Jake Downie – Friday, December 15thWhile the politics of America during the 1800s present similarities to current politics, the political landscape during the 1800s was undoubtedly unique, affected by significant changes in society, culture and the physical boundaries of our world. The American vision of Manifest Destiny generated expansion out West, which affected Native Americans and created new areas of settlement. Additionally, the women’s suffrage movement combined with the cult of domesticity and the reform movement made women a powerful element in the political environment of the 1800s. The final fact that made America’s politics unique during the 1800s was slavery in the United States. Southern states still supported slavery while in the north there was a expanding Anti-Slavery movement; both of those factors eventually led to the Abolitionist movement. The expansion of the United States was one of the more important events during the 1800s due to how Manifest Destiny and the vision of American promoted massive growth, along with the effect on the local Native American populations, and the creation of monumental laws and regulations that were ratified. Manifest Destiny was the idea that the United States not only could, but was destined to, stretch from coast to coast. This attitude helped fuel western settlement, Native American removal, and the war with Mexico. The main impact of Manifest Destiny was that the United States got much larger and much wealthier. Settlers moved westward over the Appalachian Mountains into the new states and territories. Many settled beyond the country’s western boundary where they flocked into Texas, California, and other western lands belonging to Mexico. Additionally, one of the more long lasting changes was the effect of expansion on the Native American population. As pioneers moved westward, they took over much of the land that Indians had occupied for thousands of years before them. Fighting broke out between the pioneers and Indians. To protect the pioneers, the United States government sent soldiers to battle against the Indians. The soldiers won most of these so-called Indian Wars. In 1830 Congress, urged on by President Andrew Jackson, passed the Indian Removal Act which gave the federal government the power to relocate any Native Americans in the east to territory that was west of the Mississippi River. In exchange for giving up their land, Indians were promised food, supplies, and money. However, the Indians didn’t receive the things that they were promised, and they were removed by force The Supreme Court found removing the Native Americans by force unconstitutional in the 1823 case of Johnson v. M’Intosh, but President Jackson ignored the ruling. Jackson believed that Indians Comprised sovereign states or they were subject to the laws of existing states of the Union. Jackson urged Indians to assimilate and obey state laws. Indian tribes were eventually moved forcibly towards the west along the Trail of Tears. Of the 11,500 Cherokees that were moved in 1838, about 4,000 died along the way. Finally, by the mid-1800’s, the government had moved almost all the eastern Indians west of the Mississippi River. In addition to the rapid changes brought on by expansion, there was an explosion of new laws and regulations that affected American politics. On of the most significant was the Preemption Act of 1841 permitted “squatters” who were living on federal government owned land to purchase up to 160 acres at a very low price before the land was to be offered for sale to the general public. These early pioneers were known as squatters because they stayed on lands they did not own. Originally, the federal government wanted to survey the land and then sell large parcels to real estate companies. The new law allowed squatters wanted to buy the land they occupied directly from the government. During the 1800s women and womens’ rights also played an important role in the politics of that time. There was the women’s suffrage movement, the cult of domesticity, and the reform movements led by women.. During the 1850s, the women’s suffrage movement gained lots of steam, raising questions like voting rights and women’s place in the household. The Industrial Revolution changed economic roles of men and women, leading to the development of factories and new workplaces. Now men leave home for work, while women tended home and raised children alone. Due to this, woman’s role was perceived to be housekeepers, and it was unheard of for a women to stay single. Women were not allowed to venture into any other activities apart from taking care of her family. Additionally, due to Christian Revivalism, women were viewed as more moral their male counterparts and were expected to be models of piety and virtue. This was a very constricting view of women, who were relegated to the domestic sphere. Women were affected by the cult of domesticity,s a system of values among the upper and middle classes during the nineteenth century in the United States. This ideology strongly discouraged women from obtaining education. Women stayed in the household and society during that time was very male dominated. This ideology was thought to elevate the moral status of women, and be beneficial for them in ways such as living lives of higher material comfort. It made the roles of wife and mother more important in society. So in 1848, a group of activists gathered in Seneca Falls, New York to discuss the problem of women’s rights. Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the Seneca Falls Convention, which was the beginning of an organized women’s movement. There they issued a Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions relating to women’s suffrage. The proposal for women to focus on right to vote shocked many women at the convention. Eventually by 1865, 29 states had passed laws allowing wives to hold property in their own names. Finally, women were greatly involved in the Reform movement of the United States in part due to the revival of new religion led to mid-1800s reform movements. Reform movements were overwhelmingly comprised of women because religion played a central role in lives of many unmarried women, leading them to join religious reform groups. There was three major areas of reform work: prison, education, and temperance. Many reformers argued that alcohol abuse led to crime, disorder, and poverty. So groups preaching temperance united to form American Temperance Union in 1833. Temperance societies pushed for laws banning the sale of liquor In 1851 Maine passed the first state law prohibition law. Other states pass local