Down and Dirty U.S. History Review(Discovery to Civil War)
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe The Americas Before Columbus stumbled across the place, folks from Asia stumbled onto it first about 22,000 years ago, coming across the Beringia land bridge.
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe The Americas Contrary to some popular belief, Beringia was a land bridge, not an ice bridge. During this ice age, so much sea water got frozen into glaciers and the polar caps that the sea level fell and exposed what is now the floor of the Bering Sea as open land. Even now, the Bering Strait has an average depth of just 98-160 feet.
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe From there, people populated the Americas over the following millennia.
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe The Americas The Neolithic (Agricultural Revolution) hits about 8,000 to 3,000 BC and the first civilizations start popping up. In Central America, there’s the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, and Aztec. In South America, there’s the Inca. In North America, there’s the Hohokam and Anasazi in the U.S. southwest and other Native American societies.
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe The Americas
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe West Africa This area had its own assortment of cultures, notably the Songhai, Benin, and Kongo.
The Americas, West Africa, and Europe Europe By the 1400’s, Europe is going through its own changes. Society is highly stratified due to centuries of feudalism. The Renaissance and Reformation started changing the characteristics of the different kingdoms. New technology and the desire for trade routes lead to exploration.
Spanish North America Columbus sails the ocean blue in 1492, lands on San Salvador, meets the native Taino, and promptly claims the place for Spain. For Spain!
Spanish North America Christophe explores some more in the Caribbean, finds some Bahamas, Hispaniola (where Haiti and the Dominican Republic are), and Cuba. And claims them all for Spain.
Spanish North America The Spanish and other folks start colonizing the islands and set up plantations, using the natives as slave labor. Since the natives has no natural resistance to European diseases, however, they died in droves. This is why the Europeans started importing slaves from West Africa. They were somewhat acclimatized and had resistance to Euro diseases. Many West African tribes were participants in the slave trade.
Spanish North America So, you give me beans and corn and I give you smallpox. Deal?
Spanish North America Spaniards conquer the Aztecs and Inca and settle down in the newly colonized areas. For many, this was a chance to start a new life and maybe better your position in society. Since Spanish women weren’t as keen on venturing to the new colonial areas. As a result, the Spaniards married native women and had mestizo kids. The also colonize the American southwest and out to California.
Early British Colonies The English get into the colonizing game by going after the east coast of North America. The first one, Roanoke was a fail. The first one that stuck, Jamestown, was nearly a fail. The Puritans come along and colonize New England in order to have religious freedom… for themselves anyway. The Quakers and the Dutch settled in the Middle Colonies.
The Colonies Come of Age Eventually, things consolidate into the 13 American Colonies. They become highly independent, though necessity and personality, and also become very prosperous.
The Colonies Come of Age The Southern colonizes are primarily agricultural, develop plantations, and heavily engage in slavery. The slavery gives rise to the triangular trade. Ironically, though slavery seems great economically (incredibly cheap labor), it actually winds up having a detrimental effect and lowers the prosperity of the economy.
The Colonies Come of Age The Northern colonies engage in greater trade, diversify their crops, and, while slave labor existed, made far lesser use of it than in the South. The Enlightenment and the Great Awakening heavily affected many of its residents.
The Colonies Come of Age The French and Indian War. An extension of the wars being fought between French and British in Europe. Results in much more land being gained by Britain. Helps lead to the eventual conflict between the colonists and Great Britain.
Colonial Resistance and Rebellion The colonies and the parent weren’t getting along too well. The Proclamation of 1763 following the French and Indian War said that colonists couldn’t settle west of the Appalachians. Meant to decrease conflicts with the Indians, but angered colonists since they wanted new land.
Colonial Resistance and Rebellion Britain also wanted the colonies to help pay for the rather costly F&I War. From the POV of the home country denizens, they’re having to pay to protect those colonists from the French (and the Indians) so the colonists should contribute. As a result King George 3 institutes the Sugar Act. This lowered the duty on imported molasses (to reduce molasses smuggling), created new duties on other goods, and made violators be tried by a single British judge rather than by colonists.
Colonial Resistance and Rebellion This is followed up by the Stamp Act in 1765. This put a new tax on documents and printed items.
Colonial Resistance and Rebellion While the Stamp Act was repealed in 1766, things weren’t getting better. The British Parliament instituted other taxes and acts that don’t go over well with the colonists. Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party result. Ironically, the taxes the colonists were complaining about were far less than Britons in Britain had to pay. But the colonists weren’t used to much any British taxation, didn’t like being taxed without them being represented, didn’t like the firm hand Britain was taking with them, and started resenting what increasingly seemed like foreign control. Independence is declared, war is fought, colonists win.
Confederation and the Constitution Great! We’re independent of Great Britain! So… uhhh… now what? Wigs for everyone!
Confederation and the Constitution It’s time to make a country! And that means coming up with a good government. The Second Continental Congress establishes the Articles of Confederation. Goes into effect in March 1781. Turned out not to be very good.
