Thursday, September 29, 2011

Weekly Assignment 6

Read the WPA Slave Narrative of Sarah Gudger (the link takes you to the first page of the narrative; be sure to follow the link on the page and read the entire manuscript), and then answer the following questions in a 2-3 page paper, in a conventional 12-point font:

Sarah Gudger claimed to be 121 years old at the time she was interviewed. What evidence is offered by the interviewer to bolster that claim? Is it believable? Why, or why not? Do you think Sarah Gudger would agree with professor Thaddeus Russell (author of a Renegade History of the United States) that she enjoyed greater freedom in slavery than after?

The Wages of Whiteness

I.                   Race and Language  -- the usage of language is constructed in the antebellum period which promotes the idea of workers, and worthwhile work, being done only by  white workers.

A.    “Neither a servant nor a master”

1.     Master/Boss – during the pre-industrial time period—indeed, into the early years of industrialization—the term master meant a skilled craftsman who owned his own place of business, and who hired journeymen and trained apprentices in that place of business; in addition, of course, masters in the South owned slaves.  As the idea of drawing a greater distance between African slaves and white wage workers gains greater influence, whites begin to insist upon using the Dutch term for master—“boss.”

2.     Servant/Help—Hands – in the antebellum time period, white servants in households begin to insist on being called “help,” rather than servant, again to differentiate themselves from servile African slaves.  The word servant soon only applies to slave servants; all other servants are called “hired men, women, or girls” (for servants who were unmarried and/or younger women).

a.      Blackness and servility – become intertwined in the white mind; even though whites continue to be employed in servile positions—most employed Irish women at this time are employed as maids in homes, after all—whites are able to disassociate the job of servant from being servile by insisting that those kinds of positions are only held by African Americans.

B.     Wage Slavery and Free White Labor – while dissociating the work of whites from labor performed by African Americans, whites also used the degraded position of African American slaves to compare their own condition (usually unfavorably) to.

1.     White slaves – white workers, in comparing their condition to that of African American slaves, always compared their condition as being worse than slaves in the South.  In many ways, this was an attempt to make appeals across class boundaries for white solidarity, since the condition of slavery was one that no white should have to fall into.  The closeness of this comparison was too much for white men, and the preferred term became wage slaves.  The term white slaves and white slavery continues on in our language as the term for young women who are forced into prostitution—stripped of the masculinity that the term originally had.

a.      White slavery as proslavery – the dichotomy that the term white slavery hints at—the impact of the term white slavery lay in the recognition that whites should not be slaves—can only exist as long as the “normal” condition of African Americans is that of chattel slavery; only then can the alleged slavery of whites be seen as oppressive.

b.     Mike Walsh – Irish immigrant who became U.S. representative from NYC, and in many ways the leading proponent of the fight against “white slavery,” but supporter of the continuation of chattel slavery for African Americans.

c.      George Henry Evans – leading figure among pro-labor abolitionists, who had a long career in the labor movement; in the early 1830s Evans is among the most militant of abolitionists; by the 1840s, however, Evans advocates eradicating “white slavery” as a precondition of ridding the country of all slavery.

2.     Wage slaves – became the preferred term to describe the plight of whites who worked for wages.  While the comparison to the plight of African American slaves remains—and the comparison between the two ways of life still favors the material condition of chattel slaves over wage slaves—by removing the racial designation “white” this term makes the condition “wage slave” the norm only for the white working-class, because wage slavery is understood to include only free whites, even though free African Americans worked for wages in the North as well.

3.     Free white labor – the preferred state of white labor, obviously.  To define itself, however, free white labor needed an antithesis, which was unfree black labor.

a.      Herrenvolk republic – a republic for the master class.  Herrenvolk is a German word meaning master people, and came into prominence, of course, during the rule by the Nazi party in that country.  Herrenvolk democracy was a term used by South African sociologist Pierre van der Berghe to describe the government of that country until recent times.  Roediger borrows and amends the term to describe the government in the US during the antebellum period (the era preceding the Civil War)

II.                Work, Culture, and Whiteness in Industrializing America

A.    Minstrel Show – by “blacking up” workers could critique society, as well as mourn the loss of cultural norms that industrializing society forced them to give up.

