Monday, February 28, 2011

Secession and the War Years

I.                    Southern Secession

A.     Secession in the Deep South – the Cotton Belt states with large numbers of large slaveholders—South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas—were the first states to secede from the Union.

1.      Reasons for secession in the Deep South

a.       Republican promises to end expansion of slavery – the founding principle of the Republican Party was ending the expansion of slavery to areas outside the current slaveholding states.  Without the ability to expand slavery, slaveholders would become a political minority, which would endanger the institution of slavery.  Ending the expansion of slavery would also undermine slavery because it would prevent hopes of upward mobility for small slaveholders.

b.      Slavery laws ignored by Republicans – since the Fugitive Slave Law, as well as the Dred Scott decision, were not enforced in areas in the North controlled by Republicans, southern planters feared that the assurances that Lincoln was giving over his lack of desire to interfere with the institution of slavery as it then stood were insincere, and that if they remained in the Union slavery would eventually be abolished as soon as the Republicans had the votes to do so.

c.       Southern fears of slave uprisings – the ghost of John Brown haunted the South after his death.  Southerners feared that having an anti-slavery figure at the head of the federal government would foment rebellion amongst their slaves—that northern abolitionists would be emboldened to infiltrate the South to encourage this behavior among their otherwise loyal slaves.

2.      Southern debate over secession – the elites in the South—and only the elites—debated the issue of secession; this debate was less contentious in the Deep South, were large planters dominated the state legislators; the debate was more contentious in the Upper South, where the large slave owners were less numerous—and the realization that their states were likely to see the majority of the military action—made secession less appealing.

a.       No popular vote over the issue – only in the state of Texas were voters allowed to vote on the issue of secession.

b.      Little confidence in the ability of the “common people” – As a legislator from South Carolina put it, “But who ever waited for the common people when a great movement was to be made?  We must make the move and force them to follow.” (Quote from page 599 in textbook)  Southern economic and political elites probably also feared that if the issue was put to a vote, there would not be any popular support.

c.       Appeals to Southern racism – southern elites also appealed to the baser fears of their fellow southerners, with threats of miscegenation that would follow if Republican efforts to free the slaves were successful.

B.     Northern Reaction to Southern Demands – there were three areas of reaction in the North to the demands the South made to remain in the Union; those who believed in peace at any price (led by northern industrialists who relied upon the money that southern cotton generated); abolitionists, who believed that union with slaveholders was an unholy alliance, and would rather see the union ended than continue with in conjunction with slaveholding; and people who occupied the middle ground on this issue (like Lincoln himself), who believed that compromise with the South could be reached.

1.      Bankers, Merchants, Industrialists—and Workers –Bankers (who had lent large sums of money to southern planters), Merchants (who traded the raw cotton grown in the South), Industrialists (who relied upon cotton to furnish their textile mills with raw material) all saw their economic interests imperiled by the threat of war.

a.       Workers – also saw their economic well being endangered, if the manufacturing interests of the country were interrupted.

2. Loyalty to the Union – many of these people were also influenced by their loyalty to the Union—the system of government which they believed to be the greatest system of government created.

C.     Lincoln’s Balancing Act – most of Lincoln’s actions during the early period of this crisis were governed by his desire to keep other southern states from following the example of the initial seven states.  Lincoln had to maintain this balancing act even after the secession of Virginia, Arkansas Tennessee, and North Carolina because he wanted to ensure that the slaveholding states that remained in the Union—Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri—did remain.  This was not only keep these states from seceding, but also to keep a lid on “butternuts” (or, as they became known during the war years, “copperheads,” in the Midwest border states—Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—from joining with the southerners that they sympathized with.

1.      Assurances about slaveholding – Lincoln tried to assure slaveholders in border states that the federal government would not interfere with their rights as slaveholders (This was the carrot)

2.      Quashing dissent – Lincoln was not above using force to quash dissent once hostilities warmed up and the fighting of the war began.

a.       Vallandigham – Clement Vallandigham, from the great state of Ohio, was a leader of the Copperhead faction of the Democratic Party (called Copperheads after the poisonous snake), the less than loyal faction in government.  Lincoln’s threats of arrest eventually forced Vallandigham to flee to Canada.

b.      Suspension of Habeas Corpus – Habeas Corpus means literally in Latin to produce the body; in law, the term means that a person cannot be held in jail indefinitely without being charged for a crime.  When Lincoln suspended this right, it was used with impunity against political enemies, who were seen as disloyal to the Union cause. (This measure, and other like it, were of course the stick).

