U.S. History

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Table of ContentsPreface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1Chapter 1: The Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

1.1 The Americas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81.2 Europe on the Brink of Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 181.3 West Africa and the Role of Slavery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24

Chapter 2: Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 332.1 Portuguese Exploration and Spanish Conquest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 342.2 Religious Upheavals in the Developing Atlantic World . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 422.3 Challenges to Spain’s Supremacy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 462.4 New Worlds in the Americas: Labor, Commerce, and the Columbian Exchange . . . . 52

Chapter 3: Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 633.1 Spanish Exploration and Colonial Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 643.2 Colonial Rivalries: Dutch and French Colonial Ambitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 673.3 English Settlements in America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 723.4 The Impact of Colonization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86

Chapter 4: Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 954.1 Charles II and the Restoration Colonies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 964.2 The Glorious Revolution and the English Empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1034.3 An Empire of Slavery and the Consumer Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1054.4 Great Awakening and Enlightenment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1104.5 Wars for Empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114

Chapter 5: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1255.1 Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French and Indian War . . . . . . 1265.2 The Stamp Act and the Sons and Daughters of Liberty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1305.3 The Townshend Acts and Colonial Protest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1375.4 The Destruction of the Tea and the Coercive Acts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1445.5 Disaffection: The First Continental Congress and American Identity . . . . . . . . . . . 148

Chapter 6: America's War for Independence, 1775-1783 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1576.1 Britain’s Law-and-Order Strategy and Its Consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1586.2 The Early Years of the Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1656.3 War in the South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1716.4 Identity during the American Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175

Chapter 7: Creating Republican Governments, 1776–1790 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1857.1 Common Sense: From Monarchy to an American Republic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1867.2 How Much Revolutionary Change? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1897.3 Debating Democracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1977.4 The Constitutional Convention and Federal Constitution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204

Chapter 8: Growing Pains: The New Republic, 1790–1820 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2138.1 Competing Visions: Federalists and Democratic-Republicans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2148.2 The New American Republic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2208.3 Partisan Politics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2268.4 The United States Goes Back to War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 234

Chapter 9: Industrial Transformation in the North, 1800–1850 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2439.1 Early Industrialization in the Northeast . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2449.2 A Vibrant Capitalist Republic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2529.3 On the Move: The Transportation Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2609.4 A New Social Order: Class Divisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 263

Chapter 10: Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27310.1 A New Political Style: From John Quincy Adams to Andrew Jackson . . . . . . . . . 27410.2 The Rise of American Democracy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280

10.3 The Nullification Crisis and the Bank War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28310.4 Indian Removal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28710.5 The Tyranny and Triumph of the Majority . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 293

Chapter 11: A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800–1860 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30111.1 Lewis and Clark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30211.2 The Missouri Crisis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30811.3 Independence for Texas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31011.4 The Mexican-American War, 1846–1848 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31511.5 Free Soil or Slave? The Dilemma of the West . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 323

Chapter 12: Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800–1860 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33112.1 The Economics of Cotton . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33212.2 African Americans in the Antebellum United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33812.3 Wealth and Culture in the South . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34512.4 The Filibuster and the Quest for New Slave States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 355

Chapter 13: Antebellum Idealism and Reform Impulses, 1820–1860 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36313.1 An Awakening of Religion and Individualism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36413.2 Antebellum Communal Experiments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37013.3 Reforms to Human Health . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37513.4 Addressing Slavery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37913.5 Women’s Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 384

Chapter 14: Troubled Times: the Tumultuous 1850s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39114.1 The Compromise of 1850 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39214.2 The Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Republican Party . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40114.3 The Dred Scott Decision and Sectional Strife . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40814.4 John Brown and the Election of 1860 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 413

Chapter 15: The Civil War, 1860–1865 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42115.1 The Origins and Outbreak of the Civil War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42215.2 Early Mobilization and War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42815.3 1863: The Changing Nature of the War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43315.4 The Union Triumphant . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 442

Chapter 16: The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1877 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45316.1 Restoring the Union . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45416.2 Congress and the Remaking of the South, 1865–1866 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45816.3 Radical Reconstruction, 1867–1872 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46216.4 The Collapse of Reconstruction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 470

Chapter 17: Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840-1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48317.1 The Westward Spirit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48417.2 Homesteading: Dreams and Realities . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49017.3 Making a Living in Gold and Cattle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49517.4 The Loss of American Indian Life and Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50017.5 The Impact of Expansion on Chinese Immigrants and Hispanic Citizens . . . . . . . . 506

Chapter 18: Industrialization and the Rise of Big Business, 1870-1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51518.1 Inventors of the Age . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51618.2 From Invention to Industrial Growth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52118.3 Building Industrial America on the Backs of Labor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52818.4 A New American Consumer Culture . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 537

Chapter 19: The Growing Pains of Urbanization, 1870-1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54519.1 Urbanization and Its Challenges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 54619.2 The African American “Great Migration” and New European Immigration . . . . . . . 55419.3 Relief from the Chaos of Urban Life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55919.4 Change Reflected in Thought and Writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 567

Chapter 20: Politics in the Gilded Age, 1870-1900 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 579

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20.1 Political Corruption in Postbellum America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58020.2 The Key Political Issues: Patronage, Tariffs, and Gold . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 58720.3 Farmers Revolt in the Populist Era . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 59420.4 Social and Labor Unrest in the 1890s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 599

Chapter 21: Leading the Way: The Progressive Movement, 1890-1920 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60921.1 The Origins of the Progressive Spirit in America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61021.2 Progressivism at the Grassroots Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61221.3 New Voices for Women and African Americans . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 62121.4 Progressivism in the White House . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 627

Chapter 22: Age of Empire: American Foreign Policy, 1890-1914 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64122.1 Turner, Mahan, and the Roots of Empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64222.2 The Spanish-American War and Overseas Empire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64822.3 Economic Imperialism in East Asia . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65522.4 Roosevelt’s “Big Stick” Foreign Policy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65822.5 Taft’s “Dollar Diplomacy” . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 663

Chapter 23: Americans and the Great War, 1914-1919 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66923.1 American Isolationism and the European Origins of War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67023.2 The United States Prepares for War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67623.3 A New Home Front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68223.4 From War to Peace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68623.5 Demobilization and Its Difficult Aftermath . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 692

Chapter 24: The Jazz Age: Redefining the Nation, 1919-1929 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70124.1 Prosperity and the Production of Popular Entertainment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70224.2 Transformation and Backlash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70824.3 A New Generation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71524.4 Republican Ascendancy: Politics in the 1920s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 723

Chapter 25: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929-1932 . . . . . . . . 73125.1 The Stock Market Crash of 1929 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73225.2 President Hoover’s Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74325.3 The Depths of the Great Depression . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74825.4 Assessing the Hoover Years on the Eve of the New Deal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 756

Chapter 26: Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932-1941 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76526.1 The Rise of Franklin Roosevelt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76626.2 The First New Deal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77026.3 The Second New Deal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 779

Chapter 27: Fighting the Good Fight in World War II, 1941-1945 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79527.1 The Origins of War: Europe, Asia, and the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79627.2 The Home Front . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80327.3 Victory in the European Theater . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81527.4 The Pacific Theater and the Atomic Bomb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 820

Chapter 28: Post-War Prosperity and Cold War Fears, 1945-1960 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82928.1 The Challenges of Peacetime . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83028.2 The Cold War . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 83328.3 The American Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84228.4 Popular Culture and Mass Media . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 84828.5 The African American Struggle for Civil Rights . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 851

Chapter 29: Contesting Futures: America in the 1960s . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86329.1 The Kennedy Promise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 86429.2 Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87229.3 The Civil Rights Movement Marches On . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87829.4 Challenging the Status Quo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 887

Chapter 30: Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968-1980 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 895

30.1 Identity Politics in a Fractured Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89630.2 Coming Apart, Coming Together . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 90330.3 Vietnam: The Downward Spiral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91130.4 Watergate: Nixon’s Domestic Nightmare . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91630.5 Jimmy Carter in the Aftermath of the Storm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 921

Chapter 31: From Cold War to Culture Wars, 1980-2000 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93131.1 The Reagan Revolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93231.2 Political and Cultural Fusions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93731.3 A New World Order . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94331.4 Bill Clinton and the New Economy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 949

Chapter 32: The Challenges of the Twenty-First Century . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96332.1 The War on Terror . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96432.2 The Domestic Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97132.3 New Century, Old Disputes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97832.4 Hope and Change . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 983

A The Declaration of Independence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 995B The Constitution of the United States . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 999C Presidents of the United States of America . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1015D U.S. Political Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1019E U.S. Topographical Map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1021F United States Population Chart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1023G Further Reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1025Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1049

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CustomizationOpenStax College learning resources are designed to be customized for each course. Our textbooks aredeveloped to meet the scope and sequence of a typical course and; therefore, provide a solid foundationon which instructors can build, and our resources are conceived and written with flexibility in mind.Instructors can select the sections most relevant to their curricula and create a textbook that speaks directlyto the needs of their classes and student body. Teachers are encouraged to expand on existing examples byadding unique context via geographically localized applications and topical connections.

U.S. History can be easily customized using our online platform ( Simply select the content most relevant to your current semester and create a textbook that speaks directly to the needs of your class. U.S. History is organized as a collection of sections that can be rearranged, modified, and enhanced through localized examples or to incorporate a specific theme of your course. This customization feature will ensure that your textbook truly reflects the goals of your course.

CostOur textbooks are available for free online, and also in low-cost print and iBook textbook editions.

About U.S. HistoryU.S. History has been developed to meet the scope and sequence of most introductory U.S. History courses.At the same time, the book includes a number of innovative features designed to enhance student learning.Instructors can also customize the book, adapting it to the approach that works best in their classroom.

Coverage and ScopeTo develop U.S. History, we solicited ideas from historians at all levels of higher education, fromcommunity colleges to Ph.D.-granting universities. They told us about their courses, students, challenges,resources, and how a textbook can best meet their and their students’ needs.

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The result is a book that covers the breadth of the chronological history of the United States and alsoprovides the necessary depth to ensure the course is manageable for instructors and students alike. U.S.History explores the key forces and major developments that together form the American experience, withparticular attention paid to considering issues of race, class, and gender.

The pedagogical choices, chapter arrangements, and learning objective fulfillment were developed andvetted with feedback from educators dedicated to the project. They thoroughly read the material andoffered critical and detailed commentary. Reviewer feedback centered around achieving equilibriumbetween the various political, social, and cultural dynamics that permeate history. The outcome is abalanced approach to U.S. history, considering the people, events, and ideas that have shaped the UnitedStates from both the top down (politics, economics, diplomacy) and bottom up (eyewitness accounts, livedexperience).

While the book is organized primarily chronologically, as needed, material treating different topics orregions over the same time period is spread over multiple chapters. For example, chapters 9, 11, and 12look at economic, political, social, and cultural developments during the first half of the eighteenth centuryin the North, West, and South respectively, while chapters 18 to 20 closely examine industrialization,urbanization, and politics in the period after Reconstruction.

Chapter 1: The Americas, Europe, and Africa before 1492Chapter 2: Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650Chapter 3: Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700Chapter 4: Rule Britannia! The English Empire, 1660–1763Chapter 5: Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763–1774Chapter 6: America’s War for Independence, 1775–1783Chapter 7: Creating Republican Governments, 1776–1790Chapter 8: Growing Pains: The New Republic, 1790–1815Chapter 9: Industrial Transformation in the North, 1800–1850Chapter 10: Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840Chapter 11: A Nation on the Move: Westward Expansion, 1800–1850Chapter 12: Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800–1860Chapter 13: Antebellum Idealism and Reform Impulses, 1820–1860Chapter 14: Troubled Times: The Tumultuous 1850sChapter 15: The Civil War, 1860–1865Chapter 16: The Era of Reconstruction, 1865–1877Chapter 17: Go West Young Man! Westward Expansion, 1840–1900Chapter 18: Industrialization and the Rise of Big Business, 1870–1900Chapter 19: The Growing Pains of Urbanization, 1870–1900Chapter 20: Politics in the Gilded Age, 1870–1900Chapter 21: Leading the Way: The Progressive Movement, 1890–1920Chapter 22: Age of Empire: Modern American Foreign Policy, 1890–1914Chapter 23: Americans and the Great War, 1914–1919Chapter 24: The Jazz Age: Redefining the Nation, 1919–1929Chapter 25: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? The Great Depression, 1929–1932Chapter 26: Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal, 1932–1941Chapter 27: Fighting the Good Fight in World War II, 1941–1945Chapter 28: Postwar Prosperity and Cold War Fears, 1945–1960Chapter 29: Contesting Futures: America in the 1960sChapter 30: Political Storms at Home and Abroad, 1968–1980Chapter 31: From Cold War to Culture Wars, 1980–2000Chapter 32: The Challenges of the Twenty-First CenturyAppendix A: The Declaration of IndependenceAppendix B: The Constitution of the United States

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Appendix C: Presidents of the United StatesAppendix D: United States Political MapAppendix E: United States Topographical MapAppendix F: United States Population ChartAppendix G: Suggested Reading

Pedagogical FoundationThroughout the OpenStax version of U.S. History, you will find featured material that engage the studentsin historical inquiry by taking selected topics a step further. Our features include:

Americana: This feature explores the significance of artifacts from American pop culture andconsiders what values, views, and philosophies are reflected in these objects.

Defining “American”: This feature analyzes primary sources, including documents, speeches, andother writings, to consider important issues of the day and present varying points of view on them,while keeping a focus on the theme of what it means to be American.

My Story: This feature presents first-person accounts (diaries, interviews, letters) of significant orexceptional events from the American experience.

Link It Up: This feature is a very brief introduction to a website with an interactive experience,video, or primary sources that help improve student understanding of the material.

Questions for Each Level of LearningThe OpenStax version of U.S. History offers two types of end-of-module questions for students.

Review Questions are simple recall questions from each module in the chapter and are in eithermultiple-choice or open-response format. The answers can be looked up in the text.

Critical Thinking Questions are higher-level, conceptual questions that ask students to demonstratetheir understanding by applying what they have learned in each module to the whole of the chapter.They ask for outside-the-box thinking, for reasoning about the concepts. They push the student toplaces they wouldn’t have thought of going themselves.

About Our TeamOur team is a diverse mix of historians representing various institutions across the nation. We’d like toextend a special thanks to our senior contributors who worked tirelessly to ensure the coverage and levelis appropriate for students.

Senior ContributorsP. Scott Corbett, PhD—Ventura College

Dr. Corbett’s major fields of study are recent American history and American diplomatic history. Heteaches a variety of courses at Ventura College, and he serves as an instructor at California StateUniversity’s Channel Islands campus. A passionate educator, Scott has also taught history to universitystudents in Singapore and China.

Volker Janssen, PhD—California State University–Fullerton

Born and raised in Germany, Dr. Janssen received his BA from the University of Hamburg and his MA andPhD from the University of California, San Diego. He is a former Fulbright scholar and an active memberof Germany's advanced studies foundation "Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes." Volker currentlyserves as Associate Professor at California State University’s Fullerton campus, where he specializes in thesocial, economic, and institutional history of California, and more recently, the history of technology.

John M. Lund, PhD—Keene State College

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Dr. Lund’s primary research focuses on early American history, with a special interest in oaths, ColonialNew England, and Atlantic legal cultures. John has over 20 years of teaching experience. In addition toworking with students at Keene State College, he lectures at Franklin Pierce University, and serves theonline learning community at Southern New Hampshire University.

Todd Pfannestiel, PhD—Clarion University

Dr. Pfannestiel is a Professor in the history department of Clarion University in Pennsylvania, where healso holds the position of Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Todd has a strong history of service tohis institution, its students, and the community that surrounds it.

Paul Vickery, PhD—Oral Roberts University

Educating others is one of Dr. Vickery’s delights, whether in the classroom, through authoring books andarticles, or via informal teaching during his travels. He is currently Professor of History at Oral RobertsUniversity, where his emphasis is on the history of ideas, ethics, and the role of the church and theologyin national development. Paul reads Portuguese, Italian, French, and Hebrew, and has taught on fivecontinents.

Sylvie Waskiewicz, PhD—Lead Editor

Dr. Waskiewicz received her BSBA from Georgetown University and her MA and PhD from the Instituteof French Studies at New York University. With over 10 years of teaching experience in English and Frenchhistory and language, Sylvie left academia to join the ranks of higher education publishing. She has spentthe last eight years editing college textbooks and academic journals.


Amy Bix Iowa State University

Edward Bond Alabama A&M University

Tammy Byron Dalton State College

Benjamin Carp Brooklyn College, CUNY

Sharon Deubreau Rhodes State College

Gene Fein Fordham University

Joel Franks San Jose State University

Raymond Frey Centenary College

Richard Gianni Indiana University Northwest

Larry Gragg Missouri University of Science and Technology

Laura Graves South Plains College

Elisa Guernsey Monroe Community College

Thomas Chase Hagood University of Georgia

Charlotte Haller Worcester State University

David Head Spring Hill College

Tamora Hoskisson Salt Lake Community College

Jean Keller Palomar College

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Kathleen Kennedy Missouri State University

Mark Klobas Scottsdale Community College

Ann Kordas Johnson & Wales University

Stephanie Laffer Miami International University of Art and Design

Jennifer Lang Delgado Community College

Jennifer Lawrence Tarrant County College

Wendy Maier-Sarti Oakton Community College

Jim McIntyre Moraine Valley Community College

Marianne McKnight Salt Lake Community College

Brandon Morgan Central New Mexico Community College

Caryn Neumann Miami University of Ohio

Michelle Novak Houston Community College

Lisa Ossian Des Moines Area Community College

Paul Ringel High Point University

Jason Ripper Everett Community College

Silvana Siddali Saint Louis University

Brooks Simpson Arizona State University

Steven Smith California State University, Fullerton

David Trowbridge Marshall University

Eugene Van Sickle University of North Georgia

Hubert van Tuyll Augusta State University

AncillariesOpenStax projects offer an array of ancillaries for students and instructors. Please visit and view the learning resources for this title.

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The Americas, Europe, and AfricaBefore 1492

Figure 1.1 In Europe supported by Africa and America (1796), artist William Blake, who was an abolitionist, depictsthe interdependence of the three continents in the Atlantic World; however, he places gold armbands on the Indianand African women, symbolizing their subjugation. The strand binding the three women may represent tobacco.

Chapter Outline1.1 The Americas1.2 Europe on the Brink of Change1.3 West Africa and the Role of Slavery

IntroductionGlobalization, the ever-increasing interconnectedness of the world, is not a new phenomenon, but itaccelerated when western Europeans discovered the riches of the East. During the Crusades (1095–1291),Europeans developed an appetite for spices, silk, porcelain, sugar, and other luxury items from the East,for which they traded fur, timber, and Slavic people they captured and sold (hence the word slave). Butwhen the Silk Road, the long overland trading route from China to the Mediterranean, became costlier andmore dangerous to travel, Europeans searched for a more efficient and inexpensive trade route over water,initiating the development of what we now call the Atlantic World.

In pursuit of commerce in Asia, fifteenth-century traders unexpectedly encountered a “New World”populated by millions and home to sophisticated and numerous peoples. Mistakenly believing they hadreached the East Indies, these early explorers called its inhabitants Indians. West Africa, a diverse andculturally rich area, soon entered the stage as other nations exploited its slave trade and brought its peoplesto the New World in chains. Although Europeans would come to dominate the New World, they couldnot have done so without Africans and native peoples (Figure 1.1).

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1.1 The Americas

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Locate on a map the major American civilizations before the arrival of the Spanish• Discuss the cultural achievements of these civilizations• Discuss the differences and similarities between lifestyles, religious practices, and

customs among the native peoples

Between nine and fifteen thousand years ago, some scholars believe that a land bridge existed betweenAsia and North America that we now call Beringia. The first inhabitants of what would be named theAmericas migrated across this bridge in search of food. When the glaciers melted, water engulfed Beringia,and the Bering Strait was formed. Later settlers came by boat across the narrow strait. (The fact thatAsians and American Indians share genetic markers on a Y chromosome lends credibility to this migrationtheory.) Continually moving southward, the settlers eventually populated both North and South America,creating unique cultures that ranged from the highly complex and urban Aztec civilization in what is nowMexico City to the woodland tribes of eastern North America. Recent research along the west coast ofSouth America suggests that migrant populations may have traveled down this coast by water as well asby land.

Researchers believe that about ten thousand years ago, humans also began the domestication of plantsand animals, adding agriculture as a means of sustenance to hunting and gathering techniques. With thisagricultural revolution, and the more abundant and reliable food supplies it brought, populations grewand people were able to develop a more settled way of life, building permanent settlements. Nowhere inthe Americas was this more obvious than in Mesoamerica (Figure 1.3).

Figure 1.2 (credit: modification of work by Architect of the Capitol)

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Figure 1.3 This map shows the extent of the major civilizations of the Western Hemisphere. In South America, earlycivilizations developed along the coast because the high Andes and the inhospitable Amazon Basin made the interiorof the continent less favorable for settlement.

THE FIRST AMERICANS: THE OLMECMesoamerica is the geographic area stretching from north of Panama up to the desert of central Mexico.Although marked by great topographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity, this region cradled a numberof civilizations with similar characteristics. Mesoamericans were polytheistic; their gods possessed bothmale and female traits and demanded blood sacrifices of enemies taken in battle or ritual bloodletting.Corn, or maize, domesticated by 5000 BCE, formed the basis of their diet. They developed a mathematicalsystem, built huge edifices, and devised a calendar that accurately predicted eclipses and solstices and thatpriest-astronomers used to direct the planting and harvesting of crops. Most important for our knowledgeof these peoples, they created the only known written language in the Western Hemisphere; researchershave made much progress in interpreting the inscriptions on their temples and pyramids. Though the areahad no overarching political structure, trade over long distances helped diffuse culture. Weapons madeof obsidian, jewelry crafted from jade, feathers woven into clothing and ornaments, and cacao beans thatwere whipped into a chocolate drink formed the basis of commerce. The mother of Mesoamerican cultureswas the Olmec civilization.

Flourishing along the hot Gulf Coast of Mexico from about 1200 to about 400 BCE, the Olmec produced anumber of major works of art, architecture, pottery, and sculpture. Most recognizable are their giant headsculptures (Figure 1.4) and the pyramid in La Venta. The Olmec built aqueducts to transport water intotheir cities and irrigate their fields. They grew maize, squash, beans, and tomatoes. They also bred smalldomesticated dogs which, along with fish, provided their protein. Although no one knows what happenedto the Olmec after about 400 BCE, in part because the jungle reclaimed many of their cities, their culturewas the base upon which the Maya and the Aztec built. It was the Olmec who worshipped a rain god, amaize god, and the feathered serpent so important in the future pantheons of the Aztecs (who called himQuetzalcoatl) and the Maya (to whom he was Kukulkan). The Olmec also developed a system of tradethroughout Mesoamerica, giving rise to an elite class.

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Figure 1.4 The Olmec carved heads from giant boulders that ranged from four to eleven feet in height and couldweigh up to fifty tons. All these figures have flat noses, slightly crossed eyes, and large lips. These physical featurescan be seen today in some of the peoples indigenous to the area.

THE MAYAAfter the decline of the Olmec, a city rose in the fertile central highlands of Mesoamerica. One of the largestpopulation centers in pre-Columbian America and home to more than 100,000 people at its height in about500 CE, Teotihuacan was located about thirty miles northeast of modern Mexico City. The ethnicity of thissettlement’s inhabitants is debated; some scholars believe it was a multiethnic city. Large-scale agricultureand the resultant abundance of food allowed time for people to develop special trades and skills otherthan farming. Builders constructed over twenty-two hundred apartment compounds for multiple families,as well as more than a hundred temples. Among these were the Pyramid of the Sun (which is twohundred feet high) and the Pyramid of the Moon (one hundred and fifty feet high). Near the Templeof the Feathered Serpent, graves have been uncovered that suggest humans were sacrificed for religiouspurposes. The city was also the center for trade, which extended to settlements on Mesoamerica’s GulfCoast.

The Maya were one Mesoamerican culture that had strong ties to Teotihuacan. The Maya’s architecturaland mathematical contributions were significant. Flourishing from roughly 2000 BCE to 900 CE in whatis now Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala, the Maya perfected the calendar and written languagethe Olmec had begun. They devised a written mathematical system to record crop yields and the size ofthe population, and to assist in trade. Surrounded by farms relying on primitive agriculture, they built thecity-states of Copan, Tikal, and Chichen Itza along their major trade routes, as well as temples, statues ofgods, pyramids, and astronomical observatories (Figure 1.5). However, because of poor soil and a droughtthat lasted nearly two centuries, their civilization declined by about 900 CE and they abandoned their largepopulation centers.

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Figure 1.5 El Castillo, located at Chichen Itza in the eastern Yucatán peninsula, served as a temple for the godKukulkan. Each side contains ninety-one steps to the top. When counting the top platform, the total number of stairsis three hundred and sixty-five, the number of days in a year. (credit: Ken Thomas)

The Spanish found little organized resistance among the weakened Maya upon their arrival in the 1520s.However, they did find Mayan history, in the form of glyphs, or pictures representing words, recordedin folding books called codices (the singular is codex). In 1562, Bishop Diego de Landa, who feared theconverted natives had reverted to their traditional religious practices, collected and burned every codex hecould find. Today only a few survive.

Visit the University of Arizona Library Special Collections( to view facsimiles and descriptions oftwo of the four surviving Mayan codices.

THE AZTECWhen the Spaniard Hernán Cortés arrived on the coast of Mexico in the sixteenth century, at the site ofpresent-day Veracruz, he soon heard of a great city ruled by an emperor named Moctezuma. This citywas tremendously wealthy—filled with gold—and took in tribute from surrounding tribes. The riches andcomplexity Cortés found when he arrived at that city, known as Tenochtitlán, were far beyond anythinghe or his men had ever seen.

According to legend, a warlike people called the Aztec (also known as the Mexica) had left a city calledAztlán and traveled south to the site of present-day Mexico City. In 1325, they began construction ofTenochtitlán on an island in Lake Texcoco. By 1519, when Cortés arrived, this settlement containedupwards of 200,000 inhabitants and was certainly the largest city in the Western Hemisphere at that timeand probably larger than any European city (Figure 1.6). One of Cortés’s soldiers, Bernal Díaz del Castillo,recorded his impressions upon first seeing it: “When we saw so many cities and villages built in the waterand other great towns on dry land we were amazed and said it was like the enchantments . . . on account ofthe great towers and cues and buildings rising from the water, and all built of masonry. And some of our

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soldiers even asked whether the things that we saw were not a dream? . . . I do not know how to describeit, seeing things as we did that had never been heard of or seen before, not even dreamed about.”

Figure 1.6 This rendering of the Aztec island city of Tenochtitlán depicts the causeways that connected the centralcity to the surrounding land. Envoys from surrounding tribes brought tribute to the Emperor.

Unlike the dirty, fetid cities of Europe at the time, Tenochtitlán was well planned, clean, and orderly.The city had neighborhoods for specific occupations, a trash collection system, markets, two aqueductsbringing in fresh water, and public buildings and temples. Unlike the Spanish, Aztecs bathed daily, andwealthy homes might even contain a steam bath. A labor force of slaves from subjugated neighboringtribes had built the fabulous city and the three causeways that connected it to the mainland. To farm, theAztec constructed barges made of reeds and filled them with fertile soil. Lake water constantly irrigatedthese chinampas, or “floating gardens,” which are still in use and can be seen today in Xochimilco, adistrict of Mexico City.

Each god in the Aztec pantheon represented and ruled an aspect of the natural world, such as the heavens,farming, rain, fertility, sacrifice, and combat. A ruling class of warrior nobles and priests performed ritualhuman sacrifice daily to sustain the sun on its long journey across the sky, to appease or feed the gods, andto stimulate agricultural production. The sacrificial ceremony included cutting open the chest of a criminalor captured warrior with an obsidian knife and removing the still-beating heart (Figure 1.7).

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Figure 1.7 In this illustration, an Aztec priest cuts out the beating heart of a sacrificial victim before throwing thebody down from the temple. Aztec belief centered on supplying the gods with human blood—the ultimatesacrifice—to keep them strong and well.

Explore ( to learnmore about the Aztec creation story.


The Aztec Predict the Coming of the SpanishThe following is an excerpt from the sixteenth-century Florentine Codex of the writings of Fray Bernardinode Sahagun, a priest and early chronicler of Aztec history. When an old man from Xochimilco first sawthe Spanish in Veracruz, he recounted an earlier dream to Moctezuma, the ruler of the Aztecs.

Said Quzatli to the sovereign, “Oh mighty lord, if because I tell you the truth I am to die,nevertheless I am here in your presence and you may do what you wish to me!” He narratedthat mounted men would come to this land in a great wooden house [ships] this structure wasto lodge many men, serving them as a home; within they would eat and sleep. On the surfaceof this house they would cook their food, walk and play as if they were on firm land. They wereto be white, bearded men, dressed in different colors and on their heads they would wearround coverings.

Ten years before the arrival of the Spanish, Moctezuma received several omens which at the time hecould not interpret. A fiery object appeared in the night sky, a spontaneous fire broke out in a religioustemple and could not be extinguished with water, a water spout appeared in Lake Texcoco, and a womancould be heard wailing, “O my children we are about to go forever.” Moctezuma also had dreams andpremonitions of impending disaster. These foretellings were recorded after the Aztecs’ destruction. Theydo, however, give us insight into the importance placed upon signs and omens in the pre-Columbianworld.

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THE INCAIn South America, the most highly developed and complex society was that of the Inca, whose name means“lord” or “ruler” in the Andean language called Quechua. At its height in the fifteenth and sixteenthcenturies, the Inca Empire, located on the Pacific coast and straddling the Andes Mountains, extendedsome twenty-five hundred miles. It stretched from modern-day Colombia in the north to Chile in the southand included cities built at an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level. Its road system, kept free of debris andrepaired by workers stationed at varying intervals, rivaled that of the Romans and efficiently connected thesprawling empire. The Inca, like all other pre-Columbian societies, did not use axle-mounted wheels fortransportation. They built stepped roads to ascend and descend the steep slopes of the Andes; these wouldhave been impractical for wheeled vehicles but worked well for pedestrians. These roads enabled the rapidmovement of the highly trained Incan army. Also like the Romans, the Inca were effective administrators.Runners called chasquis traversed the roads in a continuous relay system, ensuring quick communicationover long distances. The Inca had no system of writing, however. They communicated and kept recordsusing a system of colored strings and knots called the quipu (Figure 1.8).

Figure 1.8 The Inca had no written language. Instead, they communicated and kept records by means of a systemof knots and colored strings called the quipu. Each of these knots and strings possessed a distinct meaningintelligible to those educated in their significance.

The Inca people worshipped their lord who, as a member of an elite ruling class, had absolute authorityover every aspect of life. Much like feudal lords in Europe at the time, the ruling class lived off the laborof the peasants, collecting vast wealth that accompanied them as they went, mummified, into the next life.The Inca farmed corn, beans, squash, quinoa (a grain cultivated for its seeds), and the indigenous potatoon terraced land they hacked from the steep mountains. Peasants received only one-third of their crops forthemselves. The Inca ruler required a third, and a third was set aside in a kind of welfare system for thoseunable to work. Huge storehouses were filled with food for times of need. Each peasant also worked forthe Inca ruler a number of days per month on public works projects, a requirement known as the mita. Forexample, peasants constructed rope bridges made of grass to span the mountains above fast-flowing icyrivers. In return, the lord provided laws, protection, and relief in times of famine.

The Inca worshipped the sun god Inti and called gold the “sweat” of the sun. Unlike the Maya and theAztecs, they rarely practiced human sacrifice and usually offered the gods food, clothing, and coca leaves.In times of dire emergency, however, such as in the aftermath of earthquakes, volcanoes, or crop failure,they resorted to sacrificing prisoners. The ultimate sacrifice was children, who were specially selected andwell fed. The Inca believed these children would immediately go to a much better afterlife.

In 1911, the American historian Hiram Bingham uncovered the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu (Figure1.9). Located about fifty miles northwest of Cusco, Peru, at an altitude of about 8,000 feet, the city had

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been built in 1450 and inexplicably abandoned roughly a hundred years later. Scholars believe the citywas used for religious ceremonial purposes and housed the priesthood. The architectural beauty of thiscity is unrivaled. Using only the strength of human labor and no machines, the Inca constructed walls andbuildings of polished stones, some weighing over fifty tons, that were fitted together perfectly without theuse of mortar. In 1983, UNESCO designated the ruined city a World Heritage Site.

Figure 1.9 Located in today’s Peru at an altitude of nearly 8,000 feet, Machu Picchu was a ceremonial Incan citybuilt about 1450 CE.

Browse the British Museum’s World Cultures collection( to see more examples and descriptions of Incan(as well as Aztec, Mayan, and North American Indian) art.

NORTH AMERICAN INDIANSWith few exceptions, the North American native cultures were much more widely dispersed than theMayan, Aztec, and Incan societies, and did not have their population size or organized social structures.Although the cultivation of corn had made its way north, many Indians still practiced hunting andgathering. Horses, first introduced by the Spanish, allowed the Plains Indians to more easily follow andhunt the huge herds of bison. A few societies had evolved into relatively complex forms, but they werealready in decline at the time of Christopher Columbus’s arrival.

In the southwestern part of today’s United States dwelled several groups we collectively call the Pueblo.The Spanish first gave them this name, which means “town” or “village,” because they lived in towns orvillages of permanent stone-and-mud buildings with thatched roofs. Like present-day apartment houses,these buildings had multiple stories, each with multiple rooms. The three main groups of the Pueblopeople were the Mogollon, Hohokam, and Anasazi.

The Mogollon thrived in the Mimbres Valley (New Mexico) from about 150 BCE to 1450 CE. Theydeveloped a distinctive artistic style for painting bowls with finely drawn geometric figures and wildlife,especially birds, in black on a white background. Beginning about 600 CE, the Hohokam built an extensive

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irrigation system of canals to irrigate the desert and grow fields of corn, beans, and squash. By 1300,their crop yields were supporting the most highly populated settlements in the southwest. The Hohokamdecorated pottery with a red-on-buff design and made jewelry of turquoise. In the high desert of NewMexico, the Anasazi, whose name means “ancient enemy” or “ancient ones,” carved homes from steepcliffs accessed by ladders or ropes that could be pulled in at night or in case of enemy attack (Figure 1.10).

Figure 1.10 To access their homes, the cliff-dwelling Anasazi used ropes or ladders that could be pulled in at nightfor safety. These pueblos may be viewed today in Canyon de Chelly National Monument (above) in Arizona andMesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

Roads extending some 180 miles connected the Pueblos’ smaller urban centers to each other and toChaco Canyon, which by 1050 CE had become the administrative, religious, and cultural center of theircivilization. A century later, however, probably because of drought, the Pueblo peoples abandoned theircities. Their present-day descendants include the Hopi and Zuni tribes.

The Indian groups who lived in the present-day Ohio River Valley and achieved their cultural apex fromthe first century CE to 400 CE are collectively known as the Hopewell culture. Their settlements, unlikethose of the southwest, were small hamlets. They lived in wattle-and-daub houses (made from wovenlattice branches “daubed” with wet mud, clay, or sand and straw) and practiced agriculture, which theysupplemented by hunting and fishing. Utilizing waterways, they developed trade routes stretching fromCanada to Louisiana, where they exchanged goods with other tribes and negotiated in many differentlanguages. From the coast they received shells; from Canada, copper; and from the Rocky Mountains,obsidian. With these materials they created necklaces, woven mats, and exquisite carvings. What remainsof their culture today are huge burial mounds and earthworks. Many of the mounds that were opened byarchaeologists contained artworks and other goods that indicate their society was socially stratified.

Perhaps the largest indigenous cultural and population center in North America was located along theMississippi River near present-day St. Louis. At its height in about 1100 CE, this five-square-mile city,now called Cahokia, was home to more than ten thousand residents; tens of thousands more lived onfarms surrounding the urban center. The city also contained one hundred and twenty earthen mounds orpyramids, each dominating a particular neighborhood and on each of which lived a leader who exercisedauthority over the surrounding area. The largest mound covered fifteen acres. Cahokia was the hubof political and trading activities along the Mississippi River. After 1300 CE, however, this civilizationdeclined—possibly because the area became unable to support the large population.

INDIANS OF THE EASTERN WOODLANDEncouraged by the wealth found by the Spanish in the settled civilizations to the south, fifteenth- andsixteenth-century English, Dutch, and French explorers expected to discover the same in North America.What they found instead were small, disparate communities, many already ravaged by European diseases

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brought by the Spanish and transmitted among the natives. Rather than gold and silver, there was anabundance of land, and the timber and fur that land could produce.

The Indians living east of the Mississippi did not construct the large and complex societies of those tothe west. Because they lived in small autonomous clans or tribal units, each group adapted to the specificenvironment in which it lived (Figure 1.11). These groups were by no means unified, and warfare amongtribes was common as they sought to increase their hunting and fishing areas. Still, these tribes sharedsome common traits. A chief or group of tribal elders made decisions, and although the chief was male,usually the women selected and counseled him. Gender roles were not as fixed as they were in thepatriarchal societies of Europe, Mesoamerica, and South America.

Figure 1.11 This map indicates the locations of the three Pueblo cultures the major Eastern Woodland Indian tribes,and the tribes of the Southeast, as well as the location of the ancient city of Cahokia.

Women typically cultivated corn, beans, and squash and harvested nuts and berries, while men hunted,fished, and provided protection. But both took responsibility for raising children, and most major Indiansocieties in the east were matriarchal. In tribes such as the Iroquois, Lenape, Muscogee, and Cherokee,women had both power and influence. They counseled the chief and passed on the traditions of the tribe.This matriarchy changed dramatically with the coming of the Europeans, who introduced, sometimesforcibly, their own customs and traditions to the natives.

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Clashing beliefs about land ownership and use of the environment would be the greatest area of conflictwith Europeans. Although tribes often claimed the right to certain hunting grounds—usually identifiedby some geographical landmark—Indians did not practice, or in general even have the concept of, privateownership of land. There were tribal hunting grounds, usually identified by some geographical landmark,but there was no private ownership of land. A person’s possessions included only what he or she hadmade, such as tools or weapons. The European Christian worldview, on the other hand, viewed land asthe source of wealth. According to the Christian Bible, God created humanity in his own image with thecommand to use and subdue the rest of creation, which included not only land, but also all animal life.Upon their arrival in North America, Europeans found no fences, no signs designating ownership. Land,and the game that populated it, they believed, were there for the taking.

1.2 Europe on the Brink of Change

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the European societies that engaged in conversion, conquest, and commerce• Discuss the motives for and mechanisms of early European exploration

The fall of the Roman Empire (476 CE) and the beginning of the European Renaissance in the latefourteenth century roughly bookend the period we call the Middle Ages. Without a dominant centralizedpower or overarching cultural hub, Europe experienced political and military discord during this time. Itsinhabitants retreated into walled cities, fearing marauding pillagers including Vikings, Mongols, Arabs,and Magyars. In return for protection, they submitted to powerful lords and their armies of knights. Intheir brief, hard lives, few people traveled more than ten miles from the place they were born.

The Christian Church remained intact, however, and emerged from the period as a unified and powerfulinstitution. Priests, tucked away in monasteries, kept knowledge alive by collecting and copying religiousand secular manuscripts, often adding beautiful drawings or artwork. Social and economic devastationarrived in 1340s, however, when Genoese merchants returning from the Black Sea unwittingly broughtwith them a rat-borne and highly contagious disease, known as the bubonic plague. In a few shortyears, it had killed many millions, about one-third of Europe’s population. A different strain, spread byairborne germs, also killed many. Together these two are collectively called the Black Death (Figure 1.12).Entire villages disappeared. A high birth rate, however, coupled with bountiful harvests, meant that thepopulation grew during the next century. By 1450, a newly rejuvenated European society was on the brinkof tremendous change.

Figure 1.12 This image depicts the bodily swellings, or buboes, characteristic of the Black Death.

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Visit EyeWitness to History ( to learn moreabout the Black Death.

LIFE IN FEUDAL EUROPEDuring the Middle Ages, most Europeans lived in small villages that consisted of a manorial house orcastle for the lord, a church, and simple homes for the peasants or serfs, who made up about 60 percent ofwestern Europe’s population. Hundreds of these castles and walled cities remain all over Europe (Figure1.13).

Figure 1.13 One of the most beautifully preserved medieval walled cities is Carcassonne, France. Notice the use ofa double wall.

Europe’s feudal society was a mutually supportive system. The lords owned the land; knights gavemilitary service to a lord and carried out his justice; serfs worked the land in return for the protectionoffered by the lord’s castle or the walls of his city, into which they fled in times of danger from invaders.Much land was communally farmed at first, but as lords became more powerful they extended theirownership and rented land to their subjects. Thus, although they were technically free, serfs wereeffectively bound to the land they worked, which supported them and their families as well as the lordand all who depended on him. The Catholic Church, the only church in Europe at the time, also ownedvast tracts of land and became very wealthy by collecting not only tithes (taxes consisting of 10 percent ofannual earnings) but also rents on its lands.

A serf’s life was difficult. Women often died in childbirth, and perhaps one-third of children died beforethe age of five. Without sanitation or medicine, many people perished from diseases we considerinconsequential today; few lived to be older than forty-five. Entire families, usually includinggrandparents, lived in one- or two-room hovels that were cold, dark, and dirty. A fire was kept lit andwas always a danger to the thatched roofs, while its constant smoke affected the inhabitants’ health and

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eyesight. Most individuals owned no more than two sets of clothing, consisting of a woolen jacket or tunicand linen undergarments, and bathed only when the waters melted in spring.