1.     White appropriation of African American culture – minstrelry allowed white performers to appropriate and satirized aspects of African American culture.  It also allowed whites the opportunity to mourn the loss of their own traditional cultures.

a.      Stock characters and “vernacular” language – minstrel shows perpetuated racial stereotypes that whites held of African Americans – laziness, licentiousness, easily frightened, child-like.

b.     Performance as a critique of society – in their portrayal of African Americans, however, minstrel performers were also able to give voice to critiques of ruling class whites, as blacked-up performers “put on airs” of supposed respectability.

III. The Irish as a Case in Point

A.     Group Solidarity – in part because the widespread prejudice that the Irish faced, and in part through their affiliation with institutions affiliated with the Catholic Church, the Irish created amongst themselves a strong national identity.

1.      Historic antecedents – various Irish institutions and cultural practices helped create the environment that shaped this group identity.

a.       Whiteboys and Ribbonmen – groups of Irish peasants had grouped together to form secret societies in Ireland to resist the collection of rents and other practices thought to violate cultural norms.  These groups formed at the village level, or at times at the county level.

b.      Canal riots – groups of Irish workers fought against other groups of Irish workers (those from other villages, or from other counties) who they were afraid would compete for sometimes scarce jobs digging the canals.  This action expanded to fighting other ethnic groups (like the Germans) who also worked on these canal projects.

c.       Movement of these practices to urban centers – when the Irish moved into cities in large numbers, they brought this practice of group solidarity with them; by the use of this group solidarity, Irish workers were able to obtain positions for relatives, friends, and neighbors.

2.      Replacement of African Americans by Irish workers – because the Irish were seen during this time period as non-white, they competed for jobs with other non-whites—namely, African Americans.

a.       Irish and African Americans – only able to obtain positions that other workers—the “whites”—did not want to compete for (usually the dirtiest or hardest jobs).

b.      “White Men’s Work” – after eliminating competition from a particular kind of work, Irish workers in a particular occupation declared that the occupation was “white men’s work.”  This helped them to often limit the options for African Americans to compete for a particular position, because the Irish would appeal to a wider “white” solidarity.

B.     Irish as Citizens – Irish able to make this appeal to wider white solidarity because of their participation in politics.

1.      The Irish democracy – although the Irish were scorned by nativist groups, and by evangelical Protestant groups, they were courted by the Democratic Party.  The Democratic Party, the party of slaveholders, rejected much government interference in daily life, and so was more often anti-prohibition, and often pro-immigrant.  The concentration of Irish immigrants in Northern cities often meant that the Irish were a counterbalance for the strength of the Whig party, which was the northern section of the country.

a.       Irish support of political machines – the support supplied Irish immigrants by Democratic Party political machines, was often returned by Irish voters on Election Day.

2.      Irish identification as Americans – Although Irish proclaimed continued allegiance to Ireland, almost all immigrants chose to remain in their adopted country—and, indeed, proclaimed themselves to be Americans.

Adoption of a pre-existing condition – Irish did not invent racism, or white identity; they merely learned to manipulate that pre-existing condition in their favor.  The ethnic immigrant groups quickly learned to follow the Irish example.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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 -- In addition to their work in the fields, 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.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

King Cotton and the Sectional Divide

I.                   Status of Slavery in 1787

A.     Falling prices – prices for some of the agricultural goods produced by slaves in the United States—tobacco and indigo—were falling, making it increasingly unprofitable for these products to be grown on plantations, particularly in the Upper South (namely, Virginia and Maryland, two of the leading slave states at the time)

1.     Tobacco – the intense cultivation of tobacco in Virginia and Maryland had largely played out the soil, which decreased the yield per acre in those areas, making cultivation less profitable.