II.                 The Shooting War

A.     Firing on Fort Sumter – Lincoln, in his inaugural speech, promised not to be the first to fire in anger, that that burden would fall upon the shoulders of the leaders of the South; however, he also promised to give up no federal property in the process.

1.      South Carolina demands that the fort surrender – southerners saw the existence of the fort in the midst of this new nation as an affront, and demanded its removal.

2.      Lincoln’s attempted compromise – after much delay, Lincoln announced that the fort would be re-supplied with food, but that no attempt would be made to fortify Sumter with additional men; if the South chose to prevent this from happening, the burden of starting a shooting war would lie with them, not the federal government.

B.     Southern War successes – for a variety of reasons, the South enjoyed nearly all the military success in the early years of the war.

1.      South fights a defensive war – the South during the war fought to defend its territorial integrity from Northern army, which meant that the Southern armies fought mainly on terrain they were familiar with; the weaknesses of the southern transportation system was neutralized, since the lack of transportation affected both sides; and the fact that Southerners were fighting to defend their homes from the Northern invaders helped initially submerge class differences over the “rich man’s war and the poor man’s fight.”

2.      Southern military leaders – the South not only had most of the officers trained at West Point (the United States Military Academy), they also had a cadre of officers trained at military academies in the South, like the Virginia Military Academy and the Citadel.  The South was much more militarily oriented, because of the need to direct slave patrols to capture their docile slaves who never ran away, and to provide an outlet for the sons of the planter elite who could not place their sons on their own plantations.

C.     Northern Lack of Success – was due largely to the fact that although Northern industrial capability far out-stripped that of the South, that industrial capability needed to be converted to producing war material.

1.      Need to fight offensive war on unfamiliar soil – the Northern armies were largely unfamiliar with the terrain in the South, and had to fight the war in the midst of hostile non-belligerents.

2.      Lack of competent Northern Military Leaders – northern military leaders tended to emerge from the state or local political elite, most of whom had little or no military experience.

3.      Conversion to War Economy – the time that it took northern industry to convert to producing war material coincided with the lack of success that the North experienced.

D.     The Slave Labor Action – as the great African American historian W.E.B. DuBois pointed out in Black Reconstruction, one of the great contributing factors to the eventual success of the North was the fact that slaves, when the opportunity presented itself, voted on the continuation of slavery with their feet.

1.      War contraband – a policy first developed by Gen. Benjamin Butler in northern Virginia, forced upon him by the large number of slaves who began showing up at Fort Monroe, which he commanded.  Butler declared the slaves forfeited by the belligerents, since they were being used to build fortifications, etc., to aid the southern war effort.  Not all northern commanders followed Butler’s example, however; a number of slaves were surrendered to their owners when the owner showed up to claim them at the Union Army camps.

III.               Conclusion – What They Fought For (before 1863, anyway)

A.     The South – to protect their homes, and to preserve their “way of life” (which certainly included slavery, although no one talked about it openly in any fashion, since many soldiers in the field for the South did not own slaves.

B.     The North – to preserve the Union, and to preserve their “way of life” (which included, at the very least, not allowing slavery to expand into territory the United States had recently gained—although, again, this was not openly presented as a war aim once the fighting started).

African Americans – free and slave, North and South, African Americans fought, both overtly (eventually) and covertly to abolish the system of chattel slavery which had been their burden in this country for nearly two hundred years to this point.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Weekly Assingment 7

In your opinion, was it inevitable that the United States would expand its control westward to the Pacific Ocean? Was Manifest Destiny a forgone conclusion? Based on your knowledge of the text, what rights and territories did the British, French, Russians, and Mexicans claim in the West, and why did the United States eventually get its way?

The Failure of the Compromise of 1850

I)                   Growth of Sectional Politics

A)    Pre-1850 – before 1850, the sectional division along slavery, North and South, meant little in national politics; slaveholders from both the Whig and Democratic parties agreed with non-slaveholders in the Whig and Democratic parties that it was an issue best left to the states to determine—especially with the Missouri Compromise of 1820 still in effect, when members of both parties agreed that there would be no slavery north of 36 30 (the southern border of Missouri).  This agreement went by the wayside with the acquisition of so much new land as a result of the War with Mexico.

1)      Land Question – with the victory of the US over Mexico, most of the (now) American Southwest came into possession of the United States. This huge acquistion of land (even larger than the Louisiana Purchase), coupled with the desire of slaveholders in the South to expand yet again into this new territory—coupled with a new determination on the part of most Northerners to prevent this from happening, would lead to increasing political conflict over this question.