Confederation and the Constitution AofC weaknesses Congress could not enact and collect taxes. The government’s revenue came from whatever states decided to contribute. The tragedy of the commons. Each state had only one vote in Congress, regardless of population. Didn’t seem fair for populous states. 9 out of 13 states needed to agree to pass important laws. Didn’t happen very often, especially due to different regional interests.
Confederation and the Constitution AofC weaknesses Articles could be amended only if all states approved. Good luck with that one. There was no executive branch to enforce laws of Congress. This meant the laws were pretty much empty. There was no national court system to settle legal disputes. There was no national unity.
Confederation and the Constitution AofC: Fail. What it comes down to is that the Articles made the national government too weak. Given the concerns of the colonists and their extreme wariness of powerful governments, it’s understandable that they would create a weak national government with the Articles. Unfortunately, they went a little too far in the other direction and created a government that was too weak to really be even minimally effective.
Confederation and the Constitution Take Two Trade issues and Shays’ Rebellion compelled the states to send delegates for the purpose of amending the Articles in 1787. Within a week, they gave up trying to fix them and decided to start over with a whole new constitutional convention.
Confederation and the Constitution Making a new, shiny constitution The new government required a stronger central government than what the Articles provided. It needed to have an executive. It needed to respect the rights of the people as well as be democratic while at the same time limiting the damage that uneducated and easily swayed masses could inflict.
Confederation and the Constitution Conflicts and Compromises The Legislative Branch Conflict: Should representation in the legislature be based on population or have equal number of reps per state? Big states like the former, small states the latter. Compromise: Have a bicameral congress with one chamber determined by population and the other by equal numbers.
Confederation and the Constitution Conflicts and Compromises Counting slaves Conflict: Should slaves count as people in determining number of reps for the House or not? Southern states said yes, northern states said no. Compromise: Slaves would count as 3/5 a person.
Confederation and the Constitution Other Issues Federalism was established in which certain powers were held by the Federal government and all the rest of the powers were held by the states. This was a sticking point since many folks didn’t want the national government to suck away the power of the states. Separation of powers and checks and balances In order to keep the government from becoming oppressive. Amending the Constitution Slow and difficult.
Confederation and the Constitution Ratification There was quite a bit of debate over whether to do this. Federalists were for it and anti-Federalists against it. Bill of Rights came out of this.
Launching the New Nation Washington as the new president. Hamilton as secretary of the treasury, Jefferson as secretary of state. Hamilton and TJeff didn’t get along too well. Hamilton supported a strong national government. TJeff not so much. This conflict gave rise to the first U.S. political parties.
The Jeffersonian Era Washington opted not to run for reelection in 1796, stopping at two terms, and John Adams won. In 1800, he runs for reelection against TJeff and TJeff wins. Kinda. But kinda not. Officially anyway. Aaron Burr also kinda won. But then he didn’t. It’s complicated, ok. This elections gives rise to the 12th amendment and also builds some acrimony between Hamilton and Burr (cue ominous music).
The Jeffersonian Era Marburyv. Madison Pivotal Supreme Court case. Interestingly, the Constitution doesn’t really say the Supreme Court has the power of judicial review. Or at least it’s not real clear about it. Article 3 is the shortest and least elaborated of the three branches.
The Jeffersonian Era Marburyv. Madison Here’s the set up: On the night before leaving office, John Adams made a number of judicial appointments. Bear in mind that Adams and his successor, TJeff, were of different political parties. The Senate confirmed the appointments the next day and the notices were sent out to be delivered. But not all of them made it to the appointees before TJeff was sworn in. TJeff instructed his officials not to deliver the remaining documents.
The Jeffersonian Era Marburyv. Madison Here’s the set up: Without the documents, the appointees couldn’t take office. One of these guys was William Marbury. He took it to the Court. The details are somewhat complex, but the end result is that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall struck down a law as unconstitutional. The Supreme Court essentially asserted for itself the power of judicial review and has held it ever since.
The Jeffersonian Era War of 1812 The U.S. goes to war with Britain. Things turned out well the first time, I guess. The British had been impressing American sailors and arming Indians against American settlers. It got our dander up. We declare war even though we didn’t have much of an army. Or a navy. Smart. The British whooped us good and sacked D.C. and set fire to the capitol building and the White House. On the plus side, we invaded Canada.
The Jeffersonian Era War of 1812 The war is a stalemate by late 1814 and the two sides agree to the Treaty of Ghent in Belgium on December 24, 1814. Basically, it returned things to status quo ante bellum. Though we did get New Orleans when Andrew Jackson attacked it on January 8, 1815… 2 weeks after the treaty was signed. Thank goodness for slow communication.
Uh, General Jackson, I just got this text from my cousin in Belgium… Tell me later.
The Jeffersonian Era War of 1812 Aftermath: Indians get the raw end of the deal. American manufacturing increases. We and Canada gain confidence. We build a decent navy.
The Jeffersonian Era Monroe Doctrine Issued by President James Monroe in 1823. Told the European powers to keep their noses out of the Western Hemisphere. No new colonizing, no trying to retake old colonies, no fomenting rebellions.