Chapter 12 People and Communities in the North and West, 1830–1860 Learning Objectives



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Chapter 12

People and Communities in the North and West,
1830–1860

Learning Objectives

After you have studied Chapter 12 in your textbook and worked through this study guide chapter, you should be able to:

1. Discuss the characteristics of rural life in American society from 1830 to 1860.

2. Examine the interest in and the emergence of utopian communities in American society during the early nineteenth century, and discuss the ideas associated with these communities.

3. Explain the emergence of California as the population center on the West coast in the late 1840s and early 1850s, discuss the experiences of “the forty-niners,” and explain the integration of California into the national market economy.

4. Discuss the expansion of urban areas in early nineteenth-century American society, the problems associated with that expansion, and the attempts to solve those problems.

5. Discuss the spread of public education in American society in the early nineteenth century.

6. Explain the changes in leisure time and in recreational activities in the urban environment of early nineteenth-century American society.

7. Explain the emergence and characteristics of each of the following, and discuss their impact on early nineteenth-century American society.

a. Popular literature

b. Theater

c. Sports

d. Exclusive clubs and associations
8. Indicate the nature, extent, and causes of urban conflict in American society during the first half of the nineteenth century.

9. Contrast the lives of the urban poor with the lives of the urban elite.

10. Examine the impact of economic change and urbanization during the first half of the nineteenth century on the family, gender roles, and women.

11. Discuss the similarities and differences between Irish and German immigrants’ reasons for immigration, and examine the characteristics of the early nineteenth-century immigrants and their lives.

12. Examine the lives of free blacks within nineteenth-century American society, and discuss the ways in which they attempted to deal with their status.
Thematic Guide

The economic growth and development of American society in the early nineteenth century unleashed forces that changed the lives of Americans. In the process, American society became both more diverse and more divided. How the American people responded to change and increased diversity and how change affected the sense of community, the family, and individuals is the focus of Chapter 12.

The opportunities offered by the market-oriented economy led to increased mobility within American society and increased immigration into American society. Although this pushed the frontier farther west, caused the expansion of urban areas, and allowed some people to advance socially and economically, it also left many individuals with a sense of insecurity and aloneness in a changing society. At the same time, the pluralism that had been a distinctive characteristic of American society since colonial times became more pronounced. Though a great source of strength, the diversity suggested by this pluralism was also a source of tension and division. Such tension and division are natural components of a society that is a mix of ethnic, religious, and socioeconomic groups with divergent belief systems and value systems.

Some people attempted to create a sense of community in an increasingly impersonal society by experimenting with utopian communities. Whether the sexual abstention of the Shakers or the transcendentalism of Brook Farm, the philosophies of these communities were usually a mix of old and new values and emphasized cooperation over competition. The search for belonging also led in new spiritual and religious directions; the Mormon movement is an example.

The discovery of gold in California in 1849 led to the emergence of that territory as the new population center on the West coast, to the California agricultural boom, and, by the mid-1850s, to the linking of California to the national market economy. The rapid growth of the early nineteenth century increased distinctions between country life and city life. Urban growth brought changes in commerce and trade, transformed cities into teeming metropolises, and brought more complexity to city institutions. Along with these changes came the urban problems of overcrowding, lack of adequate housing and sanitation, and pollution. In an effort to deal with such problems, cities began to offer the services associated with modern urban governments—garbage collection, water service, and sewer service.

Cities also began to provide education to their citizens through public schools. Because of the reform work of Horace Mann, who advocated equality of educational opportunity, the school curriculum became more secular in orientation and, therefore, more appropriate to would-be workers in a market-oriented economy. The public school curriculum no longer included direct religious indoctrination, but it did include indoctrination in moral values deemed important by the Protestant political leaders who controlled urban government and urban schools. Such indoctrination, undertaken with the intent of creating a society of like-minded citizens, was one response to the divergent belief systems brought by newcomers to the urban environment.