In an agrarian society, the seasons dictate the rhythm of life. Everyone in Europe’s feudal society had ajob to do and worked hard. The father was the unquestioned head of the family. Idleness meant hunger.When the land began to thaw in early spring, peasants started tilling the soil with primitive wooden plowsand crude rakes and hoes. Then they planted crops of wheat, rye, barley, and oats, reaping small yieldsthat barely sustained the population. Bad weather, crop disease, or insect infestation could cause an entirevillage to starve or force the survivors to move to another location.

Early summer saw the first harvesting of hay, which was stored until needed to feed the animals inwinter. Men and boys sheared the sheep, now heavy with wool from the cold weather, while women andchildren washed the wool and spun it into yarn. The coming of fall meant crops needed to be harvestedand prepared for winter. Livestock was butchered and the meat smoked or salted to preserve it. With theharvest in and the provisions stored, fall was also the time for celebrating and giving thanks to God. Winterbrought the people indoors to weave yarn into fabric, sew clothing, thresh grain, and keep the fires going.Everyone celebrated the birth of Christ in conjunction with the winter solstice.

THE CHURCH AND SOCIETYAfter the fall of Rome, the Christian Church—united in dogma but unofficially divided into western andeastern branches—was the only organized institution in medieval Europe. In 1054, the eastern branch ofChristianity, led by the Patriarch of Constantinople (a title that because roughly equivalent to the westernChurch’s pope), established its center in Constantinople and adopted the Greek language for its services.The western branch, under the pope, remained in Rome, becoming known as the Roman Catholic Churchand continuing to use Latin. Following this split, known as the Great Schism, each branch of Christianitymaintained a strict organizational hierarchy. The pope in Rome, for example, oversaw a huge bureaucracyled by cardinals, known as “princes of the church,” who were followed by archbishops, bishops, and thenpriests. During this period, the Roman Church became the most powerful international organization inwestern Europe.

Just as agrarian life depended on the seasons, village and family life revolved around the Church. Thesacraments, or special ceremonies of the Church, marked every stage of life, from birth to maturation,marriage, and burial, and brought people into the church on a regular basis. As Christianity spreadthroughout Europe, it replaced pagan and animistic views, explaining supernatural events and forces ofnature in its own terms. A benevolent God in heaven, creator of the universe and beyond the realm ofnature and the known, controlled all events, warring against the force of darkness, known as the Devil orSatan, here on earth. Although ultimately defeated, Satan still had the power to trick humans and causethem to commit evil or sin.

All events had a spiritual connotation. Sickness, for example, might be a sign that a person had sinned,while crop failure could result from the villagers’ not saying their prayers. Penitents confessed their sinsto the priest, who absolved them and assigned them penance to atone for their acts and save themselvesfrom eternal damnation. Thus the parish priest held enormous power over the lives of his parishioners.

Ultimately, the pope decided all matters of theology, interpreting the will of God to the people, but he alsohad authority over temporal matters. Because the Church had the ability to excommunicate people, or senda soul to hell forever, even monarchs feared to challenge its power. It was also the seat of all knowledge.Latin, the language of the Church, served as a unifying factor for a continent of isolated regions, each withits own dialect; in the early Middle Ages, nations as we know them today did not yet exist. The mostlyilliterate serfs were thus dependent on those literate priests to read and interpret the Bible, the word ofGod, for them.

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CHRISTIANITY ENCOUNTERS ISLAMThe year 622 brought a new challenge to Christendom. Near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, a prophet namedMuhammad received a revelation that became a cornerstone of the Islamic faith. The Koran, whichMuhammad wrote in Arabic, contained his message, affirming monotheism but identifying Christ not asGod but as a prophet like Moses, Abraham, David, and Muhammad. Following Muhammad’s death in632, Islam spread by both conversion and military conquest across the Middle East and Asia Minor to Indiaand northern Africa, crossing the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain in the year 711 (Figure 1.14).

Figure 1.14 In the seventh and eighth centuries, Islam spread quickly across North Africa and into the Middle East.The religion arrived in Europe via Spain in 711 and remained there until 1492, when Catholic monarchs reconqueredthe last of Muslim-held territory after a long war.

The Islamic conquest of Europe continued until 732. Then, at the Battle of Tours (in modern France),Charles Martel, nicknamed the Hammer, led a Christian force in defeating the army of Abdul Rahmanal-Ghafiqi. Muslims, however, retained control of much of Spain, where Córdoba, known for leather andwool production, became a major center of learning and trade. By the eleventh century, a major Christianholy war called the Reconquista, or reconquest, had begun to slowly push the Muslims from Spain.This drive was actually an extension of the earlier military conflict between Christians and Muslims fordomination of the Holy Land (the Biblical region of Palestine), known as the Crusades.

Visit EyeWitness to History ( to read apersonal account of the Crusades.

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JERUSALEM AND THE CRUSADESThe city of Jerusalem is a holy site for Jews, Christians, and Muslims. It was here King Solomon builtthe Temple in the tenth century BCE. It was here the Romans crucified Jesus in 33 CE, and from here,Christians maintain, he ascended into heaven, promising to return. From here, Muslims believe,Muhammad traveled to heaven in 621 to receive instructions about prayer. Thus claims on the area godeep, and emotions about it run high, among followers of all three faiths. Evidence exists that the threereligions lived in harmony for centuries. In 1095, however, European Christians decided not only to retakethe holy city from the Muslim rulers but also to conquer what they called the Holy Lands, an area thatextended from modern-day Turkey in the north along the Mediterranean coast to the Sinai Peninsula andthat was also held by Muslims. The Crusades had begun.

Religious zeal motivated the knights who participated in the four Crusades. Adventure, the chance towin land and a title, and the Church’s promise of wholesale forgiveness of sins also motivated many.The Crusaders, mostly French knights, retook Jerusalem in June 1099 amid horrific slaughter. A Frenchwriter who accompanied them recorded this eyewitness account: “On the top of Solomon’s Temple, towhich they had climbed in fleeing, many were shot to death with arrows and cast down headlong fromthe roof. Within this Temple, about ten thousand were beheaded. If you had been there, your feet wouldhave been stained up to the ankles with the blood of the slain. What more shall I tell? Not one of them wasallowed to live. They did not spare the women and children.” A Muslim eyewitness also described howthe conquerors stripped the temple of its wealth and looted private homes.

In 1187, under the legendary leader Saladin, Muslim forces took back the city. Reaction from Europe wasswift as King Richard I of England, the Lionheart, joined others to mount yet another action. The battlefor the Holy Lands did not conclude until the Crusaders lost their Mediterranean stronghold at Acre (inpresent-day Israel) in 1291 and the last of the Christians left the area a few years later.

The Crusades had lasting effects, both positive and negative. On the negative side, the wide-scalepersecution of Jews began. Christians classed them with the infidel Muslims and labeled them “the killersof Christ.” In the coming centuries, kings either expelled Jews from their kingdoms or forced them to payheavy tributes for the privilege of remaining. Muslim-Christian hatred also festered, and intolerance grew.

On the positive side, maritime trade between East and West expanded. As Crusaders experienced the feelof silk, the taste of spices, and the utility of porcelain, desire for these products created new markets formerchants. In particular, the Adriatic port city of Venice prospered enormously from trade with Islamicmerchants. Merchants’ ships brought Europeans valuable goods, traveling between the port cities ofwestern Europe and the East from the tenth century on, along routes collectively labeled the Silk Road.From the days of the early adventurer Marco Polo, Venetian sailors had traveled to ports on the Black Seaand established their own colonies along the Mediterranean Coast. However, transporting goods along theold Silk Road was costly, slow, and unprofitable. Muslim middlemen collected taxes as the goods changedhands. Robbers waited to ambush the treasure-laden caravans. A direct water route to the East, cutting outthe land portion of the trip, had to be found. As well as seeking a water passage to the wealthy cities inthe East, sailors wanted to find a route to the exotic and wealthy Spice Islands in modern-day Indonesia,whose location was kept secret by Muslim rulers. Longtime rivals of Venice, the merchants of Genoa andFlorence also looked west.

THE IBERIAN PENINSULAAlthough Norse explorers such as Leif Ericson, the son of Eric the Red who first settled Greenland, hadreached and established a colony in northern Canada roughly five hundred years prior to ChristopherColumbus’s voyage, it was explorers sailing for Portugal and Spain who traversed the Atlantic throughoutthe fifteenth century and ushered in an unprecedented age of exploration and permanent contact withNorth America.

Located on the extreme western edge of Europe, Portugal, with its port city of Lisbon, soon became thecenter for merchants desiring to undercut the Venetians’ hold on trade. With a population of about one

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million and supported by its ruler Prince Henry, whom historians call “the Navigator,” this independentkingdom fostered exploration of and trade with western Africa. Skilled shipbuilders and navigators whotook advantage of maps from all over Europe, Portuguese sailors used triangular sails and built lightervessels called caravels that could sail down the African coast.

Just to the east of Portugal, King Ferdinand of Aragon married Queen Isabella of Castile in 1469, unitingtwo of the most powerful independent kingdoms on the Iberian peninsula and laying the foundation forthe modern nation of Spain. Isabella, motivated by strong religious zeal, was instrumental in beginningthe Inquisition in 1480, a brutal campaign to root out Jews and Muslims who had seemingly converted toChristianity but secretly continued to practice their faith, as well as other heretics. This powerful coupleruled for the next twenty-five years, centralizing authority and funding exploration and trade with theEast. One of their daughters, Catherine of Aragon, became the first wife of King Henry VIII of England.


Motives for European ExplorationHistorians generally recognize three motives for European exploration—God, glory, and gold. Particularlyin the strongly Catholic nations of Spain and Portugal, religious zeal motivated the rulers to makeconverts and retake land from the Muslims. Prince Henry the Navigator of Portugal described his “greatdesire to make increase in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ and to bring him all the souls that should besaved.”

Sailors’ tales about fabulous monsters and fantasy literature about exotic worlds filled with gold, silver,and jewels captured the minds of men who desired to explore these lands and return with untold wealthand the glory of adventure and discovery. They sparked the imagination of merchants like Marco Polo,who made the long and dangerous trip to the realm of the great Mongol ruler Kublai Khan in 1271. Thestory of his trip, printed in a book entitled Travels, inspired Columbus, who had a copy in his possessionduring his voyage more than two hundred years later. Passages such as the following, which describesChina’s imperial palace, are typical of the Travels:

You must know that it is the greatest Palace that ever was. . . . The roof is very lofty, andthe walls of the Palace are all covered with gold and silver. They are also adorned withrepresentations of dragons [sculptured and gilt], beasts and birds, knights and idols, andsundry other subjects. And on the ceiling too you see nothing but gold and silver and painting.[On each of the four sides there is a great marble staircase leading to the top of the marblewall, and forming the approach to the Palace.]

The hall of the Palace is so large that it could easily dine 6,000 people; and it is quite a marvelto see how many rooms there are besides. The building is altogether so vast, so rich, and sobeautiful, that no man on earth could design anything superior to it. The outside of the roofalso is all colored with vermilion and yellow and green and blue and other hues, which arefixed with a varnish so fine and exquisite that they shine like crystal, and lend a resplendentlustre to the Palace as seen for a great way round. This roof is made too with such strengthand solidity that it is fit to last forever.

Why might a travel account like this one have influenced an explorer like Columbus? What does this tellus about European explorers’ motivations and goals?

The year 1492 witnessed some of the most significant events of Ferdinand and Isabella’s reign. The coupleoversaw the final expulsion of North African Muslims (Moors) from the Kingdom of Granada, bringingthe nearly eight-hundred-year Reconquista to an end. In this same year, they also ordered all unconvertedJews to leave Spain.

Also in 1492, after six years of lobbying, a Genoese sailor named Christopher Columbus persuaded themonarchs to fund his expedition to the Far East. Columbus had already pitched his plan to the rulers ofGenoa and Venice without success, so the Spanish monarchy was his last hope. Christian zeal was the

Chapter 1 The Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492 23

prime motivating factor for Isabella, as she imagined her faith spreading to the East. Ferdinand, the morepractical of the two, hoped to acquire wealth from trade.

Most educated individuals at the time knew the earth was round, so Columbus’s plan to reach theEast by sailing west was plausible. Though the calculations of Earth’s circumference made by the Greekgeographer Eratosthenes in the second century BCE were known (and, as we now know, nearly accurate),most scholars did not believe they were dependable. Thus Columbus would have no way of knowingwhen he had traveled far enough around the Earth to reach his goal—and in fact, Columbus greatlyunderestimated the Earth’s circumference.

In August 1492, Columbus set sail with his three small caravels (Figure 1.15). After a voyage of aboutthree thousand miles lasting six weeks, he landed on an island in the Bahamas named Guanahani by thenative Lucayans. He promptly christened it San Salvador, the name it bears today.

Figure 1.15 Columbus sailed in three caravels such as these. The Santa Maria, his largest, was only 58 feet long.

1.3 West Africa and the Role of Slavery

At the end of this section, you will be able to:• Locate the major West African empires on a map• Discuss the roles of Islam and Europe in the slave trade

It is difficult to generalize about West Africa, which was linked to the rise and diffusion of Islam. Thisgeographical unit, central to the rise of the Atlantic World, stretches from modern-day Mauritania to theDemocratic Republic of the Congo and encompasses lush rainforests along the equator, savannas on eitherside of the forest, and much drier land to the north. Until about 600 CE, most Africans were hunter-gatherers. Where water was too scarce for farming, herders maintained sheep, goats, cattle, or camels. Inthe more heavily wooded area near the equator, farmers raised yams, palm products, or plantains. Thesavanna areas yielded rice, millet, and sorghum. Sub-Saharan Africans had little experience in maritimematters. Most of the population lived away from the coast, which is connected to the interior by five mainrivers—the Senegal, Gambia, Niger, Volta, and Congo.

Although there were large trading centers along these rivers, most West Africans lived in small villagesand identified with their extended family or their clan. Wives, children, and dependents (including slaves)were a sign of wealth among men, and polygyny, the practice of having more than one wife at a time, waswidespread. In time of need, relatives, however far away, were counted upon to assist in supplying food

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or security. Because of the clannish nature of African society, “we” was associated with the village andfamily members, while “they” included everyone else. Hundreds of separate dialects emerged; in modernNigeria, nearly five hundred are still spoken.

Read The Role of Islam in African Slavery ( to learn more about the African slave trade.

THE MAJOR AFRICAN EMPIRESFollowing the death of the prophet Muhammad in 632 CE, Islam continued to spread quickly across NorthAfrica, bringing not only a unifying faith but a political and legal structure as well. As lands fell underthe control of Muslim armies, they instituted Islamic rule and legal structures as local chieftains converted,usually under penalty of death. Only those who had converted to Islam could rule or be engaged intrade. The first major empire to emerge in West Africa was the Ghana Empire (Figure 1.16). By 750, theSoninke farmers of the sub-Sahara had become wealthy by taxing the trade that passed through their area.For instance, the Niger River basin supplied gold to the Berber and Arab traders from west of the NileValley, who brought cloth, weapons, and manufactured goods into the interior. Huge Saharan salt minessupplied the life-sustaining mineral to the Mediterranean coast of Africa and inland areas. By 900, themonotheistic Muslims controlled most of this trade and had converted many of the African ruling elite.The majority of the population, however, maintained their tribal animistic practices, which gave livingattributes to nonliving objects such as mountains, rivers, and wind. Because Ghana’s king controlled thegold supply, he was able to maintain price controls and afford a strong military. Soon, however, a newkingdom emerged.

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Figure 1.16 This map shows the locations of the major West African empires before 1492. Along the Mediterraneancoast, Muslim states prevailed.

By 1200 CE, under the leadership of Sundiata Keita, Mali had replaced Ghana as the leading state inWest Africa. After Sundiata’s rule, the court converted to Islam, and Muslim scribes played a large partin administration and government. Miners then discovered huge new deposits of gold east of the NigerRiver. By the fourteenth century, the empire was so wealthy that while on a hajj, or pilgrimage to the holycity of Mecca, Mali’s ruler Mansu Musa gave away enough gold to create serious price inflation in the citiesalong his route. Timbuktu, the capital city, became a leading Islamic center for education, commerce andthe slave trade. Meanwhile, in the east, the city of Gao became increasingly strong under the leadership ofSonni Ali and soon eclipsed Mali’s power. Timbuktu sought Ali’s assistance in repelling the Tuaregs fromthe north. By 1500, however, the Tuareg empire of Songhay had eclipsed Mali, where weak and ineffectiveleadership prevailed.

THE ROLE OF SLAVERYThe institution of slavery is not a recent phenomenon. Most civilizations have practiced some form ofhuman bondage and servitude, and African empires were no different (Figure 1.17). Famine or fear ofstronger enemies might force one tribe to ask another for help and give themselves in a type of bondage inexchange. Similar to the European serf system, those seeking protection, or relief from starvation, would

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become the servants of those who provided relief. Debt might also be worked off through a form ofservitude. Typically, these servants became a part of the extended tribal family. There is some evidence ofchattel slavery, in which people are treated as personal property to be bought and sold, in the Nile Valley.It appears there was a slave-trade route through the Sahara that brought sub-Saharan Africans to Rome,which had slaves from all over the world.

Figure 1.17 Traders with a group of slaves. Note how the slaves are connected at the neck. Muslim traders broughtslaves to the North African coast, where they might be sent to Europe or other parts of Africa.

Arab slave trading, which exchanged slaves for goods from the Mediterranean, existed long before Islam’sspread across North Africa. Muslims later expanded this trade and enslaved not only Africans but alsoEuropeans, especially from Spain, Sicily, and Italy. Male captives were forced to build coastal fortificationsand serve as galley slaves. Women were added to the harem.

The major European slave trade began with Portugal’s exploration of the west coast of Africa in search of atrade route to the East. By 1444, slaves were being brought from Africa to work on the sugar plantations ofthe Madeira Islands, off the coast of modern Morocco. The slave trade then expanded greatly as Europeancolonies in the New World demanded an ever-increasing number of workers for the extensive plantationsgrowing tobacco, sugar, and eventually rice and cotton (Figure 1.18).

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Figure 1.18 This map shows the routes that were used in the course of the slave trade and the number of enslavedpeople who traveled each route. As the figures indicate, most African slaves were bound for Brazil and theCaribbean. While West Africans made up the vast majority of the enslaved, the east coast of Africa, too, suppliedslaves for the trade.

In the New World, the institution of slavery assumed a new aspect when the mercantilist systemdemanded a permanent, identifiable, and plentiful labor supply. African slaves were both easily identified(by their skin color) and plentiful, because of the thriving slave trade. This led to a race-based slaverysystem in the New World unlike any bondage system that had come before. Initially, the Spanish tried toforce Indians to farm their crops. Most Spanish and Portuguese settlers coming to the New World weregentlemen and did not perform physical labor. They came to “serve God, but also to get rich,” as notedby Bernal Díaz del Castillo. However, enslaved natives tended to sicken or die from disease or from theoverwork and cruel treatment they were subjected to, and so the indigenous peoples proved not to be adependable source of labor. Although he later repented of his ideas, the great defender of the Indians,Bartolomé de Las Casas, seeing the near extinction of the native population, suggested the Spanish sendblack (and white) laborers to the Indies. These workers proved hardier, and within fifty years, a changetook place: The profitability of the African slave trade, coupled with the seemingly limitless number ofpotential slaves and the Catholic Church’s denunciation of the enslavement of Christians, led race tobecome a dominant factor in the institution of slavery.

In the English colonies along the Atlantic coast, indentured servants initially filled the need for labor in theNorth, where family farms were the norm. In the South, however, labor-intensive crops such as tobacco,rice, and indigo prevailed, and eventually the supply of indentured servants was insufficient to meet

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the demand. These workers served only for periods of three to seven years before being freed; a morepermanent labor supply was needed. Thus, whereas in Africa permanent, inherited slavery was unknown,and children of those bound in slavery to the tribe usually were free and intermarried with their captors,this changed in the Americas; slavery became permanent, and children born to slaves became slaves. Thisdevelopment, along with slavery’s identification with race, forever changed the institution and shaped itsunique character in the New World.


The Beginnings of Racial SlaverySlavery has a long history. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle posited that some peoples werehomunculi, or humanlike but not really people—for instance, if they did not speak Greek. Both theBible and the Koran sanction slavery. Vikings who raided from Ireland to Russia brought back slavesof all nationalities. During the Middle Ages, traders from the interior of Africa brought slaves along well-established routes to sell them along the Mediterranean coast. Initially, slavers also brought Europeanslaves to the Caribbean. Many of these were orphaned or homeless children captured in the cities ofIreland. The question is, when did slavery become based on race? This appears to have developed inthe New World, with the introduction of gruelingly labor-intensive crops such as sugar and coffee. Unableto fill their growing need from the ranks of prisoners or indentured servants, the European coloniststurned to African laborers. The Portuguese, although seeking a trade route to India, also set up fortsalong the West African coast for the purpose of exporting slaves to Europe. Historians believe that bythe year 1500, 10 percent of the population of Lisbon and Seville consisted of black slaves. Because ofthe influence of the Catholic Church, which frowned on the enslavement of Christians, European slavetraders expanded their reach down the coast of Africa.

When Europeans settled Brazil, the Caribbean, and North America, they thus established a system ofracially based slavery. Here, the need for a massive labor force was greater than in western Europe. Theland was ripe for growing sugar, coffee, rice, and ultimately cotton. To fulfill the ever-growing demandfor these crops, large plantations were created. The success of these plantations depended upon theavailability of a permanent, plentiful, identifiable, and skilled labor supply. As Africans were alreadyfamiliar with animal husbandry as well as farming, had an identifying skin color, and could be readilysupplied by the existing African slave trade, they proved the answer to this need. This process set thestage for the expansion of New World slavery into North America.

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Black Death


chattel slavery



feudal society









Key Terms

an ancient land bridge linking Asia and North America

two strains of the bubonic plague that simultaneously swept western Europe in thefourteenth century, causing the death of nearly half the population

Incan relay runners used to send messages over great distances

a system of servitude in which people are treated as personal property to be bought andsold

floating Aztec gardens consisting of a large barge woven from reeds, filled with dirt andfloating on the water, allowing for irrigation

a series of military expeditions made by Christian Europeans to recover the Holy Land fromthe Muslims in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries

a social arrangement in which serfs and knights provided labor and military service tonoble lords, receiving protection and land use in return

a campaign by the Catholic Church to root out heresy, especially among converted Jews andMuslims

the sacred book of Islam, written by the prophet Muhammad in the seventh century

a society in which women have political power

the Incan labor tax, with each family donating time and work to communal projects

the practice of taking more than one wife

an ancient Incan device for recording information, consisting of variously colored threads knottedin different ways

Spain’s nearly eight-hundred-year holy war against Islam, which ended in 1492

a peasant tied to the land and its lord

Summary1.1 The AmericasGreat civilizations had risen and fallen in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans. In NorthAmerica, the complex Pueblo societies including the Mogollon, Hohokam, and Anasazi as well as the cityat Cahokia had peaked and were largely memories. The Eastern Woodland peoples were thriving, but theywere soon overwhelmed as the number of English, French, and Dutch settlers increased.

Mesoamerica and South America had also witnessed the rise and fall of cultures. The once-mightyMayan population centers were largely empty. In 1492, however, the Aztecs in Mexico City were at theirpeak. Subjugating surrounding tribes and requiring tribute of both humans for sacrifice and goods forconsumption, the island city of Tenochtitlán was the hub of an ever-widening commercial center and theequal of any large European city until Cortés destroyed it. Further south in Peru, the Inca linked one ofthe largest empires in history through the use of roads and disciplined armies. Without the use of thewheel, they cut and fashioned stone to build Machu Picchu high in the Andes before abandoning the city

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for unknown reasons. Thus, depending on what part of the New World they explored, the Europeansencountered peoples that diverged widely in their cultures, traditions, and numbers.

1.2 Europe on the Brink of ChangeOne effect of the Crusades was that a larger portion of western Europe became familiar with the goodsof the East. A lively trade subsequently developed along a variety of routes known collectively as the SilkRoad to supply the demand for these products. Brigands and greedy middlemen made the trip along thisroute expensive and dangerous. By 1492, Europe—recovered from the Black Death and in search of newproducts and new wealth—was anxious to improve trade and communications with the rest of the world.Venice and Genoa led the way in trading with the East. The lure of profit pushed explorers to seek newtrade routes to the Spice Islands and eliminate Muslim middlemen.

Portugal, under the leadership of Prince Henry the Navigator, attempted to send ships around thecontinent of Africa. Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile hired Columbus to find a route to the Eastby going west. As strong supporters of the Catholic Church, they sought to bring Christianity to the Eastand any newly found lands, as well as hoping to find sources of wealth.

1.3 West Africa and the Role of SlaveryBefore 1492, Africa, like the Americas, had experienced the rise and fall of many cultures, but the continentdid not develop a centralized authority structure. African peoples practiced various forms of slavery, all ofwhich differed significantly from the racial slavery that ultimately developed in the New World. After thearrival of Islam and before the Portuguese came to the coast of West Africa in 1444, Muslims controlled theslave trade out of Africa, which expanded as European powers began to colonize the New World. Drivenby a demand for labor, slavery in the Americas developed a new form: It was based on race, and the statusof slave was both permanent and inherited.

Review Questions1. Which of the following Indian peoples builthomes in cliff dwellings that still exist?

A. AnasaziB. CherokeeC. AztecD. Inca

2. Which culture developed the only writingsystem in the Western Hemisphere?

A. IncaB. IroquoisC. MayaD. Pueblo

3. Which culture developed a road systemrivaling that of the Romans?

A. CherokeeB. IncaC. OlmecD. Anasazi

4. What were the major differences between thesocieties of the Aztec, Inca, and Maya and theIndians of North America?

5. The series of attempts by Christian armies toretake the Holy Lands from Muslims was knownas ________.

A. the CrusadesB. the ReconquistaC. the Black DeathD. the Silk Road

6. ________ became wealthy trading with theEast.

A. CarcassonneB. JerusalemC. RomeD. Venice

7. In 1492, the Spanish forced these two religiousgroups to either convert or leave.

Chapter 1 The Americas, Europe, and Africa Before 1492 31

A. Jews and MuslimsB. Christians and JewsC. Protestants and MuslimsD. Catholics and Jews

8. How did European feudal society operate?How was this a mutually supportive system?

9. Why did Columbus believe he could get to theFar East by sailing west? What were the problemswith this plan?

10. The city of ________ became a leading centerfor Muslim scholarship and trade.

A. CairoB. Timbuktu

C. MoroccoD. Mali

11. Which of the following does not describe aform of slavery traditionally practiced in Africa?

A. a system in which those in need of suppliesor protection give themselves in servitude

B. a system in which debtors repay thosewhom they owe by giving themselves inservitude

C. a system in which people are treated aschattel—that is, as personal property to bebought and sold

D. a system in which people are enslavedpermanently on account of their race

Critical Thinking Questions12. The Inca were able to control an empire that stretched from modern Colombia to southern Chile.Which of their various means for achieving such control do you think were most effective, and why?

13. How did the Olmec, Aztec, Inca, Maya, and North American Indians differ in their ways of lifeand cultural achievements? How did their particular circumstances—geography, history, or theaccomplishments of the societies that had preceded them, for example—serve to shape their particulartraditions and cultures?

14. What were the lasting effects of the Crusades? In what ways did they provide opportunities—bothnegative and positive—for cross-cultural encounters and exchanges?

15. Was race identified with slavery before the era of European exploration? Why or why not? How didslavery’s association with race change the institution’s character?

16. What are the differences between the types of slavery traditionally practiced in Africa and the slaverythat developed in the New World? How did other types of servitude, such as European serfdom, compareto slavery?

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Early Globalization: The AtlanticWorld, 1492–1650

Figure 2.1 After Christopher Columbus “discovered” the New World, he sent letters home to Spain describing thewonders he beheld. These letters were quickly circulated throughout Europe and translated into Italian, German, andLatin. This woodcut is from the first Italian verse translation of the letter Columbus sent to the Spanish court after hisfirst voyage, Lettera delle isole novamente trovata by Giuliano Dati.

Chapter Outline2.1 Portuguese Exploration and Spanish Conquest2.2 Religious Upheavals in the Developing Atlantic World2.3 Challenges to Spain’s Supremacy2.4 New Worlds in the Americas: Labor, Commerce, and the Columbian Exchange

IntroductionThe story of the Atlantic World is the story of global migration, a migration driven in large part by theactions and aspirations of the ruling heads of Europe. Columbus is hardly visible in this illustration of hisships making landfall on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola (Figure 2.1). Instead, Ferdinand II of Spain (inthe foreground) sits on his throne and points toward Columbus’s landing. As the ships arrive, the Arawakpeople tower over the Spanish, suggesting the native population density of the islands.

This historic moment in 1492 sparked new rivalries among European powers as they scrambled to createNew World colonies, fueled by the quest for wealth and power as well as by religious passions. Almostcontinuous war resulted. Spain achieved early preeminence, creating a far-flung empire and growingrich with treasures from the Americas. Native Americans who confronted the newcomers from Europesuffered unprecedented losses of life, however, as previously unknown diseases sliced through theirpopulations. They also were victims of the arrogance of the Europeans, who viewed themselves asuncontested masters of the New World, sent by God to bring Christianity to the “Indians.”

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 33

2.1 Portuguese Exploration and Spanish Conquest

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe Portuguese exploration of the Atlantic and Spanish exploration of the

Americas, and the importance of these voyages to the developing Atlantic World• Explain the importance of Spanish exploration of the Americas in the expansion of

Spain’s empire and the development of Spanish Renaissance culture

Portuguese colonization of Atlantic islands in the 1400s inaugurated an era of aggressive Europeanexpansion across the Atlantic. In the 1500s, Spain surpassed Portugal as the dominant European power.This age of exploration and the subsequent creation of an Atlantic World marked the earliest phase ofglobalization, in which previously isolated groups—Africans, Native Americans, and Europeans—firstcame into contact with each other, sometimes with disastrous results.

PORTUGUESE EXPLORATIONPortugal’s Prince Henry the Navigator spearheaded his country’s exploration of Africa and the Atlanticin the 1400s. With his support, Portuguese mariners successfully navigated an eastward route to Africa,establishing a foothold there that became a foundation of their nation’s trade empire in the fifteenth andsixteenth centuries.

Portuguese mariners built an Atlantic empire by colonizing the Canary, Cape Verde, and Azores Islands,as well as the island of Madeira. Merchants then used these Atlantic outposts as debarkation points forsubsequent journeys. From these strategic points, Portugal spread its empire down the western coast ofAfrica to the Congo, along the western coast of India, and eventually to Brazil on the eastern coast of

Figure 2.2

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South America. It also established trading posts in China and Japan. While the Portuguese didn’t rule overan immense landmass, their strategic holdings of islands and coastal ports gave them almost unrivaledcontrol of nautical trade routes and a global empire of trading posts during the 1400s.

The travels of Portuguese traders to western Africa introduced them to the African slave trade, alreadybrisk among African states. Seeing the value of this source of labor in growing the profitable crop ofsugar on their Atlantic islands, the Portuguese soon began exporting African slaves along with Africanivory and gold. Sugar fueled the Atlantic slave trade, and the Portuguese islands quickly became hometo sugar plantations. The Portuguese also traded these slaves, introducing much-needed human capital toother European nations. In the following years, as European exploration spread, slavery spread as well. Intime, much of the Atlantic World would become a gargantuan sugar-plantation complex in which Africanslabored to produce the highly profitable commodity for European consumers.


Elmina CastleIn 1482, Portuguese traders built Elmina Castle (also called São Jorge da Mina, or Saint George’s ofthe Mine) in present-day Ghana, on the west coast of Africa (Figure 2.3). A fortified trading post, it hadmounted cannons facing out to sea, not inland toward continental Africa; the Portuguese had greaterfear of a naval attack from other Europeans than of a land attack from Africans. Portuguese traders soonbegan to settle around the fort and established the town of Elmina.

Figure 2.3 Elmina Castle on the west coast of Ghana was used as a holding pen for slaves beforethey were brought across the Atlantic and sold. Originally built by the Portuguese in the fifteenthcentury, it appears in this image as it was in the 1660s, after being seized by Dutch slave traders in1637.

Although the Portuguese originally used the fort primarily for trading gold, by the sixteenth century theyhad shifted their focus. The dungeon of the fort now served as a holding pen for African slaves from theinterior of the continent, while on the upper floors Portuguese traders ate, slept, and prayed in a chapel.Slaves lived in the dungeon for weeks or months until ships arrived to transport them to Europe or theAmericas. For them, the dungeon of Elmina was their last sight of their home country.

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 35

SPANISH EXPLORATION AND CONQUESTThe Spanish established the first European settlements in the Americas, beginning in the Caribbeanand, by 1600, extending throughout Central and South America. Thousands of Spaniards flocked to theAmericas seeking wealth and status. The most famous of these Spanish adventurers are ChristopherColumbus (who, though Italian himself, explored on behalf of the Spanish monarchs), Hernán Cortés, andFrancisco Pizarro.

The history of Spanish exploration begins with the history of Spain itself. During the fifteenth century,Spain hoped to gain advantage over its rival, Portugal. The marriage of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabellaof Castile in 1469 unified Catholic Spain and began the process of building a nation that could competefor worldwide power. Since the 700s, much of Spain had been under Islamic rule, and King Ferdinand IIand Queen Isabella I, arch-defenders of the Catholic Church against Islam, were determined to defeat theMuslims in Granada, the last Islamic stronghold in Spain. In 1492, they completed the Reconquista: thecenturies-long Christian conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. The Reconquista marked another step forwardin the process of making Spain an imperial power, and Ferdinand and Isabella were now ready to lookfurther afield.

Their goals were to expand Catholicism and to gain a commercial advantage over Portugal. To thoseends, Ferdinand and Isabella sponsored extensive Atlantic exploration. Spain’s most famous explorer,Christopher Columbus, was actually from Genoa, Italy. He believed that, using calculations based onother mariners’ journeys, he could chart a westward route to India, which could be used to expandEuropean trade and spread Christianity. Starting in 1485, he approached Genoese, Venetian, Portuguese,English, and Spanish monarchs, asking for ships and funding to explore this westward route. All those hepetitioned—including Ferdinand and Isabella at first—rebuffed him; their nautical experts all concurredthat Columbus’s estimates of the width of the Atlantic Ocean were far too low. However, after three yearsof entreaties, and, more important, the completion of the Reconquista, Ferdinand and Isabella agreedto finance Columbus’s expedition in 1492, supplying him with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta, and theSanta Maria. The Spanish monarchs knew that Portuguese mariners had reached the southern tip of Africaand sailed the Indian Ocean. They understood that the Portuguese would soon reach Asia and, in thiscompetitive race to reach the Far East, the Spanish rulers decided to act.

Columbus held erroneous views that shaped his thinking about what he would encounter as he sailedwest. He believed the earth to be much smaller than its actual size and, since he did not know of theexistence of the Americas, he fully expected to land in Asia. On October 12, 1492, however, he madelandfall on an island in the Bahamas. He then sailed to an island he named Hispaniola (present-dayDominican Republic and Haiti) (Figure 2.4). Believing he had landed in the East Indies, Columbus calledthe native Taínos he found there “Indios,” giving rise to the term “Indian” for any native people of theNew World. Upon Columbus’s return to Spain, the Spanish crown bestowed on him the title of Admiral ofthe Ocean Sea and named him governor and viceroy of the lands he had discovered. As a devoted Catholic,Columbus had agreed with Ferdinand and Isabella prior to sailing west that part of the expected wealthfrom his voyage would be used to continue the fight against Islam.

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Figure 2.4 This sixteenth-century map shows the island of Hispaniola (present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic).Note the various fanciful elements, such as the large-scale ships and sea creatures, and consider what the creator ofthis map hoped to convey. In addition to navigation, what purpose would such a map have served?

Columbus’s 1493 letter—or probanza de mérito (proof of merit)—describing his “discovery” of a NewWorld did much to inspire excitement in Europe. Probanzas de méritos were reports and letters writtenby Spaniards in the New World to the Spanish crown, designed to win royal patronage. Today theyhighlight the difficult task of historical work; while the letters are primary sources, historians need tounderstand the context and the culture in which the conquistadors, as the Spanish adventurers came to becalled, wrote them and distinguish their bias and subjective nature. While they are filled with distortionsand fabrications, probanzas de méritos are still useful in illustrating the expectation of wealth among theexplorers as well as their view that native peoples would not pose a serious obstacle to colonization.

In 1493, Columbus sent two copies of a probanza de mérito to the Spanish king and queen and their ministerof finance, Luis de Santángel. Santángel had supported Columbus’s voyage, helping him to obtain fundingfrom Ferdinand and Isabella. Copies of the letter were soon circulating all over Europe, spreading newsof the wondrous new land that Columbus had “discovered.” Columbus would make three more voyagesover the next decade, establishing Spain’s first settlement in the New World on the island of Hispaniola.Many other Europeans followed in Columbus’s footsteps, drawn by dreams of winning wealth by sailingwest. Another Italian, Amerigo Vespucci, sailing for the Portuguese crown, explored the South Americancoastline between 1499 and 1502. Unlike Columbus, he realized that the Americas were not part of Asia butlands unknown to Europeans. Vespucci’s widely published accounts of his voyages fueled speculation andintense interest in the New World among Europeans. Among those who read Vespucci’s reports was theGerman mapmaker Martin Waldseemuller. Using the explorer’s first name as a label for the new landmass,Waldseemuller attached “America” to his map of the New World in 1507, and the name stuck.

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 37


Columbus’s Probanza de mérito of 1493The exploits of the most famous Spanish explorers have provided Western civilization with a narrative ofEuropean supremacy and Indian savagery. However, these stories are based on the self-aggrandizingefforts of conquistadors to secure royal favor through the writing of probanzas de méritos (proofs ofmerit). Below are excerpts from Columbus’s 1493 letter to Luis de Santángel, which illustrates howfantastic reports from European explorers gave rise to many myths surrounding the Spanish conquestand the New World.

This island, like all the others, is most extensive. It has many ports along the sea-coastexcelling any in Christendom—and many fine, large, flowing rivers. The land there is elevated,with many mountains and peaks incomparably higher than in the centre isle. They are mostbeautiful, of a thousand varied forms, accessible, and full of trees of endless varieties, sohigh that they seem to touch the sky, and I have been told that they never lose their foliage.. . . There is honey, and there are many kinds of birds, and a great variety of fruits. Inlandthere are numerous mines of metals and innumerable people. Hispaniola is a marvel. Itshills and mountains, fine plains and open country, are rich and fertile for planting and forpasturage, and for building towns and villages. The seaports there are incredibly fine, as alsothe magnificent rivers, most of which bear gold. The trees, fruits and grasses differ widely fromthose in Juana. There are many spices and vast mines of gold and other metals in this island.They have no iron, nor steel, nor weapons, nor are they fit for them, because although theyare well-made men of commanding stature, they appear extraordinarily timid. The only armsthey have are sticks of cane, cut when in seed, with a sharpened stick at the end, and theyare afraid to use these. Often I have sent two or three men ashore to some town to conversewith them, and the natives came out in great numbers, and as soon as they saw our menarrive, fled without a moment’s delay although I protected them from all injury.

What does this letter show us about Spanish objectives in the New World? How do you think it mighthave influenced Europeans reading about the New World for the first time?

The 1492 Columbus landfall accelerated the rivalry between Spain and Portugal, and the two powers viedfor domination through the acquisition of new lands. In the 1480s, Pope Sixtus IV had granted Portugalthe right to all land south of the Cape Verde islands, leading the Portuguese king to claim that the landsdiscovered by Columbus belonged to Portugal, not Spain. Seeking to ensure that Columbus’s finds wouldremain Spanish, Spain’s monarchs turned to the Spanish-born Pope Alexander VI, who issued two papaldecrees in 1493 that gave legitimacy to Spain’s Atlantic claims at the expense of Portugal. Hoping tosalvage Portugal’s Atlantic holdings, King João II began negotiations with Spain. The resulting Treaty ofTordesillas in 1494 drew a north-to-south line through South America (Figure 2.5); Spain gained territorywest of the line, while Portugal retained the lands east of the line, including the east coast of Brazil.

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Figure 2.5 This 1502 map, known as the Cantino World Map, depicts the cartographer’s interpretation of the worldin light of recent discoveries. The map shows areas of Portuguese and Spanish exploration, the two nations’ claimsunder the Treaty of Tordesillas, and a variety of flora, fauna, figures, and structures. What does it reveal about thestate of geographical knowledge, as well as European perceptions of the New World, at the beginning of thesixteenth century?

Columbus’s discovery opened a floodgate of Spanish exploration. Inspired by tales of rivers of gold andtimid, malleable natives, later Spanish explorers were relentless in their quest for land and gold. HernánCortés hoped to gain hereditary privilege for his family, tribute payments and labor from natives, and anannual pension for his service to the crown. Cortés arrived on Hispaniola in 1504 and took part in theconquest of that island. In anticipation of winning his own honor and riches, Cortés later explored theYucatán Peninsula. In 1519, he entered Tenochtitlán, the capital of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire. He and hismen were astonished by the incredibly sophisticated causeways, gardens, and temples in the city, but theywere horrified by the practice of human sacrifice that was part of the Aztec religion. Above all else, theAztec wealth in gold fascinated the Spanish adventurers.

Hoping to gain power over the city, Cortés took Moctezuma, the Aztec ruler, hostage. The Spanish thenmurdered hundreds of high-ranking Mexica during a festival to celebrate Huitzilopochtli, the god of war.This angered the people of Tenochtitlán, who rose up against the interlopers in their city. Cortés andhis people fled for their lives, running down one of Tenochtitlán’s causeways to safety on the shore.Smarting from their defeat at the hands of the Aztec, Cortés slowly created alliances with native peopleswho resented Aztec rule. It took nearly a year for the Spanish and the tens of thousands of native allieswho joined them to defeat the Mexica in Tenochtitlán, which they did by laying siege to the city. Only byplaying upon the disunity among the diverse groups in the Aztec Empire were the Spanish able to capturethe grand city of Tenochtitlán. In August 1521, having successfully fomented civil war as well as fendedoff rival Spanish explorers, Cortés claimed Tenochtitlán for Spain and renamed it Mexico City.

