The new nation went bounding into the 19th century in a burst of movement. Better roads, fastersteamboats, farther-reaching canals, and railroads all helped move people, raw materials, andmanufactured goods from coast to coast and Gulf to Great Lakes by the mid-19th century.
THE WESTWARD MOVEMENTThe West, with its raw frontier, was the most typically American part of America. Demographically,America was young and on the move. Distinguish between the perceptions and realities of pioneer life.What did the men sometimes do for entertainment? Were the pioneers well-informed?
SHAPING the WESTERN LANDSCAPEThe westward movement also molded the physical environment by exhausting the land in the tobaccoregions and then pushing on, leaving behind barren and rain-gutted fields. By the 1820’s American fur-trappers were setting trap lines all over the vast Rocky Mt. Region. By the time beaver hats had goneout of fashion, the hapless beaver had all but disappeared. Buffalo and sea-otters suffered the sameplight.
THE MARCH of the MILLIONSAs the American people moved west, the center of population continued to change and it alsomultiplied at an amazing rate. By the mid-19th century the population was still doubling approx. every25 years and the high birth rate accounted for most of the population increase. Urban growthcontinued explosively and brought some undesirable by-products. Explain the growth of urban centers in the U.S. Identify some of the problems associated with the over-rapid growth.
The influx of immigrants tripled in the 1840’s and quadrupled in the 1850’s. These first two wavesprimarily consisted of Irish and Germans. What were the primary reasons for these immigrants riskinga journey to America?
THE EMERALD ISLE MOVES WESTIreland, already groaning under the heavy hand of British overlords, was prostrated in the mid-1840’s. Describe the disaster that forced tens of thousands to flee Ireland.
Where did the Irish immigrants primarily settle when theyarrived? Why?How were the Irish treated once they settled into theirhomes?To improve their plight, what was their successfulstrategy?
THE GERMAN FORTY-EIGHTERSThe influx of refugees from Germany between 1830 and 1860 was hardly less spectacular than thatfrom Ireland. How many arrived during the three decade period? Why did most of thememigrate? And how were they received, compared to the Irish? What were they known for?
FLARE-UPS of ANTIFOREIGNISMThe invasion by this so-called immigrant “rabble” in the 1840’s and 1850’s inflamed the prejudices ofAmerican “nativists.”Describe the fears that sparked this nativist prejudice. To address this “immigrant threat,” nativists moved on the political front by forming the “Know- Nothing” Party, which advocated rigid restrictions on immigration and naturalization.Despite the strong anti-foreign sentiments,describe the important immigrant Where political tools were not used, violence andcontributions to America. intimidation were often used.
THE MARCH of MECHANIZATIONA group of British inventors, beginning about 1750, perfected a series of machines for the massproduction of textiles. This ushered-in the modern factory system, better known as the IndustrialRevolution. Agriculture, transportation, and communication would be greatly transformed by thisphenomenon. The factory system gradually spread from Europe to the U.S.Why was the youthful American Republic, destined to be an industrial giant, so slow to embrace themachines of the Industrial Revolution?
WHITNEY ENDS the FIBER FAMINE Samuel Slater has been acclaimed the “Father of the Factory System” in America. Explain how Slater earned his nickname. With Slater providing the efficient machinery for spinning cotton thread, the dilemma was the supply of cotton fiber. Handpicking one pound of lint from three pounds of seed was a full day’s work for a slave or a woman, and this made cotton very expensive.
Massachusetts-born Eli Whitney developed a crude machine called a cotton gin that was 50 times moreeffective than the handpicking process. What inspired him to invent this machine? Few machines have ever wrought so wondrous a change. Identify & describe the impact of this machine on America.
MARVELS in MANUFACTURINGAmerica’s factories spread slowly until about 1807, when the sequence of embargo, non-intercourse,and the War of 1812 necessitated manufacturing. The post-1812 flood of foreign goods was slowed bya series of American tariffs.As the factory system flourished, it embraced other industries in addition to textiles, including the massproduction of firearms created by Eli Whitney and using interchangeable parts.The principle of interchangeable parts became the basis of modern mass-production, assembly-linemethods. How did Whitney ironically aid both the South and the North?