2)      1850 Whig Party – the first party of Lincoln. Whigs believed generally that the federal government should use tax dollars to make internal improvements—things like canals and railroads. In order to become a national party, and to capture a larger popular base, Whigs also appealed to nativists and temperance advocates, who advocated restricting immigration, alcohol, and suffrage rights (of immigrants).

3)      1850 Democratic Party – opposed Whig plans for tax and spend programs, which they believed would merely line the pockets of the rich (or take money out of their pockets, if they were already rich planters). The Democratic Party was made up of an amalgamation of southern planters and urban immigrants (largely Germans and Irish), who united with the party largely because the Whigs tended to have a lot of “nativist” in their party.

4)      Free Soil Party – initially formed by disaffected New York Democrats. The Democratic Party in New York state was split into two factions, the Hunkers (who were ambivalent about or supported slavery—many NYC merchants, whose largest customers tended to be large slave owners in the South), and the “Barnburners,” who opposed slavery. This factionalism reached the national party in 1844, when southern Democrats were able to nominate James Polk. In that year, a third-party candidate, James Birney of the Liberty Party, who pulled enough anti-slavery votes in New York to throw the state to Polk, which ensured his victory over Henry Clay. In 1848, when Van Buren was again denied the Democratic nomination, many former members of the Liberty Party joined with anti-slavery members of the Whig and Democratic Party. Van Buren was the party’s candidate in 1848, and abolitionist John P. Hale in 1852. The party, or course, lost both elections, but from the ashes of the Free Soil Party sprang the Republican Party in 1854.

B)     Growing Hostility to “Slave Power” – many politicians, and ordinary people, in the north were growing weary of being dictated to by the “slavocracy” of the South.

1)      Wilmot Proviso – named for Pennsylvania representative David Wilmot, who wanted to limit the influence of slavery in the territory to be won from Mexico, which his “Proviso” promised to do. The Wilmot Proviso was an amendment to the 1846 appropriation for negotiating the treaty with Mexico. This amendment was defeated and removed in the Senate; it was the opening salvo in the growing legislative opposition to the expansion of slavery. In the debate over the inclusion of this proviso, Wilmot made clear that his sole concern was that the land be reserved for free whites, and that he cared little for the condition of slaves—as long as they were not present in the new “free soil.”

2)      “Free Soil” movement – the drive by white northerners to limit the acquisition of property in the opening West to people like themselves, and prevent competition from slaveholders from the South.

C)     Growing sensitivity to attacks on slavery – as attacks by Northerners on the institution of slavery intensified, Southern slaveholders grew more defensive about their “peculiar institution,” and more adamant that any attack on slavery was in fact an attack on “the Southern Way of Life.”

1)      Secession threats – led by John C. Calhoun (who had been threatening secession by South Carolina since the first Jackson administration), Southern politicians began to threaten secession of the institution of slavery was not given further protections.

D)    Compromise of 1850 – compromise put together by Henry Clay, which consisted of five part: statehood for California; the creation of the territories of Utah and New Mexico, in which the slavery question would be settled by “popular sovereignty” (voted on by the white male citizens, that is); the dispute of the border between New Mexico and Texas; the end of slave trading in Washington, D.C. (although the individual right to own slaves would continue to be upheld there); and a more stringent, and stringently enforced, fugitive slave law. John C. Calhoun led southern opposition to this, and it was defeated as an omnibus bill as Henry Clay had introduced it. A young senator from Illinois, Stephen A. Douglas, decided to break apart each of the five sections of the omnibus bill, and allow votes on each section, which eventually got the bill passed. The bills were then signed into law by Millard Fillmore; Fillmore was pro-compromise and had replaced his running mate, Zachary Taylor, who had been anti-compromise, when Taylor died in office.

1)      Passing of the Giants – Taylor was not the only politician to die while the Compromise of 1850 was debated; John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, and Henry Clay all died within a year of its passage, as well. Each had had a long, distinguished career in the Senate, yet each also probably had outlived their time in relation to the way that politics was developing in what promised to be a new era.

E)    Kansas-Nebraska Act – large numbers of northern legislatures wanted a transcontinental railroad, including Stephen A. Douglas. Douglas favored a northern route, through the territory of Kansas; to expedite this, he wanted to get statehood for the territory as soon as possible. To appease Southern opposition, and not to upset his Northern supporters he came up with—

1)      “Popular sovereignty” – Douglas believed (quite wrongly) that the dilemma over whether the Kansas Territory should be slave or free would be best solved by letting the people in the Territory decide for themselves. This “solution” resulted in a full-scale civil war between anti-slavery and pro-slavery forces in the Territory.