The traditional European narrative of exploration presents the victory of the Spanish over the Aztec asan example of the superiority of the Europeans over the savage Indians. However, the reality is far morecomplex. When Cortés explored central Mexico, he encountered a region simmering with native conflict.Far from being unified and content under Aztec rule, many peoples in Mexico resented it and were readyto rebel. One group in particular, the Tlaxcalan, threw their lot in with the Spanish, providing as many as200,000 fighters in the siege of Tenochtitlán. The Spanish also brought smallpox into the valley of Mexico.The disease took a heavy toll on the people in Tenochtitlán, playing a much greater role in the city’s demisethan did Spanish force of arms.

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 39

Cortés was also aided by a Nahua woman called Malintzin (also known as La Malinche or Doña Marina,her Spanish name), whom the natives of Tabasco gave him as tribute. Malintzin translated for Cortés in hisdealings with Moctezuma and, whether willingly or under pressure, entered into a physical relationshipwith him. Their son, Martín, may have been the first mestizo (person of mixed indigenous American andEuropean descent). Malintzin remains a controversial figure in the history of the Atlantic World; somepeople view her as a traitor because she helped Cortés conquer the Aztecs, while others see her as a victimof European expansion. In either case, she demonstrates one way in which native peoples responded tothe arrival of the Spanish. Without her, Cortés would not have been able to communicate, and without thelanguage bridge, he surely would have been less successful in destabilizing the Aztec Empire. By this andother means, native people helped shape the conquest of the Americas.

Spain’s acquisitiveness seemingly knew no bounds as groups of its explorers searched for the next trove ofinstant riches. One such explorer, Francisco Pizarro, made his way to the Spanish Caribbean in 1509, drawnby the promise of wealth and titles. He participated in successful expeditions in Panama before followingrumors of Inca wealth to the south. Although his first efforts against the Inca Empire in the 1520s failed,Pizarro captured the Inca emperor Atahualpa in 1532 and executed him one year later. In 1533, Pizarrofounded Lima, Peru. Like Cortés, Pizarro had to combat not only the natives of the new worlds he wasconquering, but also competitors from his own country; a Spanish rival assassinated him in 1541.

Spain’s drive to enlarge its empire led other hopeful conquistadors to push further into the Americas,hoping to replicate the success of Cortés and Pizarro. Hernando de Soto had participated in Pizarro’sconquest of the Inca, and from 1539 to 1542 he led expeditions to what is today the southeastern UnitedStates, looking for gold. He and his followers explored what is now Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas,Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Texas. Everywhere they traveled,they brought European diseases, which claimed thousands of native lives as well as the lives of theexplorers. In 1542, de Soto himself died during the expedition. The surviving Spaniards, numbering a littleover three hundred, returned to Mexico City without finding the much-anticipated mountains of gold andsilver.

Francisco Vásquez de Coronado was born into a noble family and went to Mexico, then called New Spain,in 1535. He presided as governor over the province of Nueva Galicia, where he heard rumors of wealthto the north: a golden city called Quivira. Between 1540 and 1542, Coronado led a large expedition ofSpaniards and native allies to the lands north of Mexico City, and for the next several years, they exploredthe area that is now the southwestern United States (Figure 2.6). During the winter of 1540–41, theexplorers waged war against the Tiwa in present-day New Mexico. Rather than leading to the discoveryof gold and silver, however, the expedition simply left Coronado bankrupt.

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Figure 2.6 This map traces Coronado’s path through the American Southwest and the Great Plains. The regionsthrough which he traveled were not empty areas waiting to be “discovered”: rather, they were populated andcontrolled by the groups of native peoples indicated. (credit: modification of work by National Park Service)

THE SPANISH GOLDEN AGEThe exploits of European explorers had a profound impact both in the Americas and back in Europe. Anexchange of ideas, fueled and financed in part by New World commodities, began to connect Europeannations and, in turn, to touch the parts of the world that Europeans conquered. In Spain, gold andsilver from the Americas helped to fuel a golden age, the Siglo de Oro, when Spanish art and literatureflourished. Riches poured in from the colonies, and new ideas poured in from other countries and newlands. The Hapsburg dynasty, which ruled a collection of territories including Austria, the Netherlands,Naples, Sicily, and Spain, encouraged and financed the work of painters, sculptors, musicians, architects,and writers, resulting in a blooming of Spanish Renaissance culture. One of this period’s most famousworks is the novel The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha, by Miguel de Cervantes. This two-volume book (1605 and 1618) told a colorful tale of an hidalgo (gentleman) who reads so many tales ofchivalry and knighthood that he becomes unable to tell reality from fiction. With his faithful sidekickSancho Panza, Don Quixote leaves reality behind and sets out to revive chivalry by doing battle with whathe perceives as the enemies of Spain.

Explore the collection at The Cervantes Project ( for images, complete texts, and other resources relating to Cervantes’sworks.

Click and Explore

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 41

Spain attracted innovative foreign painters such as El Greco, a Greek who had studied with ItalianRenaissance masters like Titian and Michelangelo before moving to Toledo. Native Spaniards createdequally enduring works. Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), painted by Diego Velázquez in 1656, is one ofthe best-known paintings in history. Velázquez painted himself into this imposingly large royal portrait(he’s shown holding his brush and easel on the left) and boldly placed the viewer where the king andqueen would stand in the scene (Figure 2.7).

Figure 2.7 Las Meninas (The Maids of Honor), painted by Diego Velázquez in 1656, is unique for its time because itplaces the viewer in the place of King Philip IV and his wife, Queen Mariana.

2.2 Religious Upheavals in the Developing Atlantic World

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the changes brought by the Protestant Reformation and how it influenced the

development of the Atlantic World• Describe Spain’s response to the Protestant Reformation

Until the 1500s, the Catholic Church provided a unifying religious structure for Christian Europe. TheVatican in Rome exercised great power over the lives of Europeans; it controlled not only learning andscholarship but also finances, because it levied taxes on the faithful. Spain, with its New World wealth,was the bastion of the Catholic faith. Beginning with the reform efforts of Martin Luther in 1517 and JohnCalvin in the 1530s, however, Catholic dominance came under attack as the Protestant Reformation, a splitor schism among European Christians, began.

During the sixteenth century, Protestantism spread through northern Europe, and Catholic countriesresponded by attempting to extinguish what was seen as the Protestant menace. Religious turmoil betweenCatholics and Protestants influenced the history of the Atlantic World as well, since different nation-statescompeted not only for control of new territories but also for the preeminence of their religious beliefs

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there. Just as the history of Spain’s rise to power is linked to the Reconquista, so too is the history of earlyglobalization connected to the history of competing Christian groups in the Atlantic World.

MARTIN LUTHERMartin Luther (Figure 2.8) was a German Catholic monk who took issue with the Catholic Church’spractice of selling indulgences, documents that absolved sinners of their errant behavior. He also objectedto the Catholic Church’s taxation of ordinary Germans and the delivery of Mass in Latin, arguing that itfailed to instruct German Catholics, who did not understand the language.

Figure 2.8 Martin Luther, a German Catholic monk and leader of the Protestant Reformation, was a close friend ofthe German painter Lucas Cranach the Elder. Cranach painted this and several other portraits of Luther.

Many Europeans had called for reforms of the Catholic Church before Martin Luther did, but his protesthad the unintended consequence of splitting European Christianity. Luther compiled a list of what heviewed as needed Church reforms, a document that came to be known as The Ninety-Five Theses, andnailed it to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany, in 1517. He called for the publication of theBible in everyday language, took issue with the Church’s policy of imposing tithes (a required paymentto the Church that appeared to enrich the clergy), and denounced the buying and selling of indulgences.Although he had hoped to reform the Catholic Church while remaining a part of it, Luther’s action insteadtriggered a movement called the Protestant Reformation that divided the Church in two. The CatholicChurch condemned him as a heretic, but a doctrine based on his reforms, called Lutheranism, spreadthrough northern Germany and Scandinavia.

Visit Fordham University’s Internet Medieval Sourcebook( for access to many primary sources relatingto the Protestant Reformation.

Click and Explore

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 43

JOHN CALVINLike Luther, the French lawyer John Calvin advocated making the Bible accessible to ordinary people; onlyby reading scripture and reflecting daily about their spiritual condition, he argued, could believers beginto understand the power of God. In 1535, Calvin fled Catholic France and led the Reformation movementfrom Geneva, Switzerland.

Calvinism emphasized human powerlessness before an omniscient God and stressed the idea ofpredestination, the belief that God selected a few chosen people for salvation while everyone else waspredestined to damnation. Calvinists believed that reading scripture prepared sinners, if they were amongthe elect, to receive God’s grace. In Geneva, Calvin established a Bible commonwealth, a community ofbelievers whose sole source of authority was their interpretation of the Bible, not the authority of anyprince or monarch. Soon Calvin’s ideas spread to the Netherlands and Scotland.

PROTESTANTISM IN ENGLANDProtestantism spread beyond the German states and Geneva to England, which had been a Catholic nationfor centuries. Luther’s idea that scripture should be available in the everyday language of worshippersinspired English scholar William Tyndale to translate the Bible into English in 1526. The seismic break withthe Catholic Church in England occurred in the 1530s, when Henry VIII established a new, Protestant statereligion.

A devout Catholic, Henry had initially stood in opposition to the Reformation. Pope Leo X even awardedhim the title “Defender of the Faith.” The tides turned, however, when Henry desired a male heir to theTudor monarchy. When his Spanish Catholic wife, Catherine (the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella), didnot give birth to a boy, the king sought an annulment to their marriage. When the Pope refused his request,Henry created a new national Protestant church, the Church of England, with himself at its head. This lefthim free to annul his own marriage and marry Anne Boleyn.

Anne Boleyn also failed to produce a male heir, and when she was accused of adultery, Henry had herexecuted. His third wife, Jane Seymour, at long last delivered a son, Edward, who ruled for only a shorttime before dying in 1553 at the age of fifteen. Mary, the daughter of Henry VIII and his discarded first wifeCatherine, then came to the throne, committed to restoring Catholicism. She earned the nickname “BloodyMary” for the many executions of Protestants, often by burning alive, that she ordered during her reign.

Religious turbulence in England was finally quieted when Elizabeth, the Protestant daughter of Henry VIIIand Anne Boleyn, ascended the throne in 1558. Under Elizabeth, the Church of England again became thestate church, retaining the hierarchical structure and many of the rituals of the Catholic Church. However,by the late 1500s, some English members of the Church began to agitate for more reform. Known asPuritans, they worked to erase all vestiges of Catholicism from the Church of England. At the time, theterm “puritan” was a pejorative one; many people saw Puritans as holier-than-thou frauds who usedreligion to swindle their neighbors. Worse still, many in power saw Puritans as a security threat becauseof their opposition to the national church.

Under Elizabeth, whose long reign lasted from 1558 to 1603, Puritans grew steadily in number. After JamesI died in 1625 and his son Charles I ascended the throne, Puritans became the target of increasing statepressure to conform. Many crossed the Atlantic in the 1620s and 1630s instead to create a New England,a haven for reformed Protestantism where Puritan was no longer a term of abuse. Thus, the religiousupheavals that affected England so much had equally momentous consequences for the Americas.

RELIGIOUS WARBy the early 1500s, the Protestant Reformation threatened the massive Spanish Catholic empire. As thepreeminent Catholic power, Spain would not tolerate any challenge to the Holy Catholic Church. Overthe course of the 1500s, it devoted vast amounts of treasure and labor to leading an unsuccessful effort toeradicate Protestantism in Europe.

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Spain’s main enemies at this time were the runaway Spanish provinces of the North Netherlands. By1581, these seven northern provinces had declared their independence from Spain and created the DutchRepublic, also called Holland, where Protestantism was tolerated. Determined to deal a death blow toProtestantism in England and Holland, King Philip of Spain assembled a massive force of over thirtythousand men and 130 ships, and in 1588 he sent this navy, the Spanish Armada, north. But English seapower combined with a maritime storm destroyed the fleet.

The defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 was but one part of a larger but undeclared war betweenProtestant England and Catholic Spain. Between 1585 and 1604, the two rivals sparred repeatedly. Englandlaunched its own armada in 1589 in an effort to cripple the Spanish fleet and capture Spanish treasure.However, the foray ended in disaster for the English, with storms, disease, and the strength of the SpanishArmada combining to bring about defeat.

The conflict between Spain and England dragged on into the early seventeenth century, and the newlyProtestant nations, especially England and the Dutch Republic, posed a significant challenge to Spain (andalso to Catholic France) as imperial rivalries played out in the Atlantic World. Spain retained its mightyAmerican empire, but by the early 1600s, the nation could no longer keep England and other Europeanrivals—the French and Dutch—from colonizing smaller islands in the Caribbean (Figure 2.9).

Figure 2.9 This portrait of Elizabeth I of England, painted by George Gower in about 1588, shows Elizabeth with herhand on a globe, signifying her power over the world. The pictures in the background show the English defeat of theSpanish Armada.

Religious intolerance characterized the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, an age of powerful statereligions with the authority to impose and enforce belief systems on the population. In this climate,religious violence was common. One of the most striking examples is the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacreof 1572, in which French Catholic troops began to kill unarmed French Protestants (Figure 2.10). Themurders touched off mob violence that ultimately claimed nine thousand lives, a bloody episode thathighlights the degree of religious turmoil that gripped Europe in the aftermath of the ProtestantReformation.

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Figure 2.10 Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre (1772-84), by François Dubois, shows the horrific violence of theSt. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. In this scene, French Catholic troops slaughter French Protestant Calvinists.

2.3 Challenges to Spain’s Supremacy

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify regions where the English, French, and Dutch explored and established

settlements• Describe the differences among the early colonies• Explain the role of the American colonies in European nations’ struggles for


For Europeans, the discovery of an Atlantic World meant newfound wealth in the form of gold and silveras well as valuable furs. The Americas also provided a new arena for intense imperial rivalry as differentEuropean nations jockeyed for preeminence in the New World. The religious motives for colonizationspurred European expansion as well, and as the Protestant Reformation gained ground beginning in the1520s, rivalries between Catholic and Protestant Christians spilled over into the Americas.

ENGLISH EXPLORATIONDisruptions during the Tudor monarchy—especially the creation of the Protestant Church of Englandby Henry VIII in the 1530s, the return of the nation to Catholicism under Queen Mary in the 1550s,and the restoration of Protestantism under Queen Elizabeth—left England with little energy for overseasprojects. More important, England lacked the financial resources for such endeavors. Nonetheless, Englishmonarchs carefully monitored developments in the new Atlantic World and took steps to assert England’sclaim to the Americas. As early as 1497, Henry VII of England had commissioned John Cabot, an Italianmariner, to explore new lands. Cabot sailed from England that year and made landfall somewhere alongthe North American coastline. For the next century, English fishermen routinely crossed the Atlantic tofish the rich waters off the North American coast. However, English colonization efforts in the 1500s werecloser to home, as England devoted its energy to the colonization of Ireland.

Queen Elizabeth favored England’s advance into the Atlantic World, though her main concern wasblocking Spain’s effort to eliminate Protestantism. Indeed, England could not commit to large-scalecolonization in the Americas as long as Spain appeared ready to invade Ireland or Scotland. Nonetheless,

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Elizabeth approved of English privateers, sea captains to whom the home government had givenpermission to raid the enemy at will. These skilled mariners cruised the Caribbean, plundering Spanishships whenever they could. Each year the English took more than £100,000 from Spain in this way; Englishprivateer Francis Drake first made a name for himself when, in 1573, he looted silver, gold, and pearlsworth £40,000.

Elizabeth did sanction an early attempt at colonization in 1584, when Sir Walter Raleigh, a favorite ofthe queen’s, attempted to establish a colony at Roanoke, an island off the coast of present-day NorthCarolina. The colony was small, consisting of only 117 people, who suffered a poor relationship with thelocal Indians, the Croatans, and struggled to survive in their new land (Figure 2.11). Their governor,John White, returned to England in late 1587 to secure more people and supplies, but events conspiredto keep him away from Roanoke for three years. By the time he returned in 1590, the entire colony hadvanished. The only trace the colonists left behind was the word Croatoan carved into a fence surroundingthe village. Governor White never knew whether the colonists had decamped for nearby Croatoan Island(now Hatteras) or whether some disaster had befallen them all. Roanoke is still called “the lost colony.”

Figure 2.11 In 1588, a promoter of English colonization named Thomas Hariot published A Briefe and True Reportof the New Found Land of Virginia, which contained many engravings of the native peoples who lived on the Carolinacoast in the 1580s. This print, “The brovvyllinge of their fishe ouer the flame” (1590) by Theodor de Bry, shows theingenuity and wisdom of the “savages” of the New World. (credit: UNC Chapel Hill)

English promoters of colonization pushed its commercial advantages and the religious justification thatEnglish colonies would allow the establishment of Protestantism in the Americas. Both arguments struck achord. In the early 1600s, wealthy English merchants and the landed elite began to pool their resources toform joint stock companies. In this novel business arrangement, which was in many ways the precursorto the modern corporation, investors provided the capital for and assumed the risk of a venture in orderto reap significant returns. The companies gained the approval of the English crown to establish colonies,and their investors dreamed of reaping great profits from the money they put into overseas colonization.

The first permanent English settlement was established by a joint stock company, the Virginia Company.Named for Elizabeth, the “virgin queen,” the company gained royal approval to establish a colony on theeast coast of North America, and in 1606, it sent 144 men and boys to the New World. In early 1607, thisgroup sailed up Chesapeake Bay. Finding a river they called the James in honor of their new king, JamesI, they established a ramshackle settlement and named it Jamestown. Despite serious struggles, the colonysurvived.

Many of Jamestown’s settlers were desperate men; although they came from elite families, they wereyounger sons who would not inherit their father’s estates. The Jamestown adventurers believed theywould find instant wealth in the New World and did not actually expect to have to perform work. HenryPercy, the eighth son of the Earl of Northumberland, was among them. His account, excerpted below,illustrates the hardships the English confronted in Virginia in 1607.

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George Percy and the First Months at JamestownThe 144 men and boys who started the Jamestown colony faced many hardships; by the end of the firstwinter, only 38 had survived. Disease, hunger, and poor relationships with local natives all contributedto the colony’s high death toll. George Percy, who served twice as governor of Jamestown, kept recordsof the colonists’ first months in the colony. These records were later published in London in 1608. Thisexcerpt is from his account of August and September of 1607.

The fourth day of September died Thomas Jacob Sergeant. The fifth day, there died BenjaminBeast. Our men were destroyed with cruel diseases, as Swellings, Fluxes, Burning Fevers,and by wars, and some departed suddenly, but for the most part they died of mere famine.There were never Englishmen left in a foreign Country in such misery as we were in this newdiscovered Virginia. . . . Our food was but a small Can of Barley sod* in water, to five men aday, our drink cold water taken out of the River, which was at a flood very salty, at a low tidefull of slime and filth, which was the destruction of many of our men. Thus we lived for thespace of five months in this miserable distress, not having five able men to man our Bulwarksupon any occasion. If it had not pleased God to have put a terror in the Savages’ hearts, wehad all perished by those wild and cruel Pagans, being in that weak estate as we were; ourmen night and day groaning in every corner of the Fort most pitiful to hear. If there were anyconscience in men, it would make their hearts to bleed to hear the pitiful murmurings andoutcries of our sick men without relief, every night and day, for the space of six weeks, somedeparting out of the World, many times three or four in a night; in the morning, their bodiestrailed out of their Cabins like Dogs to be buried. In this sort did I see the mortality of diverseof our people.


According to George Percy’s account, what were the major problems the Jamestown settlersencountered? What kept the colony from complete destruction?

By any measure, England came late to the race to colonize. As Jamestown limped along in the 1610s, theSpanish Empire extended around the globe and grew rich from its global colonial project. Yet the Englishpersisted, and for this reason the Jamestown settlement has a special place in history as the first permanentcolony in what later became the United States.

After Jamestown’s founding, English colonization of the New World accelerated. In 1609, a ship boundfor Jamestown foundered in a storm and landed on Bermuda. (Some believe this incident helped inspireShakespeare’s 1611 play The Tempest.) The admiral of the ship, George Somers, claimed the island for theEnglish crown. The English also began to colonize small islands in the Caribbean, an incursion into theSpanish American empire. They established themselves on small islands such as St. Christopher (1624),Barbados (1627), Nevis (1628), Montserrat (1632), and Antigua (1632).

From the start, the English West Indies had a commercial orientation, for these islands produced cashcrops: first tobacco and then sugar. Very quickly, by the mid-1600s, Barbados had become one of the mostimportant English colonies because of the sugar produced there. Barbados was the first English colonydependent on slaves, and it became a model for other English slave societies on the American mainland.These differed radically from England itself, where slavery was not practiced.

English Puritans also began to colonize the Americas in the 1620s and 1630s. These intensely religiousmigrants dreamed of creating communities of reformed Protestantism where the corruption of Englandwould be eliminated. One of the first groups of Puritans to remove to North America, known as Pilgrimsand led by William Bradford, had originally left England to live in the Netherlands. Fearing their childrenwere losing their English identity among the Dutch, however, they sailed for North America in 1620 tosettle at Plymouth, the first English settlement in New England. The Pilgrims differed from other Puritans

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in their insistence on separating from what they saw as the corrupt Church of England. For this reason,Pilgrims are known as Separatists.

Like Jamestown, Plymouth occupies an iconic place in American national memory. The tale of the 102migrants who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower and their struggle for survival is a well-knownnarrative of the founding of the country. Their story includes the signing of the Mayflower Compact, awritten agreement whereby the English voluntarily agreed to help each other. Some interpret this 1620document as an expression of democratic spirit because of the cooperative and inclusive nature of theagreement to live and work together. In 1630, a much larger contingent of Puritans left England to escapeconformity to the Church of England and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In the following years,thousands more arrived to create a new life in the rocky soils and cold climates of New England.

In comparison to Catholic Spain, however, Protestant England remained a very weak imperial player inthe early seventeenth century, with only a few infant colonies in the Americas in the early 1600s. TheEnglish never found treasure equal to that of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán, and England did not quicklygrow rich from its small American outposts. The English colonies also differed from each other; Barbadosand Virginia had a decidedly commercial orientation from the start, while the Puritan colonies of NewEngland were intensely religious at their inception. All English settlements in America, however, markedthe increasingly important role of England in the Atlantic World.

FRENCH EXPLORATIONSpanish exploits in the New World whetted the appetite of other would-be imperial powers, includingFrance. Like Spain, France was a Catholic nation and committed to expanding Catholicism around theglobe. In the early sixteenth century, it joined the race to explore the New World and exploit the resourcesof the Western Hemisphere. Navigator Jacques Cartier claimed northern North America for France,naming the area New France. From 1534 to 1541, he made three voyages of discovery on the Gulf of St.Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River. Like other explorers, Cartier made exaggerated claims of mineralwealth in America, but he was unable to send great riches back to France. Due to resistance from thenative peoples as well as his own lack of planning, he could not establish a permanent settlement in NorthAmerica.

Explorer Samuel de Champlain occupies a special place in the history of the Atlantic World for his rolein establishing the French presence in the New World. Champlain explored the Caribbean in 1601 andthen the coast of New England in 1603 before traveling farther north. In 1608 he founded Quebec, and hemade numerous Atlantic crossings as he worked tirelessly to promote New France. Unlike other imperialpowers, France—through Champlain’s efforts—fostered especially good relationships with nativepeoples, paving the way for French exploration further into the continent: around the Great Lakes, aroundHudson Bay, and eventually to the Mississippi. Champlain made an alliance with the Huron confederacyand the Algonquins and agreed to fight with them against their enemy, the Iroquois (Figure 2.12).

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Figure 2.12 In this engraving, titled Defeat of the Iroquois and based on a drawing by explorer Samuel deChamplain, Champlain is shown fighting on the side of the Huron and Algonquins against the Iroquois. He portrayshimself in the middle of the battle, firing a gun, while the native people around him shoot arrows at each other. Whatdoes this engraving suggest about the impact of European exploration and settlement on the Americas?

The French were primarily interested in establishing commercially viable colonial outposts, and to thatend, they created extensive trading networks in New France. These networks relied on native hunters toharvest furs, especially beaver pelts, and to exchange these items for French glass beads and other tradegoods. (French fashion at the time favored broad-brimmed hats trimmed in beaver fur, so French tradershad a ready market for their North American goods.) The French also dreamed of replicating the wealth ofSpain by colonizing the tropical zones. After Spanish control of the Caribbean began to weaken, the Frenchturned their attention to small islands in the West Indies, and by 1635 they had colonized two, Guadeloupeand Martinique. Though it lagged far behind Spain, France now boasted its own West Indian colonies.Both islands became lucrative sugar plantation sites that turned a profit for French planters by relying onAfrican slave labor.

To see how cartographers throughout history documented the exploration of theAtlantic World, browse the hundreds of digitized historical maps that make up thecollection American Shores: Maps of the Middle Atlantic Region to 1850( at the New York Public Library.

DUTCH COLONIZATIONDutch entrance into the Atlantic World is part of the larger story of religious and imperial conflict in theearly modern era. In the 1500s, Calvinism, one of the major Protestant reform movements, had foundadherents in the northern provinces of the Spanish Netherlands. During the sixteenth century, theseprovinces began a long struggle to achieve independence from Catholic Spain. Established in 1581 butnot recognized as independent by Spain until 1648, the Dutch Republic, or Holland, quickly made itselfa powerful force in the race for Atlantic colonies and wealth. The Dutch distinguished themselves as

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commercial leaders in the seventeenth century (Figure 2.13), and their mode of colonization relied onpowerful corporations: the Dutch East India Company, chartered in 1602 to trade in Asia, and the DutchWest India Company, established in 1621 to colonize and trade in the Americas.

Figure 2.13 Amsterdam was the richest city in the world in the 1600s. In Courtyard of the Exchange in Amsterdam,a 1653 painting by Emanuel de Witt, merchants involved in the global trade eagerly attend to news of shipping andthe prices of commodities.

While employed by the Dutch East India Company in 1609, the English sea captain Henry Hudsonexplored New York Harbor and the river that now bears his name. Like many explorers of the time,Hudson was actually seeking a northwest passage to Asia and its wealth, but the ample furs harvestedfrom the region he explored, especially the coveted beaver pelts, provided a reason to claim it for theNetherlands. The Dutch named their colony New Netherlands, and it served as a fur-trading outpostfor the expanding and powerful Dutch West India Company. With headquarters in New Amsterdamon the island of Manhattan, the Dutch set up several regional trading posts, including one at FortOrange—named for the royal Dutch House of Orange-Nassau—in present-day Albany. (The color orangeremains significant to the Dutch, having become particularly associated with William of Orange,Protestantism, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688.) A brisk trade in furs with local Algonquian andIroquois peoples brought the Dutch and native peoples together in a commercial network that extendedthroughout the Hudson River Valley and beyond.

The Dutch West India Company in turn established colonies on Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao, St. Martin,St. Eustatius, and Saba. With their outposts in New Netherlands and the Caribbean, the Dutch hadestablished themselves in the seventeenth century as a commercially powerful rival to Spain. Amsterdambecame a trade hub for all the Atlantic World.

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2.4 New Worlds in the Americas: Labor, Commerce, and theColumbian Exchange

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe how Europeans solved their labor problems• Describe the theory of mercantilism and the process of commodification• Analyze the effects of the Columbian Exchange

European promoters of colonization claimed the Americas overflowed with a wealth of treasures.Burnishing national glory and honor became entwined with carving out colonies, and no nation wantedto be left behind. However, the realities of life in the Americas—violence, exploitation, and particularlythe need for workers—were soon driving the practice of slavery and forced labor. Everywhere in Americaa stark contrast existed between freedom and slavery. The Columbian Exchange, in which Europeanstransported plants, animals, and diseases across the Atlantic in both directions, also left a lastingimpression on the Americas.

LABOR SYSTEMSPhysical power—to work the fields, build villages, process raw materials—is a necessity for maintaining asociety. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, humans could derive power only from the wind,water, animals, or other humans. Everywhere in the Americas, a crushing demand for labor bedeviledEuropeans because there were not enough colonists to perform the work necessary to keep the coloniesgoing. Spain granted encomiendas—legal rights to native labor—to conquistadors who could prove theirservice to the crown. This system reflected the Spanish view of colonization: the king rewarded successfulconquistadors who expanded the empire. Some native peoples who had sided with the conquistadors, likethe Tlaxcalan, also gained encomiendas; Malintzin, the Nahua woman who helped Cortés defeat the Mexica,was granted one.

The Spanish believed native peoples would work for them by right of conquest, and, in return, theSpanish would bring them Catholicism. In theory the relationship consisted of reciprocal obligations, butin practice the Spaniards ruthlessly exploited it, seeing native people as little more than beasts of burden.Convinced of their right to the land and its peoples, they sought both to control native labor and to imposewhat they viewed as correct religious beliefs upon the land’s inhabitants. Native peoples everywhereresisted both the labor obligations and the effort to change their ancient belief systems. Indeed, manyretained their religion or incorporated only the parts of Catholicism that made sense to them.

The system of encomiendas was accompanied by a great deal of violence (Figure 2.14). One Spaniard,Bartolomé de Las Casas , denounced the brutality of Spanish rule. A Dominican friar, Las Casas hadbeen one of the earliest Spanish settlers in the Spanish West Indies. In his early life in the Americas, heowned Indian slaves and was the recipient of an encomienda. However, after witnessing the savagery withwhich encomenderos (recipients of encomiendas) treated the native people, he reversed his views. In 1515, LasCasas released his native slaves, gave up his encomienda, and began to advocate for humane treatment ofnative peoples. He lobbied for new legislation, eventually known as the New Laws, which would eliminateslavery and the encomienda system.

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Figure 2.14 In this startling image from the Kingsborough Codex (a book written and drawn by nativeMesoamericans), a well-dressed Spaniard is shown pulling the hair of a bleeding, severely injured native. Thedrawing was part of a complaint about Spanish abuses of their encomiendas.

Las Casas’s writing about the Spaniards’ horrific treatment of Indians helped inspire the so-called BlackLegend, the idea that the Spanish were bloodthirsty conquerors with no regard for human life. Perhapsnot surprisingly, those who held this view of the Spanish were Spain’s imperial rivals. English writers andothers seized on the idea of Spain’s ruthlessness to support their own colonization projects. By demonizingthe Spanish, they justified their own efforts as more humane. All European colonizers, however, shared adisregard for Indians.

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Bartolomé de Las Casas on the Mistreatment of IndiansBartolomé de Las Casas’s A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, written in 1542 and publishedten years later, detailed for Prince Philip II of Spain how Spanish colonists had been mistreating natives.

Into and among these gentle sheep, endowed by their Maker and Creator with all the qualitiesaforesaid, did creep the Spaniards, who no sooner had knowledge of these people than theybecame like fierce wolves and tigers and lions who have gone many days without food ornourishment. And no other thing have they done for forty years until this day, and still todaysee fit to do, but dismember, slay, perturb, afflict, torment, and destroy the Indians by allmanner of cruelty—new and divers and most singular manners such as never before seen orread or heard of—some few of which shall be recounted below, and they do this to such adegree that on the Island of Hispaniola, of the above three millions souls that we once saw,today there be no more than two hundred of those native people remaining. . . .

Two principal and general customs have been employed by those, calling themselvesChristians, who have passed this way, in extirpating and striking from the face of the earththose suffering nations. The first being unjust, cruel, bloody, and tyrannical warfare. Theother—after having slain all those who might yearn toward or suspire after or think of freedom,or consider escaping from the torments that they are made to suffer, by which I mean all thenative-born lords and adult males, for it is the Spaniards’ custom in their wars to allow onlyyoung boys and females to live—being to oppress them with the hardest, harshest, and mostheinous bondage to which men or beasts might ever be bound into.

How might these writings have been used to promote the “black legend” against Spain as well assubsequent English exploration and colonization?

Indians were not the only source of cheap labor in the Americas; by the middle of the sixteenth century,Africans formed an important element of the labor landscape, producing the cash crops of sugar andtobacco for European markets. Europeans viewed Africans as non-Christians, which they used as ajustification for enslavement. Denied control over their lives, slaves endured horrendous conditions.At every opportunity, they resisted enslavement, and their resistance was met with violence. Indeed,physical, mental, and sexual violence formed a key strategy among European slaveholders in their effort toassert mastery and impose their will. The Portuguese led the way in the evolving transport of slaves acrossthe Atlantic; slave “factories” on the west coast of Africa, like Elmina Castle in Ghana, served as holdingpens for slaves brought from Africa’s interior. In time, other European imperial powers would follow inthe footsteps of the Portuguese by constructing similar outposts on the coast of West Africa.

The Portuguese traded or sold slaves to Spanish, Dutch, and English colonists in the Americas, particularlyin South America and the Caribbean, where sugar was a primary export. Thousands of African slavesfound themselves growing, harvesting, and processing sugarcane in an arduous routine of physical labor.Slaves had to cut the long cane stalks by hand and then bring them to a mill, where the cane juice wasextracted. They boiled the extracted cane juice down to a brown, crystalline sugar, which then had to becured in special curing houses to have the molasses drained from it. The result was refined sugar, whilethe leftover molasses could be distilled into rum. Every step was labor-intensive and often dangerous.

Las Casas estimated that by 1550, there were fifty thousand slaves on Hispaniola. However, it is a mistaketo assume that during the very early years of European exploration all Africans came to America as slaves;some were free men who took part in expeditions, for example, serving as conquistadors alongside Cortésin his assault on Tenochtitlán. Nonetheless, African slavery was one of the most tragic outcomes in theemerging Atlantic World.

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Browse the PBS collection Africans in America: Part 1 ( to see information and primary sources for the period 1450 through 1750.

COMMERCE IN THE NEW WORLDThe economic philosophy of mercantilism shaped European perceptions of wealth from the 1500s tothe late 1700s. Mercantilism held that only a limited amount of wealth, as measured in gold and silverbullion, existed in the world. In order to gain power, nations had to amass wealth by mining theseprecious raw materials from their colonial possessions. During the age of European exploration, nationsemployed conquest, colonization, and trade as ways to increase their share of the bounty of the NewWorld. Mercantilists did not believe in free trade, arguing instead that the nation should control tradeto create wealth. In this view, colonies existed to strengthen the colonizing nation. Mercantilists arguedagainst allowing their nations to trade freely with other nations.

Spain’s mercantilist ideas guided its economic policy. Every year, slaves or native workers loadedshipments of gold and silver aboard Spanish treasure fleets that sailed from Cuba for Spain. These shipsgroaned under the sheer weight of bullion, for the Spanish had found huge caches of silver and gold in theNew World. In South America, for example, Spaniards discovered rich veins of silver ore in the mountaincalled Potosí and founded a settlement of the same name there. Throughout the sixteenth century, Potosíwas a boom town, attracting settlers from many nations as well as native people from many differentcultures.

Colonial mercantilism, which was basically a set of protectionist policies designed to benefit the nation,relied on several factors: colonies rich in raw materials, cheap labor, colonial loyalty to the homegovernment, and control of the shipping trade. Under this system, the colonies sent their raw materials,harvested by slaves or native workers, back to their mother country. The mother country sent back finishedmaterials of all sorts: textiles, tools, clothing. The colonists could purchase these goods only from theirmother country; trade with other countries was forbidden.

The 1500s and early 1600s also introduced the process of commodification to the New World. Americansilver, tobacco, and other items, which were used by native peoples for ritual purposes, became Europeancommodities with a monetary value that could be bought and sold. Before the arrival of the Spanish, forexample, the Inca people of the Andes consumed chicha, a corn beer, for ritual purposes only. When theSpanish discovered chicha, they bought and traded for it, turning it into a commodity instead of a ritualsubstance. Commodification thus recast native economies and spurred the process of early commercialcapitalism. New World resources, from plants to animal pelts, held the promise of wealth for Europeanimperial powers.

THE COLUMBIAN EXCHANGEAs Europeans traversed the Atlantic, they brought with them plants, animals, and diseases that changedlives and landscapes on both sides of the ocean. These two-way exchanges between the Americas andEurope/Africa are known collectively as the Columbian Exchange (Figure 2.15).

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Figure 2.15 With European exploration and settlement of the New World, goods and diseases began crossing theAtlantic Ocean in both directions. This “Columbian Exchange” soon had global implications.

Of all the commodities in the Atlantic World, sugar proved to be the most important. Indeed, sugar carriedthe same economic importance as oil does today. European rivals raced to create sugar plantations in theAmericas and fought wars for control of some of the best sugar production areas. Although refined sugarwas available in the Old World, Europe’s harsher climate made sugarcane difficult to grow, and it was notplentiful. Columbus brought sugar to Hispaniola in 1493, and the new crop was growing there by the endof the 1490s. By the first decades of the 1500s, the Spanish were building sugar mills on the island. Overthe next century of colonization, Caribbean islands and most other tropical areas became centers of sugarproduction.

Though of secondary importance to sugar, tobacco achieved great value for Europeans as a cash crop aswell. Native peoples had been growing it for medicinal and ritual purposes for centuries before Europeancontact, smoking it in pipes or powdering it to use as snuff. They believed tobacco could improveconcentration and enhance wisdom. To some, its use meant achieving an entranced, altered, or divinestate; entering a spiritual place.

Tobacco was unknown in Europe before 1492, and it carried a negative stigma at first. The early Spanishexplorers considered natives’ use of tobacco to be proof of their savagery and, because of the fire andsmoke produced in the consumption of tobacco, evidence of the Devil’s sway in the New World.Gradually, however, European colonists became accustomed to and even took up the habit of smoking,and they brought it across the Atlantic. As did the Indians, Europeans ascribed medicinal properties to

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tobacco, claiming that it could cure headaches and skin irritations. Even so, Europeans did not importtobacco in great quantities until the 1590s. At that time, it became the first truly global commodity; English,French, Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese colonists all grew it for the world market.

Native peoples also introduced Europeans to chocolate, made from cacao seeds and used by the Aztec inMesoamerica as currency. Mesoamerican Indians consumed unsweetened chocolate in a drink with chilipeppers, vanilla, and a spice called achiote. This chocolate drink—xocolatl—was part of ritual ceremonieslike marriage and an everyday item for those who could afford it. Chocolate contains theobromine, astimulant, which may be why native people believed it brought them closer to the sacred world.

Spaniards in the New World considered drinking chocolate a vile practice; one called chocolate “theDevil’s vomit.” In time, however, they introduced the beverage to Spain. At first, chocolate was availableonly in the Spanish court, where the elite mixed it with sugar and other spices. Later, as its availabilityspread, chocolate gained a reputation as a love potion.

Visit Nature Transformed ( for a collectionof scholarly essays on the environment in American history.

The crossing of the Atlantic by plants like cacao and tobacco illustrates the ways in which the discoveryof the New World changed the habits and behaviors of Europeans. Europeans changed the New Worldin turn, not least by bringing Old World animals to the Americas. On his second voyage, ChristopherColumbus brought pigs, horses, cows, and chickens to the islands of the Caribbean. Later explorersfollowed suit, introducing new animals or reintroducing ones that had died out (like horses). With lessvulnerability to disease, these animals often fared better than humans in their new home, thriving both inthe wild and in domestication.

Europeans encountered New World animals as well. Because European Christians understood the worldas a place of warfare between God and Satan, many believed the Americas, which lacked Christianity,were home to the Devil and his minions. The exotic, sometimes bizarre, appearances and habits ofanimals in the Americas that were previously unknown to Europeans, such as manatees, sloths, andpoisonous snakes, confirmed this association. Over time, however, they began to rely more on observationof the natural world than solely on scripture. This shift—from seeing the Bible as the source of allreceived wisdom to trusting observation or empiricism—is one of the major outcomes of the era of earlyglobalization.

Travelers between the Americas, Africa, and Europe also included microbes: silent, invisible life forms thathad profound and devastating consequences. Native peoples had no immunity to diseases from acrossthe Atlantic, to which they had never been exposed. European explorers unwittingly brought with themchickenpox, measles, mumps, and smallpox, which ravaged native peoples despite their attempts to treatthe diseases, decimating some populations and wholly destroying others (Figure 2.16).

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Figure 2.16 This sixteenth-century Aztec drawing shows the suffering of a typical victim of smallpox. Smallpox andother contagious diseases brought by European explorers decimated Indian populations in the Americas.

In eastern North America, some native peoples interpreted death from disease as a hostile act. Somegroups, including the Iroquois, engaged in raids or “mourning wars,” taking enemy prisoners in orderto assuage their grief and replace the departed. In a special ritual, the prisoners were“requickened”—assigned the identity of a dead person—and adopted by the bereaved family to take theplace of their dead. As the toll from disease rose, mourning wars intensified and expanded.