Life in an urban environment led to new uses of leisure time. Because the expansion of public education created a more literate public, many urban dwellers filled their leisure time by reading the newspapers, magazines, short stories, and book-length novels that abounded in the 1830s and after. Furthermore, leisure time and recreational activities became more organized within the urban environment. People became spectators of entertainment and sporting events rather than participants in such events. Again, in response to the mix of peoples within the urban environment, exclusive clubs and associations emerged, allowing like-minded people a way to find and associate with each other. In many cases, involvement in sporting and entertainment events depended on membership in such clubs.

The expansive America, built on the ideal of equality, offered opportunity. But in contrast to the ideal and to the notions of some, equality of opportunity was not available to all. In early nineteenth-century America, class, ethnic, and religious divisions remained. Such divisions led to increased urban tensions and riots, which often had an ethnic or religious base. The starkness of class divisions can be seen in the contrasts between the lives of the working classes and the urban poor on the one hand and the lives of the urban elite on the other.

The family and the gender roles within it are usually affected by economic changes within society. With the shift toward job specialization in a market economy, the work of men and women diverged. In the urban environment, men left home to go to work. Middle-class women, for whom paid employment was usually a brief stage in their lives, found employment as teachers or in the new shops and factories. However, working-class women, for whom gainful employment was a necessity, usually sold their domestic skills by working as domestic servants, seamstresses, and cooks. As work assumed more gender identification, the cult of domesticity emerged. It was held that women, by their nature, were more moral, virtuous, and nurturing than men. Therefore, it was believed, they should play a special role in the building of a moral, self-sacrificing, virtuous republic. Except for teaching, paid work was believed to conflict with this domestic ideal.

Economic changes and urbanization led to more family planning and a reduction in family size. With fewer children, women had more time for organized activities outside the home. Ironically, as the sphere of women shrank, they began to exercise more control over “their” domestic sphere and over their lives and bodies. They also began to engage in new activities as new roles were offered; and, as a result of their involvement in religious and community activities, they acquired organizing skills and shaped new roles for themselves. Furthermore, some women, like Louisa May Alcott, made the conscious decision to remain single in order to protect their independence.

The last two sections of the chapter focus on two additional groups that faced discrimination in American society: immigrants and free people of color. The Irish and Germans were numerically the two major immigrant groups in the early nineteenth century. After considering the reasons for immigration, we look at the lives of immigrants and the prejudice they often faced in American society. A second group, free blacks, was allowed, unlike Native Americans, to remain within American society but was not allowed equality of economic, political, or social opportunity within that society. African Americans, like Native Americans, struggled in various ways to maintain their dignity and self-respect in the face of the daily assaults of white racism.
Building Vocabulary

Listed below are important words and terms that you need to know to get the most out of Chapter 12. They are listed in the order in which they occur in the chapter. After carefully looking through the list, refer to a dictionary and jot down the definition of words that you do not know or of which you are unsure.

forlorn

consumption (pathology)



enclave

utopian


itinerant

egalitarian

arid

intuitive



secular

nativist


affront

meticulous

milieu

respite


consonant

genteel


autonomy

secede


avail

Identification and Significance

After studying Chapter 12 of A People and a Nation, you should be able to identify fully and explain the historical significance of each item listed below.

1. Identify each item in the space provided. Give an explanation or description of the item. Answer the questions who, what, where, and when.

2. Explain the historical significance of each item in the space provided. Establish the historical context in which the item exists. Establish the item as the result of or as the cause of other factors existing in the society under study. Answer this question: What were the political, social, economic, and/or cultural consequences of this item?

farm communities

Identification

Significance

barn-raisings

Identification

Significance

country bees and town bees

Identification

Significance

the Shakers

Identification

Significance

the Mormons

Identification

Significance

Brook Farm

Identification

Significance

transcendentalism

Identification

Significance

the American Renaissance

Identification

Significance

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Identification

Significance

the California Gold Rush

Identification

Significance

the “forty-niners”