(a)    Popular sovereignty precedent – one of the major elements of the Compromise of 1850 called for popular sovereignty to determine the slave or free status of the New Mexico and Utah territories that had been formed, and which had apparently appeased Southerners while not causing conflict over actually introducing slavery into the territories. What Douglas apparently failed to realize, however, was that the proximity of the Kansas Territory to the slave-holding state of Missouri, and the determination of slave holder there to expand their property rights into the new territory, would come into violent conflict with forces just as determined to prevent the expansion of slavery into the territory.

2)      Massachusetts Immigrant Aid Society – from the abolitionist hotbed of Massachusetts, this society put up money to help anyone who proclaimed themselves an enemy of slavery and slaveholders to move to and buy land in the territory of Kansas. Slaveholders in western Missouri, threatened by this action, began to move into the territory, as well.
3)      Bloody Kansas – the two competing sides engaged in open warfare, engaging in what today we would regard as “terrorist” tactics: burning towns, slaughtering innocents, mutilation of corpses, etc.

(a)    Jayhawkers – term used to describe anti-slavery forces, who often raided and killed settlements of pro-slavery forces, both in Kansas and in western Missouri.

(b)   Bushwhackers – term used to describe pro-slavery forces, who often raided and killed at settlements of anti-slavery forces, almost exclusively in Kansas

(c)    Both forces were filled with people who felt that they were merely protecting their own interests, and were in fact protecting their rights. A smattering of people we would today probably considers psychopaths, or at least sociopaths, committed a host of atrocities, which included the slaughter of innocents, on both sides.

II)                 Conclusion – Both northern and southern societies saw the growing rift between them both, and saw each other as the growing evil antithesis of themselves.  Combined with their diverging economic interests, it made the likelihood of war greater with each passing year.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Weekly Assignment 6

Read Frederick Douglass' speech "What to the Slave in the Fourth of July" (found on pages 274-276 of your document reader, or by following the above link), and then answer the following question:

How did Douglass make effective use of the Declaration of Independence to confront white Americans with their shortcomings? What sort of imagery did Douglass use, and how effective do you think his speech was?

Black Southern Society

I)                   Behind the Big House – slaves maintained their own society on large plantations, especially on those plantations devoted to growing rice or sugar cane, where they did not have to work constantly under white supervision.

A)    Sundown to Sunup – slaves were expected to provided much of their own food, as well as their own care, on their own time—that is, from sundown to sunup. Slaves were also usually required for only a half-day of work on Saturday, as well—although this practice was not universal. Since Sundays were a day of rest, slaves were usually able to have this day off, after attending church services on the plantation, with a plantation owner-approved minister.

1)      Diet -- During this time, females often cooked food for dinner, tended the family garden, kept house, etc. Males devoted much of their time to hunting and/or fishing, to supplement the meager amount of meat or fish that the slave owner provided. Slave owners did provide slaves with flour and cornmeal, and a small amount of bacon, salt pork, or some other source of protein.

2)      Family life – although the sanctity of African American families was not respected by their white owners, family life in slave families was maintained, because families were important in African American culture (not to mention the fact that raising a family is made easier by having at least two partners joined in the endeavor). It has been argued that the strains placed on black families from this time period have had a detrimental effect upon black families today (Daniel Patrick Moynihan in the early 1960s); that position was disproved by the early 1970s (although the root cause of family problems for many families, poverty, has yet to be addressed adequately).
3)      Work life

(a)    Gang labor – most slaves on cotton plantations worked in “gangs”—that is, in large groups, in fields, supervised by an overseer, who was usually white. This has been the classic depiction of slavery as it existed in the South, and probably forms our clearest mental picture of how slavery worked.

(b)   Task labor – was most prevalent upon rice plantations, as well as sugar cane plantations (outside of harvest time—when they also had to work in gangs harvesting the sugar cane, as well as processing it).  Individual slaves were assigned certain jobs to complete during the day, and when those tasks were completed, they were free to pursue other endeavors.

(c)    House slaves – the easiest, as well as the hardest, jobs for slaves were often found within the Big House itself. Many house jobs were the least physically demanding, but working in the Big House meant that slaves were in constant contact with their white owners, and often felt their wrath for perceived wrongdoing, or stood accused of stealing something from within the house (which was sometimes the case), or having to stand by mutely while whites in the house talked disparagingly about the shortfall of slaves, in general.