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Black Legend


Columbian Exchange





joint stock company


mourning wars



probanza de mérito

Protestant Reformation






Key Terms

Spain’s reputation as bloodthirsty conquistadors

a branch of Protestantism started by John Calvin, emphasizing human powerlessness beforean omniscient God and stressing the idea of predestination

the movement of plants, animals, and diseases across the Atlantic due toEuropean exploration of the Americas

the transformation of something—for example, an item of ritual significance—into acommodity with monetary value

legal rights to native labor as granted by the Spanish crown

the island in the Caribbean, present-day Haiti and Dominican Republic, where Columbusfirst landed and established a Spanish colony

documents for purchase that absolved sinners of their errant behavior

a business entity in which investors provide the capital and assume the risk inorder to reap significant returns

the protectionist economic principle that nations should control trade with their colonies toensure a favorable balance of trade

raids or wars that tribes waged in eastern North America in order to replace memberslost to smallpox and other diseases

Separatists, led by William Bradford, who established the first English settlement in NewEngland

sea captains to whom the British government had given permission to raid Spanish ships atwill

proof of merit: a letter written by a Spanish explorer to the crown to gain royalpatronage

the schism in Catholicism that began with Martin Luther and John Calvin in theearly sixteenth century

a group of religious reformers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries who wanted to“purify” the Church of England by ridding it of practices associated with the Catholic Church andadvocating greater purity of doctrine and worship

the first English colony in Virginia, which mysteriously disappeared sometime between 1587and 1590

a faction of Puritans who advocated complete separation from the Church of England

a disease that Europeans accidentally brought to the New World, killing millions of Indians,who had no immunity to the disease

one of the primary crops of the Americas, which required a tremendous amount of labor tocultivate

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 59

Summary2.1 Portuguese Exploration and Spanish ConquestAlthough Portugal opened the door to exploration of the Atlantic World, Spanish explorers quicklymade inroads into the Americas. Spurred by Christopher Columbus’s glowing reports of the riches to befound in the New World, throngs of Spanish conquistadors set off to find and conquer new lands. Theyaccomplished this through a combination of military strength and strategic alliances with native peoples.Spanish rulers Ferdinand and Isabella promoted the acquisition of these new lands in order to strengthenand glorify their own empire. As Spain’s empire expanded and riches flowed in from the Americas, theSpanish experienced a golden age of art and literature.

2.2 Religious Upheavals in the Developing Atlantic WorldThe sixteenth century witnessed a new challenge to the powerful Catholic Church. The reformist doctrinesof Martin Luther and John Calvin attracted many people dissatisfied with Catholicism, and Protestantismspread across northern Europe, spawning many subgroups with conflicting beliefs. Spain led the chargeagainst Protestantism, leading to decades of undeclared religious wars between Spain and England, andreligious intolerance and violence characterized much of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Despitethe efforts of the Catholic Church and Catholic nations, however, Protestantism had taken hold by 1600.

2.3 Challenges to Spain’s SupremacyBy the beginning of the seventeenth century, Spain’s rivals—England, France, and the DutchRepublic—had each established an Atlantic presence, with greater or lesser success, in the race for imperialpower. None of the new colonies, all in the eastern part of North America, could match the Spanishpossessions for gold and silver resources. Nonetheless, their presence in the New World helped thesenations establish claims that they hoped could halt the runaway growth of Spain’s Catholic empire.English colonists in Virginia suffered greatly, expecting riches to fall into their hands and finding reality aharsh blow. However, the colony at Jamestown survived, and the output of England’s islands in the WestIndies soon grew to be an important source of income for the country. New France and New Netherlandswere modest colonial holdings in the northeast of the continent, but these colonies’ thriving fur trade withnative peoples, and their alliances with those peoples, helped to create the foundation for later shifts in theglobal balance of power.

2.4 New Worlds in the Americas: Labor, Commerce, and the Columbian ExchangeIn the minds of European rulers, colonies existed to create wealth for imperial powers. Guided bymercantilist ideas, European rulers and investors hoped to enrich their own nations and themselves, inorder to gain the greatest share of what was believed to be a limited amount of wealth. In their ownindividual quest for riches and preeminence, European colonizers who traveled to the Americas blazednew and disturbing paths, such as the encomienda system of forced labor and the use of tens of thousandsof Africans as slaves.

All native inhabitants of the Americas who came into contact with Europeans found their worlds turnedupside down as the new arrivals introduced their religions and ideas about property and goods.Europeans gained new foods, plants, and animals in the Columbian Exchange, turning whatever theycould into a commodity to be bought and sold, and Indians were introduced to diseases that nearlydestroyed them. At every turn, however, Indians placed limits on European colonization and resisted thenewcomers’ ways.

Review Questions

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1. Which country initiated the era of Atlanticexploration?

A. FranceB. SpainC. EnglandD. Portugal

2. Which country established the first colonies inthe Americas?

A. EnglandB. PortugalC. SpainD. the Netherlands

3. Where did Christopher Columbus first land?A. HispaniolaB. the BahamasC. JamestownD. Mexico

4. Why did the authors of probanzas de méritoschoose to write in the way that they did? Whatshould we consider when we interpret thesedocuments today?

5. Where did the Protestant Reformation begin?A. Northern EuropeB. SpainC. EnglandD. the American colonies

6. What was the chief goal of the Puritans?A. to achieve a lasting peace with the Catholic

nations of Spain and FranceB. to eliminate any traces of Catholicism from

the Church of EnglandC. to assist Henry VIII in his quest for an

annulment to his marriageD. to create a hierarchy within the Church of

England modeled on that of the CatholicChurch

7. What reforms to the Catholic Church didMartin Luther and John Calvin call for?

8. Why didn’t England make stronger attempts tocolonize the New World before the late sixteenthto early seventeenth century?

A. English attention was turned to internalstruggles and the encroaching Catholicmenace to Scotland and Ireland.

B. The English monarchy did not want todeclare direct war on Spain by attemptingto colonize the Americas.

C. The English military was occupied inbattling for control of New Netherlands.

D. The English crown refused to fund colonialexpeditions.

9. What was the main goal of the French incolonizing the Americas?

A. establishing a colony with French subjectsB. trading, especially for fursC. gaining control of shipping lanesD. spreading Catholicism among native


10. What were some of the main differencesamong the non-Spanish colonies?

11. How could Spaniards obtain encomiendas?A. by serving the Spanish crownB. by buying them from other SpaniardsC. by buying them from native chiefsD. by inheriting them

12. Which of the following best describes theColumbian Exchange?

A. the letters Columbus and otherconquistadors exchanged with the Spanishcrown

B. an exchange of plants, animals, anddiseases between Europe and the Americas

C. a form of trade between the Spanish andnatives

D. the way in which explorers exchangedinformation about new lands to conquer

13. Why did diseases like smallpox affect Indiansso badly?

A. Indians were less robust than Europeans.B. Europeans deliberately infected Indians.C. Indians had no immunity to European

diseases.D. Conditions in the Americas were so harsh

that Indians and Europeans alike weredevastated by disease.

Critical Thinking Questions

Chapter 2 Early Globalization: The Atlantic World, 1492–1650 61

14. What were the consequences of the religious upheavals of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries?

15. What types of labor systems were used in the Americas? Did systems of unfree labor serve more thanan economic function?

16. What is meant by the Columbian Exchange? Who was affected the most by the exchange?

17. What were the various goals of the colonial European powers in the expansion of their empires? Towhat extent were they able to achieve these goals? Where did they fail?

18. On the whole, what was the impact of early European explorations on the New World? What was theimpact of the New World on Europeans?

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Creating New Social Orders:Colonial Societies, 1500–1700

Figure 3.1 John Smith’s famous map of Virginia (1622) illustrates many geopolitical features of early colonization. Inthe upper left, Powhatan, who governed a powerful local confederation of Algonquian communities, sits above otherlocal chiefs, denoting his authority. Another native figure, Susquehannock, who appears in the upper right, visuallyreinforces the message that the English did not control the land beyond a few outposts along the Chesapeake.

Chapter Outline3.1 Spanish Exploration and Colonial Society3.2 Colonial Rivalries: Dutch and French Colonial Ambitions3.3 English Settlements in America3.4 The Impact of Colonization

IntroductionBy the mid-seventeenth century, the geopolitical map of North America had become a patchwork ofimperial designs and ambitions as the Spanish, Dutch, French, and English reinforced their claims toparts of the land. Uneasiness, punctuated by violent clashes, prevailed in the border zones between theEuropeans’ territorial claims. Meanwhile, still-powerful native peoples waged war to drive the invadersfrom the continent. In the Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies, conflicts erupted as the Englishpushed against their native neighbors (Figure 3.1).

The rise of colonial societies in the Americas brought Native Americans, Africans, and Europeans togetherfor the first time, highlighting the radical social, cultural, and religious differences that hampered theirability to understand each other. European settlement affected every aspect of the land and its people,bringing goods, ideas, and diseases that transformed the Americas. Reciprocally, Native Americanpractices, such as the use of tobacco, profoundly altered European habits and tastes.

Chapter 3 Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700 63

3.1 Spanish Exploration and Colonial Society

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the main Spanish American colonial settlements of the 1500s and 1600s• Discuss economic, political, and demographic similarities and differences between the

Spanish colonies

During the 1500s, Spain expanded its colonial empire to the Philippines in the Far East and to areas inthe Americas that later became the United States. The Spanish dreamed of mountains of gold and silverand imagined converting thousands of eager Indians to Catholicism. In their vision of colonial society,everyone would know his or her place. Patriarchy (the rule of men over family, society, and government)shaped the Spanish colonial world. Women occupied a lower status. In all matters, the Spanish heldthemselves to be atop the social pyramid, with native peoples and Africans beneath them. Both Africansand native peoples, however, contested Spanish claims to dominance. Everywhere the Spanish settled,they brought devastating diseases, such as smallpox, that led to a horrific loss of life among native peoples.European diseases killed far more native inhabitants than did Spanish swords.

The world native peoples had known before the coming of the Spanish was further upset by Spanishcolonial practices. The Spanish imposed the encomienda system in the areas they controlled. Under thissystem, authorities assigned Indian workers to mine and plantation owners with the understanding thatthe recipients would defend the colony and teach the workers the tenets of Christianity. In reality, theencomienda system exploited native workers. It was eventually replaced by another colonial labor system,the repartimiento, which required Indian towns to supply a pool of labor for Spanish overlords.

ST. AUGUSTINE, FLORIDASpain gained a foothold in present-day Florida, viewing that area and the lands to the north as a logicalextension of their Caribbean empire. In 1513, Juan Ponce de León had claimed the area around today’sSt. Augustine for the Spanish crown, naming the land Pascua Florida (Feast of Flowers, or Easter) for thenearest feast day. Ponce de León was unable to establish a permanent settlement there, but by 1565, Spain

Figure 3.2

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was in need of an outpost to confront the French and English privateers using Florida as a base from whichto attack treasure-laden Spanish ships heading from Cuba to Spain. The threat to Spanish interests tooka new turn in 1562 when a group of French Protestants (Huguenots) established a small settlement theycalled Fort Caroline, north of St. Augustine. With the authorization of King Philip II, Spanish noblemanPedro Menéndez led an attack on Fort Caroline, killing most of the colonists and destroying the fort.Eliminating Fort Caroline served dual purposes for the Spanish—it helped reduce the danger from Frenchprivateers and eradicated the French threat to Spain’s claim to the area. The contest over Florida illustrateshow European rivalries spilled over into the Americas, especially religious conflict between Catholics andProtestants.

In 1565, the victorious Menéndez founded St. Augustine, now the oldest European settlement in theAmericas. In the process, the Spanish displaced the local Timucua Indians from their ancient town ofSeloy, which had stood for thousands of years (Figure 3.3). The Timucua suffered greatly from diseasesintroduced by the Spanish, shrinking from a population of around 200,000 pre-contact to fifty thousandin 1590. By 1700, only one thousand Timucua remained. As in other areas of Spanish conquest, Catholicpriests worked to bring about a spiritual conquest by forcing the surviving Timucua, demoralized andreeling from catastrophic losses of family and community, to convert to Catholicism.

Figure 3.3 In this drawing by French artist Jacques le Moyne de Morgues, Timucua flee the Spanish settlers, whoarrive by ship. Le Moyne lived at Fort Caroline, the French outpost, before the Spanish destroyed the colony in 1562.

Spanish Florida made an inviting target for Spain’s imperial rivals, especially the English, who wanted togain access to the Caribbean. In 1586, Spanish settlers in St. Augustine discovered their vulnerability toattack when the English pirate Sir Francis Drake destroyed the town with a fleet of twenty ships and onehundred men. Over the next several decades, the Spanish built more wooden forts, all of which were burntby raiding European rivals. Between 1672 and 1695, the Spanish constructed a stone fort, Castillo de SanMarcos (Figure 3.4), to better defend St. Augustine against challengers.

Chapter 3 Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700 65

Figure 3.4 The Spanish fort of Castillo de San Marcos helped Spanish colonists in St. Augustine fend off maraudingprivateers from rival European countries.

Browse the National Park Service’s multimedia resources on Castillo de SanMarcos ( to see how the fort and gates havelooked throughout history.

SANTA FE, NEW MEXICOFurther west, the Spanish in Mexico, intent on expanding their empire, looked north to the land of thePueblo Indians. Under orders from King Philip II, Juan de Oñate explored the American southwest forSpain in the late 1590s. The Spanish hoped that what we know as New Mexico would yield gold and silver,but the land produced little of value to them. In 1610, Spanish settlers established themselves at SantaFe—originally named La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, or “Royal City of the HolyFaith of St. Francis of Assisi”—where many Pueblo villages were located. Santa Fe became the capital ofthe Kingdom of New Mexico, an outpost of the larger Spanish Viceroyalty of New Spain, which had itsheadquarters in Mexico City.

As they had in other Spanish colonies, Franciscan missionaries labored to bring about a spiritual conquestby converting the Pueblo to Catholicism. At first, the Pueblo adopted the parts of Catholicism thatdovetailed with their own long-standing view of the world. However, Spanish priests insisted that nativesdiscard their old ways entirely and angered the Pueblo by focusing on the young, drawing them awayfrom their parents. This deep insult, combined with an extended period of drought and increased attacksby local Apache and Navajo in the 1670s—troubles that the Pueblo came to believe were linked to theSpanish presence—moved the Pueblo to push the Spanish and their religion from the area. Pueblo leaderPopé demanded a return to native ways so the hardships his people faced would end. To him andto thousands of others, it seemed obvious that “when Jesus came, the Corn Mothers went away.” Theexpulsion of the Spanish would bring a return to prosperity and a pure, native way of life.

In 1680, the Pueblo launched a coordinated rebellion against the Spanish. The Pueblo Revolt killed overfour hundred Spaniards and drove the rest of the settlers, perhaps as many as two thousand, south towardMexico. However, as droughts and attacks by rival tribes continued, the Spanish sensed an opportunity toregain their foothold. In 1692, they returned and reasserted their control of the area. Some of the Spanish

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explained the Pueblo success in 1680 as the work of the Devil. Satan, they believed, had stirred up thePueblo to take arms against God’s chosen people—the Spanish—but the Spanish, and their God, hadprevailed in the end.

3.2 Colonial Rivalries: Dutch and French Colonial Ambitions

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Compare and contrast the development and character of the French and Dutch colonies

in North America• Discuss the economies of the French and Dutch colonies in North America

Seventeenth-century French and Dutch colonies in North America were modest in comparison to Spain’scolossal global empire. New France and New Netherland remained small commercial operations focusedon the fur trade and did not attract an influx of migrants. The Dutch in New Netherland confined theiroperations to Manhattan Island, Long Island, the Hudson River Valley, and what later became New Jersey.Dutch trade goods circulated widely among the native peoples in these areas and also traveled well intothe interior of the continent along preexisting native trade routes. French habitants, or farmer-settlers, ekedout an existence along the St. Lawrence River. French fur traders and missionaries, however, ranged farinto the interior of North America, exploring the Great Lakes region and the Mississippi River. Thesepioneers gave France somewhat inflated imperial claims to lands that nonetheless remained firmly underthe dominion of native peoples.

FUR TRADING IN NEW NETHERLANDThe Dutch Republic emerged as a major commercial center in the 1600s. Its fleets plied the waters of theAtlantic, while other Dutch ships sailed to the Far East, returning with prized spices like pepper to besold in the bustling ports at home, especially Amsterdam. In North America, Dutch traders establishedthemselves first on Manhattan Island.

One of the Dutch directors-general of the North American settlement, Peter Stuyvesant, served from 1647to 1664 and expanded the fledgling outpost of New Netherland east to present-day Long Island and formany miles north along the Hudson River. The resulting elongated colony served primarily as a fur-trading post, with the powerful Dutch West India Company controlling all commerce. Fort Amsterdam, onthe southern tip of Manhattan Island, defended the growing city of New Amsterdam. In 1655, Stuyvesanttook over the small outpost of New Sweden along the banks of the Delaware River in present-day NewJersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. He also defended New Amsterdam from Indian attacks by orderingAfrican slaves to build a protective wall on the city’s northeastern border, giving present-day Wall Streetits name (Figure 3.5).

Chapter 3 Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700 67

Figure 3.5 The Castello Plan is the only extant map of 1660 New Amsterdam (present-day New York City). The linewith spikes on the right side of the colony is the northeastern wall for which Wall Street was named.

New Netherland failed to attract many Dutch colonists; by 1664, only nine thousand people were livingthere. Conflict with native peoples, as well as dissatisfaction with the Dutch West India Company’strading practices, made the Dutch outpost an undesirable place for many migrants. The small size ofthe population meant a severe labor shortage, and to complete the arduous tasks of early settlement, theDutch West India Company imported some 450 African slaves between 1626 and 1664. (The companyhad involved itself heavily in the slave trade and in 1637 captured Elmina, the slave-trading post onthe west coast of Africa, from the Portuguese.) The shortage of labor also meant that New Netherlandwelcomed non-Dutch immigrants, including Protestants from Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and England,and embraced a degree of religious tolerance, allowing Jewish immigrants to become residents beginningin the 1650s. Thus, a wide variety of people lived in New Netherland from the start. Indeed, one observerclaimed eighteen different languages could be heard on the streets of New Amsterdam. As new settlersarrived, the colony of New Netherland stretched farther to the north and the west (Figure 3.6).

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Figure 3.6 This 1684 map of New Netherland shows the extent of Dutch settlement.

The Dutch West India Company found the business of colonization in New Netherland to be expensive. Toshare some of the costs, it granted Dutch merchants who invested heavily in it patroonships, or large tractsof land and the right to govern the tenants there. In return, the shareholder who gained the patroonshippromised to pay for the passage of at least thirty Dutch farmers to populate the colony. One of thelargest patroonships was granted to Kiliaen van Rensselaer, one of the directors of the Dutch West IndiaCompany; it covered most of present-day Albany and Rensselaer Counties. This pattern of settlementcreated a yawning gap in wealth and status between the tenants, who paid rent, and the wealthy patroons.

During the summer trading season, Indians gathered at trading posts such as the Dutch site at Beverwijck(present-day Albany), where they exchanged furs for guns, blankets, and alcohol. The furs, especiallybeaver pelts destined for the lucrative European millinery market, would be sent down the Hudson Riverto New Amsterdam. There, slaves or workers would load them aboard ships bound for Amsterdam.

Explore an interactive map of New Amsterdam in 1660( that shows the city plan and the locations ofvarious structures, including houses, businesses, and public buildings. Rolling over themap reveals relevant historical details, such as street names, the identities of certainbuildings and businesses, and the names of residents of the houses (when known).

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COMMERCE AND CONVERSION IN NEW FRANCEAfter Jacques Cartier’s voyages of discovery in the 1530s, France showed little interest in creatingpermanent colonies in North America until the early 1600s, when Samuel de Champlain establishedQuebec as a French fur-trading outpost. Although the fur trade was lucrative, the French saw Canadaas an inhospitable frozen wasteland, and by 1640, fewer than four hundred settlers had made theirhome there. The sparse French presence meant that colonists depended on the local native Algonquianpeople; without them, the French would have perished. French fishermen, explorers, and fur traders madeextensive contact with the Algonquian. The Algonquian, in turn, tolerated the French because the colonistssupplied them with firearms for their ongoing war with the Iroquois. Thus, the French found themselvesescalating native wars and supporting the Algonquian against the Iroquois, who received weapons fromtheir Dutch trading partners. These seventeenth-century conflicts centered on the lucrative trade in beaverpelts, earning them the name of the Beaver Wars. In these wars, fighting between rival native peoplesspread throughout the Great Lakes region.

A handful of French Jesuit priests also made their way to Canada, intent on converting the nativeinhabitants to Catholicism. The Jesuits were members of the Society of Jesus, an elite religious orderfounded in the 1540s to spread Catholicism and combat the spread of Protestantism. The first Jesuitsarrived in Quebec in the 1620s, and for the next century, their numbers did not exceed forty priests. Likethe Spanish Franciscan missionaries, the Jesuits in the colony called New France labored to convert thenative peoples to Catholicism. They wrote detailed annual reports about their progress in bringing thefaith to the Algonquian and, beginning in the 1660s, to the Iroquois. These documents are known as theJesuit Relations (Figure 3.7), and they provide a rich source for understanding both the Jesuit view of theIndians and the Indian response to the colonizers.

One native convert to Catholicism, a Mohawk woman named Katherine Tekakwitha, so impressed thepriests with her piety that a Jesuit named Claude Chauchetière attempted to make her a saint in theChurch. However, the effort to canonize Tekakwitha faltered when leaders of the Church balked atelevating a “savage” to such a high status; she was eventually canonized in 2012. French colonizerspressured the native inhabitants of New France to convert, but they virtually never saw native peoples astheir equals.

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A Jesuit Priest on Indian Healing TraditionsThe Jesuit Relations (Figure 3.7) provide incredible detail about Indian life. For example, the 1636edition, written by the Catholic priest Jean de Brébeuf, addresses the devastating effects of disease onnative peoples and the efforts made to combat it.

Figure 3.7 French Jesuit missionaries to New France kept detailed records of their interactionswith—and observations of—the Algonquian and Iroquois that they converted to Catholicism. (credit:Project Gutenberg).

Let us return to the feasts. The Aoutaerohi is a remedy which is only for one particular kindof disease, which they call also Aoutaerohi, from the name of a little Demon as large as thefist, which they say is in the body of the sick man, especially in the part which pains him. Theyfind out that they are sick of this disease, by means of a dream, or by the intervention of someSorcerer. . . .Of three kinds of games especially in use among these Peoples,—namely, the games ofcrosse [lacrosse], dish, and straw,—the first two are, they say, most healing. Is not this worthyof compassion? There is a poor sick man, fevered of body and almost dying, and a miserableSorcerer will order for him, as a cooling remedy, a game of crosse. Or the sick man himself,sometimes, will have dreamed that he must die unless the whole country shall play crosse forhis health; and, no matter how little may be his credit, you will see then in a beautiful field,Village contending against Village, as to who will play crosse the better, and betting againstone another Beaver robes and Porcelain collars, so as to excite greater interest.

According to this account, how did Indians attempt to cure disease? Why did they prescribe a game oflacrosse? What benefits might these games have for the sick?

Chapter 3 Creating New Social Orders: Colonial Societies, 1500–1700 71

3.3 English Settlements in America

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the first English settlements in America• Describe the differences between the Chesapeake Bay colonies and the New England

colonies• Compare and contrast the wars between native inhabitants and English colonists in

both the Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies• Explain the role of Bacon’s Rebellion in the rise of chattel slavery in Virginia

At the start of the seventeenth century, the English had not established a permanent settlement in theAmericas. Over the next century, however, they outpaced their rivals. The English encouraged emigrationfar more than the Spanish, French, or Dutch. They established nearly a dozen colonies, sending swarms ofimmigrants to populate the land. England had experienced a dramatic rise in population in the sixteenthcentury, and the colonies appeared a welcoming place for those who faced overcrowding and grindingpoverty at home. Thousands of English migrants arrived in the Chesapeake Bay colonies of Virginia andMaryland to work in the tobacco fields. Another stream, this one of pious Puritan families, sought tolive as they believed scripture demanded and established the Plymouth, Massachusetts Bay, New Haven,Connecticut, and Rhode Island colonies of New England (Figure 3.8).

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Figure 3.8 In the early seventeenth century, thousands of English settlers came to what are now Virginia, Maryland,and the New England states in search of opportunity and a better life.

THE DIVERGING CULTURES OF THE NEW ENGLAND AND CHESAPEAKE COLONIESPromoters of English colonization in North America, many of whom never ventured across the Atlantic,wrote about the bounty the English would find there. These boosters of colonization hoped to turn aprofit—whether by importing raw resources or providing new markets for English goods—and spreadProtestantism. The English migrants who actually made the journey, however, had different goals. InChesapeake Bay, English migrants established Virginia and Maryland with a decidedly commercialorientation. Though the early Virginians at Jamestown hoped to find gold, they and the settlers inMaryland quickly discovered that growing tobacco was the only sure means of making money. Thousandsof unmarried, unemployed, and impatient young Englishmen, along with a few Englishwomen, pinnedtheir hopes for a better life on the tobacco fields of these two colonies.

A very different group of English men and women flocked to the cold climate and rocky soil of NewEngland, spurred by religious motives. Many of the Puritans crossing the Atlantic were people whobrought families and children. Often they were following their ministers in a migration “beyond theseas,” envisioning a new English Israel where reformed Protestantism would grow and thrive, providing amodel for the rest of the Christian world and a counter to what they saw as the Catholic menace. While theEnglish in Virginia and Maryland worked on expanding their profitable tobacco fields, the English in NewEngland built towns focused on the church, where each congregation decided what was best for itself. TheCongregational Church is the result of the Puritan enterprise in America. Many historians believe the faultlines separating what later became the North and South in the United States originated in the profounddifferences between the Chesapeake and New England colonies.

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The source of those differences lay in England’s domestic problems. Increasingly in the early 1600s,the English state church—the Church of England, established in the 1530s—demanded conformity, orcompliance with its practices, but Puritans pushed for greater reforms. By the 1620s, the Church of Englandbegan to see leading Puritan ministers and their followers as outlaws, a national security threat because oftheir opposition to its power. As the noose of conformity tightened around them, many Puritans decidedto remove to New England. By 1640, New England had a population of twenty-five thousand. Meanwhile,many loyal members of the Church of England, who ridiculed and mocked Puritans both at home and inNew England, flocked to Virginia for economic opportunity.

The troubles in England escalated in the 1640s when civil war broke out, pitting Royalist supportersof King Charles I and the Church of England against Parliamentarians, the Puritan reformers and theirsupporters in Parliament. In 1649, the Parliamentarians gained the upper hand and, in an unprecedentedmove, executed Charles I. In the 1650s, therefore, England became a republic, a state without a king.English colonists in America closely followed these events. Indeed, many Puritans left New England andreturned home to take part in the struggle against the king and the national church. Other English menand women in the Chesapeake colonies and elsewhere in the English Atlantic World looked on in horrorat the mayhem the Parliamentarians, led by the Puritan insurgents, appeared to unleash in England. Theturmoil in England made the administration and imperial oversight of the Chesapeake and New Englandcolonies difficult, and the two regions developed divergent cultures.

THE CHESAPEAKE COLONIES: VIRGINIA AND MARYLANDThe Chesapeake colonies of Virginia and Maryland served a vital purpose in the developing seventeenth-century English empire by providing tobacco, a cash crop. However, the early history of Jamestown didnot suggest the English outpost would survive. From the outset, its settlers struggled both with eachother and with the native inhabitants, the powerful Powhatan, who controlled the area. Jealousies andinfighting among the English destabilized the colony. One member, John Smith, whose famous mapbegins this chapter, took control and exercised near-dictatorial powers, which furthered aggravated thesquabbling. The settlers’ inability to grow their own food compounded this unstable situation. They wereessentially employees of the Virginia Company of London, an English joint-stock company, in whichinvestors provided the capital and assumed the risk in order to reap the profit, and they had to make aprofit for their shareholders as well as for themselves. Most initially devoted themselves to finding goldand silver instead of finding ways to grow their own food.

Early Struggles and the Development of the Tobacco EconomyPoor health, lack of food, and fighting with native peoples took the lives of many of the original Jamestownsettlers. The winter of 1609–1610, which became known as “the starving time,” came close to annihilatingthe colony. By June 1610, the few remaining settlers had decided to abandon the area; only the last-minute arrival of a supply ship from England prevented another failed colonization effort. The supply shipbrought new settlers, but only twelve hundred of the seventy-five hundred who came to Virginia between1607 and 1624 survived.

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George Percy on “The Starving Time”George Percy, the youngest son of an English nobleman, was in the first group of settlers at theJamestown Colony. He kept a journal describing their experiences; in the excerpt below, he reports onthe privations of the colonists’ third winter.

Now all of us at James Town, beginning to feel that sharp prick of hunger which no man trulydescribe but he which has tasted the bitterness thereof, a world of miseries ensued as thesequel will express unto you, in so much that some to satisfy their hunger have robbed thestore for the which I caused them to be executed. Then having fed upon horses and otherbeasts as long as they lasted, we were glad to make shift with vermin as dogs, cats, rats, andmice. All was fish that came to net to satisfy cruel hunger as to eat boots, shoes, or any otherleather some could come by, and, those being spent and devoured, some were enforced tosearch the woods and to feed upon serpents and snakes and to dig the earth for wild andunknown roots, where many of our men were cut off of and slain by the savages. And nowfamine beginning to look ghastly and pale in every face that nothing was spared to maintainlife and to do those things which seem incredible as to dig up dead corpses out of graves andto eat them, and some have licked up the blood which has fallen from their weak fellows.—George Percy, “A True Relation of the Proceedings and Occurances of Moment which havehappened in Virginia from the Time Sir Thomas Gates shipwrecked upon the Bermudes anno1609 until my departure out of the Country which was in anno Domini 1612,” London 1624

What is your reaction to George Percy’s story? How do you think Jamestown managed to survive aftersuch an experience? What do you think the Jamestown colonists learned?

By the 1620s, Virginia had weathered the worst and gained a degree of permanence. Political stability cameslowly, but by 1619, the fledgling colony was operating under the leadership of a governor, a council,and a House of Burgesses. Economic stability came from the lucrative cultivation of tobacco. Smokingtobacco was a long-standing practice among native peoples, and English and other European consumerssoon adopted it. In 1614, the Virginia colony began exporting tobacco back to England, which earned it asizable profit and saved the colony from ruin. A second tobacco colony, Maryland, was formed in 1634,when King Charles I granted its charter to the Calvert family for their loyal service to England. CeciliusCalvert, the second Lord Baltimore, conceived of Maryland as a refuge for English Catholics.

Growing tobacco proved very labor-intensive (Figure 3.9), and the Chesapeake colonists needed a steadyworkforce to do the hard work of clearing the land and caring for the tender young plants. The mature leafof the plant then had to be cured (dried), which necessitated the construction of drying barns. Once cured,the tobacco had to be packaged in hogsheads (large wooden barrels) and loaded aboard ship, which alsorequired considerable labor.

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Figure 3.9 In this 1670 painting by an unknown artist, slaves work in tobacco-drying sheds.

To meet these labor demands, early Virginians relied on indentured servants. An indenture is a laborcontract that young, impoverished, and often illiterate Englishmen and occasionally Englishwomen signedin England, pledging to work for a number of years (usually between five and seven) growing tobaccoin the Chesapeake colonies. In return, indentured servants received paid passage to America and food,clothing, and lodging. At the end of their indenture servants received “freedom dues,” usually food andother provisions, including, in some cases, land provided by the colony. The promise of a new life inAmerica was a strong attraction for members of England’s underclass, who had few if any options at home.In the 1600s, some 100,000 indentured servants traveled to the Chesapeake Bay. Most were poor youngmen in their early twenties.

Life in the colonies proved harsh, however. Indentured servants could not marry, and they were subject tothe will of the tobacco planters who bought their labor contracts. If they committed a crime or disobeyedtheir masters, they found their terms of service lengthened, often by several years. Female indenturedservants faced special dangers in what was essentially a bachelor colony. Many were exploited byunscrupulous tobacco planters who seduced them with promises of marriage. These planters would thensell their pregnant servants to other tobacco planters to avoid the costs of raising a child.

Nonetheless, those indentured servants who completed their term of service often began new livesas tobacco planters. To entice even more migrants to the New World, the Virginia Company alsoimplemented the headright system, in which those who paid their own passage to Virginia received fiftyacres plus an additional fifty for each servant or family member they brought with them. The headrightsystem and the promise of a new life for servants acted as powerful incentives for English migrants tohazard the journey to the New World.

Visit Virtual Jamestown ( to access adatabase of contracts of indentured servants. Search it by name to find an ancestor orbrowse by occupation, destination, or county of origin.

Click and Explore

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The Anglo-Powhatan WarsBy choosing to settle along the rivers on the banks of the Chesapeake, the English unknowingly placedthemselves at the center of the Powhatan Empire, a powerful Algonquian confederacy of thirty nativegroups with perhaps as many as twenty-two thousand people. The territory of the equally impressiveSusquehannock people also bordered English settlements at the north end of the Chesapeake Bay.

Tensions ran high between the English and the Powhatan, and near-constant war prevailed. The FirstAnglo-Powhatan War (1609–1614) resulted not only from the English colonists’ intrusion onto Powhatanland, but also from their refusal to follow native protocol by giving gifts. English actions infuriated andinsulted the Powhatan. In 1613, the settlers captured Pocahontas (also called Matoaka), the daughter of aPowhatan headman named Wahunsonacook, and gave her in marriage to Englishman John Rolfe. Theirunion, and her choice to remain with the English, helped quell the war in 1614. Pocahontas converted toChristianity, changing her name to Rebecca, and sailed with her husband and several other Powhatan toEngland where she was introduced to King James I (Figure 3.10). Promoters of colonization publicizedPocahontas as an example of the good work of converting the Powhatan to Christianity.

Figure 3.10 This 1616 engraving by Simon van de Passe, completed when Pocahontas and John Rolfe werepresented at court in England, is the only known contemporary image of Pocahontas. Note her European garb andpose. What message did the painter likely intend to convey with this portrait of Pocahontas, the daughter of apowerful Indian chief?

Explore the interactive exhibit Changing Images of Pocahontas( on PBS’s website to see the many waysartists have portrayed Pocahontas over the centuries.

Click and Explore

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Peace in Virginia did not last long. The Second Anglo-Powhatan War (1620s) broke out because ofthe expansion of the English settlement nearly one hundred miles into the interior, and because of thecontinued insults and friction caused by English activities. The Powhatan attacked in 1622 and succeededin killing almost 350 English, about a third of the settlers. The English responded by annihilating everyPowhatan village around Jamestown and from then on became even more intolerant. The Third Anglo-Powhatan War (1644–1646) began with a surprise attack in which the Powhatan killed around fivehundred English colonists. However, their ultimate defeat in this conflict forced the Powhatan toacknowledge King Charles I as their sovereign. The Anglo-Powhatan Wars, spanning nearly forty years,illustrate the degree of native resistance that resulted from English intrusion into the Powhatanconfederacy.

The Rise of Slavery in the Chesapeake Bay ColoniesThe transition from indentured servitude to slavery as the main labor source for some English colonieshappened first in the West Indies. On the small island of Barbados, colonized in the 1620s, English plantersfirst grew tobacco as their main export crop, but in the 1640s, they converted to sugarcane and beganincreasingly to rely on African slaves. In 1655, England wrestled control of Jamaica from the Spanishand quickly turned it into a lucrative sugar island, run on slave labor, for its expanding empire. Whileslavery was slower to take hold in the Chesapeake colonies, by the end of the seventeenth century, bothVirginia and Maryland had also adopted chattel slavery—which legally defined Africans as property andnot people—as the dominant form of labor to grow tobacco. Chesapeake colonists also enslaved nativepeople.

When the first Africans arrived in Virginia in 1619, slavery—which did not exist in England—had notyet become an institution in colonial America. Many Africans worked as servants and, like their whitecounterparts, could acquire land of their own. Some Africans who converted to Christianity became freelandowners with white servants. The change in the status of Africans in the Chesapeake to that of slavesoccurred in the last decades of the seventeenth century.

Bacon’s Rebellion, an uprising of both whites and blacks who believed that the Virginia government wasimpeding their access to land and wealth and seemed to do little to clear the land of Indians, hastenedthe transition to African slavery in the Chesapeake colonies. The rebellion takes its name from NathanielBacon, a wealthy young Englishman who arrived in Virginia in 1674. Despite an early friendship withVirginia’s royal governor, William Berkeley, Bacon found himself excluded from the governor’s circleof influential friends and councilors. He wanted land on the Virginia frontier, but the governor, fearingwar with neighboring Indian tribes, forbade further expansion. Bacon marshaled others, especially formerindentured servants who believed the governor was limiting their economic opportunities and denyingthem the right to own tobacco farms. Bacon’s followers believed Berkeley’s frontier policy didn’t protectEnglish settlers enough. Worse still in their eyes, Governor Berkeley tried to keep peace in Virginia bysigning treaties with various local native peoples. Bacon and his followers, who saw all Indians as anobstacle to their access to land, pursued a policy of extermination.

Tensions between the English and the native peoples in the Chesapeake colonies led to open conflict.In 1675, war broke out when Susquehannock warriors attacked settlements on Virginia’s frontier, killingEnglish planters and destroying English plantations, including one owned by Bacon. In 1676, Bacon andother Virginians attacked the Susquehannock without the governor’s approval. When Berkeley orderedBacon’s arrest, Bacon led his followers to Jamestown, forced the governor to flee to the safety of Virginia’seastern shore, and then burned the city. The civil war known as Bacon’s Rebellion, a vicious strugglebetween supporters of the governor and those who supported Bacon, ensued. Reports of the rebelliontraveled back to England, leading Charles II to dispatch both royal troops and English commissionersto restore order in the tobacco colonies. By the end of 1676, Virginians loyal to the governor gainedthe upper hand, executing several leaders of the rebellion. Bacon escaped the hangman’s noose, insteaddying of dysentery. The rebellion fizzled in 1676, but Virginians remained divided as supporters of Baconcontinued to harbor grievances over access to Indian land.

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Bacon’s Rebellion helped to catalyze the creation of a system of racial slavery in the Chesapeake colonies.At the time of the rebellion, indentured servants made up the majority of laborers in the region. Wealthywhites worried over the presence of this large class of laborers and the relative freedom they enjoyed,as well as the alliance that black and white servants had forged in the course of the rebellion. Replacingindentured servitude with black slavery diminished these risks, alleviating the reliance on whiteindentured servants, who were often dissatisfied and troublesome, and creating a caste of racially definedlaborers whose movements were strictly controlled. It also lessened the possibility of further alliancesbetween black and white workers. Racial slavery even served to heal some of the divisions betweenwealthy and poor whites, who could now unite as members of a “superior” racial group.

While colonial laws in the tobacco colonies had made slavery a legal institution before Bacon’s Rebellion,new laws passed in the wake of the rebellion severely curtailed black freedom and laid the foundation forracial slavery. Virginia passed a law in 1680 prohibiting free blacks and slaves from bearing arms, banningblacks from congregating in large numbers, and establishing harsh punishments for slaves who assaultedChristians or attempted escape. Two years later, another Virginia law stipulated that all Africans broughtto the colony would be slaves for life. Thus, the increasing reliance on slaves in the tobacco colonies—andthe draconian laws instituted to control them—not only helped planters meet labor demands, but alsoserved to assuage English fears of further uprisings and alleviate class tensions between rich and poorwhites.


Robert Beverley on Servants and SlavesRobert Beverley was a wealthy Jamestown planter and slaveholder. This excerpt from his History andPresent State of Virginia, published in 1705, clearly illustrates the contrast between white servants andblack slaves.

Their Servants, they distinguish by the Names of Slaves for Life, and Servants for a time.Slaves are the Negroes, and their Posterity, following the condition of the Mother, accordingto the Maxim, partus sequitur ventrem [status follows the womb]. They are call’d Slaves, inrespect of the time of their Servitude, because it is for Life.Servants, are those which serve only for a few years, according to the time of their Indenture,or the Custom of the Country. The Custom of the Country takes place upon such as have noIndentures. The Law in this case is, that if such Servants be under Nineteen years of Age,they must be brought into Court, to have their Age adjudged; and from the Age they are judg’dto be of, they must serve until they reach four and twenty: But if they be adjudged upwards ofNineteen, they are then only to be Servants for the term of five Years.The Male-Servants, and Slaves of both Sexes, are employed together in Tilling and Manuringthe Ground, in Sowing and Planting Tobacco, Corn, &c. Some Distinction indeed is madebetween them in their Cloaths, and Food; but the Work of both, is no other than what theOverseers, the Freemen, and the Planters themselves do.Sufficient Distinction is also made between the Female-Servants, and Slaves; for a WhiteWoman is rarely or never put to work in the Ground, if she be good for any thing else: Andto Discourage all Planters from using any Women so, their Law imposes the heaviest Taxesupon Female Servants working in the Ground, while it suffers all other white Women to beabsolutely exempted: Whereas on the other hand, it is a common thing to work a WomanSlave out of Doors; nor does the Law make any Distinction in her Taxes, whether her Workbe Abroad, or at Home.

According to Robert Beverley, what are the differences between servants and slaves? What protectionsdid servants have that slaves did not?

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PURITAN NEW ENGLANDThe second major area to be colonized by the English in the first half of the seventeenth century, NewEngland, differed markedly in its founding principles from the commercially oriented Chesapeake tobaccocolonies. Settled largely by waves of Puritan families in the 1630s, New England had a religious orientationfrom the start. In England, reform-minded men and women had been calling for greater changes to theEnglish national church since the 1580s. These reformers, who followed the teachings of John Calvin andother Protestant reformers, were called Puritans because of their insistence on “purifying” the Churchof England of what they believed to be un-scriptural, especially Catholic elements that lingered in itsinstitutions and practices.

Many who provided leadership in early New England were learned ministers who had studied atCambridge or Oxford but who, because they had questioned the practices of the Church of England, hadbeen deprived of careers by the king and his officials in an effort to silence all dissenting voices. OtherPuritan leaders, such as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, came from theprivileged class of English gentry. These well-to-do Puritans and many thousands more left their Englishhomes not to establish a land of religious freedom, but to practice their own religion without persecution.Puritan New England offered them the opportunity to live as they believed the Bible demanded. In their“New” England, they set out to create a model of reformed Protestantism, a new English Israel.

