With the end of the revolution, the United States began to expand westward. By 1840, it was seen as “manifest destiny” for the United States to extend from coast to coast. There were conflicts because these areas were occupied by other cultures, notably wars the Native Americans and the Mexicans. During the 1800s there were wars with both groups which resulted in American success and expansion.
In 1861, following the election of Abraham Lincoln, the northern and southern states in the United States engaged in a civil war (1861–1865) over the issues of slavery and states’ rights. The war, won by the North, brought an end to slavery and increased the power of the federal government.
There were also independence movements in other parts of the Americas. To the north, in 1867, Canada, first a French and then a British colony, became a dominion (a semi‐independent nation with Britain in control of some political areas). In the 1860s the last provinces were added to the dominion to form modern‐day Canada. In Latin America, the Creole elites who had helped achieve independence had little experience with self‐government, but dominated the peasant majority. This led to political instability made worse by divisions even among the elite. There were also conflicts between the native populations and the expanding agricultural community. Military leaders (caudillos), such as De Rosas in Argentina, came to power and opposed liberal reforms. Mexico shifted from monarchy, to a republic, to rule by caudillos. Led by Benito Juarez, the liberal movement La Reforma did away with the French‐supported monarchy, granted universal male suffrage, and limited the power of the Church and the military. Mexico continued to have a huge split between the haves and the have‐nots a second revolution from 1911 to 1920 addressed theses issues.
During this time period, society in the Americas also began to change, spurred largely by immigration and industrialization. Starting in the 1850s, in the United States, huge numbers immigrants to both coasts brought down the cost of labor that helped industrial expansion. Overseas, investment helped the economy grow, as did the thousands of new miles of railroad. In Canada, the same changes were taking place, again relying upon heavy U.S. investment.
In Latin America, partially because of the colonial legacy, industrialization moved much slower. There had been some attempts, but they were limited and much of the foreign investment went into cattle and sheep ranching rather than industry. Most of the economic growth in Latin America was tied to export rather than domestic consumption.
Issues of ethnicity also had an impact on society. Although the United States was a multicultural society, the white elite still dominated. Native Americans were forced into reservations and were implored to adopt white ways. Freed slaves were discriminated against, as the South remained very segregated, denying blacks both economic and civil rights. Women had limited success in expanding their rights. Additionally, the continuing growth in migration meant more and more newcomers. There was no longer a high demand for foreign labor and they faced hostility and restrictions.
In Canada, some of these same problems led to rebellion. The dominant population had been French and British, but there were also blacks from the United States and Chinese who came to work the goldfields. As population increased and spread, certain populations began to rebel. For example, in the Northwest, Louis Riel led a revolt by the métis, descendants of French traders and native women. The rebellion went from the early 1870s and ended in 1885 with Riel’s execution.
In Latin America society was divided by ethnicity, but as large‐scale migration began in the 1800s this begins to break down. The culture in the 1800s and beyond remained marked by male dominance, with no significant women’s movement.