B)     Time on the Cross—there is some disagreement among scholars as to how often corporal punishment was used on slaves (namely, whippings and beatings)—and those numbers can be pretty meaningless, anyway. What the evidence does point to is that these severe whippings were used to terrorize the other slaves. This use of terror, alongside the policing system that required whites to participate on slave patrols and the fact that in nearly all Southern states and territories whites outnumbered blacks (with the lone exception of South Carolina), helped to inhibit slave rebellions

1)      Nat Turner’s Rebellion—One of the most violent and bloody of the antebellum slave rebellions. Nat Turner and a number of followers entered Turner’s master’s home while the family was sleeping, and murdered the family with axes and hatchets—and then attacked a number of other whites in the area, creating terror in the neighborhood until whites got organized and began a systematic retaliation. The rebellion was put down within 48 hours or so, but Turner eluded capture for 3 weeks. After he was captured, he was tried, convicted, and executed in swift order.

2)      The Aftermath of Nat Turner’s Rebellion—although a number of African Americans were tortured and killed during and immediately after the rebellion, this incident did spark a series debate in the state as to whether slavery should continue there or not. As is obvious, Virginia did not abolish slavery in the aftermath of the Turner Rebellion, but the fact that this kind of idea was even discussed at all is significant.

II)                 Slave life outside the plantation

A)    Urban slaves – slaves in southern cities often had uncommon freedom. The often had the ability to hire themselves out to whomever they wished to work for, at a wage they were also free to negotiate—this was the case with Frederick Douglass when he worked as a ship caulker in Baltimore. Slaves in these instances often were permitted to retain a portion of the wage they earned, rather than turning their entire salary over to their master. This was not always the case, however—often slaves had to work for whomever their master directed, at a wage the master negotiated, and never saw any portion of their earnings.

B)     Slavery under small slave holders – recall, only 50% of slaves in the South worked on large plantations, and a relatively small number of slaves worked in an urban environment—which means that close to half the slaves employed in the South worked on small farms, often side-by-side with their masters. In many ways, this was the worst of all worlds for slaves, because they were under the constant supervision of their master (often eating and sleeping under the same roof—imagine being with your boss 24-7), performing back-breaking labor, and also working beside your master, so that he does not have the remove of living a life of leisure, but often as not has to be down in the muck the same as the slave—a constant reminder of the common humanity between himself and his slaves.

III)              Free Blacks in the South

A)    Free Blacks—not all African Americans in the antebellum South were slaves; those African Americans who had been manumitted at an earlier time made up a small, but significant, population in the South

1)      Property owners—usually, as a condition for the manumission of slaves, slave holders granted land to the slaves they freed, which then became the property of the freedmen, of course. These freed former slaves could then also acquire more property—even sometimes acquiring slaves themselves

2)      Urban workforce—most freed slaves in the South could be found in the urban areas of the South—Charleston, Savannah, and New Orleans. In these urban areas, free blacks competed with whites and slaves for jobs.

IV)              Life on the white frontier – the opportunities for whites that the settlement in the Old Southwest created, in turn created new hazards for the African American slaves that southern whites brought with them.

A)    Life in the swamps of the Old Southwest – as whites and their African Americans slaves moved into the Old Southwest, particularly the Delta regions of Mississippi and the bayous of Louisiana and eastern Texas, in many ways it was like starting over again in the coastal area of Virginia and the Carolinas—disease was rampant, slaves were worked to death clearing and draining swamps. This meant that slaves were in great demand in the Old Southwest.

B)     The market for slaves – the expansion of demand for slaves in the Old Southwest came at a time when the demand for slaves in the Old South was diminishing—which meant that slave traders began to fill those needs by transporting slaves from where they were no longer in great demand to the areas in which they were in demand.

1)      Separation of slave families – the sale of slaves to slave traders often meant the break-up of slave families, since traders often had no personal history with the slaves they bought—they were only looking to maximize their investments. Although some slave owners could be swayed by appeals from long time slaves to not separate mothers from their children, often they ignored these pleas to unload their no longer needed slaves. (How does this fact jibe with George Fitzhugh’s portrayal of the “benevolence” of Southern slavery?)

(a)    Often slave master’s would agree to sell slaves to neighbor’s, if the slaves themselves could find a local buyer.

(b)   Slave families often kept in touch either through the slave grapevine, or by letter (either persuading a master or mistress to write the letter for them, or by composing a letter themselves—despite the perception that all slaves were illiterate, and all of the efforts to keep them that way, some had learned at some point to read and write).