2.     Indigo

B.      Growing Abolition sentiment – during this time, sentiment was growing, particularly in the Northern states, to abolish slavery.  Pennsylvania voted for gradual manumission in 1780; the Court in Massachusetts decreed slavery illegal in the state; other states in the North that had not outright abolished slavery had considered it (New York and New Jersey), and would abolish slavery in the near future.

1.     Great Awakening (ca. 1740) – period of increased religious fervor in the United States, when many areas were visited by intinerant preachers (John Wesley and Methodism in Great Britain; Wesley’s most famous disciple, George Whitfield, traveled to the US and held numerous revival meetings in the country, including the South)

2.     Republican rhetoric – the rhetoric of the new republic, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights (rights that cannot be transferred to another), made many in the North, where slavery was less important as an economic institution, anyway, begin to question the morality of holding another human being in bondage, as property.

C.     Southern insistence upon protections for slavery – these conditions led to the lack of resistance on the part of northern politicians to the insistence of other politicians from South Carolina and Georgia—where slavery was still profitable because of the cultivation of long staple cotton, much in demand because of the textile manufacturing boom then taking place in England—that slavery be controlled by the states, rather than the Federal government.  The vehement opposition of politicians from South Carolina and Georgia led the politicians from other states, who were looking to change the government instituted by the Articles of Confederation into a more centrally-controlled federal style government with the Constitution, to aquiese on this point, and agree that the control of slavery remain in the hands of each state.

1.     3/5ths Clause – Article Two of the Constitution states in paragraph three: “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may include within the Union, according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.” (From page A-4 of Who Built America?).

2. Section Nine – Paragraph One states – “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight (1808), but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” (WBA, A-7)

II.                Invention of the Cotton Gin

A.     Long-staple cotton – the preferred form of raw cotton by cloth manufacturers (to this day); long-staple cotton was easier to twist into thread, and the thread made was much stronger.  Long-staple cotton could only be grown in certain areas of the country, however, mainly along the coast and the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia.

B.      Short staple cotton – Short staple cotton could be grown throughout the South; long staple cotton could only be grown in the coastal and sea islands off the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia.  Short-staple cotton made inferior grade of cloth, which could only be used in cheap clothing. Short staple cotton also had many more cotton seeds than long staple, however, and the seeds had to be removed by hand by slaves; the intense labor this needed prevented it from being a profitable crop for southern planters before 1793.

1.     Cultivatable throughout the South

2.     Ready market for cotton in England – manufacture of textiles was the driving force of the early Industrial Revolution; manufacturers in England had already automated the manufacture of cotton cloth.

3.     Difficulty in short staple cotton boll – the boll of the short staple cotton plant has a large number of small seeds, which required the labor a slaves during this time to remove.  This additional labor prevented short staple cotton from becoming a profitable crop.

C.     Eli Whitney – Yankee inventor, living at the time of his invention in Georgia, invented a simple machine—so simple, he had difficulty enforcing his patent on the machine, and therefore never received the recompense he deserved for his invention—that made short staple cotton a profitable agricultural product.

1.     Cotton gin – simply a box that contained combs attached to a cylinder, which was turned by a crank.  This device allowed a worker (usually a slave) to remove the seeds from cotton bolls at a rate ten times faster than a worker removing these seeds manually.

a.      Cotton gin revolutionizes agriculture in the South – this machine encouraged cotton to be grown not only on large plantations, but also on smaller farms.  Once again, the prosperity of an individual depended upon his ability to command the labor of others—just as it did in the early history of the commercial cultivation of tobacco.

b.     Cotton gin guarantees the continuation of slavery in the South – with a new cash crop that could be grown throughout the lower South, and with the center of tobacco cultivation moving westward into Kentucky, Tennessee, and western North Carolina, the demand for slaves means that slavery will not die out, as many had earlier expected, but that the demand for slaves will increase.

c.      Cotton gin generates new demand for land in the South – a similar dynamic that drove the demand for land in Virginia and Maryland during the Tobacco Boom of the 1600s drives a new demand for land at the turn of the 19th century; economic prosperity for a few is dependent upon the amount of cheap land they can acquire, and the amount of cheaply employed labor they can command.

