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The Transformation of American Society, 1815-1840


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Title: The Transformation of American Society, 1815-1840

Chapter 9
  • The Transformation of American Society, 1815-1840

  • Economic and social changes that took place in
    the United States between 1815 and 1840
  • 1.) What caused the upsurge of westward migration
    after the War of 1812?
  • 2.) How did the rise of the market economy affect
    where Americans lived and how they made their
  • 3.) What caused the rise of industrialization?
  • 4.) What caused urban poverty in this period?

Western Expansion
  • The Sweep West
  • By 1821 the following states were added
  • VT, KY, TN, OH, LA, IN, MS, IL, AL, ME, MO
  • Between 1790 and 1820
  • Pioneer families clustered near the navigable
  • 1820s and 1830s
  • With the development of canals and railroads,
    families could afford to fan out
  • Tended to settle near others who had come from
    the same region back east
  • Settled mostly between the Appalachian Mountains
    and the Mississippi River

Western Society and Customs
  • Before 1830, life was crude and difficult
  • Easterners often looked down on westerners lack
    of refinement
  • Westerners in turn resented eastern pretensions
    to gentility

The Far West
  • Adventurous pioneers traveled across the
  • Fur-trading and animal trapping
  • mountain men

The Federal Government and the West
  • Midwestern settlement was encourage by
  • Ordinance of 1785
  • Northwest Ordinance
  • Louisiana Purchase
  • Transcontinental Treaty of 1819
  • Land warrants given to War of 1812 veterans
  • Extension of the National Road into IL by 1838
  • Removal and declining strength of the Native
    Americans (by 1820 were no longer receiving
    Spanish and British aid)

The Removal of the Indians
  • By the 1820s, the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws,
    and Seminoles of the South were under heavy
    pressure to cede their lands to whites
  • The Indian Removal Act
  • 1830
  • Andrew Jackson
  • Granted the president the power to move all
    Native American west of the Mississippi River
  • Could use force if necessary
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The Removal of the Indians (cont.)
  • The Creeks in GA and AL had already started to
    migrate by that point
  • In 1836, the remainder were forced out
  • The Choctaws and Chickasaws suffered a similar
  • After losing a war of resistance that lasted from
    1835 to 1842, most Seminoles also were expelled
    from FL

The Removal of the Indians (cont.)
  • The Cherokees (the most assimilated of the
    Indians) appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for
  • Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in their favor
  • President Jackson ignored the court
  • Compelled the tribe to cede its land
  • Travel the Trail of Tears westward
  • 4,000 Cherokees died on the trip
  • 1838-1839
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Trail of Tears
The Removal of the Indians (cont.)
  • Black Hawk War
  • 1832
  • The Sac and Fox attempted to keep their lands
  • Native Americans lost
  • Sac, Fox and other Midwest and Northeast Indians
    also had to move west of the Mississippi

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The Agricultural Boom
  • Growth of the population in the old Northwest
  • The removal of the Indians
  • the high prices and escalating demand for wheat
    and corn
  • Growth of the population in the old Southwest
  • 1793Eli Whitneys cotton gin
  • Boundless need of the British textile industry
    for raw cotton

The Agricultural Boom (cont.)
  • After the War of 1812
  • Southeasterners poured into AL and MS
  • Drove up land prices
  • Tripled the nations cotton production
  • By 1836, cotton accounted for 2/3s of Americas
    foreign exports

The Growth of the Market Economy
  • Introduction
  • High crop prices after the War of 1812 tempted
    more farmers than ever before to switch from
    subsistence to commercial agriculture.
  • Commercial agriculture opened new opportunities
    for western farmers
  • It also exposed them to greater risks
  • Many had to borrow to buy land and to
    survive until they could sell their first crops
  • Once in debt, the commercial farmers were
    particularly vulnerable because they had no
    control over fluctuations in price, supply, and
    demand in world markets

Federal Land Policy
  • Jeffersonian Republicans introduced land policies
    aimed at a speedy transfer of the public domain
    to small farmers
  • Between 1800 and 1820
  • The govt. cut the minimum price per acre and the
    minimum of acres that could be purchased
  • Most govt. land was sold at auction
  • Speculators often bid the price up far above the
  • Speculators believed that the price of land would
    soon shoot up in value
  • The easy availability of credit encouraged this

The Speculator and the Squatter
  • Many poor settlers who did not have the money to
    buy at auction simply squatted on govt. land
  • They exerted mounting pressure on Congress to
    grant them preemption rights over speculators
  • They won their demand in 1841
  • Squatters quickly turned to commercial
  • They wanted to accumulate the cash to buy their
  • Many western farmers, after exhausting the soils
    fertility growing cash crops, simply moved on to
    new land