2)      The slave pens – as the demand for slaves in the old Southwest grew, places to conveniently purchase slaves grew in importance. The biggest city to buy slaves was at New Orleans, which had numerous slaves “pens” where purchasers gathered to look over potential purchases, like one would for cattle or other livestock.

Here slaves were attempted to be shown in their best light, often by having their skin rubbed with oil, and put in nice clothing—an attempt that the slave could undermine by their behavior, if they so chose.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Abolitionism and Other Reform Movements

Theme: the religious revivalism of the Second Great Awakening led to the desire to achieve earthly perfection, and a host of reform movements to achieve that perfection.  Ultimately, this led many people into the Abolitionist movement, and led eventually to the abolition of slavery.

I.                   Second Great Awakening (1790-1840) – the spirit of revivalism that the Second Great Awakening spawned led to a variety of reform movements, which ultimately led to Abolitionism.

A.    Charles Grandison Finney --  perhaps the leading figure of the Second Great Awakening.  Finney was originally a lawyer, who preached that conversion and salvation were not the ultimate aim of the religious experience, but the beginning.  Finney believed that humans were not passive objects of God’s predestined plan, but moral free agents who could choose good over evil and thereby eradicate sin, a doctrine which Finney called the “utility of benevolence.”  Finney ultimately becomes the first president of Oberlin College, which itself became a hotbed of abolitionism.

1.      Rochester, NY – Finney began his career in Rochester, a city which had been transformed from a sleepy little village of 300 in 1815 to a bustling city of 20,000 in 1830 by the construction of the Erie Canal.  The changes this growth brought to the town disrupted life as it had been for many of the people drawn to the town by the economic opportunities the canal presented; this disruption in turn fed the need to find some grounding in sprititual life, not only in Rochester but in much of the rest of the country, as well.

B.     Utopian communities

1.      New Harmony – begun by Robert Owen, a Scottish industrialist and proto-socialist who was made uncomfortable by the factory system which made him his wealth.  The community he founded in southern Indiana lacked the harmony which he sought to create, and failed after three years

2.      Oneida Community – founded by John Humphrey Noyes after he heard a Charles Finney preach; Noyes came to believe that final conversion led to perfection and complete release from sin.  He gathered a small number of followers around him at Oneida, New York.

a.       Sexual practices – were restricted, among the males, to those who met certain spiritually advanced stages (principally Noyes himself); all other males were to abstain from sex.  The restriction of sexual practice became one of the defining characteristics of religious reform, from practices ranging from total abstinence from sex for both males and females in sects like the Shakers, to polygamy as practiced by the Mormans.

b.      “Free Love” doctrine – at heart, this doctrine was about equality between the sexes, that a man and a woman both had an equal say in whether they would become partners.  This licentious behavior was shocking to many contemporaries during a time when male/female relationships were tightly constricted (the town of Norwalk, near Sandusky, began life as a free love commune)

3.      Shakers

4.      “Millerites” – millenarians who believed the end of the world was imminent; although founder William Miller died discredited, the Seventh Day Adventists can be traced to this movement

5.      Mormons – founded by Joseph Smith, who claimed to be given the Book of Mormon by the angel Moroni, and who made a brief stop in the town of Kirkland, Ohio, before taking his followers further west.  Smith created controversy wherever he stopped, and his creation of the town of Nauvoo in the mid-1840s eventually led to his being tried for treason and lynched outside of Carthage, Illinois.  Brigham Young was able to keep most of Smith’s followers together under his leadership, and eventually bring them to the isolated Utah Territory.

II.                Reforming Society

A.    Temperance – ideology ranged from those who advocated moderation in a society, to those who wanted alcohol strictly prohibited.  The latter tended to be persons of higher economic status, who wished to enjoin those of lower economic status from the boisterous behavior that heavy drinking promoted—as well as the missed work that was a consequence of over-indulging, as well.
1.      Washingtonians – a working-class group that was fairly popular, who asked their followers to practice total abstinence; members tended to be more sympathetic toward other members who relapsed, which may have been both a consequence of their sympathy toward fellow workers (wanting to use temperance more as a tool of self-control and self-improvement, rather than as a tool of social control) and the reason for the popularity of the society among workers.