Identification

Significance

the California agricultural boom

Identification

Significance

New York City

Identification

Significance

early nineteenth-century urban problems

Identification

Significance

public schools

Identification

Significance

Horace Mann

Identification

Significance

popular literature in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

the theater in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

spectator sports in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

associations and clubs in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

the Bowery boys and Bowery gals

Identification

Significance

urban riots

Identification

Significance

the new aristocracy of wealth and power

Identification

Significance

the urban poor

Identification

Significance

New York City’s Five Points

Identification

Significance

Philip Hone

Identification

Significance

the urban middle class

Identification

Significance

the cult of domesticity

Identification

Significance

Catharine and Mary Beecher

Identification

Significance

the declining birth rate in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

family planning

Identification

Significance

abortion in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

Louisa May Alcott

Identification

Significance

Castle Garden

Identification

Significance

Irish immigrants

Identification

Significance

anti-Catholic sentiment in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

German immigrants

Identification

Significance

Hispanics in early nineteenth-century America

Identification

Significance

the Negro Convention Movement

Identification

Significance

black nationalism

Identification

Significance


Organizing Information

Using information that you find in Chapter 12 and in your class notes, record in the blanks in each of the following three charts reminders concerning the early nineteenth century assimilation (and segregation) of specific groups in or associated with the United States. What evidence is there to indicate how willing each group was to be assimilated? Were there things about the groups and their customs and beliefs or about American laws, government policies, and public attitudes that promoted or discouraged assimilation? Were specific actions or events pivotal in the movement toward or away from greater assimilation of specific groups? Finally, how did the resolution of the question of assimilation stand on the eve of the Civil War (1860)?




Hispanics and the Assimilation Question, 1830–1860



Group

Willingness To Be Accepted and Assimilated



Factors Promoting Acceptance and
Assimilation




Factors Discouraging Acceptance and
Assimilation


Highlights in History of Efforts To Assimilate or Segregate the Group


The Group’s Status in
1860


Texas Hispanics
















California, New Mexico Hispanics


















Free Blacks and the Assimilation Question, 1830–1860



Group

Willingness To Be Accepted and Assimilated



Factors Promoting Acceptance and
Assimilation




Factors Discouraging Acceptance and
Assimilation


Highlights in History of Efforts To Assimilate or Segregate the Group


The Group’s Status in
1860


Northern Free Blacks
















Southern Free Blacks


















New Immigrants and the Assimilation Question, 1800–1860



Group

Willingness To Be Accepted and Assimilated



Factors Promoting Acceptance and
Assimilation




Factors Discouraging Acceptance and
Assimilation


Highlights in History of Efforts To Assimilate or Segregate the Group


The Group’s Status in
1860


German
Immigrants

















Irish Immigrants
















Other Immigrants


















Interpreting Information

Using the information you recorded in the charts concerning the assimilation (or segregation) of specific groups in the preceding Organizing Information exercise plus other information that you now gather from Chapter 12, analyze some of the key elements in how America was handling its pluralism in the early nineteenth century. Although you may and should come up with more questions—and more information to record in your Organizing Information chartshere are some of the questions you should attempt to answer:


1. How were the new immigrants different from Hispanics and Free Blacks?







2. How could responses of Free Blacks and new immigrants to the question of assimilation be said to be similar?







3. How could such apparently benign practices and attitudes as the spread of publicly-financed education and the cult of domesticity actually increase the separation of Free Blacks, some new, Catholic immigrant groups, and women from American society at large and/or from positions of power within it.







4. How was religion a factor both in immigration to the United States in the early nineteenth century and in how well and how quickly the immigrants became assimilated into American society?







Ideas and Details

Objective 1



1. Which of the following is true of families living in farm villages in the 1830s and 1840s?

a. They usually traveled to the nearest city for entertainment.

b. They usually had more children than in the eighteenth century.

c. They often gathered on each other’s farms for social and work activities.

d. They often lived in the city during the winter months.

Objective 2



2. Most of those who organized utopian communities did so with the objective of

a. completely withdrawing from civilized society.

b. returning to a state of nature.

c. establishing a cooperative, as opposed to a competitive, environment.

d. creating a new political order based on the Bible.

Objective 2



3. Which of the following is true of the Shakers?

a. They abolished individual families.

b. They practiced polygamy.

c. They rejected the divinity of Jesus.

d. They believed that Jesus had already returned to earth.

