US History to 1865
General Theoretical Orientation
Groups are in conflict. In our story, the conflict begins with European colonial expansion. One group seeking to take away what belongs to another.
Inequalities in military, economic resources lead to political inequalities
Resources and capacities are crucial
Weaker groups can resist domination and still lose
The struggles of the past create material conditions that constrain action choices in the present.
Today’s conflicts are structured by the past, are legacies of history
Americans Before 1500
Only indigenous Americans (AKA American Indians, Native Americans)
Arrived 12,000 – 30,000 years ago (before agricultural settlements in Europe)
Long history of civilizations rising & falling before Europeans
Estimates 2-10 million in what is now US
300+ languages spoken but significant trade and “trade languages”
Some hunter/gatherers, some settled agriculture
No horses [horses introduced by the Spanish]
The Europeans & Africans Come
Columbus 1492. Spanish & Portuguese in Latin America & Caribbean
Columbus & slaves
Conquistadores of African descent (Moors)
French and British trade in North America
European settlers & their slaves in North America in 1600s. Importation of slaves 1607-1808.
Settlers vs. armies of conquest.
Indios still survive in much of Latin America
1500-1776 Colonial Era
European governments "claim" America and divide it among themselves.
Enslavement, pestilence and plagues, economic disruptions, warfare for the Americans.
South America: Spanish conquerors put a new layer on American [indio] populations.
In North America, European settlers intrude on the land, ultimately displace.
African slavery + some free Africans.
Religious self-views. The Promised Land. The New Canaan, New Israel.
Some thought they should live peacefully with native Americans and share the land. Some did.
Others took a Biblical view: enter Canaan & kill all the inhabitants. Saw disease and deaths of natives as a sign from God. Hostile reactions from natives increased European hostility to the locals.
Tiny proportion of colonists were Pilgrims & Puritans arriving 1620s, but they became icons of the national myth. Most Europeans arrived after 1800. Most colonists immigrated for economic advancement
1607 - 1776. 175 years of slavery in colonial period.
Some Africans, like Europeans, 17 year indentures, but racial differences rapidly emerge
Always ~10% “free Blacks.”
A few even own slaves themselves
Free Blacks support the American revolution. Crispus Attucks.
Whites argue about whether “equality” should include Blacks.
Americans & Europeans: Contact & Genocide
From 2-10 million before 1500 to 500,000 in 1800
Military battles, especially Spanish (less so English, French early on)
Disease: killed 90%+ of many American populations, weakened others, made European settlements possible
Economic disruption: Fur trade, Horses, plains culture
Early contacts more ambiguous: coexistence & conflict; intermarriage, contact between cultures.
Some American groups adopt European ways, even own slaves.
Others retreat west, regroup in the face of disruption
European Claims 1750
USA as a Racial State
American Indians were “foreign nations” to be fought, negotiated with
African slaves explicitly excluded from citizenship in Constitution of 1791; citizenship rights of free Africans taken away after 1790s
1790 Immigration and Naturalization Act. Migrants from Europe can become citizens in relatively easy process of "naturalization." Only "Whites" can be naturalized. (Restrictions not removed until 1940s)
Act of March 26, 1790 (1 Stat 103-104) (Excerpts)
1776-1815: Formation of the racial state
Europeans (calling themselves Americans) create a new government of, by, and for "White people."
American Indians are excluded, treated as separate nations (generally as they wish to be).
Whites, Blacks, and the Racial State
Slavery enshrined in the Constitution of 1791.
1808 importation of slaves ends. Henceforth, slaves are all native born.
European Americans mobilize to strip free Africans of their citizenship rights, ban them from communities, kick them out of formerly integrated churches.
The African-American movement begins as a defense against European-American actions.
Immigration to US, in 1000s
Immigration to US as a % of Base
1815-1860 The White State Expands
European immigrants create population pressures, westward expansion. Accelerated displacement, “cleansing” of indigenous Americans.
Louisiana purchase: 1803. Buy from the French land that is inhabited by Americans.
War of 1812. Defeat of Tecumseh, British cannot block expansion.
1824 BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) created under the War Dept.
1830 Trail of Tears. Forced relocation of "five civilized tribes" from Georgia to what is now Oklahoma. Thousands die in a thousand mile march.
Area west of the Mississippi (originally Oklahoma, Kansas) is "Indian territory" to be governed by "Indians" [Americans] “in perpetuity.”
Plains and Southwest Americans become increasingly hostile to the invaders.