The conflict generated by Puritanism had divided English society, because the Puritans demanded reformsthat undermined the traditional festive culture. For example, they denounced popular pastimes like bear-baiting—letting dogs attack a chained bear—which were often conducted on Sundays when people hada few leisure hours. In the culture where William Shakespeare had produced his masterpieces, Puritanscalled for an end to the theater, censuring playhouses as places of decadence. Indeed, the Bible itselfbecame part of the struggle between Puritans and James I, who headed the Church of England. Soon afterascending the throne, James commissioned a new version of the Bible in an effort to stifle Puritan relianceon the Geneva Bible, which followed the teachings of John Calvin and placed God’s authority above themonarch’s. The King James Version, published in 1611, instead emphasized the majesty of kings.

During the 1620s and 1630s, the conflict escalated to the point where the state church prohibited Puritanministers from preaching. In the Church’s view, Puritans represented a national security threat, becausetheir demands for cultural, social, and religious reforms undermined the king’s authority. Unwillingto conform to the Church of England, many Puritans found refuge in the New World. Yet those whoemigrated to the Americas were not united. Some called for a complete break with the Church of England,while others remained committed to reforming the national church.

Plymouth: The First Puritan ColonyThe first group of Puritans to make their way across the Atlantic was a small contingent known as thePilgrims. Unlike other Puritans, they insisted on a complete separation from the Church of England andhad first migrated to the Dutch Republic seeking religious freedom. Although they found they couldworship without hindrance there, they grew concerned that they were losing their Englishness as they sawtheir children begin to learn the Dutch language and adopt Dutch ways. In addition, the English Pilgrims(and others in Europe) feared another attack on the Dutch Republic by Catholic Spain. Therefore, in 1620,they moved on to found the Plymouth Colony in present-day Massachusetts. The governor of Plymouth,William Bradford, was a Separatist, a proponent of complete separation from the English state church.Bradford and the other Pilgrim Separatists represented a major challenge to the prevailing vision of aunified English national church and empire. On board the Mayflower, which was bound for Virginia butlanded on the tip of Cape Cod, Bradford and forty other adult men signed the Mayflower Compact (Figure3.11), which presented a religious (rather than an economic) rationale for colonization. The compactexpressed a community ideal of working together. When a larger exodus of Puritans established theMassachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s, the Pilgrims at Plymouth welcomed them and the two coloniescooperated with each other.

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The Mayflower Compact and Its Religious RationaleThe Mayflower Compact, which forty-one Pilgrim men signed on board the Mayflower in PlymouthHarbor, has been called the first American governing document, predating the U.S. Constitution by over150 years. But was the Mayflower Compact a constitution? How much authority did it convey, and towhom?

Figure 3.11 The original Mayflower Compact is no longer extant; only copies, such as this ca.1645transcription by William Bradford, remain.

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of ourdread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland,King, defender of the Faith, etc.Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honorof our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia,do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another,covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, andpreservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute,and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time totime, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; untowhich we promise all due submission and obedience.In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th ofNovember, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France,and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620

Different labor systems also distinguished early Puritan New England from the Chesapeake colonies.Puritans expected young people to work diligently at their calling, and all members of their large families,including children, did the bulk of the work necessary to run homes, farms, and businesses. Very few

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migrants came to New England as laborers; in fact, New England towns protected their disciplinedhomegrown workforce by refusing to allow outsiders in, assuring their sons and daughters of steadyemployment. New England’s labor system produced remarkable results, notably a powerful maritime-based economy with scores of oceangoing ships and the crews necessary to sail them. New Englandmariners sailing New England–made ships transported Virginian tobacco and West Indian sugarthroughout the Atlantic World.

“A City upon a Hill”A much larger group of English Puritans left England in the 1630s, establishing the Massachusetts BayColony, the New Haven Colony, the Connecticut Colony, and Rhode Island. Unlike the exodus of youngmales to the Chesapeake colonies, these migrants were families with young children and their university-trained ministers. Their aim, according to John Winthrop (Figure 3.12), the first governor of MassachusettsBay, was to create a model of reformed Protestantism—a “city upon a hill,” a new English Israel. Theidea of a “city upon a hill” made clear the religious orientation of the New England settlement, and thecharter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony stated as a goal that the colony’s people “may be soe religiously,peaceablie, and civilly governed, as their good Life and orderlie Conversacon, maie wynn and incite theNatives of Country, to the Knowledg and Obedience of the onlie true God and Saulor of Mankinde, andthe Christian Fayth.” To illustrate this, the seal of the Massachusetts Bay Company (Figure 3.12) shows ahalf-naked Indian who entreats more of the English to “come over and help us.”

Figure 3.12 In the 1629 seal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony (a), an Indian is shown asking colonists to “Comeover and help us.” This seal indicates the religious ambitions of John Winthrop (b), the colony’s first governor, for his“city upon a hill.”

Puritan New England differed in many ways from both England and the rest of Europe. Protestantsemphasized literacy so that everyone could read the Bible. This attitude was in stark contrast to thatof Catholics, who refused to tolerate private ownership of Bibles in the vernacular. The Puritans, fortheir part, placed a special emphasis on reading scripture, and their commitment to literacy led to theestablishment of the first printing press in English America in 1636. Four years later, in 1640, theypublished the first book in North America, the Bay Psalm Book. As Calvinists, Puritans adhered to thedoctrine of predestination, whereby a few “elect” would be saved and all others damned. No one could besure whether they were predestined for salvation, but through introspection, guided by scripture, Puritanshoped to find a glimmer of redemptive grace. Church membership was restricted to those Puritans who

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were willing to provide a conversion narrative telling how they came to understand their spiritual estateby hearing sermons and studying the Bible.

Although many people assume Puritans escaped England to establish religious freedom, they provedto be just as intolerant as the English state church. When dissenters, including Puritan minister RogerWilliams and Anne Hutchinson, challenged Governor Winthrop in Massachusetts Bay in the 1630s, theywere banished. Roger Williams questioned the Puritans’ taking of Indian land. Williams also argued fora complete separation from the Church of England, a position other Puritans in Massachusetts rejected,as well as the idea that the state could not punish individuals for their beliefs. Although he did acceptthat nonbelievers were destined for eternal damnation, Williams did not think the state could compeltrue orthodoxy. Puritan authorities found him guilty of spreading dangerous ideas, but he went on tofound Rhode Island as a colony that sheltered dissenting Puritans from their brethren in Massachusetts. InRhode Island, Williams wrote favorably about native peoples, contrasting their virtues with Puritan NewEngland’s intolerance.

Anne Hutchinson also ran afoul of Puritan authorities for her criticism of the evolving religious practicesin the Massachusetts Bay Colony. In particular, she held that Puritan ministers in New England taughta shallow version of Protestantism emphasizing hierarchy and actions—a “covenant of works” ratherthan a “covenant of grace.” Literate Puritan women like Hutchinson presented a challenge to the maleministers’ authority. Indeed, her major offense was her claim of direct religious revelation, a type ofspiritual experience that negated the role of ministers. Because of Hutchinson’s beliefs and her defianceof authority in the colony, especially that of Governor Winthrop, Puritan authorities tried and convictedher of holding false beliefs. In 1638, she was excommunicated and banished from the colony. She went toRhode Island and later, in 1642, sought safety among the Dutch in New Netherland. The following year,Algonquian warriors killed Hutchinson and her family. In Massachusetts, Governor Winthrop noted herdeath as the righteous judgment of God against a heretic.

Like many other Europeans, the Puritans believed in the supernatural. Every event appeared to be asign of God’s mercy or judgment, and people believed that witches allied themselves with the Devil tocarry out evil deeds and deliberate harm such as the sickness or death of children, the loss of cattle, andother catastrophes. Hundreds were accused of witchcraft in Puritan New England, including townspeoplewhose habits or appearance bothered their neighbors or who appeared threatening for any reason.Women, seen as more susceptible to the Devil because of their supposedly weaker constitutions, made upthe vast majority of suspects and those who were executed. The most notorious cases occurred in SalemVillage in 1692. Many of the accusers who prosecuted the suspected witches had been traumatized by theIndian wars on the frontier and by unprecedented political and cultural changes in New England. Relyingon their belief in witchcraft to help make sense of their changing world, Puritan authorities executednineteen people and caused the deaths of several others.

Explore the Salem Witchcraft Trials ( tolearn more about the prosecution of witchcraft in seventeenth-century New England.

Click and Explore

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Puritan Relationships with Native PeoplesLike their Spanish and French Catholic rivals, English Puritans in America took steps to convert nativepeoples to their version of Christianity. John Eliot, the leading Puritan missionary in New England, urgednatives in Massachusetts to live in “praying towns” established by English authorities for convertedIndians, and to adopt the Puritan emphasis on the centrality of the Bible. In keeping with the Protestantemphasis on reading scripture, he translated the Bible into the local Algonquian language and publishedhis work in 1663. Eliot hoped that as a result of his efforts, some of New England’s native inhabitantswould become preachers.

Tensions had existed from the beginning between the Puritans and the native people who controlledsouthern New England (Figure 3.13). Relationships deteriorated as the Puritans continued to expand theirsettlements aggressively and as European ways increasingly disrupted native life. These strains led to KingPhilip’s War (1675–1676), a massive regional conflict that was nearly successful in pushing the English outof New England.

Figure 3.13 This map indicates the domains of New England’s native inhabitants in 1670, a few years before KingPhilip’s War.

When the Puritans began to arrive in the 1620s and 1630s, local Algonquian peoples had viewed them aspotential allies in the conflicts already simmering between rival native groups. In 1621, the Wampanoag,led by Massasoit, concluded a peace treaty with the Pilgrims at Plymouth. In the 1630s, the Puritans inMassachusetts and Plymouth allied themselves with the Narragansett and Mohegan people against thePequot, who had recently expanded their claims into southern New England. In May 1637, the Puritansattacked a large group of several hundred Pequot along the Mystic River in Connecticut. To the horror oftheir native allies, the Puritans massacred all but a handful of the men, women, and children they found.

By the mid-seventeenth century, the Puritans had pushed their way further into the interior of NewEngland, establishing outposts along the Connecticut River Valley. There seemed no end to theirexpansion. Wampanoag leader Metacom or Metacomet, also known as King Philip among the English,was determined to stop the encroachment. The Wampanoag, along with the Nipmuck, Pocumtuck, andNarragansett, took up the hatchet to drive the English from the land. In the ensuing conflict, called KingPhilip’s War, native forces succeeded in destroying half of the frontier Puritan towns; however, in the end,the English (aided by Mohegans and Christian Indians) prevailed and sold many captives into slavery

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in the West Indies. (The severed head of King Philip was publicly displayed in Plymouth.) The war alsoforever changed the English perception of native peoples; from then on, Puritan writers took great pains tovilify the natives as bloodthirsty savages. A new type of racial hatred became a defining feature of Indian-English relationships in the Northeast.


Mary Rowlandson’s Captivity NarrativeMary Rowlandson was a Puritan woman whom Indian tribes captured and imprisoned for several weeksduring King Philip’s War. After her release, she wrote The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restorationof Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, which was published in 1682 (Figure 3.14). The book was an immediatesensation that was reissued in multiple editions for over a century.

Figure 3.14 Puritan woman Mary Rowlandson wrote her captivity narrative, the front cover of which isshown here (a), after her imprisonment during King Philip’s War. In her narrative, she tells of hertreatment by the Indians holding her as well as of her meetings with the Wampanoag leader Metacom(b), shown in a contemporary portrait.

But now, the next morning, I must turn my back upon the town, and travel with them into thevast and desolate wilderness, I knew not whither. It is not my tongue, or pen, can expressthe sorrows of my heart, and bitterness of my spirit that I had at this departure: but God waswith me in a wonderful manner, carrying me along, and bearing up my spirit, that it did notquite fail. One of the Indians carried my poor wounded babe upon a horse; it went moaningall along, “I shall die, I shall die.” I went on foot after it, with sorrow that cannot be expressed.At length I took it off the horse, and carried it in my arms till my strength failed, and I fell downwith it. Then they set me upon a horse with my wounded child in my lap, and there beingno furniture upon the horse’s back, as we were going down a steep hill we both fell over thehorse’s head, at which they, like inhumane creatures, laughed, and rejoiced to see it, thoughI thought we should there have ended our days, as overcome with so many difficulties. Butthe Lord renewed my strength still, and carried me along, that I might see more of His power;yea, so much that I could never have thought of, had I not experienced it.

What sustains Rowlandson her during her ordeal? How does she characterize her captors? What do youthink made her narrative so compelling to readers?

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Access the entire text of Mary Rowlandson’s captivity narrative( at the Gutenberg Project.

3.4 The Impact of Colonization

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the reasons for the rise of slavery in the American colonies• Describe changes to Indian life, including warfare and hunting• Contrast European and Indian views on property• Assess the impact of European settlement on the environment

As Europeans moved beyond exploration and into colonization of the Americas, they brought changes tovirtually every aspect of the land and its people, from trade and hunting to warfare and personal property.European goods, ideas, and diseases shaped the changing continent.

As Europeans established their colonies, their societies also became segmented and divided along religiousand racial lines. Most people in these societies were not free; they labored as servants or slaves, doing thework required to produce wealth for others. By 1700, the American continent had become a place of starkcontrasts between slavery and freedom, between the haves and the have-nots.

THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERYEverywhere in the American colonies, a crushing demand for labor existed to grow New World cashcrops, especially sugar and tobacco. This need led Europeans to rely increasingly on Africans, and after1600, the movement of Africans across the Atlantic accelerated. The English crown chartered the RoyalAfrican Company in 1672, giving the company a monopoly over the transport of African slaves to theEnglish colonies. Over the next four decades, the company transported around 350,000 Africans from theirhomelands. By 1700, the tiny English sugar island of Barbados had a population of fifty thousand slaves,and the English had encoded the institution of chattel slavery into colonial law.

This new system of African slavery came slowly to the English colonists, who did not have slavery athome and preferred to use servant labor. Nevertheless, by the end of the seventeenth century, the Englisheverywhere in America—and particularly in the Chesapeake Bay colonies—had come to rely on Africanslaves. While Africans had long practiced slavery among their own people, it had not been based on race.Africans enslaved other Africans as war captives, for crimes, and to settle debts; they generally used theirslaves for domestic and small-scale agricultural work, not for growing cash crops on large plantations.Additionally, African slavery was often a temporary condition rather than a lifelong sentence, and, unlikeNew World slavery, it was typically not heritable (passed from a slave mother to her children).

The growing slave trade with Europeans had a profound impact on the people of West Africa, givingprominence to local chieftains and merchants who traded slaves for European textiles, alcohol, guns,tobacco, and food. Africans also charged Europeans for the right to trade in slaves and imposed taxes on

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slave purchases. Different African groups and kingdoms even staged large-scale raids on each other tomeet the demand for slaves.

Once sold to traders, all slaves sent to America endured the hellish Middle Passage, the transatlanticcrossing, which took one to two months. By 1625, more than 325,800 Africans had been shipped to theNew World, though many thousands perished during the voyage. An astonishing number, some fourmillion, were transported to the Caribbean between 1501 and 1830. When they reached their destinationin America, Africans found themselves trapped in shockingly brutal slave societies. In the Chesapeakecolonies, they faced a lifetime of harvesting and processing tobacco.

Everywhere, Africans resisted slavery, and running away was common. In Jamaica and elsewhere,runaway slaves created maroon communities, groups that resisted recapture and eked a living from theland, rebuilding their communities as best they could. When possible, they adhered to traditional ways,following spiritual leaders such as Vodun priests.

CHANGES TO INDIAN LIFEWhile the Americas remained firmly under the control of native peoples in the first decades of Europeansettlement, conflict increased as colonization spread and Europeans placed greater demands upon thenative populations, including expecting them to convert to Christianity (either Catholicism orProtestantism). Throughout the seventeenth century, the still-powerful native peoples and confederaciesthat retained control of the land waged war against the invading Europeans, achieving a degree of successin their effort to drive the newcomers from the continent.

At the same time, European goods had begun to change Indian life radically. In the 1500s, some of theearliest objects Europeans introduced to Indians were glass beads, copper kettles, and metal utensils.Native people often adapted these items for their own use. For example, some cut up copper kettles andrefashioned the metal for other uses, including jewelry that conferred status on the wearer, who was seenas connected to the new European source of raw materials.

As European settlements grew throughout the 1600s, European goods flooded native communities. Soonnative people were using these items for the same purposes as the Europeans. For example, many nativeinhabitants abandoned their animal-skin clothing in favor of European textiles. Similarly, clay cookwaregave way to metal cooking implements, and Indians found that European flint and steel made startingfires much easier (Figure 3.15).

Figure 3.15 In this 1681 portrait, the Niantic-Narragansett chief Ninigret wears a combination of European andIndian goods. Which elements of each culture are evident in this portrait?

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The abundance of European goods gave rise to new artistic objects. For example, iron awls made thecreation of shell beads among the native people of the Eastern Woodlands much easier, and the resultwas an astonishing increase in the production of wampum, shell beads used in ceremonies and as jewelryand currency. Native peoples had always placed goods in the graves of their departed, and this practiceescalated with the arrival of European goods. Archaeologists have found enormous caches of Europeantrade goods in the graves of Indians on the East Coast.

Native weapons changed dramatically as well, creating an arms race among the peoples living inEuropean colonization zones. Indians refashioned European brassware into arrow points and turned axesused for chopping wood into weapons. The most prized piece of European weaponry to obtain was amusket, or light, long-barreled European gun. In order to trade with Europeans for these, native peoplesintensified their harvesting of beaver, commercializing their traditional practice.

The influx of European materials made warfare more lethal and changed traditional patterns of authorityamong tribes. Formerly weaker groups, if they had access to European metal and weapons, suddenlygained the upper hand against once-dominant groups. The Algonquian, for instance, traded with theFrench for muskets and gained power against their enemies, the Iroquois. Eventually, native peoples alsoused their new weapons against the European colonizers who had provided them.

Explore the complexity of Indian-European relationships( in the series of primary source documents on theNational Humanities Center site.

ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGESThe European presence in America spurred countless changes in the environment, setting into motionchains of events that affected native animals as well as people. The popularity of beaver-trimmed hatsin Europe, coupled with Indians’ desire for European weapons, led to the overhunting of beaver in theNortheast. Soon, beavers were extinct in New England, New York, and other areas. With their loss camethe loss of beaver ponds, which had served as habitats for fish as well as water sources for deer, moose, andother animals. Furthermore, Europeans introduced pigs, which they allowed to forage in forests and otherwildlands. Pigs consumed the foods on which deer and other indigenous species depended, resulting inscarcity of the game native peoples had traditionally hunted.

European ideas about owning land as private property clashed with natives’ understanding of land use.Native peoples did not believe in private ownership of land; instead, they viewed land as a resource to beheld in common for the benefit of the group. The European idea of usufruct—the right to common land useand enjoyment—comes close to the native understanding, but colonists did not practice usufruct widely inAmerica. Colonizers established fields, fences, and other means of demarcating private property. Nativepeoples who moved seasonally to take advantage of natural resources now found areas off limits, claimedby colonizers because of their insistence on private-property rights.

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The Introduction of DiseasePerhaps European colonization’s single greatest impact on the North American environment was theintroduction of disease. Microbes to which native inhabitants had no immunity led to death everywhereEuropeans settled. Along the New England coast between 1616 and 1618, epidemics claimed the lives of75 percent of the native people. In the 1630s, half the Huron and Iroquois around the Great Lakes diedof smallpox. As is often the case with disease, the very young and the very old were the most vulnerableand had the highest mortality rates. The loss of the older generation meant the loss of knowledge andtradition, while the death of children only compounded the trauma, creating devastating implications forfuture generations.

Some native peoples perceived disease as a weapon used by hostile spiritual forces, and they went to warto exorcise the disease from their midst. These “mourning wars” in eastern North America were designedto gain captives who would either be adopted (“requickened” as a replacement for a deceased loved one)or ritually tortured and executed to assuage the anger and grief caused by loss.

The Cultivation of PlantsEuropean expansion in the Americas led to an unprecedented movement of plants across the Atlantic. Aprime example is tobacco, which became a valuable export as the habit of smoking, previously unknown inEurope, took hold (Figure 3.16). Another example is sugar. Columbus brought sugarcane to the Caribbeanon his second voyage in 1494, and thereafter a wide variety of other herbs, flowers, seeds, and roots madethe transatlantic voyage.

Figure 3.16 Adriaen van Ostade, a Dutch artist, painted An Apothecary Smoking in an Interior in 1646. The largeEuropean market for American tobacco strongly influenced the development of some of the American colonies.

Just as pharmaceutical companies today scour the natural world for new drugs, Europeans traveled toAmerica to discover new medicines. The task of cataloging the new plants found there helped give birthto the science of botany. Early botanists included the English naturalist Sir Hans Sloane, who traveled toJamaica in 1687 and there recorded hundreds of new plants (Figure 3.17). Sloane also helped popularizethe drinking of chocolate, made from the cacao bean, in England.

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Figure 3.17 English naturalist Sir Hans Sloane traveled to Jamaica and other Caribbean islands to catalog the floraof the new world.

Indians, who possessed a vast understanding of local New World plants and their properties, would havebeen a rich source of information for those European botanists seeking to find and catalog potentiallyuseful plants. Enslaved Africans, who had a tradition of the use of medicinal plants in their native land,adapted to their new surroundings by learning the use of New World plants through experimentationor from the native inhabitants. Native peoples and Africans employed their knowledge effectively withintheir own communities. One notable example was the use of the peacock flower to induce abortions:Indian and enslaved African women living in oppressive colonial regimes are said to have used this herbto prevent the birth of children into slavery. Europeans distrusted medical knowledge that came fromAfrican or native sources, however, and thus lost the benefit of this source of information.

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headright system



maroon communities

Middle Passage






Key Terms

a system in which parcels of land were granted to settlers who could pay their ownway to Virginia

a labor contract that promised young men, and sometimes women, money and land after theyworked for a set period of years

members of the Society of Jesus, an elite Catholic religious order founded in the 1540s to spreadCatholicism and to combat the spread of Protestantism

groups of runaway slaves who resisted recapture and eked a living from the land

the perilous, often deadly transatlantic crossing of slave ships from the African coast tothe New World

a light, long-barreled European gun

large tracts of land and governing rights granted to merchants by the Dutch West IndiaCompany in order to encourage colonization

a Spanish colonial system requiring Indian towns to supply workers for the colonizers

the native people of Florida, whom the Spanish displaced with the founding of St. Augustine,the first Spanish settlement in North America

shell beads used in ceremonies and as jewelry and currency

Summary3.1 Spanish Exploration and Colonial SocietyIn their outposts at St. Augustine and Santa Fe, the Spanish never found the fabled mountains of gold theysought. They did find many native people to convert to Catholicism, but their zeal nearly cost them thecolony of Santa Fe, which they lost for twelve years after the Pueblo Revolt. In truth, the grand dreams ofwealth, conversion, and a social order based on Spanish control never came to pass as Spain envisionedthem.

3.2 Colonial Rivalries: Dutch and French Colonial AmbitionsThe French and Dutch established colonies in the northeastern part of North America: the Dutch inpresent-day New York, and the French in present-day Canada. Both colonies were primarily trading postsfor furs. While they failed to attract many colonists from their respective home countries, these outpostsnonetheless intensified imperial rivalries in North America. Both the Dutch and the French relied on nativepeoples to harvest the pelts that proved profitable in Europe.

3.3 English Settlements in AmericaThe English came late to colonization of the Americas, establishing stable settlements in the 1600s afterseveral unsuccessful attempts in the 1500s. After Roanoke Colony failed in 1587, the English found moresuccess with the founding of Jamestown in 1607 and Plymouth in 1620. The two colonies were verydifferent in origin. The Virginia Company of London founded Jamestown with the express purposeof making money for its investors, while Puritans founded Plymouth to practice their own brand ofProtestantism without interference.

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Both colonies battled difficult circumstances, including poor relationships with neighboring Indian tribes.Conflicts flared repeatedly in the Chesapeake Bay tobacco colonies and in New England, where a massiveuprising against the English in 1675 to 1676—King Philip’s War—nearly succeeded in driving the intrudersback to the sea.

3.4 The Impact of ColonizationThe development of the Atlantic slave trade forever changed the course of European settlement in theAmericas. Other transatlantic travelers, including diseases, goods, plants, animals, and even ideas like theconcept of private land ownership, further influenced life in America during the sixteenth and seventeenthcenturies. The exchange of pelts for European goods including copper kettles, knives, and guns played asignificant role in changing the material cultures of native peoples. During the seventeenth century, nativepeoples grew increasingly dependent on European trade items. At the same time, many native inhabitantsdied of European diseases, while survivors adopted new ways of living with their new neighbors.

Review Questions1. Which of the following was a goal of theSpanish in their destruction of Fort Caroline?

A. establishing a foothold from which to battlethe Timucua

B. claiming a safe place to house the NewWorld treasures that would be shippedback to Spain

C. reducing the threat of French privateersD. locating a site for the establishment of Santa


2. Why did the Spanish build Castillo de SanMarcos?

A. to protect the local TimucuaB. to defend against imperial challengersC. as a seat for visiting Spanish royaltyD. to house visiting delegates from rival

imperial powers

3. How did the Pueblo attempt to maintain theirautonomy in the face of Spanish settlement?

4. What was patroonship?A. a Dutch ship used for transporting beaver

fursB. a Dutch system of patronage that

encouraged the artsC. a Dutch system of granting tracts of land in

New Netherland to encourage colonizationD. a Dutch style of hat trimmed with beaver

fur from New Netherland

5. Which religious order joined the Frenchsettlement in Canada and tried to convert thenatives to Christianity?

A. FranciscansB. CalvinistsC. AnglicansD. Jesuits

6. How did the French and Dutch colonists differin their religious expectations? How did bothcompare to Spanish colonists?

7. What was the most lucrative product of theChesapeake colonies?

A. cornB. tobaccoC. gold and silverD. slaves

8. What was the primary cause of Bacon’sRebellion?

A. former indentured servants wanted moreopportunities to expand their territory

B. African slaves wanted better treatmentC. Susquahannock Indians wanted the

Jamestown settlers to pay a fair price fortheir land

D. Jamestown politicians were jockeying forpower

9. The founders of the Plymouth colony were:A. PuritansB. Catholics

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C. AnglicansD. Jesuits

10. Which of the following is not true of thePuritan religion?

A. It required close reading of scripture.B. Church membership required a conversion

narrative.C. Literacy was crucial.D. Only men could participate.

11. How did the Chesapeake colonists solve theirlabor problems?

12. What was the Middle Passage?A. the fabled sea route from Europe to the Far

EastB. the land route from Europe to Africa

C. the transatlantic journey that African slavesmade to America

D. the line between the northern and southerncolonies

13. Which of the following is not an itemEuropeans introduced to Indians?

A. wampumB. glass beadsC. copper kettlesD. metal tools

14. How did European muskets change life fornative peoples in the Americas?

15. Compare and contrast European and Indianviews on property.

Critical Thinking Questions16. Compare and contrast life in the Spanish, French, Dutch, and English colonies, differentiating betweenthe Chesapeake Bay and New England colonies. Who were the colonizers? What were their purposes inbeing there? How did they interact with their environments and the native inhabitants of the lands onwhich they settled?

17. Describe the attempts of the various European colonists to convert native peoples to their beliefsystems. How did these attempts compare to one another? What were the results of each effort?

18. How did chattel slavery differ from indentured servitude? How did the former system come to replacethe latter? What were the results of this shift?

19. What impact did Europeans have on their New World environments—native peoples and theircommunities as well as land, plants, and animals? Conversely, what impact did the New World’s nativeinhabitants, land, plants, and animals have on Europeans? How did the interaction of European andIndian societies, together, shape a world that was truly “new”?

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Rule Britannia! The English Empire,1660–1763

Figure 4.1 Isaac Royall and his family, seen here in a 1741 portrait by Robert Feke, moved to Medford,Massachusetts, from the West Indian island of Antigua, bringing their slaves with them. They were an affluent Britishcolonial family, proud of their success and the success of the British Empire.

Chapter Outline4.1 Charles II and the Restoration Colonies4.2 The Glorious Revolution and the English Empire4.3 An Empire of Slavery and the Consumer Revolution4.4 Great Awakening and Enlightenment4.5 Wars for Empire

IntroductionThe eighteenth century witnessed the birth of Great Britain (after the union of England and Scotlandin 1707) and the expansion of the British Empire. By the mid-1700s, Great Britain had developed intoa commercial and military powerhouse; its economic sway ranged from India, where the British EastIndia Company had gained control over both trade and territory, to the West African coast, where Britishslave traders predominated, and to the British West Indies, whose lucrative sugar plantations, especiallyin Barbados and Jamaica, provided windfall profits for British planters. Meanwhile, the population rosedramatically in Britain’s North American colonies. In the early 1700s the population in the colonies hadreached 250,000. By 1750, however, over a million British migrants and African slaves had established anear-continuous zone of settlement on the Atlantic coast from Maine to Georgia.

During this period, the ties between Great Britain and the American colonies only grew stronger. Anglo-American colonists considered themselves part of the British Empire in all ways: politically, militarily,religiously (as Protestants), intellectually, and racially. The portrait of the Royall family (Figure 4.1)exemplifies the colonial American gentry of the eighteenth century. Successful and well-to-do, theydisplay fashions, hairstyles, and furnishings that all speak to their identity as proud and loyal Britishsubjects.

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4.1 Charles II and the Restoration Colonies

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Analyze the causes and consequences of the Restoration• Identify the Restoration colonies and their role in the expansion of the Empire

When Charles II ascended the throne in 1660, English subjects on both sides of the Atlantic celebratedthe restoration of the English monarchy after a decade of living without a king as a result of the EnglishCivil Wars. Charles II lost little time in strengthening England’s global power. From the 1660s to the 1680s,Charles II added more possessions to England’s North American holdings by establishing the Restorationcolonies of New York and New Jersey (taking these areas from the Dutch) as well as Pennsylvania andthe Carolinas. In order to reap the greatest economic benefit from England’s overseas possessions, CharlesII enacted the mercantilist Navigation Acts, although many colonial merchants ignored them becauseenforcement remained lax.

CHARLES IIThe chronicle of Charles II begins with his father, Charles I. Charles I ascended the English throne in1625 and soon married a French Catholic princess, Henrietta Maria, who was not well liked by EnglishProtestants because she openly practiced Catholicism during her husband’s reign. The most outspokenProtestants, the Puritans, had a strong voice in Parliament in the 1620s, and they strongly opposed theking’s marriage and his ties to Catholicism. When Parliament tried to contest his edicts, including theking’s efforts to impose taxes without Parliament’s consent, Charles I suspended Parliament in 1629 andruled without one for the next eleven years.

The ensuing struggle between the king and Parliament led to the outbreak of war. The English Civil Warlasted from 1642 to 1649 and pitted the king and his Royalist supporters against Oliver Cromwell andhis Parliamentary forces. After years of fighting, the Parliamentary forces gained the upper hand, and in

Figure 4.2

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1649, they charged Charles I with treason and beheaded him. The monarchy was dissolved, and Englandbecame a republic: a state without a king. Oliver Cromwell headed the new English Commonwealth, andthe period known as the English interregnum, or the time between kings, began.

Though Cromwell enjoyed widespread popularity at first, over time he appeared to many in England tobe taking on the powers of a military dictator. Dissatisfaction with Cromwell grew. When he died in 1658and control passed to his son Richard, who lacked the political skills of his father, a majority of the Englishpeople feared an alternate hereditary monarchy in the making. They had had enough and asked Charles IIto be king. In 1660, they welcomed the son of the executed king Charles I back to the throne to resume theEnglish monarchy and bring the interregnum to an end (Figure 4.3). The return of Charles II is known asthe Restoration.

Figure 4.3 The monarchy and Parliament fought for control of England during the seventeenth century. ThoughOliver Cromwell (a), shown here in a 1656 portrait by Samuel Cooper, appeared to offer England a better mode ofgovernment, he assumed broad powers for himself and disregarded cherished English liberties established underMagna Carta in 1215. As a result, the English people welcomed Charles II (b) back to the throne in 1660. This portraitby John Michael Wright was painted ca. 1660–1665, soon after the new king gained the throne.

Charles II was committed to expanding England’s overseas possessions. His policies in the 1660s throughthe 1680s established and supported the Restoration colonies: the Carolinas, New Jersey, New York, andPennsylvania. All the Restoration colonies started as proprietary colonies, that is, the king gave eachcolony to a trusted individual, family, or group.

THE CAROLINASCharles II hoped to establish English control of the area between Virginia and Spanish Florida. To that end,he issued a royal charter in 1663 to eight trusted and loyal supporters, each of whom was to be a feudal-style proprietor of a region of the province of Carolina.

These proprietors did not relocate to the colonies, however. Instead, English plantation owners from thetiny Caribbean island of Barbados, already a well-established English sugar colony fueled by slave labor,migrated to the southern part of Carolina to settle there. In 1670, they established Charles Town (laterCharleston), named in honor of Charles II, at the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers (Figure 4.4).As the settlement around Charles Town grew, it began to produce livestock for export to the West Indies.In the northern part of Carolina, settlers turned sap from pine trees into turpentine used to waterproofwooden ships. Political disagreements between settlers in the northern and southern parts of Carolinaescalated in the 1710s through the 1720s and led to the creation, in 1729, of two colonies, North and South

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Carolina. The southern part of Carolina had been producing rice and indigo (a plant that yields a dark bluedye used by English royalty) since the 1700s, and South Carolina continued to depend on these main crops.North Carolina continued to produce items for ships, especially turpentine and tar, and its populationincreased as Virginians moved there to expand their tobacco holdings. Tobacco was the primary export ofboth Virginia and North Carolina, which also traded in deerskins and slaves from Africa.

Figure 4.4 The port of colonial Charles Towne, depicted here on a 1733 map of North America, was the largest inthe South and played a significant role in the Atlantic slave trade.

Slavery developed quickly in the Carolinas, largely because so many of the early migrants came fromBarbados, where slavery was well established. By the end of the 1600s, a very wealthy class of rice planterswho relied on slaves had attained dominance in the southern part of the Carolinas, especially aroundCharles Town. By 1715, South Carolina had a black majority because of the number of slaves in the colony.The legal basis for slavery was established in the early 1700s as the Carolinas began to pass slave lawsbased on the Barbados slave codes of the late 1600s. These laws reduced Africans to the status of propertyto be bought and sold as other commodities.

Visit the Charleston Museum’s interactive exhibit The Walled City( to learn more about the history ofCharleston.

As in other areas of English settlement, native peoples in the Carolinas suffered tremendously fromthe introduction of European diseases. Despite the effects of disease, Indians in the area endured and,following the pattern elsewhere in the colonies, grew dependent on European goods. Local Yamasee andCreek tribes built up a trade deficit with the English, trading deerskins and captive slaves for Europeanguns. English settlers exacerbated tensions with local Indian tribes, especially the Yamasee, by expandingtheir rice and tobacco fields into Indian lands. Worse still, English traders took native women captive aspayment for debts.

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The outrages committed by traders, combined with the seemingly unstoppable expansion of Englishsettlement onto native land, led to the outbreak of the Yamasee War (1715–1718), an effort by a coalition oflocal tribes to drive away the European invaders. This native effort to force the newcomers back across theAtlantic nearly succeeded in annihilating the Carolina colonies. Only when the Cherokee allied themselveswith the English did the coalition’s goal of eliminating the English from the region falter. The YamaseeWar demonstrates the key role native peoples played in shaping the outcome of colonial struggles and,perhaps most important, the disunity that existed between different native groups.

NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEYCharles II also set his sights on the Dutch colony of New Netherland. The English takeover of NewNetherland originated in the imperial rivalry between the Dutch and the English. During the Anglo-Dutchwars of the 1650s and 1660s, the two powers attempted to gain commercial advantages in the AtlanticWorld. During the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1664–1667), English forces gained control of the Dutch furtrading colony of New Netherland, and in 1664, Charles II gave this colony (including present-day NewJersey) to his brother James, Duke of York (later James II). The colony and city were renamed New Yorkin his honor. The Dutch in New York chafed under English rule. In 1673, during the Third Anglo-DutchWar (1672–1674), the Dutch recaptured the colony. However, at the end of the conflict, the English hadregained control (Figure 4.5).

Figure 4.5 “View of New Amsterdam” (ca. 1665), a watercolor by Johannes Vingboons, was painted during theAnglo-Dutch wars of the 1660s and 1670s. New Amsterdam was officially reincorporated as New York City in 1664,but alternated under Dutch and English rule until 1674.

The Duke of York had no desire to govern locally or listen to the wishes of local colonists. It wasn’tuntil 1683, therefore, almost 20 years after the English took control of the colony, that colonists were ableto convene a local representative legislature. The assembly’s 1683 Charter of Liberties and Privileges setout the traditional rights of Englishmen, like the right to trial by jury and the right to representativegovernment.

The English continued the Dutch patroonship system, granting large estates to a favored few families.The largest of these estates, at 160,000 acres, was given to Robert Livingston in 1686. The Livingstonsand the other manorial families who controlled the Hudson River Valley formed a formidable politicaland economic force. Eighteenth-century New York City, meanwhile, contained a variety of people andreligions—as well as Dutch and English people, it held French Protestants (Huguenots), Jews, Puritans,Quakers, Anglicans, and a large population of slaves. As they did in other zones of colonization, nativepeoples played a key role in shaping the history of colonial New York. After decades of war in the 1600s,the powerful Five Nations of the Iroquois, composed of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, andSeneca, successfully pursued a policy of neutrality with both the English and, to the north, the French inCanada during the first half of the 1700s. This native policy meant that the Iroquois continued to live in

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their own villages under their own government while enjoying the benefits of trade with both the Frenchand the English.

PENNSYLVANIAThe Restoration colonies also included Pennsylvania, which became the geographic center of Britishcolonial America. Pennsylvania (which means “Penn’s Woods” in Latin) was created in 1681, whenCharles II bestowed the largest proprietary colony in the Americas on William Penn (Figure 4.6) to settlethe large debt he owed the Penn family. William Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn, had served theEnglish crown by helping take Jamaica from the Spanish in 1655. The king personally owed the Admiralmoney as well.

Figure 4.6 Charles II granted William Penn the land that eventually became the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania inorder to settle a debt the English crown owed to Penn’s father.

Like early settlers of the New England colonies, Pennsylvania’s first colonists migrated mostly for religiousreasons. William Penn himself was a Quaker, a member of a new Protestant denomination called theSociety of Friends. George Fox had founded the Society of Friends in England in the late 1640s, havinggrown dissatisfied with Puritanism and the idea of predestination. Rather, Fox and his followers stressedthat everyone had an “inner light” inside him or her, a spark of divinity. They gained the name Quakersbecause they were said to quake when the inner light moved them. Quakers rejected the idea of worldlyrank, believing instead in a new and radical form of social equality. Their speech reflected this belief inthat they addressed all others as equals, using “thee” and “thou” rather than terms like “your lordship” or“my lady” that were customary for privileged individuals of the hereditary elite.

The English crown persecuted Quakers in England, and colonial governments were equally harsh;Massachusetts even executed several early Quakers who had gone to proselytize there. To avoid suchpersecution, Quakers and their families at first created a community on the sugar island of Barbados.Soon after its founding, however, Pennsylvania became the destination of choice. Quakers flocked toPennsylvania as well as New Jersey, where they could preach and practice their religion in peace. UnlikeNew England, whose official religion was Puritanism, Pennsylvania did not establish an official church.Indeed, the colony allowed a degree of religious tolerance found nowhere else in English America. To helpencourage immigration to his colony, Penn promised fifty acres of land to people who agreed to come toPennsylvania and completed their term of service. Not surprisingly, those seeking a better life came inlarge numbers, so much so that Pennsylvania relied on indentured servants more than any other colony.

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One of the primary tenets of Quakerism is pacifism, leading William Penn to establish friendlyrelationships with local native peoples. He formed a covenant of friendship with the Lenni Lenape(Delaware) tribe, buying their land for a fair price instead of taking it by force. In 1701, he also signed atreaty with the Susquehannocks to avoid war. Unlike other colonies, Pennsylvania did not experience waron the frontier with native peoples during its early history.

As an important port city, Philadelphia grew rapidly. Quaker merchants there established contactsthroughout the Atlantic world and participated in the thriving African slave trade. Some Quakers, whowere deeply troubled by the contradiction between their belief in the “inner light” and the practice ofslavery, rejected the practice and engaged in efforts to abolish it altogether. Philadelphia also acted as amagnet for immigrants, who came not only from England, but from all over Europe by the hundreds ofthousands. The city, and indeed all of Pennsylvania, appeared to be the best country for poor men andwomen, many of whom arrived as servants and dreamed of owning land. A very few, like the fortunateBenjamin Franklin, a runaway from Puritan Boston, did extraordinarily well. Other immigrant groups inthe colony, most notably Germans and Scotch-Irish (families from Scotland and England who had firstlived in Ireland before moving to British America), greatly improved their lot in Pennsylvania. Of course,Africans imported into the colony to labor for white masters fared far worse.


John Wilson Offers Reward for Escaped PrisonersThe American Weekly Mercury, published by William Bradford, was Philadelphia’s first newspaper. Thisadvertisement from “John Wilson, Goaler” (jailer) offers a reward for anyone capturing several men whoescaped from the jail.