option laws that allowed towns to make the decision.Reformers also approached the issue of incarceration. Many states replaced overcrowded prisons with facilities for rehabilitation of prisoners in mind. During the beginning of Civil War most states had public mental institutions to keep the mentally ill out of prison system. Solitary confinement and silent work crews were intended to give prisoners the chance to think about their crimes. Similarly, during the early 1800s reformers work to improve the public education system. The arrival of millions of new immigrants led to people convinced of need for public education, so many leaders and social reformers believed that democracy could only survive with an educated electorate. Horace Mann lead movement for public education, being in the Massachusetts Senate in 1837 when he pushed to create a state board of education. He opened countless schools, and would provide training schools for teachers. Massachusetts became a model for other states in public education. Although the Civil War occurred in 1861, slavery was an influential aspect of American politics during the early 1800s due to many reasons, the most important being the strong dependence of the south on slavery, the birth of Anti-Slavery movements States and the eventual emergence of the Abolitionist movement. First and foremost, the reliance the South had with slavery during the 1800s created a tense political climate. Slavery was very important to the southern economy. The majority of slaves worked in plantation agriculture but many had other occupations such as butlers, maids, seamstresses, carriage drivers and stable hands. In 1860, states in the south owned a collective 3,950,511 slaves. 4.9 million bales of cotton were being harvested annually in the south by slaves. Africans in the United States also became important economic and political capital in the American political economy. Enslaved Africans were legally a form of property. Slaves were frequently used as currency in all kinds of business transactions. They were also traded for other kinds of goods and services. Cotton exports alone made up 50-60 percent of the value of the nation’s total exports, helping pay for imports from abroad. Due to these factors, the abolishment of slavery in the south seemed to be impossible. In north however, there was anti-slavery sentiment already prevalent. The north had two main movements during the late 1700s before the rise of abolitionism: gradualism and colonization. Gradualism was the idea that slavery should be ended gradually and slave owners should be compensated. This gained a lot of popularity in the north and in 1780 the Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature on March 1st. It was the first attempt by a government to begin the abolition of slavery. The Act prohibited further importation of slaves into the state and established that all children born in Pennsylvania were free persons regardless of the race of their parents. Those enslaved in Pennsylvania before the 1780 law went into effect, remained enslaved for life. Though, in 1847, the Pennsylvania legislature passed another act freeing its slaves altogether. A second concept was colonization. In 1817, The American Colonization Society, also known as ACS, was formed to send free African-Americans to Africa. In 1822, the ACS society established a colony that became the nation of Liberia. ACS supporters believed that that there was a resistance in the public to an equalization of the races and that any attempt to press equalization was hopeless. The final and most important anti-slavery movement was Abolitionism. Before the Civil War, anti-slavery sentiment sparked an abolitionist movement that employed radical tactics to bring an end to slavery. The abolitionist movement in the North was led by the social reformer, William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison was the publisher of The Liberator, its first issue on, Jan. 1st, 1831. Garrison’s focus was not compromise, he pushed for the immediate and complete abolishment of slavery. Shortly after starting The Liberator, he founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. By 1838 there were more than 1350 chapters and 250000 members. Garrison recruited and trained many abolitionists for the Society. Abolitionism garnered a response all throughout the United States due to it being such a powerful movement. Although many northerners disapproved of slavery, some opposed abolitionism. Opposers viewed the movement as a threat to the social system of America and feared it would create an influx of free African Americans which would, in turn, overwhelm the labor in the North. People in the South viewed that the movement was a threat to their way of life. President Abraham Lincoln addressed abolitionism and the view of radical and immediate change in his speech, “The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions” on January 27, 1834. In the speech Lincoln expresses the need for citizens to follow laws religiously and never in any circumstances, allow mob law to assume control, even if the laws are unjust. While the Civil War only occurred in 1861, the Anti-Slavery movements in America played an existential role during the early 1800s. The factors that made this importance being, the strong dependence of slavery in the south, the Anti-Slavery movements appearing in the United States and most importantly, the eventual emergence of the Abolitionist movement. America had an unique political environment during the 1800s due to the expansion of the United States, the prevalence of slavery in the United States, and the women’s movement in the United States. The American vision of Manifest Destiny combined with the effect of expansion on Native Americans and the laws and regulations during that time constituted our political atmosphere. Additionally, the women’s movement played a key role in American politics. The women’s suffrage movement combined with the cult of domesticity and the reform movement made women a powerful element in the political environment of the 1800s. The final fact that made America’s politics unique during the 1800s was the slavery in the United States. Southern states still supported slavery while in the north there was a expanding Anti-Slavery movement, both of those factors eventually led to the Abolitionist movement. Indeed, while the politics of America during the 1800s were different then today’s, one can say that modern America is still as radical, controversial, discourceful, and freethinking as it was in the 1800s.
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