United States 1816-22
Expansion and Displacement
Repeatedly, European settlers move onto land specifically reserved for "Indians," battles ensue, US troops enter the battle, take land from Indians previously reserved to them.
US government seeking to obtain land peacefully by treaty from as many groups as possible. Groups pacified are dumped into "Indian territory," where the groups there make room for newcomers.
1837, 1842 Chippewa treaties cede what is now northern Wisconsin, Michigan & Minnesota to the US; treaties specifically reserve the right to hunt, fish, and gather on the ceded territory.
Spanish colony 1521-1821 (300 years)
Creation of “Mexicans”: mixed indigenous & Spanish ancestry, Spanish culture.
“Indios” resist, remain separate in some areas
Most of northern New Spain never heavily settled by Spanish, strong resistance from indigenous Americans
Mexican independence 1821, Mexican Republic 1824. Political turmoil.
Map: Annexation of Northern Mexico
30,000 Anglo-Americans had moved into Texas, greatly outnumbering the Spanish-Mexicans; generally slaveholders
1824 Mexican republic abolishes slavery
1830 Mexico attempts to stop Anglo immigration, enforce laws against slavery
1836 new Mexican constitution restricts “states rights” (over slavery, among others); Anglo-Texans backed by some Tejanos (Spanish-Texans) secede from Mexico and create Texas as an independent White state
1845 fearing Texas expansion west, the US annexes Texas as a slave state
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
1848 US provokes a war with Mexico, easily wins
Northern Mexico ceded to the US
Guarantees to Mexican citizens living in the area:
Recognition of property titles from Spain/Mexico
Right to be Catholic
Right to speak Spanish
About 7% of Mexican Americans today are direct descendants of those covered by the treaty
Mixed experiences: some retain land & status, others lose land, forced out by Anglo mobs. No consistent protection of citizenship, language, property rights.
California Gold Rush 1848
First entry of significant numbers of Chinese – initially into gold fields, then as laborers to support growing western economy [more later]
Anglo-American immigrants rapidly overwhelm Mexicans in northern California, drive them out
Fewer Anglos in desert southern California, Mexican landowners retain much of their land in large rancheros.
Black and White 1816-1860
Blacks 20% of the population
Slavery in the US as a extreme institution
Growing international opposition to slavery
Abolition movement in US grows
Restrictions on free Africans in both north and south
The 10% free Africans mobilize against these restrictions & against slavery
Slavery divides the nation.
There had been slavery for thousands of years, but US slavery was a peculiarly capitalist and particularly inhumane institution: people as property, no rights as human beings
Physical geography, social organization made slave rebellions & escape more difficult than in other locales
Slave labor was a fundamental element of 18th and 19th century economy: Black slaves built much of the economic power of the nation
US Black/White racial definitions a product of slavery: child of a slave mother was a slave; “one drop rule”
Abolitionism: Movement to Abolish Slavery
Militant movement rooted principally in the northeast, but gained adherents.
Violent battles between pro- and anti-slavery forces
Black participants & leaders; also racial tensions within movement
20th century tendency to ignore the history of White abolitionists
John Brown: militant radical abolitionist fought a guerilla war against slavery.
1859 Harper’s Ferry raid, his capture, trial and execution
Bells tolled throughout the North for him
song: John Brown’s body (sung to an old camp meeting him)
tune used for Battle Hymn of the Republic, poem by Julia Ward Howe)
John Brown’s Body
Civil War 1860-1865
Bloody war, occupies White military forces
American Indians choose sides or try to avoid the war, diversion from “Indian wars” in the west
Ends with the victory of the North, abolition of slavery
South occupied by northern army, White southerners disenfranchised
US History Overview
1860-1865. US civil war (war between the states)
1865 – 1920. Consolidation of the racial state.
Even more European immigration
Jim Crow segregation worsens conditions for Blacks
Final conquest of the indigenous Americans
Imperialism & colonialism.
Asian immigration & racist anti-Asian movements & laws lead to bans on Asian immigration
1920 Massive immigration ends for 50 years
Europeans: South devastated, US consolidates military control of the continent; massive migration from Europe
Africans: Freed slaves start to make some advances, White state reconsolidates around segregation & White dominance
Americans: US military forces conquer the remaining free Americans, drive population down to 200,000
Asians: Significant immigration, explicit racist attacks, segregation, passage of restrictions against immigration; colonialism (Philippines, Hawaii)
“Latinos”: colonialism (Puerto Rico), displacement (Mexicans), coexistence
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