BROKE out of the Common Goal of Philadelphia, the 15th of this Instant February, 1721, thefollowing Persons:John Palmer, also Plumly, alias Paine, Servant to Joseph Jones, run away and was latelytaken up at New-York. He is fully described in the American Mercury, Novem. 23, 1721. Hehas a Cinnamon coloured Coat on, a middle sized fresh coloured Man. His Master will give aPistole Reward to any who Shall Secure him, besides what is here offered.Daniel Oughtopay, A Dutchman, aged about 24 Years, Servant to Dr. Johnston in Amboy. Heis a thin Spare man, grey Drugget Waistcoat and Breeches and a light-coloured Coat on.Ebenezor Mallary, a New-England, aged about 24 Years, is a middle-sized thin Man, havingon a Snuff colour’d Coat, and ordinary Ticking Waistcoat and Breeches. He has dark brownstrait Hair.Matthew Dulany, an Irish Man, down-look’d Swarthy Complexion, and has on an Olive-coloured Cloth Coat and Waistcoat with Cloth Buttons.John Flemming, an Irish Lad, aged about 18, belonging to Mr. Miranda, Merchant in this City.He has no Coat, a grey Drugget Waistcoat, and a narrow brim’d Hat on.John Corbet, a Shropshire Man, a Runaway Servant from Alexander Faulkner of Maryland,broke out on the 12th Instant. He has got a double-breasted Sailor’s Jacket on lined with redBays, pretends to be a Sailor, and once taught School at Josephs Collings’s in the Jerseys.Whoever takes up and secures all, or any One of these Felons, shall have a Pistole Rewardfor each of them and reasonable Charges, paid them by John Wilson, Goaler—Advertisement from the American Weekly Mercury, 1722

What do the descriptions of the men tell you about life in colonial Philadelphia?

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Browse a number of issues of the American Weekly Mercury( that were digitized by New Jersey’s StocktonUniversity. Read through several to get a remarkable flavor of life in early eighteenth-century Philadelphia.

THE NAVIGATION ACTSCreating wealth for the Empire remained a primary goal, and in the second half of the seventeenth century,especially during the Restoration, England attempted to gain better control of trade with the Americancolonies. The mercantilist policies by which it tried to achieve this control are known as the NavigationActs.

The 1651 Navigation Ordnance, a product of Cromwell’s England, required that only English ships carrygoods between England and the colonies, and that the captain and three-fourths of the crew had to beEnglish. The ordnance further listed “enumerated articles” that could be transported only to England orto English colonies, including the most lucrative commodities like sugar and tobacco as well as indigo,rice, molasses, and naval stores such as turpentine. All were valuable goods not produced in England orin demand by the British navy. After ascending the throne, Charles II approved the 1660 Navigation Act,which restated the 1651 act to ensure a monopoly on imports from the colonies.

Other Navigation Acts included the 1663 Staple Act and the 1673 Plantation Duties Act. The Staple Actbarred colonists from importing goods that had not been made in England, creating a profitable monopolyfor English exporters and manufacturers. The Plantation Duties Act taxed enumerated articles exportedfrom one colony to another, a measure aimed principally at New Englanders, who transported greatquantities of molasses from the West Indies, including smuggled molasses from French-held islands, tomake into rum.

In 1675, Charles II organized the Lords of Trade and Plantation, commonly known as the Lords of Trade,an administrative body intended to create stronger ties between the colonial governments and the crown.However, the 1696 Navigation Act created the Board of Trade, replacing the Lords of Trade. This act,meant to strengthen enforcement of customs laws, also established vice-admiralty courts where the crowncould prosecute customs violators without a jury. Under this act, customs officials were empowered withwarrants known as “writs of assistance” to board and search vessels suspected of containing smuggledgoods.

Despite the Navigation Acts, however, Great Britain exercised lax control over the English colonies duringmost of the eighteenth century because of the policies of Prime Minister Robert Walpole. During his longterm (1721–1742), Walpole governed according to his belief that commerce flourished best when it was notencumbered with restrictions. Historians have described this lack of strict enforcement of the NavigationActs as salutary neglect. In addition, nothing prevented colonists from building their own fleet of shipsto engage in trade. New England especially benefited from both salutary neglect and a vibrant maritimeculture made possible by the scores of trading vessels built in the northern colonies. The case of the 1733Molasses Act illustrates the weaknesses of British mercantilist policy. The 1733 act placed a sixpence-per-gallon duty on raw sugar, rum, and molasses from Britain’s competitors, the French and the Dutch, inorder to give an advantage to British West Indian producers. Because the British did not enforce the 1733law, however, New England mariners routinely smuggled these items from the French and Dutch WestIndies more cheaply than they could buy them on English islands.

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4.2 The Glorious Revolution and the English Empire

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the causes of the Glorious Revolution• Explain the outcomes of the Glorious Revolution

During the brief rule of King James II, many in England feared the imposition of a Catholic absolutemonarchy by the man who modeled his rule on that of his French Catholic cousin, Louis XIV. Oppositionto James II, spearheaded by the English Whig party, overthrew the king in the Glorious Revolution of1688–1689. This paved the way for the Protestant reign of William of Orange and his wife Mary (James’sProtestant daughter).

JAMES II AND THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTIONKing James II (Figure 4.7), the second son of Charles I, ascended the English throne in 1685 on the death ofhis brother, Charles II. James then worked to model his rule on the reign of the French Catholic King LouisXIV, his cousin. This meant centralizing English political strength around the throne, giving the monarchyabsolute power. Also like Louis XIV, James II practiced a strict and intolerant form of Roman Catholicismafter he converted from Protestantism in the late 1660s. He had a Catholic wife, and when they had a son,the potential for a Catholic heir to the English throne became a threat to English Protestants. James alsoworked to modernize the English army and navy. The fact that the king kept a standing army in times ofpeace greatly alarmed the English, who believed that such a force would be used to crush their liberty. AsJames’s strength grew, his opponents feared their king would turn England into a Catholic monarchy withabsolute power over her people.

Figure 4.7 James II (shown here in a painting ca. 1690) worked to centralize the English government. The Catholicking of France, Louis XIV, provided a template for James’s policies.

In 1686, James II applied his concept of a centralized state to the colonies by creating an enormouscolony called the Dominion of New England. The Dominion included all the New England colonies(Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Plymouth, Connecticut, New Haven, and Rhode Island) and in 1688 wasenlarged by the addition of New York and New Jersey. James placed in charge Sir Edmund Andros, aformer colonial governor of New York. Loyal to James II and his family, Andros had little sympathy forNew Englanders. His regime caused great uneasiness among New England Puritans when it called into

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question the many land titles that did not acknowledge the king and imposed fees for their reconfirmation.Andros also committed himself to enforcing the Navigation Acts, a move that threatened to disrupt theregion’s trade, which was based largely on smuggling.

In England, opponents of James II’s efforts to create a centralized Catholic state were known as Whigs. TheWhigs worked to depose James, and in late 1688 they succeeded, an event they celebrated as the GloriousRevolution while James fled to the court of Louis XIV in France. William III (William of Orange) and hiswife Mary II ascended the throne in 1689.

The Glorious Revolution spilled over into the colonies. In 1689, Bostonians overthrew the governmentof the Dominion of New England and jailed Sir Edmund Andros as well as other leaders of the regime(Figure 4.8). The removal of Andros from power illustrates New England’s animosity toward the Englishoverlord who had, during his tenure, established Church of England worship in Puritan Boston andvigorously enforced the Navigation Acts, to the chagrin of those in port towns. In New York, the same yearthat Andros fell from power, Jacob Leisler led a group of Protestant New Yorkers against the dominiongovernment. Acting on his own authority, Leisler assumed the role of King William’s governor andorganized intercolonial military action independent of British authority. Leisler’s actions usurped thecrown’s prerogative and, as a result, he was tried for treason and executed. In 1691, England restoredcontrol over the Province of New York.

Figure 4.8 This broadside, signed by several citizens, demands the surrender of Sir Edmund (spelled here“Edmond”) Andros, James II’s hand-picked leader of the Dominion of New England.

The Glorious Revolution provided a shared experience for those who lived through the tumult of 1688and 1689. Subsequent generations kept the memory of the Glorious Revolution alive as a heroic defense ofEnglish liberty against a would-be tyrant.

ENGLISH LIBERTYThe Glorious Revolution led to the establishment of an English nation that limited the power of the kingand provided protections for English subjects. In October 1689, the same year that William and Marytook the throne, the 1689 Bill of Rights established a constitutional monarchy. It stipulated Parliament’sindependence from the monarchy and protected certain of Parliament’s rights, such as the right to freedom

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of speech, the right to regular elections, and the right to petition the king. The 1689 Bill of Rights alsoguaranteed certain rights to all English subjects, including trial by jury and habeas corpus (the requirementthat authorities bring an imprisoned person before a court to demonstrate the cause of the imprisonment).

John Locke (1632–1704), a doctor and educator who had lived in exile in Holland during the reign of JamesII and returned to England after the Glorious Revolution, published his Two Treatises of Government in 1690.In it, he argued that government was a form of contract between the leaders and the people, and thatrepresentative government existed to protect “life, liberty and property.” Locke rejected the divine right ofkings and instead advocated for the central role of Parliament with a limited monarchy. Locke’s politicalphilosophy had an enormous impact on future generations of colonists and established the paramountimportance of representation in government.

Visit the Digital Locke Project ( to read more ofJohn Locke’s writings. This digital collection contains over thirty of his philosophicaltexts.

The Glorious Revolution also led to the English Toleration Act of 1689, a law passed by Parliament thatallowed for greater religious diversity in the Empire. This act granted religious tolerance to nonconformistTrinitarian Protestants (those who believed in the Holy Trinity of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost),such as Baptists (those who advocated adult baptism) and Congregationalists (those who followed thePuritans’ lead in creating independent churches). While the Church of England remained the officialstate religious establishment, the Toleration Act gave much greater religious freedom to nonconformists.However, this tolerance did not extend to Catholics, who were routinely excluded from political power.The 1689 Toleration Act extended to the British colonies, where several colonies—Pennsylvania, RhodeIsland, Delaware, and New Jersey—refused to allow the creation of an established colonial church, a majorstep toward greater religious diversity.

4.3 An Empire of Slavery and the Consumer Revolution

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Analyze the role slavery played in the history and economy of the British Empire• Explain the effects of the 1739 Stono Rebellion and the 1741 New York Conspiracy

Trials• Describe the consumer revolution and its effect on the life of the colonial gentry and

other settlers

Slavery formed a cornerstone of the British Empire in the eighteenth century. Every colony had slaves,from the southern rice plantations in Charles Town, South Carolina, to the northern wharves of Boston.Slavery was more than a labor system; it also influenced every aspect of colonial thought and culture. Theuneven relationship it engendered gave white colonists an exaggerated sense of their own status. Englishliberty gained greater meaning and coherence for whites when they contrasted their status to that of the

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unfree class of black slaves in British America. African slavery provided whites in the colonies with ashared racial bond and identity.

SLAVERY AND THE STONO REBELLIONThe transport of slaves to the American colonies accelerated in the second half of the seventeenth century.In 1660, Charles II created the Royal African Company (Figure 4.9) to trade in slaves and African goods.His brother, James II, led the company before ascending the throne. Under both these kings, the RoyalAfrican Company enjoyed a monopoly to transport slaves to the English colonies. Between 1672 and 1713,the company bought 125,000 captives on the African coast, losing 20 percent of them to death on theMiddle Passage, the journey from the African coast to the Americas.

Figure 4.9 The 1686 English guinea shows the logo of the Royal African Company, an elephant and castle, beneatha bust of King James II. The coins were commonly called guineas because most British gold came from Guinea inWest Africa.

The Royal African Company’s monopoly ended in 1689 as a result of the Glorious Revolution. After thatdate, many more English merchants engaged in the slave trade, greatly increasing the number of slavesbeing transported. Africans who survived the brutal Middle Passage usually arrived in the West Indies,often in Barbados. From there, they were transported to the mainland English colonies on company ships.While merchants in London, Bristol, and Liverpool lined their pockets, Africans trafficked by the companyendured a nightmare of misery, privation, and dislocation.

Slaves strove to adapt to their new lives by forming new communities among themselves, often adheringto traditional African customs and healing techniques. Indeed, the development of families andcommunities formed the most important response to the trauma of being enslaved. Other slaves dealtwith the trauma of their situation by actively resisting their condition, whether by defying their masters orrunning away. Runaway slaves formed what were called “maroon” communities, groups that successfullyresisted recapture and formed their own autonomous groups. The most prominent of these communitieslived in the interior of Jamaica, controlling the area and keeping the British away.

Slaves everywhere resisted their exploitation and attempted to gain freedom. They fully understood thatrebellions would bring about massive retaliation from whites and therefore had little chance of success.Even so, rebellions occurred frequently. One notable uprising that became known as the Stono Rebelliontook place in South Carolina in September 1739. A literate slave named Jemmy led a large group of slavesin an armed insurrection against white colonists, killing several before militia stopped them. The militiasuppressed the rebellion after a battle in which both slaves and militiamen were killed, and the remainingslaves were executed or sold to the West Indies.

Jemmy is believed to have been taken from the Kingdom of Kongo, an area where the Portuguese hadintroduced Catholicism. Other slaves in South Carolina may have had a similar background: Africa-born and familiar with whites. If so, this common background may have made it easier for Jemmy tocommunicate with the other slaves, enabling them to work together to resist their enslavement eventhough slaveholders labored to keep slaves from forging such communities.

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In the wake of the Stono Rebellion, South Carolina passed a new slave code in 1740 called An Act for theBetter Ordering and Governing of Negroes and Other Slaves in the Province, also known as the Negro Actof 1740. This law imposed new limits on slaves’ behavior, prohibiting slaves from assembling, growingtheir own food, learning to write, and traveling freely.

THE NEW YORK CONSPIRACY TRIALS OF 1741Eighteenth-century New York City contained many different ethnic groups, and conflicts among themcreated strain. In addition, one in five New Yorkers was a slave, and tensions ran high between slaves andthe free population, especially in the aftermath of the Stono Rebellion. These tensions burst forth in 1741.

That year, thirteen fires broke out in the city, one of which reduced the colony’s Fort George to ashes.Ever fearful of an uprising among enslaved New Yorkers, the city’s whites spread rumors that the fireswere part of a massive slave revolt in which slaves would murder whites, burn the city, and take over thecolony. The Stono Rebellion was only a few years in the past, and throughout British America, fears ofsimilar incidents were still fresh. Searching for solutions, and convinced slaves were the principal danger,nervous British authorities interrogated almost two hundred slaves and accused them of conspiracy.Rumors that Roman Catholics had joined the suspected conspiracy and planned to murder Protestantinhabitants of the city only added to the general hysteria. Very quickly, two hundred people were arrested,including a large number of the city’s slave population.

After a quick series of trials at City Hall, known as the New York Conspiracy Trials of 1741, thegovernment executed seventeen New Yorkers. Thirteen black men were publicly burned at the stake, whilethe others (including four whites) were hanged (Figure 4.10). Seventy slaves were sold to the West Indies.Little evidence exists to prove that an elaborate conspiracy, like the one white New Yorkers imagined,actually existed.

Figure 4.10 In the wake of a series of fires throughout New York City, rumors of a slave revolt led authorities toconvict and execute thirty people, including thirteen black men who were publicly burned at the stake.

The events of 1741 in New York City illustrate the racial divide in British America, where panic amongwhites spurred great violence against and repression of the feared slave population. In the end, theConspiracy Trials furthered white dominance and power over enslaved New Yorkers.

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View the map of New York in the 1740s ( atthe New York Public Library’s digital gallery, which allows you to zoom in and seespecific events. Look closely at numbers 55 and 56 just north of the city limits to seeillustrations depicting the executions.

COLONIAL GENTRY AND THE CONSUMER REVOLUTIONBritish Americans’ reliance on indentured servitude and slavery to meet the demand for colonial laborhelped give rise to a wealthy colonial class—the gentry—in the Chesapeake tobacco colonies andelsewhere. To be “genteel,” that is, a member of the gentry, meant to be refined, free of all rudeness.The British American gentry modeled themselves on the English aristocracy, who embodied the ideal ofrefinement and gentility. They built elaborate mansions to advertise their status and power. William ByrdII of Westover, Virginia, exemplifies the colonial gentry; a wealthy planter and slaveholder, he is knownfor founding Richmond and for his diaries documenting the life of a gentleman planter (Figure 4.11).

Figure 4.11 This painting by Hans Hysing, ca. 1724, depicts William Byrd II. Byrd was a wealthy gentleman planterin Virginia and a member of the colonial gentry.

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William Byrd’s Secret DiaryThe diary of William Byrd, a Virginia planter, provides a unique way to better understand colonial life on aplantation (Figure 4.12). What does it show about daily life for a gentleman planter? What does it showabout slavery?

August 27, 1709I rose at 5 o’clock and read two chapters in Hebrew and some Greek in Josephus. I said myprayers and ate milk for breakfast. I danced my dance. I had like to have whipped my maidAnaka for her laziness but I forgave her. I read a little geometry. I denied my man G-r-l togo to a horse race because there was nothing but swearing and drinking there. I ate roastmutton for dinner. In the afternoon I played at piquet with my own wife and made her out ofhumor by cheating her. I read some Greek in Homer. Then I walked about the plantation. Ilent John H-ch £7 [7 English pounds] in his distress. I said my prayers and had good health,good thoughts, and good humor, thanks be to God Almighty.September 6, 1709About one o’clock this morning my wife was happily delivered of a son, thanks be to GodAlmighty. I was awake in a blink and rose and my cousin Harrison met me on the stairs andtold me it was a boy. We drank some French wine and went to bed again and rose at 7 o’clock.I read a chapter in Hebrew and then drank chocolate with the women for breakfast. I returnedGod humble thanks for so great a blessing and recommended my young son to His divineprotection. . . .September 15, 1710I rose at 5 o’clock and read two chapters in Hebrew and some Greek in Thucydides. I said myprayers and ate milk and pears for breakfast. About 7 o’clock the negro boy [or Betty] that ranaway was brought home. My wife against my will caused little Jenny to be burned with a hotiron, for which I quarreled with her. . . .

Figure 4.12 This photograph shows the view down the stairway from the third floor of WestoverPlantation, home of William Byrd II. What does this image suggest about the lifestyle of theinhabitants—masters and servants—of this house?

One of the ways in which the gentry set themselves apart from others was through their purchase,consumption, and display of goods. An increased supply of consumer goods from England that becameavailable in the eighteenth century led to a phenomenon called the consumer revolution. These productslinked the colonies to Great Britain in real and tangible ways. Indeed, along with the colonial gentry,ordinary settlers in the colonies also participated in the frenzy of consumer spending on goods from GreatBritain. Tea, for example, came to be regarded as the drink of the Empire, with or without fashionable teasets.

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The consumer revolution also made printed materials more widely available. Before 1680, for instance, nonewspapers had been printed in colonial America. In the eighteenth century, however, a flood of journals,books, pamphlets, and other publications became available to readers on both sides of the Atlantic. Thisshared trove of printed matter linked members of the Empire by creating a community of shared tastesand ideas.

Cato’s Letters, by Englishmen John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, was one popular series of 144pamphlets. These Whig circulars were published between 1720 and 1723 and emphasized the glory ofEngland, especially its commitment to liberty. However, the pamphlets cautioned readers to be evervigilant and on the lookout for attacks upon that liberty. Indeed, Cato’s Letters suggested that there wereconstant efforts to undermine and destroy it.

Another very popular publication was the English gentlemen’s magazine the Spectator, published between1711 and 1714. In each issue, “Mr. Spectator” observed and commented on the world around him. Whatmade the Spectator so wildly popular was its style; the essays were meant to persuade, and to cultivateamong readers a refined set of behaviors, rejecting deceit and intolerance and focusing instead on thepolishing of genteel taste and manners.

Novels, a new type of literature, made their first appearance in the eighteenth century and proved verypopular in the British Atlantic. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela: Or, VirtueRewarded found large and receptive audiences. Reading also allowed female readers the opportunity tointerpret what they read without depending on a male authority to tell them what to think. Few womenbeyond the colonial gentry, however, had access to novels.

4.4 Great Awakening and Enlightenment

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the significance of the Great Awakening• Describe the genesis, central ideas, and effects of the Enlightenment in British North


Two major cultural movements further strengthened Anglo-American colonists’ connection to GreatBritain: the Great Awakening and the Enlightenment. Both movements began in Europe, but theyadvocated very different ideas: the Great Awakening promoted a fervent, emotional religiosity, while theEnlightenment encouraged the pursuit of reason in all things. On both sides of the Atlantic, British subjectsgrappled with these new ideas.

THE FIRST GREAT AWAKENINGDuring the eighteenth century, the British Atlantic experienced an outburst of Protestant revivalismknown as the First Great Awakening. (A Second Great Awakening would take place in the 1800s.)During the First Great Awakening, evangelists came from the ranks of several Protestant denominations:Congregationalists, Anglicans (members of the Church of England), and Presbyterians. They rejected whatappeared to be sterile, formal modes of worship in favor of a vigorous emotional religiosity. WhereasMartin Luther and John Calvin had preached a doctrine of predestination and close reading of scripture,new evangelical ministers spread a message of personal and experiential faith that rose above mere booklearning. Individuals could bring about their own salvation by accepting Christ, an especially welcomemessage for those who had felt excluded by traditional Protestantism: women, the young, and people atthe lower end of the social spectrum.

The Great Awakening caused a split between those who followed the evangelical message (the “NewLights”) and those who rejected it (the “Old Lights”). The elite ministers in British America were firmly

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Old Lights, and they censured the new revivalism as chaos. Indeed, the revivals did sometimes lead toexcess. In one notorious incident in 1743, an influential New Light minister named James Davenport urgedhis listeners to burn books. The next day, he told them to burn their clothes as a sign of their casting off thesinful trappings of the world. He then took off his own pants and threw them into the fire, but a womansaved them and tossed them back to Davenport, telling him he had gone too far.

Another outburst of Protestant revivalism began in New Jersey, led by a minister of the Dutch ReformedChurch named Theodorus Frelinghuysen. Frelinghuysen’s example inspired other ministers, includingGilbert Tennent, a Presbyterian. Tennant helped to spark a Presbyterian revival in the Middle Colonies(Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey), in part by founding a seminary to train other evangelicalclergyman. New Lights also founded colleges in Rhode Island and New Hampshire that would laterbecome Brown University and Dartmouth College.

In Northampton, Massachusetts, Jonathan Edwards led still another explosion of evangelical fervor.Edwards’s best-known sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” used powerful word imageryto describe the terrors of hell and the possibilities of avoiding damnation by personal conversion (Figure4.13). One passage reads: “The wrath of God burns against them [sinners], their damnation don’t slumber,the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them, the flames donow rage and glow. The glittering sword is whet, and held over them, and the pit hath opened her mouthunder them.” Edwards’s revival spread along the Connecticut River Valley, and news of the event spreadrapidly through the frequent reprinting of his famous sermon.

Figure 4.13 This image shows the frontispiece of Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, A Sermon Preached atEnfield, July 8, 1741 by Jonathan Edwards. Edwards was an evangelical preacher who led a Protestant revival inNew England. This was his most famous sermon, the text of which was reprinted often and distributed widely.

The foremost evangelical of the Great Awakening was an Anglican minister named George Whitefield.Like many evangelical ministers, Whitefield was itinerant, traveling the countryside instead of having hisown church and congregation. Between 1739 and 1740, he electrified colonial listeners with his brilliantoratory.

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Two Opposing Views of George WhitefieldNot everyone embraced George Whitefield and other New Lights. Many established Old Lights decriedthe way the new evangelical religions appealed to people’s passions, rather than to traditional religiousvalues. The two illustrations below present two very different visions of George Whitefield (Figure 4.14).

Figure 4.14 In the 1774 portrait of George Whitefield by engraver Elisha Gallaudet (a), Whitefieldappears with a gentle expression on his face. Although his hands are raised in exultation or entreaty, hedoes not look particularly roused or rousing. In the 1763 British political cartoon to the right, “Dr.Squintum’s Exaltation or the Reformation” (b), Whitefield’s hands are raised in a similar position, butthere the similarities end.

Compare the two images above. On the left is an illustration for Whitefield’s memoirs, while on the rightis a cartoon satirizing the circus-like atmosphere that his preaching seemed to attract (Dr. Squintum wasa nickname for Whitefield, who was cross-eyed). How do these two artists portray the same man? Whatemotions are the illustration for his memoirs intended to evoke? What details can you find in the cartoonthat indicate the artist’s distaste for the preacher?

The Great Awakening saw the rise of several Protestant denominations, including Methodists,Presbyterians, and Baptists (who emphasized adult baptism of converted Christians rather than infantbaptism). These new churches gained converts and competed with older Protestant groups like Anglicans(members of the Church of England), Congregationalists (the heirs of Puritanism in America), andQuakers. The influence of these older Protestant groups, such as the New England Congregationalists,declined because of the Great Awakening. Nonetheless, the Great Awakening touched the lives ofthousands on both sides of the Atlantic and provided a shared experience in the eighteenth-century BritishEmpire.

THE ENLIGHTENMENTThe Enlightenment, or the Age of Reason, was an intellectual and cultural movement in the eighteenthcentury that emphasized reason over superstition and science over blind faith. Using the power ofthe press, Enlightenment thinkers like John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Voltaire questioned acceptedknowledge and spread new ideas about openness, investigation, and religious tolerance throughout

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Europe and the Americas. Many consider the Enlightenment a major turning point in Western civilization,an age of light replacing an age of darkness.

Several ideas dominated Enlightenment thought, including rationalism, empiricism, progressivism, andcosmopolitanism. Rationalism is the idea that humans are capable of using their faculty of reason togain knowledge. This was a sharp turn away from the prevailing idea that people needed to rely onscripture or church authorities for knowledge. Empiricism promotes the idea that knowledge comes fromexperience and observation of the world. Progressivism is the belief that through their powers of reasonand observation, humans could make unlimited, linear progress over time; this belief was especiallyimportant as a response to the carnage and upheaval of the English Civil Wars in the seventeenth century.Finally, cosmopolitanism reflected Enlightenment thinkers’ view of themselves as citizens of the worldand actively engaged in it, as opposed to being provincial and close-minded. In all, Enlightenment thinkersendeavored to be ruled by reason, not prejudice.

The Freemasons were a fraternal society that advocated Enlightenment principles of inquiry and tolerance.Freemasonry originated in London coffeehouses in the early eighteenth century, and Masonic lodges (localunits) soon spread throughout Europe and the British colonies. One prominent Freemason, BenjaminFranklin, stands as the embodiment of the Enlightenment in British America (Figure 4.15). Born inBoston in 1706 to a large Puritan family, Franklin loved to read, although he found little beyond religiouspublications in his father’s house. In 1718 he was apprenticed to his brother to work in a print shop, wherehe learned how to be a good writer by copying the style he found in the Spectator, which his brotherprinted. At the age of seventeen, the independent-minded Franklin ran away, eventually ending up inQuaker Philadelphia. There he began publishing the Pennsylvania Gazette in the late 1720s, and in 1732 hestarted his annual publication Poor Richard: An Almanack, in which he gave readers much practical advice,such as “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Figure 4.15 In this 1748 portrait by Robert Feke, a forty-year-old Franklin wears a stylish British wig, as befitted aproud and loyal member of the British Empire.

Franklin subscribed to deism, an Enlightenment-era belief in a God who created, but has no continuinginvolvement in, the world and the events within it. Deists also advanced the belief that personalmorality—an individual’s moral compass, leading to good works and actions—is more important thanstrict church doctrines. Franklin’s deism guided his many philanthropic projects. In 1731, he establisheda reading library that became the Library Company of Philadelphia. In 1743, he founded the AmericanPhilosophical Society to encourage the spirit of inquiry. In 1749, he provided the foundation for theUniversity of Pennsylvania, and in 1751, he helped found Pennsylvania Hospital.

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His career as a printer made Franklin wealthy and well-respected. When he retired in 1748, he devotedhimself to politics and scientific experiments. His most famous work, on electricity, exemplifiedEnlightenment principles. Franklin observed that lightning strikes tended to hit metal objects and reasonedthat he could therefore direct lightning through the placement of metal objects during an electrical storm.He used this knowledge to advocate the use of lightning rods: metal poles connected to wires directinglightning’s electrical charge into the ground and saving wooden homes in cities like Philadelphia fromcatastrophic fires. He published his findings in 1751, in Experiments and Observations on Electricity.

Franklin also wrote of his “rags to riches” tale, his Memoir, in the 1770s and 1780s. This story laid thefoundation for the American Dream of upward social mobility.

Visit the Worldly Ways section ( of PBS’sBenjamin Franklin site to see an interactive map showing Franklin’s overseas travelsand his influence around the world. His diplomatic, political, scientific, and businessachievements had great effects in many countries.

THE FOUNDING OF GEORGIAThe reach of Enlightenment thought was both broad and deep. In the 1730s, it even prompted the foundingof a new colony. Having witnessed the terrible conditions of debtors’ prison, as well as the results ofreleasing penniless debtors onto the streets of London, James Oglethorpe, a member of Parliament andadvocate of social reform, petitioned King George II for a charter to start a new colony. George II,understanding the strategic advantage of a British colony standing as a buffer between South Carolinaand Spanish Florida, granted the charter to Oglethorpe and twenty like-minded proprietors in 1732.Oglethorpe led the settlement of the colony, which was called Georgia in honor of the king. In 1733, heand 113 immigrants arrived on the ship Anne. Over the next decade, Parliament funded the migration oftwenty-five hundred settlers, making Georgia the only government-funded colonial project.

Oglethorpe’s vision for Georgia followed the ideals of the Age of Reason, seeing it as a place for England’s“worthy poor” to start anew. To encourage industry, he gave each male immigrant fifty acres of land,tools, and a year’s worth of supplies. In Savannah, the Oglethorpe Plan provided for a utopia: “an agrarianmodel of sustenance while sustaining egalitarian values holding all men as equal.”

Oglethorpe’s vision called for alcohol and slavery to be banned. However, colonists who relocated fromother colonies, especially South Carolina, disregarded these prohibitions. Despite its proprietors’ earlyvision of a colony guided by Enlightenment ideals and free of slavery, by the 1750s, Georgia wasproducing quantities of rice grown and harvested by slaves.

4.5 Wars for Empire

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the wars for empire• Analyze the significance of these conflicts

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Wars for empire composed a final link connecting the Atlantic sides of the British Empire. Great Britainfought four separate wars against Catholic France from the late 1600s to the mid-1700s. Another war,the War of Jenkins’ Ear, pitted Britain against Spain. These conflicts for control of North America alsohelped colonists forge important alliances with native peoples, as different tribes aligned themselves withdifferent European powers.

GENERATIONS OF WARFAREGenerations of British colonists grew up during a time when much of North America, especially theNortheast, engaged in war. Colonists knew war firsthand. In the eighteenth century, fighting was seasonal.Armies mobilized in the spring, fought in the summer, and retired to winter quarters in the fall. The Britisharmy imposed harsh discipline on its soldiers, who were drawn from the poorer classes, to ensure theydid not step out of line during engagements. If they did, their officers would kill them. On the battlefield,armies dressed in bright uniforms to advertise their bravery and lack of fear. They stood in tight formationand exchanged volleys with the enemy. They often feared their officers more than the enemy.

Read the diary of a provincial soldier who fought in the French and Indian War on theCaptain David Perry Web Site ( hosted byRootsweb. David Perry’s journal, which includes a description of the 1758 campaign,provides a glimpse of warfare in the eighteenth century.

Most imperial conflicts had both American and European fronts, leaving us with two names for each war.For instance, King William’s War (1688–1697) is also known as the War of the League of Augsburg. InAmerica, the bulk of the fighting in this conflict took place between New England and New France. Thewar proved inconclusive, with no clear victor (Figure 4.16).

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Figure 4.16 This map shows the French and British armies’ movements during King William’s War, in which therewas no clear victor.

Queen Anne’s War (1702–1713) is also known as the War of Spanish Succession. England fought againstboth Spain and France over who would ascend the Spanish throne after the last of the Hapsburg rulersdied. In North America, fighting took place in Florida, New England, and New France. In Canada, theFrench prevailed but lost Acadia and Newfoundland; however, the victory was again not decisive becausethe English failed to take Quebec, which would have given them control of Canada.

This conflict is best remembered in the United States for the French and Indian raid against Deerfield,Massachusetts, in 1704. A small French force, combined with a native group made up of Catholic Mohawksand Abenaki (Pocumtucs), attacked the frontier outpost of Deerfield, killing scores and taking 112prisoners. Among the captives was the seven-year-old daughter of Deerfield’s minister John Williams,named Eunice. She was held by the Mohawks for years as her family tried to get her back, and becameassimilated into the tribe. To the horror of the Puritan leaders, when she grew up Eunice married aMohawk and refused to return to New England.

In North America, possession of Georgia and trade with the interior was the focus of the War of Jenkins’Ear (1739–1742), a conflict between Britain and Spain over contested claims to the land occupied by thefledgling colony between South Carolina and Florida. The war got its name from an incident in 1731 inwhich a Spanish Coast Guard captain severed the ear of British captain Robert Jenkins as punishment forraiding Spanish ships in Panama. Jenkins fueled the growing animosity between England and Spain bypresenting his ear to Parliament and stirring up British public outrage. More than anything else, the Warof Jenkins’ Ear disrupted the Atlantic trade, a situation that hurt both Spain and Britain and was a majorreason the war came to a close in 1742. Georgia, founded six years earlier, remained British and a bufferagainst Spanish Florida.

King George’s War (1744–1748), known in Europe as the War of Austrian Succession (1740–1748), wasfought in the northern colonies and New France. In 1745, the British took the massive French fortress atLouisbourg on Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia (Figure 4.17). However, three years later, under the termsof the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, Britain relinquished control of the fortress to the French. Once again, warresulted in an incomplete victory for both Britain and France.

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Figure 4.17 In this 1747 painting by J. Stevens, View of the landing of the New England forces in ye expeditionagainst Cape Breton, British forces land on the island of Cape Breton to capture Fort Louisbourg.

THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WARThe final imperial war, the French and Indian War (1754–1763), known as the Seven Years’ War in Europe,proved to be the decisive contest between Britain and France in America. It began over rival claims alongthe frontier in present-day western Pennsylvania. Well-connected planters from Virginia faced stagnanttobacco prices and hoped expanding into these western lands would stabilize their wealth and status.Some of them established the Ohio Company of Virginia in 1748, and the British crown granted thecompany half a million acres in 1749. However, the French also claimed the lands of the Ohio Company,and to protect the region they established Fort Duquesne in 1754, where the Ohio, Monongahela, andAllegheny Rivers met.

The war began in May 1754 because of these competing claims between Britain and France. Twenty-two-year-old Virginian George Washington, a surveyor whose family helped to found the Ohio Company, gavethe command to fire on French soldiers near present-day Uniontown, Pennsylvania. This incident on thePennsylvania frontier proved to be a decisive event that led to imperial war. For the next decade, fightingtook place along the frontier of New France and British America from Virginia to Maine. The war alsospread to Europe as France and Britain looked to gain supremacy in the Atlantic World.

The British fared poorly in the first years of the war. In 1754, the French and their native allies forcedWashington to surrender at Fort Necessity, a hastily built fort constructed after his attack on the French.In 1755, Britain dispatched General Edward Braddock to the colonies to take Fort Duquesne. The French,aided by the Potawotomis, Ottawas, Shawnees, and Delawares, ambushed the fifteen hundred Britishsoldiers and Virginia militia who marched to the fort. The attack sent panic through the British force,and hundreds of British soldiers and militiamen died, including General Braddock. The campaign of 1755proved to be a disaster for the British. In fact, the only British victory that year was the capture of NovaScotia. In 1756 and 1757, Britain suffered further defeats with the fall of Fort Oswego and Fort WilliamHenry (Figure 4.18).

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Figure 4.18 This schematic map depicts the events of the French and Indian War. Note the scarcity of Britishvictories.

The war began to turn in favor of the British in 1758, due in large part to the efforts of William Pitt,a very popular member of Parliament. Pitt pledged huge sums of money and resources to defeatingthe hated Catholic French, and Great Britain spent part of the money on bounties paid to new youngrecruits in the colonies, helping invigorate the British forces. In 1758, the Iroquois, Delaware, and Shawneesigned the Treaty of Easton, aligning themselves with the British in return for some contested land aroundPennsylvania and Virginia. In 1759, the British took Quebec, and in 1760, Montreal. The French empire inNorth America had crumbled.

The war continued until 1763, when the French signed the Treaty of Paris. This treaty signaled a dramaticreversal of fortune for France. Indeed, New France, which had been founded in the early 1600s, ceasedto exist. The British Empire had now gained mastery over North America. The Empire not only gainedNew France under the treaty; it also acquired French sugar islands in the West Indies, French tradingposts in India, and French-held posts on the west coast of Africa. Great Britain’s victory in the French andIndian War meant that it had become a truly global empire. British colonists joyously celebrated, singingthe refrain of “Rule, Britannia! / Britannia, rule the waves! / Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!”

In the American colonies, ties with Great Britain were closer than ever. Professional British soldiers hadfought alongside Anglo-American militiamen, forging a greater sense of shared identity. With GreatBritain’s victory, colonial pride ran high as colonists celebrated their identity as British subjects.

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This last of the wars for empire, however, also sowed the seeds of trouble. The war led Great Britain deeplyinto debt, and in the 1760s and 1770s, efforts to deal with the debt through imperial reforms would havethe unintended consequence of causing stress and strain that threatened to tear the Empire apart.

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Dominion of New England

English interregnum


First Great Awakening


French and Indian War

Glorious Revolution

Navigation Acts


proprietary colonies

Restoration colonies

salutary neglect

Key Terms

an Enlightenment-era belief in the existence of a supreme being—specifically, a creator who doesnot intervene in the universe—representing a rejection of the belief in a supernatural deity who interactswith humankind

James II’s consolidated New England colony, made up of all the coloniesfrom New Haven to Massachusetts and later New York and New Jersey

the period from 1649 to 1660 when England had no king

an eighteenth-century intellectual and cultural movement that emphasized reason andscience over superstition, religion, and tradition

an eighteenth-century Protestant revival that emphasized individual,experiential faith over church doctrine and the close study of scripture

a fraternal society founded in the early eighteenth century that advocated Enlightenmentprinciples of inquiry and tolerance

the last eighteenth-century imperial struggle between Great Britain and France,leading to a decisive British victory; this war lasted from 1754 to 1763 and was also called the SevenYears’ War

the overthrow of James II in 1688

a series of English mercantilist laws enacted between 1651 and 1696 in order to controltrade with the colonies

Protestants who did not conform to the doctrines or practices of the Church of England

colonies granted by the king to a trusted individual, family, or group

the colonies King Charles II established or supported during the Restoration (theCarolinas, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania)

the laxness with which the English crown enforced the Navigation Acts in theeighteenth century

Summary4.1 Charles II and the Restoration ColoniesAfter the English Civil War and interregnum, England began to fashion a stronger and larger empire inNorth America. In addition to wresting control of New York and New Jersey from the Dutch, CharlesII established the Carolinas and Pennsylvania as proprietary colonies. Each of these colonies addedimmensely to the Empire, supplying goods not produced in England, such as rice and indigo. TheRestoration colonies also contributed to the rise in population in English America as many thousandsof Europeans made their way to the colonies. Their numbers were further augmented by the forcedmigration of African slaves. Starting in 1651, England pursued mercantilist policies through a series ofNavigation Acts designed to make the most of England’s overseas possessions. Nonetheless, withoutproper enforcement of Parliament’s acts and with nothing to prevent colonial traders from commandingtheir own fleets of ships, the Navigation Acts did not control trade as intended.

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4.2 The Glorious Revolution and the English EmpireThe threat of a Catholic absolute monarchy prompted not only the overthrow of James II but also theadoption of laws and policies that changed English government. The Glorious Revolution restored aProtestant monarchy and at the same time limited its power by means of the 1689 Bill of Rights. Thosewho lived through the events preserved the memory of the Glorious Revolution and the defense of libertythat it represented. Meanwhile, thinkers such as John Locke provided new models and inspirations for theevolving concept of government.

4.3 An Empire of Slavery and the Consumer RevolutionThe seventeenth and eighteenth centuries saw the expansion of slavery in the American colonies fromSouth Carolina to Boston. The institution of slavery created a false sense of superiority in whites, whilesimultaneously fueling fears of slave revolt. White response to such revolts, or even the threat of them,led to gross overreactions and further constraints on slaves’ activities. The development of the Atlanticeconomy also allowed colonists access to more British goods than ever before. The buying habits of bothcommoners and the rising colonial gentry fueled the consumer revolution, creating even stronger ties withGreat Britain by means of a shared community of taste and ideas.

4.4 Great Awakening and EnlightenmentThe eighteenth century saw a host of social, religious, and intellectual changes across the British Empire.While the Great Awakening emphasized vigorously emotional religiosity, the Enlightenment promotedthe power of reason and scientific observation. Both movements had lasting impacts on the colonies. Thebeliefs of the New Lights of the First Great Awakening competed with the religions of the first colonists,and the religious fervor in Great Britain and her North American colonies bound the eighteenth-centuryBritish Atlantic together in a shared, common experience. The British colonist Benjamin Franklin gainedfame on both sides of the Atlantic as a printer, publisher, and scientist. He embodied Enlightenmentideals in the British Atlantic with his scientific experiments and philanthropic endeavors. Enlightenmentprinciples even guided the founding of the colony of Georgia, although those principles could not standup to the realities of colonial life, and slavery soon took hold in the colony.

4.5 Wars for EmpireFrom 1688 to 1763, Great Britain engaged in almost continuous power struggles with France and Spain.Most of these conflicts originated in Europe, but their engagements spilled over into the colonies. Foralmost eighty years, Great Britain and France fought for control of eastern North America. During most ofthat time, neither force was able to win a decisive victory, though each side saw occasional successes withthe crucial help of native peoples. It was not until halfway through the French and Indian War (1754–1763),when Great Britain swelled its troops with more volunteers and native allies, that the balance of powershifted toward the British. With the 1763 Treaty of Paris, New France was eliminated, and Great Britaingained control of all the lands north of Florida and east of the Mississippi. British subjects on both sides ofthe Atlantic rejoiced.

Review Questions1. To what does the term “Restoration” refer?

A. the restoration of New York to Englishpower

B. the restoration of Catholicism as the officialreligion of England

C. the restoration of Charles II to the Englishthrone

D. the restoration of Parliamentary power inEngland

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2. What was the predominant religion inPennsylvania?