The Panic of 1819
  • The land boom soon collapsed and crop and western
    land prices plummeted
  • Many speculators were ruined in the panic and
    depression of 1819
  • National Bank tightened credit and called in the
    notes of the overextended western banks (many of
    which failed)

The Panic of 1819 (cont.)
  • The hard times experienced by agriculture and
    industry had long-term effects
  • Many westerners hated the National Bank
  • Blamed it for the crisis
  • Western farmers intensified their search for
    internal improvements that would cut
    transportation expenses for shipping their
    product to market

The Transportation Revolution Steamboats,
Canals, and Railroads
  • Before 1820, available transportation facilities
    were unsatisfactory
  • Existing roads were adequate for transporting
    people, but moving bulky loads over them by
    horse-drawn wagons was slow and costly
  • Robert Fultons steamboat
  • Allowed the great rivers west of the Appalachian
    Mountains that flowed north to south became
    two-way streets for commerce
  • By 1855, 727 steamboats were providing regular
    ferry service on all the western rivers

Steamboats, Canals, and Railroads (cont.)
  • Rivers did NOT always exist where they were most
    needed for trade
  • Americans began to build canals in 1820s
  • Erie Canal
  • 1817 to 1825 it was built
  • State of New York constructed it
  • Connected Albany on the Hudson River with Buffalo
    on Lake Erie
  • Lowered freight rates to a fraction of what they
    had been
  • Made NYC a leading outlet for Midwestern

Erie Canal
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Steamboats, Canals, and Railroads (cont.)
  • The Erie Canals success encouraged dozens of
    other state-supported projects
  • The canal-building boom deflated with the
    depression of the late 1830s
  • Railroads
  • By 1840 some 3,000 miles of railroad track had
    been laid
  • trains were beginning to supplement and compete
    with canal shipping

The Growth of Cities
  • This transportation revolution stimulated the
    development of towns and cities
  • River port cities (steamboat)
  • Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Louisville, St. Louis,
    New Orleans
  • Lake port cities (canals)
  • Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee
  • The period from 1820 to 1860 saw the most rapid
    urbanization in American history

Industrial Beginnings
  • Introduction
  • Early industrialization stimulated urbanization
  • The first cotton mill in the U.S.A. opened in
    Pawtucket, RI
  • Skilled mechanic Samuel Slater managed to sneak
    out of Britain and arrived in America with his
    ability to reproduce Richard Arkwrights spinning
  • Slaters 1st mill opened in 1790
  • Soon joined by many other manufacturing textiles
    and shoes

Introduction (cont.)
  • The rapidity of industrialization varied from
    region to region
  • New England leading the way
  • The South lagged far behind
  • Planters preferred to put their capital in land
    and slaves

Introduction (cont.)
  • Industrialization began to change peoples lives
  • Forced workers to regulate their labor by the
    clock and pace of the machine
  • Downgraded the position of skilled artisans
  • Cheaper machine-made products were available in
    greater profusion to working-class Americans

Causes of Industrialization
  • Embargo Act of 1807
  • Induced merchants barred from foreign trade to
    divert their capital to founding factories
  • After the War of 1812fledgling industries
    received protection from high tariffs
  • Especially in the 1820s
  • Transportation improvements opened distant
    markets to manufactures

Causes of Industrialization (cont.)
  • Relatively high wages paid to American workers
  • Made employers eager to adopt laborsaving
  • Eli Whitneys interchangeable parts
  • Other new technology

Textile Towns in New England
  • New England was the 1st region to industrialize
  • Its merchants were particularly hard hit by
    foreign trade disruptions
  • It had swift-flowing rivers for waterpower
  • It had excess female farm population for labor
  • Textile manufacturing became its leading industry
  • The Waltham and Lowell mills in MA were the first
    to concentrate on total cloth production within
    the factory

Textile Towns in New England (cont.)
Textile Towns in New England (cont.)
Textile Towns in New England (cont.)
  • Originally 80 of the mill operatives were
    unmarried young women
  • Lived in company housing under the strict
    supervision of management
  • During the 1830s, these Lowell women staged 2 of
    the largest strikes in American history to that
    date. (1834 and 1836)
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Artisans and Workers in Mid-Atlantic Cities
Lowell girls
Artisans and Workers in Mid-Atlantic Cities
  • New York City and Philadelphia
  • Shoes, saddles, clothing
  • Done in small shops as well as factories
  • Much of the work was still done by hand rather
    than by machine
  • But increasingly production was subdivided into
    small specialized tasks
  • Done by low-paid, semiskilled or unskilled
    laborers (often women)