III.             Territorial Expansion – and Sectional Conflict

A.     Abolition of Importation of Slaves – as agreed upon with ratification of the Constitution, the legal importation of slaves ended in 1808.  This did not end the slave trade, however—it simply shifted demand in the United States from “unseasoned” slaves from Africa to “seasoned” slaves already in the country; these slaves were bought in the older slave states like Virginia and Maryland (where demand had lessened) and transported (the slaves mainly walked) to the newly acquired territory in states like Alabama, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi.

1.     Economic outlet – in the oldest slaveholding areas of the United States, where slaveholding had become less economically viable, a new market opened up for “seasoned” slaves; this did not end slavery in the Chesapeake region, but it did shift a number of people from this mature region to other areas of the country.

2.     Break-up of slave families – the growing internal market for slaves increased the likelihood that slave families would be broken up and sold to different new owners.

B.      Territorial Expansion at the Expense of Native Populations – this territorial expansion on the part of whites in the South came at the expense of the native populations there, just as it did in the North.

1.     War of 1812 – The War of 1812 was largely fought to secure rights of white Americans to the large tracts of land that today make up large portions of the Midwest and mid-south.  Fighting of this war was resisted in New England, which even went so far as to threaten succession (a threat that has greater impact when made by other parties later).

a.      Andrew Jackson – the war of 1812 helped make his career as a politician; began by moving against native Seminole population in Florida; fought against natives and their British allies at the battle of New Orleans; his actions during this war helped cement the image of this Tennessee plantation owner as the champion of the “common man” during his campaigns for the Presidency.

C.     Threats to the “Southern way of life” – because of the limited opportunities not only for slaves, obviously, but for most whites as well, population did not grow as fast in the South as it did in the North (which received the bulk of the immigration from Europe), which meant that the creation of slave states became all-important as a way to maintain equilibrium in the Senate and prevent the passage of any law abolishing slavery.

1.     Slave patrols – poor whites were required to participate in patrols to monitor slave activities, even if they themselves did not own slaves.  While many poor whites considered this an unwanted, onerous assignment, the absolute power that they were granted over slaves (who were required to show passes from their masters to these poor whites, who economically they were not much better off than) granted them a kind of “white wage” which became a sort of psychological compensation for their economic status.

2.     Greater population growth in the North – the North not only benefited from greater natural increase among its population but from attracting a much larger share of the immigrant population from Europe.

a.      Natural increase in population exceeded that in the South – diseases like malaria, typhus, etc. were prevalent in the South much longer than in the North, so that many considered the climate in the South less healthy than it was in the North.

b.     European immigration – with the prevalence of slave labor in the South, few European immigrants were persuaded to settle there, because they did not want to compete with slave labor.  Therefore, most immigrants from Europe chose to settle in the North.

2.  Movement northward of disgruntled southern small farmers – white southern farmers—known as “butternuts”-- disgruntled by the domination of Southern life and politics by the planter class moved north to the non-slave states of the West—Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—where opportunities for advancement were greater.

Thursday, September 22, 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 often 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

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Overlapping Revolutions--Industry and Transportation

I. Division of Labor and the Factory

A. Outwork--the manufacture of some goods took place in the Early National period not in factories, but in the home, or in home-based shops.

1. Shoe Manufacturing in Lynn, Massachusetts--outwork began with the recruitment of workers from the countryside. Entreprenuers hired skilled craftspeople to cut leather hides into usable shapes (called "blanks"), and then recruited farmers and their families to sew the soles together, and attach the uppers to the sole. The market for "ready-made" shoes was largely the slave labor force in the South.