A. QuakerismB. PuritanismC. CatholicismD. Protestantism

3. What sorts of labor systems were used in theRestoration colonies?

4. Which of the following represents a concernthat those in England and her colonies maintainedabout James II?

A. that he would promote the spread ofProtestantism

B. that he would reduce the size of the Britisharmy and navy, leaving England and hercolonies vulnerable to attack

C. that he would advocate for Parliament’sindependence from the monarchy

D. that he would institute a Catholic absolutemonarchy

5. What was the Dominion of New England?A. James II’s overthrow of the New England

colonial governmentsB. the consolidated New England colony

James II createdC. Governor Edmund Andros’s colonial

government in New YorkD. the excise taxes New England colonists had

to pay to James II

6. What was the outcome of the GloriousRevolution?

7. The Negro Act of 1740 was a reaction to________.

A. fears of a slave conspiracy in the setting ofthirteen fires in New York City

B. the Stono RebellionC. the Royal African Company’s monopolyD. the growing power of maroon communities

8. What was the “conspiracy” of the New YorkConspiracy Trials of 1741?

A. American patriots conspiring to overthrowthe royal government

B. indentured servants conspiring tooverthrow their masters

C. slaves conspiring to burn down the city andtake control

D. Protestants conspiring to murder Catholics

9. What was the First Great Awakening?A. a cultural and intellectual movement that

emphasized reason and science oversuperstition and religion

B. a Protestant revival that emphasizedemotional, experiential faith over booklearning

C. a cultural shift that promoted Christianityamong slave communities

D. the birth of an American identity, promotedby Benjamin Franklin

10. Which of the following is not a tenet of theEnlightenment?

A. atheismB. empiricismC. progressivismD. rationalism

11. Who were the Freemasons, and why werethey significant?

12. What was the primary goal of Britain’s warsfor empire from 1688 to 1763?

A. control of North AmericaB. control of American IndiansC. greater power in Europe and the worldD. defeat of Catholicism

13. Who were the main combatants in the Frenchand Indian War?

A. France against IndiansB. Great Britain against IndiansC. Great Britain against FranceD. Great Britain against the French and their

Indian allies

14. What prompted the French and Indian War?

Critical Thinking Questions15. How did Pennsylvania’s Quaker beginnings distinguish it from other colonies in British America?

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16. What were the effects of the consumer revolution on the colonies?

17. How did the ideas of the Enlightenment and the Great Awakening offer opposing outlooks to BritishAmericans? What similarities were there between the two schools of thought?

18. What was the impact of the wars for empire in North America, Europe, and the world?

19. What role did Indians play in the wars for empire?

20. What shared experiences, intellectual currents, and cultural elements drew together British subjectson both sides of the Atlantic during this period? How did these experiences, ideas, and goods serve tostrengthen those bonds?

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Imperial Reforms and ColonialProtests, 1763-1774

Figure 5.1 The Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring and Feathering (1774), attributed to Philip Dawe,depicts the most publicized tarring and feathering incident of the American Revolution. The victim is John Malcolm, acustoms official loyal to the British crown.

Chapter Outline5.1 Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French and Indian War5.2 The Stamp Act and the Sons and Daughters of Liberty5.3 The Townshend Acts and Colonial Protest5.4 The Destruction of the Tea and the Coercive Acts5.5 Disaffection: The First Continental Congress and American Identity

IntroductionThe Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarring and Feathering (Figure 5.1), shows five Patriots tarring andfeathering the Commissioner of Customs, John Malcolm, a sea captain, army officer, and staunch Loyalist.The print shows the Boston Tea Party, a protest against the Tea Act of 1773, and the Liberty Tree, an elmtree near Boston Common that became a rallying point against the Stamp Act of 1765. When the crowdthreatened to hang Malcolm if he did not renounce his position as a royal customs officer, he reluctantlyagreed and the protestors allowed him to go home. The scene represents the animosity toward those whosupported royal authority and illustrates the high tide of unrest in the colonies after the British governmentimposed a series of imperial reform measures during the years 1763–1774.

The government’s formerly lax oversight of the colonies ended as the architects of the British Empire putthese new reforms in place. The British hoped to gain greater control over colonial trade and frontiersettlement as well as to reduce the administrative cost of the colonies and the enormous debt left by theFrench and Indian War. Each step the British took, however, generated a backlash. Over time, imperialreforms pushed many colonists toward separation from the British Empire.

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5.1 Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French andIndian War

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Discuss the status of Great Britain’s North American colonies in the years directly

following the French and Indian War• Describe the size and scope of the British debt at the end of the French and Indian War• Explain how the British Parliament responded to the debt crisis• Outline the purpose of the Proclamation Line, the Sugar Act, and the Currency Act

Great Britain had much to celebrate in 1763. The long and costly war with France had finally ended, andGreat Britain had emerged victorious. British subjects on both sides of the Atlantic celebrated the strengthof the British Empire. Colonial pride ran high; to live under the British Constitution and to have defeatedthe hated French Catholic menace brought great joy to British Protestants everywhere in the Empire. FromMaine to Georgia, British colonists joyously celebrated the victory and sang the refrain of “Rule, Britannia!Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves!”

Despite the celebratory mood, the victory over France also produced major problems within the BritishEmpire, problems that would have serious consequences for British colonists in the Americas. During thewar, many Indian tribes had sided with the French, who supplied them with guns. After the 1763 Treatyof Paris that ended the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years’ War), British colonists had to defendthe frontier, where French colonists and their tribal allies remained a powerful force. The most organizedresistance, Pontiac’s Rebellion, highlighted tensions the settlers increasingly interpreted in racial terms.

The massive debt the war generated at home, however, proved to be the most serious issue facing GreatBritain. The frontier had to be secure in order to prevent another costly war. Greater enforcement ofimperial trade laws had to be put into place. Parliament had to find ways to raise revenue to pay off thecrippling debt from the war. Everyone would have to contribute their expected share, including the Britishsubjects across the Atlantic.

Figure 5.2 (credit “1765”: modification of work by the United Kingdom Government)

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PROBLEMS ON THE AMERICAN FRONTIERWith the end of the French and Indian War, Great Britain claimed a vast new expanse of territory, at leaston paper. Under the terms of the Treaty of Paris, the French territory known as New France had ceased toexist. British territorial holdings now extended from Canada to Florida, and British military focus shifted tomaintaining peace in the king’s newly enlarged lands. However, much of the land in the American BritishEmpire remained under the control of powerful native confederacies, which made any claims of Britishmastery beyond the Atlantic coastal settlements hollow. Great Britain maintained ten thousand troops inNorth America after the war ended in 1763 to defend the borders and repel any attack by their imperialrivals.

British colonists, eager for fresh land, poured over the Appalachian Mountains to stake claims. Thewestern frontier had long been a “middle ground” where different imperial powers (British, French,Spanish) had interacted and compromised with native peoples. That era of accommodation in the “middleground” came to an end after the French and Indian War. Virginians (including George Washington) andother land-hungry colonists had already raised tensions in the 1740s with their quest for land. Virginialandowners in particular eagerly looked to diversify their holdings beyond tobacco, which had stagnatedin price and exhausted the fertility of the lands along the Chesapeake Bay. They invested heavily in thenewly available land. This westward movement brought the settlers into conflict as never before withIndian tribes, such as the Shawnee, Seneca-Cayuga, Wyandot, and Delaware, who increasingly held theirground against any further intrusion by white settlers.

The treaty that ended the war between France and Great Britain proved to be a significant blow to nativepeoples, who had viewed the conflict as an opportunity to gain additional trade goods from both sides.With the French defeat, many Indians who had sided with France lost a valued trading partner as wellas bargaining power over the British. Settlers’ encroachment on their land, as well as the increased Britishmilitary presence, changed the situation on the frontier dramatically. After the war, British troops tookover the former French forts but failed to court favor with the local tribes by distributing ample gifts, as theFrench had done. They also significantly reduced the amount of gunpowder and ammunition they sold tothe Indians, worsening relationships further.

Indians’ resistance to colonists drew upon the teachings of Delaware (Lenni Lenape) prophet Neolin andthe leadership of Ottawa war chief Pontiac. Neolin was a spiritual leader who preached a doctrine ofshunning European culture and expelling Europeans from native lands. Neolin’s beliefs united Indiansfrom many villages. In a broad-based alliance that came to be known as Pontiac’s Rebellion, Pontiac led aloose coalition of these native tribes against the colonists and the British army.

Pontiac started bringing his coalition together as early as 1761, urging Indians to “drive [the Europeans]out and make war upon them.” The conflict began in earnest in 1763, when Pontiac and several hundredOjibwas, Potawatomis, and Hurons laid siege to Fort Detroit. At the same time, Senecas, Shawnees, andDelawares laid siege to Fort Pitt. Over the next year, the war spread along the backcountry from Virginia toPennsylvania. Pontiac’s Rebellion (also known as Pontiac’s War) triggered horrific violence on both sides.Firsthand reports of Indian attacks tell of murder, scalping, dismemberment, and burning at the stake.These stories incited a deep racial hatred among colonists against all Indians.

The actions of a group of Scots-Irish settlers from Paxton (or Paxtang), Pennsylvania, in December 1763,illustrates the deadly situation on the frontier. Forming a mob known as the Paxton Boys, thesefrontiersmen attacked a nearby group of Conestoga of the Susquehannock tribe. The Conestoga hadlived peacefully with local settlers, but the Paxton Boys viewed all Indians as savages and they brutallymurdered the six Conestoga they found at home and burned their houses. When Governor John Penn putthe remaining fourteen Conestoga in protective custody in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the Paxton Boys brokeinto the building and killed and scalped the Conestoga they found there (Figure 5.3). Although GovernorPenn offered a reward for the capture of any Paxton Boys involved in the murders, no one ever identifiedthe attackers. Some colonists reacted to the incident with outrage. Benjamin Franklin described the PaxtonBoys as “the barbarous Men who committed the atrocious act, in Defiance of Government, of all Laws

Chapter 5 Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774 127

human and divine, and to the eternal Disgrace of their Country and Colour,” stating that “the Wickednesscannot be covered, the Guilt will lie on the whole Land, till Justice is done on the Murderers. The bloodof the innocent will cry to heaven for vengeance.” Yet, as the inability to bring the perpetrators to justiceclearly indicates, the Paxton Boys had many more supporters than critics.

Figure 5.3 This nineteenth-century lithograph depicts the massacre of Conestoga in 1763 at Lancaster,Pennsylvania, where they had been placed in protective custody. None of the attackers, members of the PaxtonBoys, were ever identified.

Visit Explore ( to read the fulltext of Benjamin Franklin’s “Benjamin Franklin, An Account of the Paxton Boys’ Murderof the Conestoga Indians, 1764.”

Pontiac’s Rebellion and the Paxton Boys’ actions were examples of early American race wars, in whichboth sides saw themselves as inherently different from the other and believed the other needed to beeradicated. The prophet Neolin’s message, which he said he received in a vision from the Master of Life,was: “Wherefore do you suffer the whites to dwell upon your lands? Drive them away; wage war againstthem.” Pontiac echoed this idea in a meeting, exhorting tribes to join together against the British: “It isimportant for us, my brothers, that we exterminate from our lands this nation which seeks only to destroyus.” In his letter suggesting “gifts” to the natives of smallpox-infected blankets, Field Marshal JeffreyAmherst said, “You will do well to inoculate the Indians by means of blankets, as well as every othermethod that can serve to extirpate this execrable race.” Pontiac’s Rebellion came to an end in 1766, when itbecame clear that the French, whom Pontiac had hoped would side with his forces, would not be returning.The repercussions, however, would last much longer. Race relations between Indians and whites remainedpoisoned on the frontier.

Well aware of the problems on the frontier, the British government took steps to try to prevent bloodshedand another costly war. At the beginning of Pontiac’s uprising, the British issued the Proclamation of 1763,which forbade white settlement west of the Proclamation Line, a borderline running along the spine ofthe Appalachian Mountains (Figure 5.4). The Proclamation Line aimed to forestall further conflict on thefrontier, the clear flashpoint of tension in British North America. British colonists who had hoped to move

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west after the war chafed at this restriction, believing the war had been fought and won to ensure the rightto settle west. The Proclamation Line therefore came as a setback to their vision of westward expansion.

Figure 5.4 This map shows the status of the American colonies in 1763, after the end of the French and Indian War.Although Great Britain won control of the territory east of the Mississippi, the Proclamation Line of 1763 prohibitedBritish colonists from settling west of the Appalachian Mountains. (credit: modification of work by the National Atlas ofthe United States)

THE BRITISH NATIONAL DEBTGreat Britain’s newly enlarged empire meant a greater financial burden, and the mushrooming debt fromthe war was a major cause of concern. The war nearly doubled the British national debt, from £75 millionin 1756 to £133 million in 1763. Interest payments alone consumed over half the national budget, and thecontinuing military presence in North America was a constant drain. The Empire needed more revenue toreplenish its dwindling coffers. Those in Great Britain believed that British subjects in North America, asthe major beneficiaries of Great Britain’s war for global supremacy, should certainly shoulder their shareof the financial burden.

The British government began increasing revenues by raising taxes at home, even as various interestgroups lobbied to keep their taxes low. Powerful members of the aristocracy, well represented inParliament, successfully convinced Prime Minister John Stuart, third earl of Bute, to refrain from raisingtaxes on land. The greater tax burden, therefore, fell on the lower classes in the form of increased importduties, which raised the prices of imported goods such as sugar and tobacco. George Grenville succeededBute as prime minister in 1763. Grenville determined to curtail government spending and make sure that,as subjects of the British Empire, the American colonists did their part to pay down the massive debt.

IMPERIAL REFORMSThe new era of greater British interest in the American colonies through imperial reforms picked up inpace in the mid-1760s. In 1764, Prime Minister Grenville introduced the Currency Act of 1764, prohibiting

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the colonies from printing additional paper money and requiring colonists to pay British merchants ingold and silver instead of the colonial paper money already in circulation. The Currency Act aimed tostandardize the currency used in Atlantic trade, a logical reform designed to help stabilize the Empire’seconomy. This rule brought American economic activity under greater British control. Colonists relied ontheir own paper currency to conduct trade and, with gold and silver in short supply, they found theirfinances tight. Not surprisingly, they grumbled about the new imperial currency regulations.

Grenville also pushed Parliament to pass the Sugar Act of 1764, which actually lowered duties on Britishmolasses by half, from six pence per gallon to three. Grenville designed this measure to address theproblem of rampant colonial smuggling with the French sugar islands in the West Indies. The actattempted to make it easier for colonial traders, especially New England mariners who routinely engagedin illegal trade, to comply with the imperial law.

To give teeth to the 1764 Sugar Act, the law intensified enforcement provisions. Prior to the 1764 act,colonial violations of the Navigation Acts had been tried in local courts, where sympathetic colonial juriesrefused to convict merchants on trial. However, the Sugar Act required violators to be tried in vice-admiralty courts. These crown-sanctioned tribunals, which settled disputes that occurred at sea, operatedwithout juries. Some colonists saw this feature of the 1764 act as dangerous. They argued that trial byjury had long been honored as a basic right of Englishmen under the British Constitution. To deprivedefendants of a jury, they contended, meant reducing liberty-loving British subjects to political slavery. Inthe British Atlantic world, some colonists perceived this loss of liberty as parallel to the enslavement ofAfricans.

As loyal British subjects, colonists in America cherished their Constitution, an unwritten system ofgovernment that they celebrated as the best political system in the world. The British Constitutionprescribed the roles of the King, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Each entity provided acheck and balance against the worst tendencies of the others. If the King had too much power, the resultwould be tyranny. If the Lords had too much power, the result would be oligarchy. If the Commonshad the balance of power, democracy or mob rule would prevail. The British Constitution promisedrepresentation of the will of British subjects, and without such representation, even the indirect tax of theSugar Act was considered a threat to the settlers’ rights as British subjects. Furthermore, some Americancolonists felt the colonies were on equal political footing with Great Britain. The Sugar Act meant theywere secondary, mere adjuncts to the Empire. All subjects of the British crown knew they had libertiesunder the constitution. The Sugar Act suggested that some in Parliament labored to deprive them of whatmade them uniquely British.

5.2 The Stamp Act and the Sons and Daughters of Liberty

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the purpose of the 1765 Stamp Act• Describe the colonial responses to the Stamp Act

In 1765, the British Parliament moved beyond the efforts during the previous two years to better regulatewestward expansion and trade by putting in place the Stamp Act. As a direct tax on the colonists, theStamp Act imposed an internal tax on almost every type of printed paper colonists used, includingnewspapers, legal documents, and playing cards. While the architects of the Stamp Act saw the measureas a way to defray the costs of the British Empire, it nonetheless gave rise to the first major colonial protestagainst British imperial control as expressed in the famous slogan “no taxation without representation.”The Stamp Act reinforced the sense among some colonists that Parliament was not treating them as equalsof their peers across the Atlantic.

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THE STAMP ACT AND THE QUARTERING ACTPrime Minister Grenville, author of the Sugar Act of 1764, introduced the Stamp Act in the early springof 1765. Under this act, anyone who used or purchased anything printed on paper had to buy a revenuestamp (Figure 5.5) for it. In the same year, 1765, Parliament also passed the Quartering Act, a law thatattempted to solve the problems of stationing troops in North America. The Parliament understood theStamp Act and the Quartering Act as an assertion of their power to control colonial policy.

Figure 5.5 Under the Stamp Act, anyone who used or purchased anything printed on paper had to buy a revenuestamp for it. Image (a) shows a partial proof sheet of one-penny stamps. Image (b) provides a close-up of a one-penny stamp. (credit a: modification of work by the United Kingdom Government; credit b: modification of work by theUnited Kingdom Government)

The Stamp Act signaled a shift in British policy after the French and Indian War. Before the Stamp Act,the colonists had paid taxes to their colonial governments or indirectly through higher prices, not directlyto the Crown’s appointed governors. This was a time-honored liberty of representative legislatures of thecolonial governments. The passage of the Stamp Act meant that starting on November 1, 1765, the colonistswould contribute £60,000 per year—17 percent of the total cost—to the upkeep of the ten thousand Britishsoldiers in North America (Figure 5.6). Because the Stamp Act raised constitutional issues, it triggered thefirst serious protest against British imperial policy.

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Figure 5.6 The announcement of the Stamp Act, seen in this newspaper publication (a), raised numerous concernsamong colonists in America. Protests against British imperial policy took many forms, such as this mock stamp (b)whose text reads “An Emblem of the Effects of the STAMP. O! the Fatal STAMP.”

Parliament also asserted its prerogative in 1765 with the Quartering Act. The Quartering Act of 1765addressed the problem of housing British soldiers stationed in the American colonies. It required that theybe provided with barracks or places to stay in public houses, and that if extra housing were necessary,then troops could be stationed in barns and other uninhabited private buildings. In addition, the costsof the troops’ food and lodging fell to the colonists. Since the time of James II, who ruled from 1685 to1688, many British subjects had mistrusted the presence of a standing army during peacetime, and havingto pay for the soldiers’ lodging and food was especially burdensome. Widespread evasion and disregardfor the law occurred in almost all the colonies, but the issue was especially contentious in New York, theheadquarters of British forces. When fifteen hundred troops arrived in New York in 1766, the New YorkAssembly refused to follow the Quartering Act.

COLONIAL PROTEST: GENTRY, MERCHANTS, AND THE STAMP ACT CONGRESSFor many British colonists living in America, the Stamp Act raised many concerns. As a direct tax, itappeared to be an unconstitutional measure, one that deprived freeborn British subjects of their liberty,a concept they defined broadly to include various rights and privileges they enjoyed as British subjects,including the right to representation. According to the unwritten British Constitution, only representativesfor whom British subjects voted could tax them. Parliament was in charge of taxation, and although it wasa representative body, the colonies did not have “actual” (or direct) representation in it. Parliamentarymembers who supported the Stamp Act argued that the colonists had virtual representation, becausethe architects of the British Empire knew best how to maximize returns from its possessions overseas.However, this argument did not satisfy the protesters, who viewed themselves as having the same rightas all British subjects to avoid taxation without their consent. With no representation in the House ofCommons, where bills of taxation originated, they felt themselves deprived of this inherent right.

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The British government knew the colonists might object to the Stamp Act’s expansion of parliamentarypower, but Parliament believed the relationship of the colonies to the Empire was one of dependence,not equality. However, the Stamp Act had the unintended and ironic consequence of drawing colonistsfrom very different areas and viewpoints together in protest. In Massachusetts, for instance, James Otis,a lawyer and defender of British liberty, became the leading voice for the idea that “Taxation withoutrepresentation is tyranny.” In the Virginia House of Burgesses, firebrand and slaveholder Patrick Henryintroduced the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions, which denounced the Stamp Act and the British crown inlanguage so strong that some conservative Virginians accused him of treason (Figure 5.7). Henry repliedthat Virginians were subject only to taxes that they themselves—or their representatives—imposed. Inshort, there could be no taxation without representation.

Figure 5.7 Patrick Henry Before the Virginia House of Burgesses (1851), painted by Peter F. Rothermel, offers aromanticized depiction of Henry’s speech denouncing the Stamp Act of 1765. Supporters and opponents alikedebated the stark language of the speech, which quickly became legendary.

The colonists had never before formed a unified political front, so Grenville and Parliament did notfear true revolt. However, this was to change in 1765. In response to the Stamp Act, the MassachusettsAssembly sent letters to the other colonies, asking them to attend a meeting, or congress, to discuss howto respond to the act. Many American colonists from very different colonies found common cause in theiropposition to the Stamp Act. Representatives from nine colonial legislatures met in New York in the fallof 1765 to reach a consensus. Could Parliament impose taxation without representation? The members ofthis first congress, known as the Stamp Act Congress, said no. These nine representatives had a vestedinterest in repealing the tax. Not only did it weaken their businesses and the colonial economy, but it alsothreatened their liberty under the British Constitution. They drafted a rebuttal to the Stamp Act, makingclear that they desired only to protect their liberty as loyal subjects of the Crown. The document, called theDeclaration of Rights and Grievances, outlined the unconstitutionality of taxation without representationand trials without juries. Meanwhile, popular protest was also gaining force.

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Browse the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society( to examine digitized primary sources of thedocuments that paved the way to the fight for liberty.

MOBILIZATION: POPULAR PROTEST AGAINST THE STAMP ACTThe Stamp Act Congress was a gathering of landowning, educated white men who represented thepolitical elite of the colonies and was the colonial equivalent of the British landed aristocracy. Whilethese gentry were drafting their grievances during the Stamp Act Congress, other colonists showed theirdistaste for the new act by boycotting British goods and protesting in the streets. Two groups, the Sons ofLiberty and the Daughters of Liberty, led the popular resistance to the Stamp Act. Both groups consideredthemselves British patriots defending their liberty, just as their forebears had done in the time of James II.

Forming in Boston in the summer of 1765, the Sons of Liberty were artisans, shopkeepers, and small-time merchants willing to adopt extralegal means of protest. Before the act had even gone into effect, theSons of Liberty began protesting. On August 14, they took aim at Andrew Oliver, who had been namedthe Massachusetts Distributor of Stamps. After hanging Oliver in effigy—that is, using a crudely madefigure as a representation of Oliver—the unruly crowd stoned and ransacked his house, finally beheadingthe effigy and burning the remains. Such a brutal response shocked the royal governmental officials,who hid until the violence had spent itself. Andrew Oliver resigned the next day. By that time, the mobhad moved on to the home of Lieutenant Governor Thomas Hutchinson who, because of his supportof Parliament’s actions, was considered an enemy of English liberty. The Sons of Liberty barricadedHutchinson in his home and demanded that he renounce the Stamp Act; he refused, and the protesterslooted and burned his house. Furthermore, the Sons (also called “True Sons” or “True-born Sons” to makeclear their commitment to liberty and distinguish them from the likes of Hutchinson) continued to leadviolent protests with the goal of securing the resignation of all appointed stamp collectors (Figure 5.8).

Figure 5.8 With this broadside of December 17, 1765, the Sons of Liberty call for the resignation of Andrew Oliver,the Massachusetts Distributor of Stamps.

Starting in early 1766, the Daughters of Liberty protested the Stamp Act by refusing to buy British goodsand encouraging others to do the same. They avoided British tea, opting to make their own teas with local

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herbs and berries. They built a community—and a movement—around creating homespun cloth insteadof buying British linen. Well-born women held “spinning bees,” at which they competed to see who couldspin the most and the finest linen. An entry in The Boston Chronicle of April 7, 1766, states that on March12, in Providence, Rhode Island, “18 Daughters of Liberty, young ladies of good reputation, assembled atthe house of Doctor Ephraim Bowen, in this town. . . . There they exhibited a fine example of industry, byspinning from sunrise until dark, and displayed a spirit for saving their sinking country rarely to be foundamong persons of more age and experience.” At dinner, they “cheerfully agreed to omit tea, to rendertheir conduct consistent. Besides this instance of their patriotism, before they separated, they unanimouslyresolved that the Stamp Act was unconstitutional, that they would purchase no more British manufacturesunless it be repealed, and that they would not even admit the addresses of any gentlemen should theyhave the opportunity, without they determined to oppose its execution to the last extremity, if the occasionrequired.”

The Daughters’ non-importation movement broadened the protest against the Stamp Act, giving womena new and active role in the political dissent of the time. Women were responsible for purchasing goods forthe home, so by exercising the power of the purse, they could wield more power than they had in the past.Although they could not vote, they could mobilize others and make a difference in the political landscape.

From a local movement, the protests of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty soon spread until there was achapter in every colony. The Daughters of Liberty promoted the boycott on British goods while the Sonsenforced it, threatening retaliation against anyone who bought imported goods or used stamped paper. Inthe protest against the Stamp Act, wealthy, lettered political figures like John Adams supported the goalsof the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, even if they did not engage in the Sons’ violent actions. These men,who were lawyers, printers, and merchants, ran a propaganda campaign parallel to the Sons’ campaignof violence. In newspapers and pamphlets throughout the colonies, they published article after articleoutlining the reasons the Stamp Act was unconstitutional and urging peaceful protest. They officiallycondemned violent actions but did not have the protesters arrested; a degree of cooperation prevailed,despite the groups’ different economic backgrounds. Certainly, all the protesters saw themselves as actingin the best British tradition, standing up against the corruption (especially the extinguishing of their rightto representation) that threatened their liberty (Figure 5.9).

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Figure 5.9 This 1766 illustration shows a funeral procession for the Stamp Act. Reverend William Scott leads theprocession of politicians who had supported the act, while a dog urinates on his leg. George Grenville, pictured fourthin line, carries a small coffin. What point do you think this cartoon is trying to make?

THE DECLARATORY ACTBack in Great Britain, news of the colonists’ reactions worsened an already volatile political situation.Grenville’s imperial reforms had brought about increased domestic taxes and his unpopularity led to hisdismissal by King George III. While many in Parliament still wanted such reforms, British merchantsargued strongly for their repeal. These merchants had no interest in the philosophy behind the colonists’desire for liberty; rather, their motive was that the non-importation of British goods by North Americancolonists was hurting their business. Many of the British at home were also appalled by the colonists’violent reaction to the Stamp Act. Other Britons cheered what they saw as the manly defense of liberty bytheir counterparts in the colonies.

In March 1766, the new prime minister, Lord Rockingham, compelled Parliament to repeal the Stamp Act.Colonists celebrated what they saw as a victory for their British liberty; in Boston, merchant John Hancocktreated the entire town to drinks. However, to appease opponents of the repeal, who feared that it wouldweaken parliamentary power over the American colonists, Rockingham also proposed the DeclaratoryAct. This stated in no uncertain terms that Parliament’s power was supreme and that any laws the coloniesmay have passed to govern and tax themselves were null and void if they ran counter to parliamentarylaw.

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Visit ( to read the full text of theDeclaratory Act, in which Parliament asserted the supremacy of parliamentary power.

5.3 The Townshend Acts and Colonial Protest

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the purpose of the 1767 Townshend Acts• Explain why many colonists protested the 1767 Townshend Acts and the consequences

of their actions

Colonists’ joy over the repeal of the Stamp Act and what they saw as their defense of liberty did not lastlong. The Declaratory Act of 1766 had articulated Great Britain’s supreme authority over the colonies, andParliament soon began exercising that authority. In 1767, with the passage of the Townshend Acts, a taxon consumer goods in British North America, colonists believed their liberty as loyal British subjects hadcome under assault for a second time.

THE TOWNSHEND ACTSLord Rockingham’s tenure as prime minister was not long (1765–1766). Rich landowners feared that if hewere not taxing the colonies, Parliament would raise their taxes instead, sacrificing them to the interestsof merchants and colonists. George III duly dismissed Rockingham. William Pitt, also sympathetic to thecolonists, succeeded him. However, Pitt was old and ill with gout. His chancellor of the exchequer, CharlesTownshend (Figure 5.10), whose job was to manage the Empire’s finances, took on many of his duties.Primary among these was raising the needed revenue from the colonies.

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Figure 5.10 Charles Townshend, chancellor of the exchequer, shown here in a 1765 painting by Joshua Reynolds,instituted the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 in order to raise money to support the British military presence in thecolonies.

Townshend’s first act was to deal with the unruly New York Assembly, which had voted not to pay forsupplies for the garrison of British soldiers that the Quartering Act required. In response, Townshendproposed the Restraining Act of 1767, which disbanded the New York Assembly until it agreed to pay forthe garrison’s supplies, which it eventually agreed to do.

The Townshend Revenue Act of 1767 placed duties on various consumer items like paper, paint, lead,tea, and glass. These British goods had to be imported, since the colonies did not have the manufacturingbase to produce them. Townshend hoped the new duties would not anger the colonists because they wereexternal taxes, not internal ones like the Stamp Act. In 1766, in arguing before Parliament for the repeal ofthe Stamp Act, Benjamin Franklin had stated, “I never heard any objection to the right of laying duties toregulate commerce; but a right to lay internal taxes was never supposed to be in parliament, as we are notrepresented there.”

The Indemnity Act of 1767 exempted tea produced by the British East India Company from taxationwhen it was imported into Great Britain. When the tea was re-exported to the colonies, however, thecolonists had to pay taxes on it because of the Revenue Act. Some critics of Parliament on both sides ofthe Atlantic saw this tax policy as an example of corrupt politicians giving preferable treatment to specificcorporate interests, creating a monopoly. The sense that corruption had become entrenched in Parliamentonly increased colonists’ alarm.

In fact, the revenue collected from these duties was only nominally intended to support the British armyin America. It actually paid the salaries of some royally appointed judges, governors, and other officialswhom the colonial assemblies had traditionally paid. Thanks to the Townshend Revenue Act of 1767,however, these officials no longer relied on colonial leadership for payment. This change gave them ameasure of independence from the assemblies, so they could implement parliamentary acts without fearthat their pay would be withheld in retaliation. The Revenue Act thus appeared to sever the relationship

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between governors and assemblies, drawing royal officials closer to the British government and furtheraway from the colonial legislatures.

The Revenue Act also gave the customs board greater powers to counteract smuggling. It granted “writsof assistance”—basically, search warrants—to customs commissioners who suspected the presence ofcontraband goods, which also opened the door to a new level of bribery and trickery on the waterfrontsof colonial America. Furthermore, to ensure compliance, Townshend introduced the Commissioners ofCustoms Act of 1767, which created an American Board of Customs to enforce trade laws. Customsenforcement had been based in Great Britain, but rules were difficult to implement at such a distance,and smuggling was rampant. The new customs board was based in Boston and would severely curtailsmuggling in this large colonial seaport.

Townshend also orchestrated the Vice-Admiralty Court Act, which established three more vice-admiraltycourts, in Boston, Philadelphia, and Charleston, to try violators of customs regulations without a jury.Before this, the only colonial vice-admiralty court had been in far-off Halifax, Nova Scotia, but withthree local courts, smugglers could be tried more efficiently. Since the judges of these courts were paida percentage of the worth of the goods they recovered, leniency was rare. All told, the Townshend Actsresulted in higher taxes and stronger British power to enforce them. Four years after the end of the Frenchand Indian War, the Empire continued to search for solutions to its debt problem and the growing sensethat the colonies needed to be brought under control.

REACTIONS: THE NON-IMPORTATION MOVEMENTLike the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts produced controversy and protest in the American colonies. Fora second time, many colonists resented what they perceived as an effort to tax them without representationand thus to deprive them of their liberty. The fact that the revenue the Townshend Acts raised would payroyal governors only made the situation worse, because it took control away from colonial legislatures thatotherwise had the power to set and withhold a royal governor’s salary. The Restraining Act, which hadbeen intended to isolate New York without angering the other colonies, had the opposite effect, showingthe rest of the colonies how far beyond the British Constitution some members of Parliament were willingto go.

The Townshend Acts generated a number of protest writings, including “Letters from a PennsylvaniaFarmer” by John Dickinson. In this influential pamphlet, which circulated widely in the colonies,Dickinson conceded that the Empire could regulate trade but argued that Parliament could not imposeeither internal taxes, like stamps, on goods or external taxes, like customs duties, on imports.

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“Address to the Ladies” Verse from The Boston Post-Boy andAdvertiserThis verse, which ran in a Boston newspaper in November 1767, highlights how women wereencouraged to take political action by boycotting British goods. Notice that the writer especiallyencourages women to avoid British tea (Bohea and Green Hyson) and linen, and to manufacture theirown homespun cloth. Building on the protest of the 1765 Stamp Act by the Daughters of Liberty, the non-importation movement of 1767–1768 mobilized women as political actors.

Young ladies in town, and those that live round,Let a friend at this season advise you:Since money’s so scarce, and times growing worseStrange things may soon hap and surprize you:First then, throw aside your high top knots of prideWear none but your own country linnen;of economy boast, let your pride be the mostWhat, if homespun they say is not quite so gayAs brocades, yet be not in a passion,For when once it is known this is much wore in town,One and all will cry out, ’tis the fashion!And as one, all agree that you’ll not married beTo such as will wear London Fact’ry:But at first sight refuse, tell’em such you do chuseAs encourage our own Manufact’ry.No more Ribbons wear, nor in rich dress appear,Love your country much better than fine things,Begin without passion, ’twill soon be the fashionTo grace your smooth locks with a twine string.Throw aside your Bohea, and your Green Hyson Tea,And all things with a new fashion duty;Procure a good store of the choice Labradore,For there’ll soon be enough here to suit ye;These do without fear and to all you’ll appearFair, charming, true, lovely, and cleaver;Tho’ the times remain darkish, young men may be sparkish.And love you much stronger than ever. !O!

In Massachusetts in 1768, Samuel Adams wrote a letter that became known as the Massachusetts Circular.Sent by the Massachusetts House of Representatives to the other colonial legislatures, the letter laid outthe unconstitutionality of taxation without representation and encouraged the other colonies to againprotest the taxes by boycotting British goods. Adams wrote, “It is, moreover, [the Massachusetts Houseof Representatives] humble opinion, which they express with the greatest deference to the wisdom of theParliament, that the acts made there, imposing duties on the people of this province, with the sole andexpress purpose of raising a revenue, are infringements of their natural and constitutional rights; because,as they are not represented in the Parliament, his Majesty’s Commons in Britain, by those acts, grant theirproperty without their consent.” Note that even in this letter of protest, the humble and submissive toneshows the Massachusetts Assembly’s continued deference to parliamentary authority. Even in that hotbedof political protest, it is a clear expression of allegiance and the hope for a restoration of “natural andconstitutional rights.”

Great Britain’s response to this threat of disobedience served only to unite the colonies further. Thecolonies’ initial response to the Massachusetts Circular was lukewarm at best. However, back in Great

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Britain, the secretary of state for the colonies—Lord Hillsborough—demanded that Massachusetts retractthe letter, promising that any colonial assemblies that endorsed it would be dissolved. This threat hadthe effect of pushing the other colonies to Massachusetts’s side. Even the city of Philadelphia, which hadoriginally opposed the Circular, came around.

The Daughters of Liberty once again supported and promoted the boycott of British goods. Womenresumed spinning bees and again found substitutes for British tea and other goods. Many colonialmerchants signed non-importation agreements, and the Daughters of Liberty urged colonial women toshop only with those merchants. The Sons of Liberty used newspapers and circulars to call out by namethose merchants who refused to sign such agreements; sometimes they were threatened by violence. Forinstance, a broadside from 1769–1770 reads:

WILLIAM JACKSON,an IMPORTER;at the BRAZEN HEAD,North Side of the TOWN-HOUSE,and Opposite the Town-Pump, [in]Corn-hill, BOSTONIt is desired that the SONSand DAUGHTERS of LIBERTY,would not buy any one thing ofhim, for in so doing they will bringdisgrace upon themselves, and theirPosterity, for ever and ever, AMEN.

The boycott in 1768–1769 turned the purchase of consumer goods into a political gesture. It mattered whatyou consumed. Indeed, the very clothes you wore indicated whether you were a defender of liberty inhomespun or a protector of parliamentary rights in superfine British attire.

For examples of the types of luxury items that many American colonists favored, visitthe National Humanities Center ( to seepictures and documents relating to home interiors of the wealthy.

TROUBLE IN BOSTONThe Massachusetts Circular got Parliament’s attention, and in 1768, Lord Hillsborough sent four thousandBritish troops to Boston to deal with the unrest and put down any potential rebellion there. The troopswere a constant reminder of the assertion of British power over the colonies, an illustration of an unequalrelationship between members of the same empire. As an added aggravation, British soldiers moonlightedas dockworkers, creating competition for employment. Boston’s labor system had traditionally beenclosed, privileging native-born laborers over outsiders, and jobs were scarce. Many Bostonians, led by theSons of Liberty, mounted a campaign of harassment against British troops. The Sons of Liberty also helpedprotect the smuggling actions of the merchants; smuggling was crucial for the colonists’ ability to maintaintheir boycott of British goods.

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John Hancock was one of Boston’s most successful merchants and prominent citizens. While hemaintained too high a profile to work actively with the Sons of Liberty, he was known to support theiraims, if not their means of achieving them. He was also one of the many prominent merchants who hadmade their fortunes by smuggling, which was rampant in the colonial seaports. In 1768, customs officialsseized the Liberty, one of his ships, and violence erupted. Led by the Sons of Liberty, Bostonians riotedagainst customs officials, attacking the customs house and chasing out the officers, who ran to safety atCastle William, a British fort on a Boston harbor island. British soldiers crushed the riots, but over the nextfew years, clashes between British officials and Bostonians became common.

Conflict turned deadly on March 5, 1770, in a confrontation that came to be known as the Boston Massacre.On that night, a crowd of Bostonians from many walks of life started throwing snowballs, rocks, andsticks at the British soldiers guarding the customs house. In the resulting scuffle, some soldiers, goaded bythe mob who hectored the soldiers as “lobster backs” (the reference to lobster equated the soldiers withbottom feeders, i.e., aquatic animals that feed on the lowest organisms in the food chain), fired into thecrowd, killing five people. Crispus Attucks, the first man killed—and, though no one could have known itthen, the first official casualty in the war for independence—was of Wampanoag and African descent. Thebloodshed illustrated the level of hostility that had developed as a result of Boston’s occupation by Britishtroops, the competition for scarce jobs between Bostonians and the British soldiers stationed in the city,and the larger question of Parliament’s efforts to tax the colonies.

The Sons of Liberty immediately seized on the event, characterizing the British soldiers as murderersand their victims as martyrs. Paul Revere, a silversmith and member of the Sons of Liberty, circulatedan engraving that showed a line of grim redcoats firing ruthlessly into a crowd of unarmed, fleeingcivilians. Among colonists who resisted British power, this view of the “massacre” confirmed their fearsof a tyrannous government using its armies to curb the freedom of British subjects. But to others, theattacking mob was equally to blame for pelting the British with rocks and insulting them.

It was not only British Loyalists who condemned the unruly mob. John Adams, one of the city’s strongestsupporters of peaceful protest against Parliament, represented the British soldiers at their murder trial.Adams argued that the mob’s lawlessness required the soldiers’ response, and that without law and order,a society was nothing. He argued further that the soldiers were the tools of a much broader program,which transformed a street brawl into the injustice of imperial policy. Of the eight soldiers on trial, the juryacquitted six, convicting the other two of the reduced charge of manslaughter.

Adams argued: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or thedictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence: nor is the law less stable thanthe fact; if an assault was made to endanger their lives, the law is clear, they had a right to kill in theirown defense; if it was not so severe as to endanger their lives, yet if they were assaulted at all, struck andabused by blows of any sort, by snow-balls, oyster-shells, cinders, clubs, or sticks of any kind; this wasa provocation, for which the law reduces the offence of killing, down to manslaughter, in considerationof those passions in our nature, which cannot be eradicated. To your candour and justice I submit theprisoners and their cause.”

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Propaganda and the Sons of LibertyLong after the British soldiers had been tried and punished, the Sons of Liberty maintained a relentlesspropaganda campaign against British oppression. Many of them were printers or engravers, and theywere able to use public media to sway others to their cause. Shortly after the incident outside thecustoms house, Paul Revere created “The bloody massacre perpetrated in King Street Boston on March5th 1770 by a party of the 29th Regt.” (Figure 5.11), based on an image by engraver Henry Pelham.The picture—which represents only the protesters’ point of view—shows the ruthlessness of the Britishsoldiers and the helplessness of the crowd of civilians. Notice the subtle details Revere uses to helpconvince the viewer of the civilians’ innocence and the soldiers’ cruelty. Although eyewitnesses said thecrowd started the fight by throwing snowballs and rocks, in the engraving they are innocently standingby. Revere also depicts the crowd as well dressed and well-to-do, when in fact they were laborers andprobably looked quite a bit rougher.

Figure 5.11 The Sons of Liberty circulated this sensationalized version of the events of March 5, 1770,in order to promote the rightness of their cause. The verses below the image begin as follows:“Unhappy Boston! see thy Sons deplore, Thy hallowed Walks besmeared with guiltless Gore.”