Artisans and Workers in Mid-Atlantic Cities
  • This resulted in a declining importance for
    skilled artisans
  • in protest in the late 1820s, formed trade
    unions and workingmens political parties

Equality and Inequality
  • Urban Inequality The Rich and the Poor
  • The gap between the rich and the poor grew during
    the 1st half of the 19th century
  • The extremes were especially obvious in the
  • Mansions of the wealthy line the fashionable
  • The poor crowded into noxious slums like New
    Yorks Five Points district
  • 1833 in Bostonthe richest 4 of the population
    owned almost 60 of the land

Urban Inequality The Rich and the Poor (cont.)
  • Contrary to the self-made man, rages-to-riches
    myth, 90 of the very wealthy had started out
    with considerable means
  • At the other end of the scale, cities were
    developing a pauperized class consisting of aged
    and infirm widows and destitute Irish
    immigrants, whose labor built the Erie and other
    canals in the North

Urban Inequality The Rich and the Poor (cont.)
  • Americans blamed the poor for being poor
  • treated most with contempt
  • particularly the Irish, for being poor and
  • Free blacks for being poor and black

Free Blacks in the North
  • Overwhelming discrimination kept most free blacks
    in poverty
  • They were generally denied the vote
  • Educated in inferior segregated schools (if at
  • Forced to use separate and unequal facilities
  • Kept out of all but the lowest-paying, least
    skilled occupations

New Yorks Five Points District (1827)
New Yorks Five Points District (1872)
Free Blacks in the North (cont.)
  • In response to this pervasive discrimination,
    northern blacks founded their own churches
  • Richard Allen started the first of these
  • African Methodist Episcopal Church
  • In Philadelphia
  • 1816
  • By 1822, there were AME congregations all over
    the North
  • The black churches engaged in antislavery
    activities and ran schools and mutual-aid

Free Blacks in the North (cont.)
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The Middling Classes
  • The majority of white Americans were neither
    rich nor poor
  • Belonged to what was then called the middling
  • For most people in that group the standard of
    living rose between 1800 and 1860
  • Members of the middle class experienced a lot of
  • They also exhibited a high degree of transience,
    moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, city to
    city, and region to region

The Revolution in Social Relationships
  • The Attack on the Professions
  • One sign that economic changes were disrupting
    traditional relationships and forms of authority
    could be seen in the intense criticism of
    professionals (doctors, lawyers, ministers)
    between 1820 and 1850
  • The denial that professionals had any special
    expertise was particularly prevalent on the

The Challenge to Family Authority
  • Children became more inclined to question
    parental authority
  • Young men left home at an earlier age and struck
    out on their own
  • Young women increasingly made their own choice of
    whom to marry or even whether to marry

Wives and Husbands
  • Relations between spouses also were evolving
  • Wives continued to be legally subordinate to
    their husbands
  • But under the doctrine of separate spheres,
    middle-class women were demanding and winning
    greater voice in those areas where they were
    deemed to be particularly
  • Exerting moral influence on the family
  • Creating within the home a calm refuge from the
    harsh, competitive world outside

Wives and Husbands (cont.)
  • Middle-class women gained more control over the
    frequency of their pregnancies
  • The size of white middle-class families declined
  • The birthrate remained high among black and
    immigrant women

Horizontal Allegiances the Rise of Voluntary
  • Authority of fathers, husbands, professionals,
    and other social superiors waned
  • New relationships among persons in similar
    positions were forged through the proliferation
    of voluntary associations
  • Temperance and moral-reform societies of white
    middle-class women, union, and workingmens
    parties and black fraternal, and other clubs
    encouraged sociability among members
  • Also these were attempts to enhance their
    influence on outside groups

  • After 1815, white Americans westward movement
    speeded up due to a heightened European demand
    for agricultural products
  • especially cotton
  • Federal govt. policies also hastened western
  • Removal of eastern Indians to west of the
    Mississippi River
  • The sale of land on more generous terms

Conclusion (cont.)
  • Improved transportation facilitated the shipment
    of western farmers produce to eastern and
    European markets
  • Steamboat, canals, railroads
  • This transportation revolution encouraged the
    growth of cities, commerce, manufacturing, and

Conclusion (cont.)
  • The economic transformations made some American
    wealthy and impoverished others
  • Affected social relations within the family and