Objective 4



4. In the growing urban areas of the early nineteenth century, the cost associated with construction of sewers was

a. often covered by businessmen’s associations.

b. usually borne by individual property owners.

c. totally covered by city tax dollars.

d. paid for by state governments.

Objective 5



5. Horace Mann believed that

a. moral education had no place in the public school.

b. the public school should stand as a bastion against the secularism of the industrial age.


  1. instead of concentrating on direct religious indoctrination, public schools should teach subjects such as American history, arithmetic, and science.

d. education was a private, family concern and not the concern of the state.

Objective 7



6. Which of the following is true of minstrel shows in the 1830s and 1840s?

a. By ridiculing African Americans, they stoked the fires of racism.

b. They provided a forum through which whites and blacks could better understand and accept their cultural differences.

c. They served as the major entry point for African Americans into the entertainment industry.

d. By popularizing African American song and dance, they served to break down racial barriers.

Objective 8



7. A common thread running through the urban riots of the 1830s and 1840s was

a. a sense of having been unjustly treated by the authorities.

b. white racism.

c. anger directed against perceived political and economic rivals.

d. greed.

Objective 9



8. Most of those who held great wealth in the 1840s and 1850s

a. acquired their fortunes through hard work and perseverance.

b. were very discreet about their wealth.

c. were idle men of leisure.

d. had inherited much of their wealth.

Objective 10



9. Most working-class women in the early nineteenth century

a. found employment in the new factories.

b. had to acquire specialized work skills or face unemployment.

c. sold their domestic skills for wages.

d. found work in urban retail shops.

Objective 10



10. According to the cult of domesticity of the nineteenth century,

a. women were responsible for the educational, moral, and cultural functions of the family.

b. men and women were to share family responsibilities equally.

c. men were to concentrate on the husband-father role rather than on the wage-earner role.

d. women were to aid their husbands by finding work outside the home.

Objective 10



11. The evidence suggests that a major reason for the decline in family size in the early nineteenth century was

a. the use of traditional forms of birth control.

b. the fact that men in urban areas left home to go to work.

c. better sex education at home and at school.

d. higher infant mortality rates.

Objective 11



12. Irish immigrants coming to America in the early nineteenth century

a. came mainly from the Irish middle class.

b. came mainly from the urban areas in Ireland.

c. found work easily in the urban areas of the North.

d. were subjected to anti-Catholic sentiment.

Objective 11



13. Which of the following is true of Irish and German immigrants to the United States in the 1840s and 1850s?

a. Both of their native countries experienced revolutionary upheaval in the 1840s.

b. They both settled almost exclusively in urban areas.

c. They both tended to immigrate as families and groups.

d. The immigration of both was prompted by potato blight.

Objective 12



14. Regarding their position in American society in the 1830s and 1840s, free blacks

a. depended upon the federal government to protect their rights.

b. realized that the state governments could best protect their rights.

c. attempted to improve their status by organizing mutual aid societies.

d. realized they had to work primarily through white institutions to improve their status.

Objective 12



15. Which of the following is true of the United States first naturalization law, passed in 1790?

a. It barred immigration from Asia.

b. It restricted citizenship to free whites only.

c. English immigrants did not have to meet a residency requirement in the United States before applying for citizenship.

d. Non-white immigrants were required to live in the country for 14 years before they could become citizens, while the residency requirement for white immigrants was 5 years.

Essay Questions

Objective 2

1. Discuss the philosophy and goals of the Shaker and Mormon movements. What are the similarities and differences between the Shaker and Mormon movements on the one hand and the Brook Farm movement on the other hand?

Objective 4

2. Discuss the expansion of urban areas during the early nineteenth century. What problems were associated with this expansion? How were these problems handled?

Objective 5

3. Discuss the contributions of Horace Mann to educational reform.

Objective 10

4. Describe the cult of domesticity, and explain its impact on women in American society.

Objective 10

5. Indicate the characteristics of the Irish and German immigrants of the 1840s and 1850s, and discuss the opportunities and hardships they encountered.

Objective 12



6. Explain the social, economic, and political characteristics of the lives of free blacks in northern society.


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