B. Factories--factories grew from established small shops, as master craftsmen ("masters") expanded their operations. As these larger shops became economically successful, they attracted other investors who new nothing about the manufacture of goods--but much about squeezing greater profits from a business.

1. Porkopolis--in the 1830s Cincinnati merchants built large slaughterhouses that slaughtered thousands of hogs every month. This was accomplished by developing a system of overhead rails that eased transportation of the hog carcasses around from station to station (the predecessor of the assembly line), dividing the slaughtering process into a number of discrete steps.

2. Textile manufacturing--

a. Great Britain--was the leading manufacturing nation in the world, largely on the strenght of its textile industry. To keep this position, economic and political leaders worked together to attempt to prevent the immigration of mechanics who held much of the manufacturing knowledge--especially the manufacture of machine tools.

i. "Free trade"--because of the manufacturing advantage Great Britain held over much of the rest of the world, British politicians became the strongest proponenets of the idea of "free trade"--of lowering trade barriers so the British could export their inexpensive manufactured goods.

ii. "Protectionism"--countries, including the United States, responded to this competition be "protecting" their own nascent industries by imposing tariffs (taxes on imported goods). These tariffs made imported goods more expensive, but also helped to protect and promote manufacturing--and therefore manufacturing jobs--in the host country.

b. United States--the earliest textile factory in the United States was located in Pawtucket, Rhode Island (near Providence) at the falls of the Blackstone River. The falls powered the water wheel that, through a series of belts and pulleys, provided power to the machinery in the factory.

i. Finding workers--initially, workers at the Slater Mill in Pawtucket were recruited as family units. Fathers were expected to enforce factory discipline. This workforce, however, was largely resistant to the implementation of this factory discipline, taking days off to fish or hunt, and fathers often failed to discipline their offspring for their actions at work. By the 1820s, families were replaced by young, unmarried women from surrounding farms, who looked to work in factories as an escape from the drudge work on these family farms. This was first implemented at a mill in Waltham, Mass., and became known as the "Waltham Plan."

C. American Mechanics and Technological Innovation

1. Mechanic--today, we use the term "mechanic" to refer mainly to someone who works on automobiles; in the early 19th century, however, a mechanic was a highly-skilled mechanical generalist, able to build machine tools (machines used to make other machines); to be called a mechanic was very high praise,

2. Eli Whitney--was one of the premier mechanics in the Early National era. Whitney's mechanical genius led not only to the invention of the cotton gin, but also to the development of precision machine tools and interchangeable part. Whitney and a partner manufactured manufactured military weapons, and Whitney designed and built machines tools that could rapidly produce interchangeable musket parts. Being able to manufacture interchangeable parts was a huge leap forward in developing the manufacturing process, because the modern factory could not operate without it.

D. Wage workers and the Labor Movement--from early to the mid-19th century, many American craft workers espoused artisan republicanism, an ideology based on liberty and equality. They saw themselves as a group of small-scale producers, equal to one another and free to work for themselves.

1. Formation of unions--with the development of the outwork and factory system, more workers were becoming dependent upon wages, and less likely to become a small-scale producer (although this myth lived on for decades after this time). To assert their independence, workers rejected the term "master" and began using the Dutch work "boss" (which means master) instead. At about the same time, these workers also rejected the term "servant" for themselves, and instead became "hands" or "hired hands."

a. Workers with skills not easily transferred to machines--stone masons and members of other building trades were the most prominent examples--were able to retain a great deal of independence. Other workers, like shoemakers, hatters, printers, furniture makers, and weavers, saw their skills undermined by outwork and the introduction of machines--and as a result their status fell.

2. Labor ideology--with the formation of early labor unions, there also developed an ideology to support these unions: producerism and the labor theory of value.

a. Labor theory of value--held that the price for a particular good should be determined by the amount of labor required to produce it--and that the worker should get the lion's share of the profit, rather than the owner of the factory, who did nothing to add value to products. Although this idea was popularized by Karl Marx (who appropriated the idea from an English philosopher/economist named David Riccardo), but the idea first gained hold in early 19th century America.