The sewing machine, invented by Elias Howe and perfected by Isaac Singer gave another strong boostto northern industrialization.Each momentous new invention seemed to stimulate still more imaginative inventions, as evidenced bythe increased number of patents. Technical advances spurred equally important changes in the form andlegal status of business organizations. The principle of limited liability and laws of“freeincorporation” stimulated manufacturing – explain these.
WORKERS and “WAGE SLAVES”One ugly outgrowth of the factory system was an increasingly acute labor problem. Hithertomanufacturing had been done in the home, or in the small shop, where the master craftsman and hisapprentice could maintain an intimate and friendly relationship.The Industrial Revolution submerged this personal association in the impersonal ownership of stuffyfactories in “spindle cities.” Slum-like hovels of the “wage slaves” clustered around these cities.
Describe the plight of the factory worker. Children were especially vulnerable to exploitation – howyoung were these children? And, what was the impact of factory work on them?Adult wage workers did improve their lot markedly in the 1820’s and 1830’s. What rationale didemployers use to fight the 10 hour work day? When did federal employees win the 10 hour work day?Day laborers learned that their strongest weapon was the strike. How did employers counter thistactic?How was the court case,Commonwealth v. Hunta victory for labor? Did it legalize strikes?
WOMEN and the ECONOMYFarm women and girls had an important place in the pre-industrial economy, making many commoditiesby hand. New factories undermined these activities, cranking out manufactured goods much faster thancould be made by hand at home. Yet these same factories offered employment to the very young womenwhose work they were displacing. Factory jobs promised greater economic independence for women, as well as the means to buy the manufactured products of the new market economy.
“Factory girls” typically toiled six days a week, earning a pittance for dreary, limb-numbing, ear-splitting stints of 12 or 13 hours – “from dark to dark.”The girl workers were carefully supervised on and off the job by watchful matrons. Escorted regularlyto church from their company boardinghouses and forbidden to form unions, they had few opportunitiesto share dissatisfaction over their grueling working conditions.
The following accounts support the monotony of factory work. Did the textile factory jobs “liberate” American women? How did women’s changing roles affect the American family?
WESTERN FARMERS REAP a REVOLUTION in the FIELDSIdentify and explain the innovations that transformed American agriculture. American agriculture moved from subsistence to commercial during the first half of the 19th century.Farm commerce moved north & south on theriver systems. Before it could move east-westin bulk, a transportation system would have toemerge.
HIGHWAYS and STEAMBOATSCheap and efficient carriers were imperative if raw materials were to be transported to factories andfinished products were to be delivered to consumers. Likewise for agricultural products. Theconstruction of highways and the steamboat craze were triumphs in transportation.
“CLINTON’S BIG DITCH” in NEW YORKNew York, cut-off from federal aid by states’ righters, themselves dug the Erie Canal from 1817 until1825.
Identify and explain the economic ripples and profound economic and political changes followingthe canal’s completion.
THE IRON HORSE The most significant contribution to the development of a continental economy proved to be the railroad. It was fast, reliable, cheaper than canals to construct, and not frozen over in winter. Able to go almost anywhere, it defied terrain and weather. At first the railroad faced strong opposition and obstacles – why? What innovations were introduced to overcome these obstacles?
The first railroad appeared in the U.S. in 1828. By 1860, the U.S. boasted 30,000 miles of rail, ¾ of itin the rapidly industrializing North. Rail expansion would coincide with the mass production of steel.
CABLES AND CLIPPERSIn 1858 Cyrus Field stretched a cable under the deep North Atlantic waters from Newfoundland toIreland – it lasted 3 weeks. A heavier cable in 1866 permanently linked the American and Europeancontinents. In the 1840’s and 1850’s, a golden age dawned when the clipper ship was launched.Whatwere the trade-offs? Unfortunately, the hour of glory was brief, for the steamer replaced theseships.
THE MARKET REVOLUTIONNo less revolutionary than the political upheavals of the antebellum era was the “market revolution”that transformed a subsistence economy of scattered farms and tiny workshops into a national networkof industry and commerce. American life was changed forever.Did Americans prosper evenly?Distinguish between the perception and reality of social mobility.