B.     Health and Sexuality – this era witnesses the first explosion of crackpot health regimes and diets, including phrenology, hypnotism, and hydropathy (bathing and water purges—enemas)

1.      Graham crackers – Sylvester Graham invented his cracker to help people curb sexual urges; they were to eat these crackers rather than engage in sexual intercourse or masturbate.  Note in these reform movements both the urge to perfect society, and to impose controls upon those persons in society—controls imposed by the middle class on their own members, as well as those imposed upon the working class.

III.             Abolitionism and Women’s Rights – political equality for both African Americans and women grew during this time period along parallel paths, and involved many of the same people.

A.    Abolitionism
1.      Lane Theological Seminary – Arthur and Lewis Tappan, two wealthy New York industrialists, financed a school in Cincinnati to train abolitionist leaders.  Nervous Cincinnatians convinced the school’s president, Lyman Beecher (whose daughter Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin) to reign in some of the most active abolitionist workers, the “Lane rebels” moved north and established Oberlin College, which became the first institution to grant degrees to both African Americans and to women, as well as white men.
2.      Tensions in the Anti-Slavery Movement – mainly over tactics: whether to work for reform of society, or to use the political process to force change.
a.       Publications – a variety of newspapers and books began to appear advocating abolition; among the most famous were William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator and Frederick Douglass’ North Star; a man named Elijah Lovejoy also attempted to publish an abolitionist paper, first in St. Louis and later in Alton, Illinois.  He lost his life attempting to protect his press from a mob which did not appreciate the rights of a free press.
b.      Shortsightedness of white abolitionists – many white abolitionists refused to consider the condition of free blacks in the North; the fact that most free black in the section found discrimination oppressive.

B.     Women’s Rights – many people involved with the abolitionist movement—particularly females—also became involved with the women’s rights movement.

1.      Woman’s sphere – the home, of course; however, females could become involved in causes that promoted morality, since this was not seen as outside their realm of influence.  This opening led to their greater involvement in public life, grudgingly.

a.       Married women’s rights – to control their own property, to custody of children in cases of marriage dissolution.

b.      Attempted denial of rights – women were continually harassed when speaking out in public about matters concerning the abolition of slavery, as well as matter concerning women’s rights.

c.       Tensions with male abolitionists – many male abolitionists were divided about their feelings about promoting equality for women.  After Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton had to sit behind a curtain and not speak out at the World Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840, they resolved to form a society to advocate for rights for women; in 1848 such a society was formed by women meeting in Seneca Falls, New York.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Weekly Assignment Number 5

Read the article on child labor from the Niles Weekly Register (available in volume 1 of your reader on page 220, or at the link above, then to page 86 in the Google reader). In a 2-3 page paper, double-spaced with conventional 1 inch margins and 12 point font, answer the following question:

In 1791, the United States seemed unprepared for Alexander Hamilton's proposals, but his program may have appeared modest to some members of the next generation of Americans. What benefits did this writer anticipate would accompany the implementation of his recommendations? Was there any hint of a negative impact? Why was that so?

This assignment is due on February 17, 2011.

The Rise of Popular Politics

I. The Creation of Popular Politics

 A. The Party System

 1. Politics as spectacle—Jackson was seen by many as the personification of the “frontiersman,” and his political handlers played up that image to create the illusion that Jackson was just like the “common man.”

 2. Party politics emerged

 a. The spoils system—was a way to “reward” party loyalists, and to ensure their continued loyalty to the party.

 3. National conventions choose candidates—another innovation during the Age of Jackson, further solidified the strength of political parties. Before this innovation, candidates simply “emerged” (usually as the Secretary of State from the previous administration). With the creation of a national convention, it became important to have a campaign manager (and a team of men to assist him) to further the campaign (to run such a campaign oneself would be unseemly, since it would mark one as too ambitious).

 B. Democrats and Whigs

 1. Democrats and Whigs approached issues that emerged from the market revolution differently

 a. Democrats favored no government intervention in the economy. Democrats were the party of low taxes and laissez faire economics

 b. Whigs supported government intervention in the economy, particularly improvements in transportations which were popular with farmers and “boosters” in growing urban areas in the West.

 2. Public and Private Freedom

 a. The party battles of the Jacksonian era reflected the clash between public and private definitions of American freedom and their relationship to government power.

 b. Democrats supported a weak federal government while championing individual and states’ rights; this included:

i. Reduced government expenditures
ii. Reduced tariffs on imported goods
iii. Abolishing the national bank

 c. Politics and morality

 i. Democrats opposed attempts to impose a unified moral vision on society (temperance, Sunday “blue laws”).

 ii. Whigs, on the other hand, believed that a strong federal government was necessary to promote liberty.

 iii. Whigs also argued that the role of government was to promote the welfare of the people, which could include attempting to restrict their access to alcohol and making sure that they kept the Sabbath.