II.             Canals – canals made the inexpensive transportation of raw materials from the hinterland to the city, and finished materials from the city to the hinterland, possible, which created markets both for farmers in these hinterlands (and encouraged them to begin to grow more to satisfy the market, rather than for their own subsistence) and for merchants in the cities (which also increased demand for inexpensive manufactured goods, which encouraged the construction and implementation of factories.

A.   Erie Canal – the construction of the Erie Canal ensured that New York City would remain the commercial center of the United States; its success spurred the construction of canals all over the country in the first half of the 19th century.

1.    Construction costs – although calls for the federal government to finance construction of the canal, in the end the state had to finance the project.  It did so by selling bonds to citizens, most of which was sold initially in relatively small increments ($1000-$2000); eventually the bonds were sold on the London Stock Market, and as far away as China, but the initial construction was financed by small investors within the state.

2.    Local contractors – were responsible for constructing specific portions of the canal; most had little experience in constructing something like this project, and were forced to learn on the fly; the profession of civil engineering was in fact invented on this project in the United States

3.    First section of canal opened in 1818 – the state of New York built the easiest section of the canal first, to assure success so that more investors would be encouraged to invest money.  This strategy worked; by 1824 the canal bonds were being traded on the London Stock Exchange.

4.    Expansion of markets for New York City – with the opening of the entire canal system, from Albany to Buffalo, then by the Hudson River to New York City in 1826, the market area for New York City became the entire Great Lakes area; raw materials (or near raw materials) where sent to NYC where they were finished into manufactured goods; these goods were then sent back into the hinterlands, or sent to Europe in exchange for European finished goods, which would be shipped to far-flung areas in the market area.

B.    Spur for the construction of other canals – the huge success of the Erie Canal spurred the construction of a large number of other canals.

1.    Pennsylvania Main Line – to connect Philadelphia to the coalfields in the Allegheny Mountains; the engineering problems that they had to be overcome for that the canal took much longer to become profitable.

2.    Baltimore and Ohio – to connect Baltimore to the Ohio River; again the construction costs to build the canal through the Allegheny Mountains prevented the canal from becoming quickly profitable.
3.    Canals in the Midwest

a.    Ohio and Erie – connected Cleveland to the Ohio River at Portsmouth

b.    Wabash and Erie – to connect western Indiana with a Lake Erie port at the Maumee River; Indiana granted land in northwestern Ohio to accomplish this, which the state of Ohio protests.  Eventually becomes two separate canal projects—the Wabash and Erie, and the Miami and Erie canal; the Miami and Erie eventually extends from Cincinnati northward to a city formerly thought to be at the southern boundary of the then territory of Michigan.

c.    Illinois and Michigan Canal – this canal connected a backwater village near the southern shore of Lake Michigan, which had taken its name from the native word for the smell of rotting onions that grew in the swamps in its midst (Chee-caw-go), to the Illinois River, and then southward to the Mississippi River.  This city finds its greatest growth in the second transportation wave, the railroad.

C.   End of the Canal Era – by the 1840s, the greatest era of canal building had ended; none of the canals built during the era were as successful as the Erie Canal; in fact, several states that had built several canals during this time period—namely, Ohio and Illinois—teetered on the edge of bankruptcy as a result.
1.    Capitalization costs – the construction of canals were capital intensive; digging miles of canal, even by cheaply employed immigrant labor, cost a lot of money; upkeep on the canals, once dug, was an added expense.
2.    Technology superceded – the improvements made in the construction of steam engines, which made possible the railroad locomotive, made the canal obsolete.
a.    Railroads – able to move freight year round; canal could only be used during the non-winter months, since they were dependent upon water; railroad also prove to be faster, and able to transport more material in a single load.  Toledo, in fact, was the terminus of a railroad before its canal era began (the Toledo and Adrian railroad, which began operating in 1837)