Why was foreign capital vital in the development of America's economy?

Whitney Ends the Fiber Famine (285)

  1. Why is Samuel Slater acclaimed as the "Father of the Factory System" in the United States?

  2. What were the consequences of Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin?

  3. Where did the American phase of the industrial revolution first blossom?

  4. Why was most of the cotton produced in the American South in the early nineteenth century get shipped to Great Britain? Why was most of the rest shipped to New England?

Makers of America (286)

  1. Why did German immigrants to the United States prosper?

Marvels in Manufacturing (288)

  1. What was the underlying basis for modern mass production?

  2. At the fabled London World's Fair in 1851, what American products were on display among the world's commercial wonders?

Workers and “Wage Slaves” (290)

  1. Who reaped most of the benefits from the early factory system? Why did the lot of adult wage earners improve in the 1820s and 1830s?

  2. What is the significance of the case of Commonwealth v. Hunt?

Women and the Economy (293)

  1. What factors typified the work experience of the workers in the Lowell factory system?

  2. What factors characterized women in the American workforce in the early nineteenth century?

  3. What was the cult of domesticity, and how did it affect the lives of women?

  4. What changes took place in early-nineteenth-century American families? What were the goals of the child-centered family of the 1800s?

Western Farmers Reap a Revolution in the Fields (295)

  1. What were the effects of early-nineteenth-century industrialization on the trans-Allegheny West? What was the impact of the development of cash-crop agriculture there?

Highways and Steamboats (296)

  1. What was the significance of the Lancaster Turnpike? After the construction of the Lancaster Turnpike and the Cumberland (National) Road, why did road building slow somewhat?

  2. What problems did Western road building face?

  3. Where did most commercial steamboats transporting freight and passengers in the United States operate?

Clinton’s Big Ditch” (297)

  1. Where was the Erie Canal built, and how did it affect the development of transportation in the United States?

  2. How did construction of the Erie Canal result in profound economic and political changes?

The Iron Horse (299)

  1. Why were most early railroads in the United States built in the North? What were the advantages and disadvantages of railroads compared to canals?

Cables, Clippers, and Pony Riders (299)

  1. Why were the eras of the clipper ship and the Pony Express rider so short-lived?

The Transport Web Binds the Union (302)

  1. In the new continental economy, how was division of labor practiced on a national scale?

  2. How did the transportation links between the West and the South differ from those connecting the West to the East?

The Market Revolution (302)

  1. What legal questions were raised as a result of the new market economy?

  2. How did the growth of the continental market economy cause the home to be viewed differently than before?

  3. What were the economic consequences of the transportation and marketing revolutions?

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