Securing the Republic



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Chapter 8

Securing the Republic

1790-1815
This chapter concentrates on the political history of the new nation as it enlarged its boundaries and solidified its independence. Starting with George Washington’s inauguration, the chapter explains how the founding fathers believed that the preservation of liberty and freedom for the republic relied on the success of the American experiment in self-government. Contrasting views as to how America should develop economically and how its government should operate emerged with the formation of America’s first political parties in the early 1790s. Federalists supported Alexander Hamilton’s program for economic growth while Republicans embraced Thomas Jefferson’s vision of an agrarian republic. These different points of view fostered political debates that enlarged the public sphere. An excerpt from one political society, the Democratic- Republican Society of Pennsylvania, is included in “Voices of Freedom.” The chapter also explores the rights of women as a way of illustrating expanding ideas about who should enjoy freedom of expression. “Voices of Freedom” highlights a piece by Judith Sargent Murray, an advocate of increased rights for women. The chapter then examines the presidency of John Adams, highlighting the restrictions placed on liberties through the Alien and Sedition Acts and the Republican response in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions. Further restrictions to freedom are explored when discussing slavery and politics and the attempted slave rebellion led by Gabriel. The chapter also examines the “Revolution of 1800” and Thomas Jefferson’s administration. Jefferson’s support for territorial expansion is exemplified by the Louisiana Purchase, which allowed for economic freedom for white farmers as well as the eventual expansion of the Cotton Kingdom and slavery. European infringements on American rights at sea jeopardized free trade, which Republicans considered essential to American freedom. The failures of embargoes as economic weapons against Great Britain and France led to economic crisis at home and a cry for war from the War Hawks. In addition, British support for the activities of Tecumseh, a Shawnee urging a pan-Indian response to white American encroachment on Indian lands, alarmed War Hawks. President James Madison, Jefferson’s immediate successor, declared war against Great Britain in 1812, and although the war ended by establishing the status quo, it did solidify American independence and freedom from Britain for good.

Points for Discussion



  1. What were the primary domestic and foreign policy issues in the 1790s that caused the rise of political divisions and political parties? What was each party’s stance on these issues? What vision did each have for the future of America?

  2. Compare and contrast the Whiskey Rebellion with Shays’s Rebellion.

  3. George Washington is highly regarded by most historians as a successful president. Is his reputation deserved? Make a case for or against this assertion.

  4. Which is a worse violation of the Constitution – the Sedition Act or the VA/KY Resolves? Explain your choice.

  5. To what extent can Thomas Jefferson’s presidency be considered a revolution? Analyze whether his presidency deliver an Empire of Liberty as he envisioned.

  6. American society of the early nineteenth century might be described as "patriarchal". Discuss the implications for women, African Americans, and Native Americans.

  7. Analyze Jefferson's conflict with the courts. Include a discussion of the Judiciary Act of 1801, Marbury v. Madison, the role of John Marshall, and Jefferson's attempt to impeach Federalist judges.

  8. Explain the international circumstances that made possible the Louisiana Purchase. Analyze the political and economic consequences of that transaction.

  9. Many historians view the War of 1812 as the "second American war for independence," but is this an accurate characterization? In what ways did British policies prior to 1812 threaten our independence? Had the United States not fought the war, what might the results have been? Assess these questions, and determine if we were indeed fighting for "independence."

  10. What were the causes of the War of 1812? Was it a "justifiable" war for the United States? How and why did New England Federalists protest the War of 1812? To what extent was their protest successful? In what ways did the United States attempt to avoid the War of 1812? Why were these attempts unsuccessful?

  11. What happened to the Federalists? For the first decade under the Constitution, the Federalist party held the nation together, started the government working on a day-to-day basis, and set precedents that are still held valid. Twenty years later, it had all but ceased to exist as a party. Why? Examine the events and issues that accompanied the decline of the Federalists, and determine what caused this powerful party to fall.

  12. Although generally viewed as only a secondary aspect of the War of 1812, the conflict between white Americans and the western Indians was more conclusive and perhaps more significant for the nation's future. Analyze that statement,

Key Terms

Quasi War with France Bank of the United States (BUS) strict vs. loose construction

Hamilton Madison Hartford Convention

XYZ Affair Hamilton’s Financial Plan Alien and Sedition Acts

VA/KY Resolutions First Party System Whiskey Rebellion

Citizen Genet Jay’s Treaty Pinckney’s Treaty

Revolution of 1800 Midnight Appointments LA Purchase

Washington’s Farewell Jeffersonian Vision Lewis and Clark

Federalism Adams Chesapeake Affair

Gabriel’s Rebellion Non-Intercourse Act Embargo

Macon’s Bill #2 William Henry Harrison Barbary Pirates

Impressment Tecumseh/The Prophet War Hawks



Marbury v. Madison Midnight judges John Marshall

Treaty of Ghent A Vindication of the Rights of Woman


Key Concept 4.1: The United States began to develop a modern democracy and celebrated a new national culture, while Americans sought to define the nation’s democratic ideals and change their society and institutions to match them.
Key Concept 4.2: Innovations in technology, agriculture, and commerce powerfully accelerated the American economy, precipitating profound changes to U.S. society and to national and regional identities.
Key Concept 4.3: The U.S. interest in increasing foreign trade and expanding its national borders shaped the nation’s foreign policy and spurred government and private initiatives.

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