C. South Carolina and the Nullification Crisis

 1. Jackson’s first term was dominated by a battle to uphold the supremacy of federal over state law.

 a. Tarriff of 1828

 2. South Carolina led the charge of (the mostly Southern states) for a weakened federal government.

 3. John C. Calhoun’s political theory—states had in fact created the Constitution, and therefore had the right to declare those laws the federal government passed null and void within the political confines of the state. This eventually evolved into the argument that, because the states had created the Constitution, each state retained the right to withdraw from the union should it deem that move expedient.

a. Hartford Convention precedent—New England states had discussed secession during the War of 1812; the fallout from this movement ended any hope of a comeback by the Federalist Party.

 4. The Nullification Crisis

 a. Daniel Webster from Massachusetts argued in opposition to Calhoun that in fact the people created the Constitution, and therefore individual states could not end the compact.

b. Jackson and Calhoun, although president and vice-president, disagreed about the meaning of liberty, union, and nullification. Calhoun eventually resigned as vice-president, and in fact briefly left the Democratic Party for the Whigs. 

II. The Bank War and After

 A. Nicholas Biddle’s Bank

 1. The Bank of the United States symbolized the hopes and fears inspired by the market revolution.

 2. Biddle headed the bank in Philadelphia; the bank was where the US government deposited the money it collected from taxes, and therefore was the most powerful bank in the country.

a. Jackson distrusted the bank—mostly on general principle, since like most westerners, Jackson was an advocate of specie (“hard currency,” or gold and silver coins that carried their own intrinsic value), and therefore distrusted bank notes and the banks that issued them. Biddle in turn saw Jackson as a threat to the well-being of his bank, and worked assiduously to see that he did not become president; when these efforts eventually failed, the conflict was heightened.

 3. Jackson vetoed a bill to renew the charter of the Second Bank of the United States’-- In 1833, Jackson ordered his Secretary of Treasury Louis McLane to remove government funds from the Second Bank; when he refused Jackson asked for, and received, his resignation. McLane’s successor, William John Duane, likewise resisted Jackson’s order, and suffered the same fate. Finally, Jackson prevailed upon his Attorney General, Roger Taney, to assume the responsibility. Taney did so (and was rewarded by Jackson’s “spoils system” with the appointment to Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, where he eventually issued the Dred Scott decision)

B. “Pet Banks” and the Economy

 1. Both soft money and hard money advocates supported Jackson’s veto.

 2. When Jackson authorized the removal of federal funds from the vault of the Second Bank, the funds were deposited in a variety of local banks.

a. “Pet banks”—the derisive name given to the favored banks that received these funds, largely because of the relationship with Jackson or the Democratic Party, rather than for their fiscal soundness

3. Partially because of this action, prices for goods began to rise dramatically while real wages declined.

C. The Panic of 1837

1. By 1836 gold or silver (“specie”) was required by the US government and by the Bank of England for payments; this drove up the value of this specie, which made it more valuable and therefore more scarce (and vice versa).

2. Cotton exports, the most valuable commodity produced in the United States during this period, declined at this time as well, resulting in the Panic of 1837; the economic depression that followed lasted until 1843.

D. Van Buren in Office

 1. Martin Van Buren and the Creation of Modern Politics -- Van Buren and his cohorts in Albany, New York were responsible for the creation of modern politics; they first instituted the modern political party, and were the first to use the spoils system to reward political friends in the state
 2. Van Buren approved the Independent Treasury to deal with the economic crisis (a system of banks independent of private banks).

 3. The Independent Treasury split the Democratic Party; Calhoun, seeing opportunity with Jackson gone and Van Buren floundering, came back to the Democratic Party.

E. The Election of 1840

 1. The Whigs nominated William Henry Harrison, and promoted him as the “log cabin” candidate.

 2. Selling candidates in campaigns quickly became as important as the party platforms on which they stood—in many ways, they image sold was even more important.

F. “His Accidency”

 1. Harrison died a month after taking office (not from his long-winded inauguration speech—although this undoubtedly contributed to the illness that eventually felled him—but once you fell ill enough that a doctor was called, you were as good as dead; if the disease didn’t kill you, then the cure would.

 2. John Tyler succeeded Harrison, but vetoed the measures that were going to make the “American System” that were the major plank in the Whig party platform because he felt they were not constitutional.

III. Conclusion