Early 19th Century America
On March fourth, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected President
of the United States of America. Thomas Jefferson was a Republican.
Republicans strongly supported farmers, and they wanted an agrarian
nation. An agrarian nation means some changes had to be made in the
country. The country needed strong trade with other countries, and
they also needed more land to farm on. This led to the Louisiana
The French owned a huge amount of land west of the United
States. Inside all of this land was the mouth of the Mississippi
River, New Orleans. Because the Republicans wanted a farming nation,
America needed a port like New Orleans. Jefferson didn't think that
Napoleon would sell all of this land, but he asked him anyway if he
was willing to sell. To his surprise Napoleon did want to sell this
land because he needed more money for his fight with Great Britain. So
Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory, and doubled the nation's
size. This purchase was a mastermind move by Jefferson that let the
farming nation trade using the whole Mississippi.
Another achievement of Thomas Jefferson was the exploration of
the Louisiana Territory. He hired Lewis and Clark to explore the
uncharted territory. He told them to search the land for a river
passage to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson also told them to keep diaries
and make maps. This was Clark's task. In May, 1804, forty-four men set
out on the expedition. The travelers tried to be friendly with the
Indians on their way. When they reached North Dakota they hired the
French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau, and his wife Sacajawea to be
guides and interpreters. With them they traveled all the way to the
Pacific Coast and back. Even though many people were disappointed upon
their return that they had not found an all water route, Lewis and
Clark were the first to map most of this land we call America. They
also aroused an interest in the people to move westward in the growing
Let's go back a little bit to when Napoleon sold the Louisiana
Territory to the United States. He needed money to fight in the war he
was having with Great Britain. Since the United States had a small
military, it did not want to be involved in the French-British War.
America tried to stay neutral while trading with Europe, but France
and Great Britain kept on violating their neutrality rights. The
United States kept on trying to trade, but both sides put blockades on
each others ports. This meant that the other countries took their
ships. The British, however, not only took their ships, but they also
impressed American sailors.
During all of this mayhem President Madison came to power.
Because of Britain's violations of America's sailors, he asked
congress to declare war against Britain. Congress voted yes to the
war. Afterwards, it was named the War of 1812. After two years of
fighting, General Andrew Jackson came out victorious. A treaty was
signed in Belgium, and the growing nation finally earned a little
respect. They did this by changing the attitude of the Europeans
Following the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson ran for president in
1828 and won. Jackson is said to be the first western president.
President Jackson was odd in a the way he sided with states on some
things and on other things he did not. He wanted to remove the
Indians, get rid of the National Bank, and in 1828 he let a tariff
pass that taxed imports. This angered Vice President Callhoon, and
other people from South Carolina who said it was unfair. The
consequence was that South Carolina nullified the tariff, Callhoon
resigned, and South Carolina threatened to form their own government.
Even though the Civil War wasn't until many years later, this was a
sign of internal conflict that could threaten the growth of the
Part of the reason that there was this internal conflict was
that our nation was growing very rapidly, and each area of the country
had huge differences. For example I will take political parties. The
Republicans were farmers. They wanted a farming nation much like the
South was. The Federalists were much different being from New England.
They supported industry and manufacturing goods. An example of party
differences is that of the Whisky Rebellion. In this the Federalists
who were in power at the time past a law which put a twenty-five
percent tax on whisky. This angered Republican farmers who turned
their grain into whisky. A full scale revolt came out of this which
threatened the ever-changing young country.
Another difference was in the people themselves. Many Germans
and Irish people immigrated to the United States. The Germans left
their country because of their bad government, war, persecution, and
because of unemployment. The Germans came to America looking for land,
gold, opportunity, and adventure. About 1.5 million German immigrants
came to America from 1820 to 1859. The Germans settled in the Midwest
because most of them were skilled farmers with enough money to
move there and buy land.
The Irish, however, were a different story. They left their
country for most of the same reasons as the Germans, but they also
were having a food shortage because of the Potato Famine. They came to
America looking for a new life. Their journey was terrible because
they were poor and unskilled people. Many of them died on their way.
The Irish mostly settled in the ports and worked for dirt cheap
because they were poor. About 2 million Irish people came to the
United States from 1820 to 1859. These different people helped change
the new nation.
The different people of the nation faced new hardships in
their new country. The immigrants could be imprisoned or expelled from
the country if the president thought the foreigner was dangerous. This
was known as the Alien Act. Another act that disturbed the people was
the Sedition Act. The Sedition Act restricted freedom of speech and
freedom of the press which was unconstitutional. The Irish were the
ones who really had hardships though. They had to settle right in the
port in the town and because they had no money or skills, factories
like Lowell Mills and other businesses took advantage of them, making
them work for pennies. The Lowell Mill was a cotton factory. Mostly
young women whose family needed money worked there, and that was about
everybody. They worked 13 hours a day during the summer and from dawn
until dusk in the winter. They had 30 to 45 minutes to eat until the
bells rang, and they were rushed off. The mill was hot, loud, and very
dangerous. In the boarding house six girls were in each room, and two
girls had to share a bed. There was no privacy, and the girls had a
miserable time. Even though it was almost like slavery it did help the
American Economy grow.