Newspaper articles and pamphlets that the Sons of Liberty circulated implied that the “massacre” was aplanned murder. In the Boston Gazette on March 12, 1770, an article describes the soldiers as strikingfirst. It goes on to discuss this version of the events: “On hearing the noise, one Samuel Atwood came upto see what was the matter; and entering the alley from dock square, heard the latter part of the combat;and when the boys had dispersed he met the ten or twelve soldiers aforesaid rushing down the alleytowards the square and asked them if they intended to murder people? They answered Yes, by God, rootand branch! With that one of them struck Mr. Atwood with a club which was repeated by another; andbeing unarmed, he turned to go off and received a wound on the left shoulder which reached the boneand gave him much pain.”

What do you think most people in the United States think of when they consider the Boston Massacre?How does the propaganda of the Sons of Liberty still affect the way we think of this event?

PARTIAL REPEALAs it turned out, the Boston Massacre occurred after Parliament had partially repealed the TownshendActs. By the late 1760s, the American boycott of British goods had drastically reduced British trade. Onceagain, merchants who lost money because of the boycott strongly pressured Parliament to loosen itsrestrictions on the colonies and break the non-importation movement. Charles Townshend died suddenly

Chapter 5 Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774 143

in 1767 and was replaced by Lord North, who was inclined to look for a more workable solution withthe colonists. North convinced Parliament to drop all the Townshend duties except the tax on tea. Theadministrative and enforcement provisions under the Townshend Acts—the American Board of CustomsCommissioners and the vice-admiralty courts—remained in place.

To those who had protested the Townshend Acts for several years, the partial repeal appeared to be amajor victory. For a second time, colonists had rescued liberty from an unconstitutional parliamentarymeasure. The hated British troops in Boston departed. The consumption of British goods skyrocketed afterthe partial repeal, an indication of the American colonists’ desire for the items linking them to the Empire.

5.4 The Destruction of the Tea and the Coercive Acts

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the socio-political environment in the colonies in the early 1770s• Explain the purpose of the Tea Act of 1773 and discuss colonial reactions to it• Identify and describe the Coercive Acts

The Tea Act of 1773 triggered a reaction with far more significant consequences than either the 1765 StampAct or the 1767 Townshend Acts. Colonists who had joined in protest against those earlier acts renewedtheir efforts in 1773. They understood that Parliament had again asserted its right to impose taxes withoutrepresentation, and they feared the Tea Act was designed to seduce them into conceding this importantprinciple by lowering the price of tea to the point that colonists might abandon their scruples. They alsodeeply resented the East India Company’s monopoly on the sale of tea in the American colonies; thisresentment sprang from the knowledge that some members of Parliament had invested heavily in thecompany.

SMOLDERING RESENTMENTEven after the partial repeal of the Townshend duties, however, suspicion of Parliament’s intentionsremained high. This was especially true in port cities like Boston and New York, where British customsagents were a daily irritant and reminder of British power. In public houses and squares, people metand discussed politics. Philosopher John Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, published almost a centuryearlier, influenced political thought about the role of government to protect life, liberty, and property. TheSons of Liberty issued propaganda ensuring that colonists remained aware when Parliament overreacheditself.

Violence continued to break out on occasion, as in 1772, when Rhode Island colonists boarded and burnedthe British revenue ship Gaspée in Narragansett Bay (Figure 5.12). Colonists had attacked or burnedBritish customs ships in the past, but after the Gaspée Affair, the British government convened a RoyalCommission of Inquiry. This Commission had the authority to remove the colonists, who were chargedwith treason, to Great Britain for trial. Some colonial protestors saw this new ability as another example ofthe overreach of British power.

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Figure 5.12 This 1883 engraving, which appeared in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, depicts the burning of theGaspée. This attack provoked the British government to convene a Royal Commission of Inquiry; some regarded theCommission as an example of excessive British power and control over the colonies.

Samuel Adams, along with Joseph Warren and James Otis, re-formed the Boston Committee ofCorrespondence, which functioned as a form of shadow government, to address the fear of Britishoverreach. Soon towns all over Massachusetts had formed their own committees, and many other coloniesfollowed suit. These committees, which had between seven and eight thousand members in all, identifiedenemies of the movement and communicated the news of the day. Sometimes they provided a versionof events that differed from royal interpretations, and slowly, the committees began to supplant royalgovernments as sources of information. They later formed the backbone of communication among thecolonies in the rebellion against the Tea Act, and eventually in the revolt against the British crown.

THE TEA ACT OF 1773Parliament did not enact the Tea Act of 1773 in order to punish the colonists, assert parliamentary power,or even raise revenues. Rather, the act was a straightforward order of economic protectionism for a Britishtea firm, the East India Company, that was on the verge of bankruptcy. In the colonies, tea was the oneremaining consumer good subject to the hated Townshend duties. Protest leaders and their followers stillavoided British tea, drinking smuggled Dutch tea as a sign of patriotism.

The Tea Act of 1773 gave the British East India Company the ability to export its tea directly to thecolonies without paying import or export duties and without using middlemen in either Great Britain orthe colonies. Even with the Townshend tax, the act would allow the East India Company to sell its tea atlower prices than the smuggled Dutch tea, thus undercutting the smuggling trade.

This act was unwelcome to those in British North America who had grown displeased with the pattern ofimperial measures. By granting a monopoly to the East India Company, the act not only cut out colonialmerchants who would otherwise sell the tea themselves; it also reduced their profits from smuggledforeign tea. These merchants were among the most powerful and influential people in the colonies, sotheir dissatisfaction carried some weight. Moreover, because the tea tax that the Townshend Acts imposedremained in place, tea had intense power to symbolize the idea of “no taxation without representation.”

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COLONIAL PROTEST: THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEAThe 1773 act reignited the worst fears among the colonists. To the Sons and Daughters of Liberty and thosewho followed them, the act appeared to be proof positive that a handful of corrupt members of Parliamentwere violating the British Constitution. Veterans of the protest movement had grown accustomed tointerpreting British actions in the worst possible light, so the 1773 act appeared to be part of a largeconspiracy against liberty.

As they had done to protest earlier acts and taxes, colonists responded to the Tea Act with a boycott. TheCommittees of Correspondence helped to coordinate resistance in all of the colonial port cities, so up anddown the East Coast, British tea-carrying ships were unable to come to shore and unload their wares. InCharlestown, Boston, Philadelphia, and New York, the equivalent of millions of dollars’ worth of tea washeld hostage, either locked in storage warehouses or rotting in the holds of ships as they were forced tosail back to Great Britain.

In Boston, Thomas Hutchinson, now the royal governor of Massachusetts, vowed that radicals like SamuelAdams would not keep the ships from unloading their cargo. He urged the merchants who would haveaccepted the tea from the ships to stand their ground and receive the tea once it had been unloaded. Whenthe Dartmouth sailed into Boston Harbor in November 1773, it had twenty days to unload its cargo of teaand pay the duty before it had to return to Great Britain. Two more ships, the Eleanor and the Beaver,followed soon after. Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty tried to keep the captains of the ships frompaying the duties and posted groups around the ships to make sure the tea would not be unloaded.

On December 16, just as the Dartmouth’s deadline approached, townspeople gathered at the Old SouthMeeting House determined to take action. From this gathering, a group of Sons of Liberty and theirfollowers approached the three ships. Some were disguised as Mohawks. Protected by a crowd ofspectators, they systematically dumped all the tea into the harbor, destroying goods worth almost $1million in today’s dollars, a very significant loss. This act soon inspired further acts of resistance up anddown the East Coast. However, not all colonists, and not even all Patriots, supported the dumping of thetea. The wholesale destruction of property shocked people on both sides of the Atlantic.

To learn more about the Boston Tea Party, explore the extensive resources in theBoston Tea Party Ships and Museum collection ( of articles, photos, and video. At the museum itself, you can boardreplicas of the Eleanor and the Beaver and experience a recreation of the dumping ofthe tea.

PARLIAMENT RESPONDS: THE COERCIVE ACTSIn London, response to the destruction of the tea was swift and strong. The violent destruction of propertyinfuriated King George III and the prime minister, Lord North (Figure 5.13), who insisted the loss berepaid. Though some American merchants put forward a proposal for restitution, the MassachusettsAssembly refused to make payments. Massachusetts’s resistance to British authority united differentfactions in Great Britain against the colonies. North had lost patience with the unruly British subjects inBoston. He declared: “The Americans have tarred and feathered your subjects, plundered your merchants,burnt your ships, denied all obedience to your laws and authority; yet so clement and so long forbearinghas our conduct been that it is incumbent on us now to take a different course. Whatever may be the

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consequences, we must risk something; if we do not, all is over.” Both Parliament and the king agreed thatMassachusetts should be forced to both pay for the tea and yield to British authority.

Figure 5.13 Lord North, seen here in Portrait of Frederick North, Lord North (1773–1774), painted by NathanielDance, was prime minister at the time of the destruction of the tea and insisted that Massachusetts make good on theloss.

In early 1774, leaders in Parliament responded with a set of four measures designed to punishMassachusetts, commonly known at the Coercive Acts. The Boston Port Bill shut down Boston Harboruntil the East India Company was repaid. The Massachusetts Government Act placed the colonialgovernment under the direct control of crown officials and made traditional town meetings subject to thegovernor’s approval. The Administration of Justice Act allowed the royal governor to unilaterally moveany trial of a crown officer out of Massachusetts, a change designed to prevent hostile Massachusetts juriesfrom deciding these cases. This act was especially infuriating to John Adams and others who emphasizedthe time-honored rule of law. They saw this part of the Coercive Acts as striking at the heart of fair andequitable justice. Finally, the Quartering Act encompassed all the colonies and allowed British troops to behoused in occupied buildings.

At the same time, Parliament also passed the Quebec Act, which expanded the boundaries of Quebecwestward and extended religious tolerance to Roman Catholics in the province. For many Protestantcolonists, especially Congregationalists in New England, this forced tolerance of Catholicism was the mostobjectionable provision of the act. Additionally, expanding the boundaries of Quebec raised troublingquestions for many colonists who eyed the West, hoping to expand the boundaries of their provinces. TheQuebec Act appeared gratuitous, a slap in the face to colonists already angered by the Coercive Acts.

American Patriots renamed the Coercive and Quebec measures the Intolerable Acts. Some in Londonalso thought the acts went too far; see the cartoon “The Able Doctor, or America Swallowing the BitterDraught” (Figure 5.14) for one British view of what Parliament was doing to the colonies. Meanwhile,punishments designed to hurt only one colony (Massachusetts, in this case) had the effect of mobilizingall the colonies to its side. The Committees of Correspondence had already been active in coordinating anapproach to the Tea Act. Now the talk would turn to these new, intolerable assaults on the colonists’ rightsas British subjects.

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Figure 5.14 The artist of “The Able Doctor, or America Swallowing the Bitter Draught” (London Magazine, May 1,1774) targets select members of Parliament as the perpetrators of a devilish scheme to overturn the constitution; thisis why Mother Britannia weeps. Note that this cartoon came from a British publication; Great Britain was not united insupport of Parliament’s policies toward the American colonies.

5.5 Disaffection: The First Continental Congress and AmericanIdentity

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the state of affairs between the colonies and the home government in 1774• Explain the purpose and results of the First Continental Congress

Disaffection—the loss of affection toward the home government—had reached new levels by 1774. Manycolonists viewed the Intolerable Acts as a turning point; they now felt they had to take action. The resultwas the First Continental Congress, a direct challenge to Lord North and British authority in the colonies.Still, it would be a mistake to assume there was a groundswell of support for separating from the BritishEmpire and creating a new, independent nation. Strong ties still bound the Empire together, and colonistsdid not agree about the proper response. Loyalists tended to be property holders, established residentswho feared the loss of their property. To them the protests seemed to promise nothing but mob rule, andthe violence and disorder they provoked were shocking. On both sides of the Atlantic, opinions varied.

After the passage of the Intolerable Acts in 1774, the Committees of Correspondence and the Sons ofLiberty went straight to work, spreading warnings about how the acts would affect the liberty of allcolonists, not just urban merchants and laborers. The Massachusetts Government Act had shut down thecolonial government there, but resistance-minded colonists began meeting in extralegal assemblies. One ofthese assemblies, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, passed the Suffolk Resolves in September 1774,which laid out a plan of resistance to the Intolerable Acts. Meanwhile, the First Continental Congress wasconvening to discuss how to respond to the acts themselves.

The First Continental Congress was made up of elected representatives of twelve of the thirteen Americancolonies. (Georgia’s royal governor blocked the move to send representatives from that colony, anindication of the continued strength of the royal government despite the crisis.) The representatives metin Philadelphia from September 5 through October 26, 1774, and at first they did not agree at all about theappropriate response to the Intolerable Acts. Joseph Galloway of Pennsylvania argued for a conciliatoryapproach; he proposed that an elected Grand Council in America, like the Parliament in Great Britain,

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should be paired with a royally appointed President General, who would represent the authority of theCrown. More radical factions argued for a move toward separation from the Crown.

In the end, Paul Revere rode from Massachusetts to Philadelphia with the Suffolk Resolves, which becamethe basis of the Declaration and Resolves of the First Continental Congress. In the Declaration andResolves, adopted on October 14, the colonists demanded the repeal of all repressive acts passed since 1773and agreed to a non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumption pact against all British goodsuntil the acts were repealed. In the “Petition of Congress to the King” on October 24, the delegates adopteda further recommendation of the Suffolk Resolves and proposed that the colonies raise and regulate theirown militias.

The representatives at the First Continental Congress created a Continental Association to ensure that thefull boycott was enforced across all the colonies. The Continental Association served as an umbrella groupfor colonial and local committees of observation and inspection. By taking these steps, the First ContinentalCongress established a governing network in opposition to royal authority.

Visit the Massachusetts Historical Society ( to see a digitized copy and read the transcript of the First ContinentalCongress’s petition to King George.

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The First List of Un-American ActivitiesIn her book Toward A More Perfect Union: Virtue and the Formation of American Republics, historianAnn Fairfax Withington explores actions the delegates to the First Continental Congress took during theweeks they were together. Along with their efforts to bring about the repeal of the Intolerable Acts, thedelegates also banned certain activities they believed would undermine their fight against what they sawas British corruption.

In particular, the delegates prohibited horse races, cockfights, the theater, and elaborate funerals. Thereasons for these prohibitions provide insight into the state of affairs in 1774. Both horse races andcockfights encouraged gambling and, for the delegates, gambling threatened to prevent the unity ofaction and purpose they desired. In addition, cockfighting appeared immoral and corrupt because theroosters were fitted with razors and fought to the death (Figure 5.15).

Figure 5.15 Cockfights, as depicted in The Cockpit (1759) by British artist and engraver WilliamHogarth, were among the entertainments the First Continental Congress sought to outlaw, consideringthem un-American.

The ban on the theater aimed to do away with another corrupt British practice. Critics had long believedthat theatrical performances drained money from working people. Moreover, they argued, theatergoerslearned to lie and deceive from what they saw on stage. The delegates felt banning the theater woulddemonstrate their resolve to act honestly and without pretence in their fight against corruption.

Finally, eighteenth-century mourning practices often required lavish spending on luxury items and eventhe employment of professional mourners who, for a price, would shed tears at the grave. Prohibitingthese practices reflected the idea that luxury bred corruption, and the First Continental Congress wantedto demonstrate that the colonists would do without British vices. Congress emphasized the need to befrugal and self-sufficient when confronted with corruption.

The First Continental Congress banned all four activities—horse races, cockfights, the theater, andelaborate funerals—and entrusted the Continental Association with enforcement. Rejecting what theysaw as corruption coming from Great Britain, the delegates were also identifying themselves as standingapart from their British relatives. They cast themselves as virtuous defenders of liberty against a corruptParliament.

In the Declaration and Resolves and the Petition of Congress to the King, the delegates to the FirstContinental Congress refer to George III as “Most Gracious Sovereign” and to themselves as “inhabitants

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of the English colonies in North America” or “inhabitants of British America,” indicating that they stillconsidered themselves British subjects of the king, not American citizens. At the same time, however, theywere slowly moving away from British authority, creating their own de facto government in the FirstContinental Congress. One of the provisions of the Congress was that it meet again in one year to mark itsprogress; the Congress was becoming an elected government.

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Boston Massacre

Coercive Acts

Committees of Correspondence

Daughters of Liberty

direct tax

indirect tax

Intolerable Acts


Massachusetts Circular

no taxation without representation

non-importation movement

Proclamation Line

Sons of Liberty

Suffolk Resolves

vice-admiralty courts

Key Terms

a confrontation between a crowd of Bostonians and British soldiers on March 5, 1770,which resulted in the deaths of five people, including Crispus Attucks, the first official casualty in the warfor independence

four acts (Administration of Justice Act, Massachusetts Government Act, Port Bill,Quartering Act) that Lord North passed to punish Massachusetts for destroying the tea and refusing topay for the damage

colonial extralegal shadow governments that convened to coordinateplans of resistance against the British

well-born British colonial women who led a non-importation movement againstBritish goods

a tax that consumers pay directly, rather than through merchants’ higher prices

a tax imposed on businesses, rather than directly on consumers

the name American Patriots gave to the Coercive Acts and the Quebec Act

colonists in America who were loyal to Great Britain

a letter penned by Son of Liberty Samuel Adams that laid out theunconstitutionality of taxation without representation and encouraged the other colonies to boycottBritish goods

the principle, first articulated in the Virginia Stamp Act Resolutions,that the colonists needed to be represented in Parliament if they were to be taxed

a widespread colonial boycott of British goods

a line along the Appalachian Mountains, imposed by the Proclamation of 1763, westof which British colonists could not settle

artisans, shopkeepers, and small-time merchants who opposed the Stamp Act andconsidered themselves British patriots

a Massachusetts plan of resistance to the Intolerable Acts that formed the basis of theeventual plan adopted by the First Continental Congress for resisting the British, including the arming ofmilitias and the adoption of a widespread non-importation, non-exportation, and non-consumptionagreement

British royal courts without juries that settled disputes occurring at sea

Summary5.1 Confronting the National Debt: The Aftermath of the French and Indian WarThe British Empire had gained supremacy in North America with its victory over the French in 1763.Almost all of the North American territory east of the Mississippi fell under Great Britain’s control, andBritish leaders took this opportunity to try to create a more coherent and unified empire after decades oflax oversight. Victory over the French had proved very costly, and the British government attempted tobetter regulate their expanded empire in North America. The initial steps the British took in 1763 and 1764

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raised suspicions among some colonists about the intent of the home government. These suspicions wouldgrow and swell over the coming years.

5.2 The Stamp Act and the Sons and Daughters of LibertyThough Parliament designed the 1765 Stamp Act to deal with the financial crisis in the Empire, it hadunintended consequences. Outrage over the act created a degree of unity among otherwise unconnectedAmerican colonists, giving them a chance to act together both politically and socially. The crisis of theStamp Act allowed colonists to loudly proclaim their identity as defenders of British liberty. With therepeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, liberty-loving subjects of the king celebrated what they viewed as avictory.

5.3 The Townshend Acts and Colonial ProtestLike the Stamp Act in 1765, the Townshend Acts led many colonists to work together against whatthey perceived to be an unconstitutional measure, generating the second major crisis in British ColonialAmerica. The experience of resisting the Townshend Acts provided another shared experience amongcolonists from diverse regions and backgrounds, while the partial repeal convinced many that liberty hadonce again been defended. Nonetheless, Great Britain’s debt crisis still had not been solved.

5.4 The Destruction of the Tea and the Coercive ActsThe colonial rejection of the Tea Act, especially the destruction of the tea in Boston Harbor, recast thedecade-long argument between British colonists and the home government as an intolerable conspiracyagainst liberty and an excessive overreach of parliamentary power. The Coercive Acts were punitive innature, awakening the worst fears of otherwise loyal members of the British Empire in America.

5.5 Disaffection: The First Continental Congress and American IdentityThe First Continental Congress, which comprised elected representatives from twelve of the thirteenAmerican colonies, represented a direct challenge to British authority. In its Declaration and Resolves,colonists demanded the repeal of all repressive acts passed since 1773. The delegates also recommendedthat the colonies raise militias, lest the British respond to the Congress’s proposed boycott of British goodswith force. While the colonists still considered themselves British subjects, they were slowly retreatingfrom British authority, creating their own de facto government via the First Continental Congress.

Review Questions1. Which of the following was a cause of theBritish National Debt in 1763?

A. drought in Great BritainB. the French and Indian WarC. the continued British military presence in

the American coloniesD. both B and C

2. What was the main purpose of the Sugar Act of1764?

A. It raised taxes on sugar.B. It raised taxes on molasses.

C. It strengthened enforcement of molassessmuggling laws.

D. It required colonists to purchase only sugardistilled in Great Britain.

3. What did British colonists find so onerousabout the acts that Prime Minister Grenvillepassed?

4. Which of the following was not a goal of theStamp Act?

A. to gain control over the colonists

Chapter 5 Imperial Reforms and Colonial Protests, 1763-1774 153

B. to raise revenue for British troops stationedin the colonies

C. to raise revenue to pay off British debt fromthe French and Indian War

D. to declare null and void any laws thecolonies had passed to govern and taxthemselves

5. For which of the following activities were theSons of Liberty responsible?

A. the Stamp Act CongressB. the hanging and beheading of a stamp

commissioner in effigyC. the massacre of Conestoga in PennsylvaniaD. the introduction of the Virginia Stamp Act


6. Which of the following was not one of the goalsof the Townshend Acts?

A. higher taxesB. greater colonial unityC. greater British control over the coloniesD. reduced power of the colonial governments

7. Which event was most responsible for thecolonies’ endorsement of Samuel Adams’sMassachusetts Circular?

A. the Townshend DutiesB. the Indemnity ActC. the Boston MassacreD. Lord Hillsborough’s threat to dissolve the

colonial assemblies that endorsed the letter

8. What factors contributed to the BostonMassacre?

9. Which of the following is true of the Gaspéeaffair?

A. Colonists believed that the British responserepresented an overreach of power.

B. It was the first time colonists attacked arevenue ship.

C. It was the occasion of the first official deathin the war for independence.

D. The ship’s owner, John Hancock, was arespectable Boston merchant.

10. What was the purpose of the Tea Act of 1773?A. to punish the colonists for their boycotting

of British teaB. to raise revenue to offset the British

national debtC. to help revive the struggling East India

CompanyD. to pay the salaries of royal appointees

11. What was the significance of the Committeesof Correspondence?

12. Which of the following was decided at theFirst Continental Congress?

A. to declare war on Great BritainB. to boycott all British goods and prepare for

possible military actionC. to offer a conciliatory treaty to Great BritainD. to pay for the tea that was dumped in

Boston Harbor

13. Which colony provided the basis for theDeclarations and Resolves?

A. MassachusettsB. PhiladelphiaC. Rhode IslandD. New York

Critical Thinking Questions14. Was reconciliation between the American colonies and Great Britain possible in 1774? Why or whynot?

15. Look again at the painting that opened this chapter: The Bostonians Paying the Excise-man, or Tarringand Feathering (Figure 5.1). How does this painting represent the relationship between Great Britain andthe American colonies in the years from 1763 to 1774?

16. Why did the colonists react so much more strongly to the Stamp Act than to the Sugar Act? How didthe principles that the Stamp Act raised continue to provide points of contention between colonists andthe British government?

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17. History is filled with unintended consequences. How do the British government’s attempts to controland regulate the colonies during this tumultuous era provide a case in point? How did the aims of theBritish measure up against the results of their actions?

18. What evidence indicates that colonists continued to think of themselves as British subjects throughoutthis era? What evidence suggests that colonists were beginning to forge a separate, collective “American”identity? How would you explain this shift?

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America's War for Independence,1775-1783

Figure 6.1 This famous 1819 painting by John Trumbull shows members of the committee entrusted with draftingthe Declaration of Independence presenting their work to the Continental Congress in 1776. Note the British flags onthe wall. Separating from the British Empire proved to be very difficult as the colonies and the Empire were linkedwith strong cultural, historical, and economic bonds forged over several generations.

Chapter Outline6.1 Britain’s Law-and-Order Strategy and Its Consequences6.2 The Early Years of the Revolution6.3 War in the South6.4 Identity during the American Revolution

IntroductionBy the 1770s, Great Britain ruled a vast empire, with its American colonies producing useful raw materialsand profitably consuming British goods. From Britain’s perspective, it was inconceivable that the colonieswould wage a successful war for independence; in 1776, they appeared weak and disorganized, no matchfor the Empire. Yet, although the Revolutionary War did indeed drag on for eight years, in 1783, thethirteen colonies, now the United States, ultimately prevailed against the British.

The Revolution succeeded because colonists from diverse economic and social backgrounds united in theiropposition to Great Britain. Although thousands of colonists remained loyal to the crown and many otherspreferred to remain neutral, a sense of community against a common enemy prevailed among Patriots.The signing of the Declaration of Independence (Figure 6.1) exemplifies the spirit of that common cause.Representatives asserted: “That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and IndependentStates; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, . . . And for the support of thisDeclaration, . . . we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

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6.1 Britain’s Law-and-Order Strategy and Its Consequences

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain how Great Britain’s response to the destruction of a British shipment of tea in

Boston Harbor in 1773 set the stage for the Revolution• Describe the beginnings of the American Revolution

Great Britain pursued a policy of law and order when dealing with the crises in the colonies in the late1760s and 1770s. Relations between the British and many American Patriots worsened over the decade,culminating in an unruly mob destroying a fortune in tea by dumping it into Boston Harbor in December1773 as a protest against British tax laws. The harsh British response to this act in 1774, which includedsending British troops to Boston and closing Boston Harbor, caused tensions and resentments to escalatefurther. The British tried to disarm the insurgents in Massachusetts by confiscating their weapons andammunition and arresting the leaders of the patriotic movement. However, this effort faltered on April 19,when Massachusetts militias and British troops fired on each other as British troops marched to Lexingtonand Concord, an event immortalized by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson as the “shot heard round the world.”The American Revolution had begun.

ON THE EVE OF REVOLUTIONThe decade from 1763 to 1774 was a difficult one for the British Empire. Although Great Britain haddefeated the French in the French and Indian War, the debt from that conflict remained a stubborn andseemingly unsolvable problem for both Great Britain and the colonies. Great Britain tried various methodsof raising revenue on both sides of the Atlantic to manage the enormous debt, including instituting a taxon tea and other goods sold to the colonies by British companies, but many subjects resisted these taxes. Inthe colonies, Patriot groups like the Sons of Liberty led boycotts of British goods and took violent measuresthat stymied British officials.

Boston proved to be the epicenter of protest. In December 1773, a group of Patriots protested the Tea Actpassed that year—which, among other provisions, gave the East India Company a monopoly on tea—by

Figure 6.2

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boarding British tea ships docked in Boston Harbor and dumping tea worth over $1 million (in currentprices) into the water. The destruction of the tea radically escalated the crisis between Great Britain andthe American colonies. When the Massachusetts Assembly refused to pay for the tea, Parliament enacteda series of laws called the Coercive Acts, which some colonists called the Intolerable Acts. Parliamentdesigned these laws, which closed the port of Boston, limited the meetings of the colonial assembly, anddisbanded all town meetings, to punish Massachusetts and bring the colony into line. However, manyBritish Americans in other colonies were troubled and angered by Parliament’s response to Massachusetts.In September and October 1774, all the colonies except Georgia participated in the First ContinentalCongress in Philadelphia. The Congress advocated a boycott of all British goods and established theContinental Association to enforce local adherence to the boycott. The Association supplanted royalcontrol and shaped resistance to Great Britain.


Joining the BoycottMany British colonists in Virginia, as in the other colonies, disapproved of the destruction of the teain Boston Harbor. However, after the passage of the Coercive Acts, the Virginia House of Burgessesdeclared its solidarity with Massachusetts by encouraging Virginians to observe a day of fasting andprayer on May 24 in sympathy with the people of Boston. Almost immediately thereafter, Virginia’scolonial governor dissolved the House of Burgesses, but many of its members met again in secret onMay 30 and adopted a resolution stating that “the Colony of Virginia will concur with the other Colonies insuch Measures as shall be judged most effectual for the preservation of the Common Rights and Libertyof British America.”

After the First Continental Congress in Philadelphia, Virginia’s Committee of Safety ensured that allmerchants signed the non-importation agreements that the Congress had proposed. This British cartoon(Figure 6.3) shows a Virginian signing the Continental Association boycott agreement.

Figure 6.3 In “The Alternative of Williams-Burg” (1775), a merchant has to sign a non-importationagreement or risk being covered with the tar and feathers suspended behind him.

Note the tar and feathers hanging from the gallows in the background of this image and the demeanor ofthe people surrounding the signer. What is the message of this engraving? Where are the sympathies ofthe artist? What is the meaning of the title “The Alternative of Williams-Burg?”

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In an effort to restore law and order in Boston, the British dispatched General Thomas Gage to theNew England seaport. He arrived in Boston in May 1774 as the new royal governor of the Province ofMassachusetts, accompanied by several regiments of British troops. As in 1768, the British again occupiedthe town. Massachusetts delegates met in a Provincial Congress and published the Suffolk Resolves, whichofficially rejected the Coercive Acts and called for the raising of colonial militias to take military action ifneeded. The Suffolk Resolves signaled the overthrow of the royal government in Massachusetts.

Both the British and the rebels in New England began to prepare for conflict by turning their attention tosupplies of weapons and gunpowder. General Gage stationed thirty-five hundred troops in Boston, andfrom there he ordered periodic raids on towns where guns and gunpowder were stockpiled, hoping toimpose law and order by seizing them. As Boston became the headquarters of British military operations,many residents fled the city.

Gage’s actions led to the formation of local rebel militias that were able to mobilize in a minute’s time.These minutemen, many of whom were veterans of the French and Indian War, played an importantrole in the war for independence. In one instance, General Gage seized munitions in Cambridge andCharlestown, but when he arrived to do the same in Salem, his troops were met by a large crowd ofminutemen and had to leave empty-handed. In New Hampshire, minutemen took over Fort William andMary and confiscated weapons and cannons there. New England readied for war.

THE OUTBREAK OF FIGHTINGThroughout late 1774 and into 1775, tensions in New England continued to mount. General Gage knewthat a powder magazine was stored in Concord, Massachusetts, and on April 19, 1775, he ordered troopsto seize these munitions. Instructions from London called for the arrest of rebel leaders Samuel Adams andJohn Hancock. Hoping for secrecy, his troops left Boston under cover of darkness, but riders from Bostonlet the militias know of the British plans. (Paul Revere was one of these riders, but the British capturedhim and he never finished his ride. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow memorialized Revere in his 1860 poem,“Paul Revere’s Ride,” incorrectly implying that he made it all the way to Concord.) Minutemen met theBritish troops and skirmished with them, first at Lexington and then at Concord (Figure 6.4). The Britishretreated to Boston, enduring ambushes from several other militias along the way. Over four thousandmilitiamen took part in these skirmishes with British soldiers. Seventy-three British soldiers and forty-nine Patriots died during the British retreat to Boston. The famous confrontation is the basis for Emerson’s“Concord Hymn” (1836), which begins with the description of the “shot heard round the world.” Althoughpropagandists on both sides pointed fingers, it remains unclear who fired that shot.

Figure 6.4 Amos Doolittle was an American printmaker who volunteered to fight against the British. His engravingsof the battles of Lexington and Concord—such as this detail from The Battle of Lexington, April 19th 1775—are theonly contemporary American visual records of the events there.

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After the battles of Lexington and Concord, New England fully mobilized for war. Thousands of militiasfrom towns throughout New England marched to Boston, and soon the city was besieged by a sea of rebelforces (Figure 6.5). In May 1775, Ethan Allen and Colonel Benedict Arnold led a group of rebels againstFort Ticonderoga in New York. They succeeded in capturing the fort, and cannons from Ticonderoga werebrought to Massachusetts and used to bolster the Siege of Boston.

Figure 6.5 This 1779 map shows details of the British and Patriot troops in and around Boston, Massachusetts, atthe beginning of the war.

In June, General Gage resolved to take Breed’s Hill and Bunker Hill, the high ground across the CharlesRiver from Boston, a strategic site that gave the rebel militias an advantage since they could train theircannons on the British. In the Battle of Bunker Hill (Figure 6.6), on June 17, the British launched threeassaults on the hills, gaining control only after the rebels ran out of ammunition. British losses were veryhigh—over two hundred were killed and eight hundred wounded—and, despite his victory, General Gagewas unable to break the colonial forces’ siege of the city. In August, King George III declared the coloniesto be in a state of rebellion. Parliament and many in Great Britain agreed with their king. Meanwhile, theBritish forces in Boston found themselves in a terrible predicament, isolated in the city and with no controlover the countryside.

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Figure 6.6 The British cartoon “Bunkers Hill or America’s Head Dress” (a) depicts the initial rebellion as an elaboratecolonial coiffure. The illustration pokes fun at both the colonial rebellion and the overdone hairstyles for women thathad made their way from France and Britain to the American colonies. Despite gaining control of the high groundafter the colonial militias ran out of ammunition, General Thomas Gage (b), shown here in a painting made in1768–1769 by John Singleton Copley, was unable to break the siege of the city.

In the end, General George Washington, commander in chief of the Continental Army since June 15, 1775,used the Fort Ticonderoga cannons to force the evacuation of the British from Boston. Washington hadpositioned these cannons on the hills overlooking both the fortified positions of the British and BostonHarbor, where the British supply ships were anchored. The British could not return fire on the colonialpositions because they could not elevate their cannons. They soon realized that they were in an untenableposition and had to withdraw from Boston. On March 17, 1776, the British evacuated their troops toHalifax, Nova Scotia, ending the nearly year-long siege.

By the time the British withdrew from Boston, fighting had broken out in other colonies as well. In May1775, Mecklenburg County in North Carolina issued the Mecklenburg Resolves, stating that a rebellionagainst Great Britain had begun, that colonists did not owe any further allegiance to Great Britain, andthat governing authority had now passed to the Continental Congress. The resolves also called upon theformation of militias to be under the control of the Continental Congress. Loyalists and Patriots clashed inNorth Carolina in February 1776 at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.

In Virginia, the royal governor, Lord Dunmore, raised Loyalist forces to combat the rebel colonists and alsotried to use the large slave population to put down the rebellion. In November 1775, he issued a decree,known as Dunmore’s Proclamation, promising freedom to slaves and indentured servants of rebels whoremained loyal to the king and who pledged to fight with the Loyalists against the insurgents. Dunmore’sProclamation exposed serious problems for both the Patriot cause and for the British. In order for theBritish to put down the rebellion, they needed the support of Virginia’s landowners, many of whomowned slaves. (While Patriot slaveholders in Virginia and elsewhere proclaimed they acted in defense ofliberty, they kept thousands in bondage, a fact the British decided to exploit.) Although a number of slavesdid join Dunmore’s side, the proclamation had the unintended effect of galvanizing Patriot resistance toBritain. From the rebels’ point of view, the British looked to deprive them of their slave property and incitea race war. Slaveholders feared a slave uprising and increased their commitment to the cause against GreatBritain, calling for independence. Dunmore fled Virginia in 1776.

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COMMON SENSEWith the events of 1775 fresh in their minds, many colonists reached the conclusion in 1776 that thetime had come to secede from the Empire and declare independence. Over the past ten years, thesecolonists had argued that they deserved the same rights as Englishmen enjoyed in Great Britain, only tofind themselves relegated to an intolerable subservient status in the Empire. The groundswell of supportfor their cause of independence in 1776 also owed much to the appearance of an anonymous pamphlet,first published in January 1776, entitled Common Sense. Thomas Paine, who had emigrated from Englandto Philadelphia in 1774, was the author. Arguably the most radical pamphlet of the revolutionary era,Common Sense made a powerful argument for independence.

Paine’s pamphlet rejected the monarchy, calling King George III a “royal brute” and questioning the rightof an island (England) to rule over America. In this way, Paine helped to channel colonial discontenttoward the king himself and not, as had been the case, toward the British Parliament—a bold movethat signaled the desire to create a new political order disavowing monarchy entirely. He argued for thecreation of an American republic, a state without a king, and extolled the blessings of republicanism,a political philosophy that held that elected representatives, not a hereditary monarch, should governstates. The vision of an American republic put forward by Paine included the idea of popular sovereignty:citizens in the republic would determine who would represent them, and decide other issues, on the basisof majority rule. Republicanism also served as a social philosophy guiding the conduct of the Patriots intheir struggle against the British Empire. It demanded adherence to a code of virtue, placing the publicgood and community above narrow self-interest.

Paine wrote Common Sense (Figure 6.7) in simple, direct language aimed at ordinary people, not just thelearned elite. The pamphlet proved immensely popular and was soon available in all thirteen colonies,where it helped convince many to reject monarchy and the British Empire in favor of independence and arepublican form of government.

Figure 6.7 Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (a) helped convince many colonists of the need for independence fromGreat Britain. Paine, shown here in a portrait by Laurent Dabos (b), was a political activist and revolutionary bestknown for his writings on both the American and French Revolutions.

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THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCEIn the summer of 1776, the Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and agreed to sever ties with GreatBritain. Virginian Thomas Jefferson and John Adams of Massachusetts, with the support of the Congress,articulated the justification for liberty in the Declaration of Independence (Figure 6.8). The Declaration,written primarily by Jefferson, included a long list of grievances against King George III and laid outthe foundation of American government as a republic in which the consent of the governed would be ofparamount importance.

Figure 6.8 The Dunlap Broadsides, one of which is shown here, are considered the first published copies of theDeclaration of Independence. This one was printed on July 4, 1776.

The preamble to the Declaration began with a statement of Enlightenment principles about universalhuman rights and values: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, thatthey are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, andthe pursuit of Happiness—That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, derivingtheir just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomesdestructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.” In addition to this statement ofprinciples, the document served another purpose: Patriot leaders sent copies to France and Spain in hopesof winning their support and aid in the contest against Great Britain. They understood how importantforeign recognition and aid would be to the creation of a new and independent nation.

The Declaration of Independence has since had a global impact, serving as the basis for many subsequentmovements to gain independence from other colonial powers. It is part of America’s civil religion, andthousands of people each year make pilgrimages to see the original document in Washington, DC.

The Declaration also reveals a fundamental contradiction of the American Revolution: the conflict betweenthe existence of slavery and the idea that “all men are created equal.” One-fifth of the population in 1776was enslaved, and at the time he drafted the Declaration, Jefferson himself owned more than one hundredslaves. Further, the Declaration framed equality as existing only among white men; women and nonwhiteswere entirely left out of a document that referred to native peoples as “merciless Indian savages” whoindiscriminately killed men, women, and children. Nonetheless, the promise of equality for all planted theseeds for future struggles waged by slaves, women, and many others to bring about its full realization.Much of American history is the story of the slow realization of the promise of equality expressed in theDeclaration of Independence.

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Visit Digital History ( to view “TheFemale Combatants.” In this 1776 engraving by an anonymous artist, Great Britain isdepicted on the left as a staid, stern matron, while America, on the right, is shown as ahalf-dressed American Indian. Why do you think the artist depicted the two opposingsides this way?

6.2 The Early Years of the Revolution

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the British and American strategies of 1776 through 1778• Identify the key battles of the early years of the Revolution

After the British quit Boston, they slowly adopted a strategy to isolate New England from the rest ofthe colonies and force the insurgents in that region into submission, believing that doing so would endthe conflict. At first, British forces focused on taking the principal colonial centers. They began by easilycapturing New York City in 1776. The following year, they took over the American capital of Philadelphia.The larger British effort to isolate New England was implemented in 1777. That effort ultimately failedwhen the British surrendered a force of over five thousand to the Americans in the fall of 1777 at the Battleof Saratoga.

The major campaigns over the next several years took place in the middle colonies of New York, NewJersey, and Pennsylvania, whose populations were sharply divided between Loyalists and Patriots.Revolutionaries faced many hardships as British superiority on the battlefield became evident and thedifficulty of funding the war caused strains.

THE BRITISH STRATEGY IN THE MIDDLE COLONIESAfter evacuating Boston in March 1776, British forces sailed to Nova Scotia to regroup. They devised astrategy, successfully implemented in 1776, to take New York City. The following year, they planned toend the rebellion by cutting New England off from the rest of the colonies and starving it into submission.Three British armies were to move simultaneously from New York City, Montreal, and Fort Oswego toconverge along the Hudson River; British control of that natural boundary would isolate New England.

General William Howe (Figure 6.9), commander in chief of the British forces in America, amassedthirty-two thousand troops on Staten Island in June and July 1776. His brother, Admiral Richard Howe,controlled New York Harbor. Command of New York City and the Hudson River was their goal. InAugust 1776, General Howe landed his forces on Long Island and easily routed the American ContinentalArmy there in the Battle of Long Island (August 27). The Americans were outnumbered and lackedboth military experience and discipline. Sensing victory, General and Admiral Howe arranged a peaceconference in September 1776, where Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and South Carolinian John Rutledgerepresented the Continental Congress. Despite the Howes’ hopes, however, the Americans demandedrecognition of their independence, which the Howes were not authorized to grant, and the conferencedisbanded.

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Figure 6.9 General William Howe, shown here in a 1777 portrait by Richard Purcell, led British forces in America inthe first years of the war.

On September 16, 1776, George Washington’s forces held up against the British at the Battle of HarlemHeights. This important American military achievement, a key reversal after the disaster on Long Island,occurred as most of Washington’s forces retreated to New Jersey. A few weeks later, on October 28,General Howe’s forces defeated Washington’s at the Battle of White Plains and New York City fell tothe British. For the next seven years, the British made the city the headquarters for their military effortsto defeat the rebellion, which included raids on surrounding areas. In 1777, the British burned Danbury,Connecticut, and in July 1779, they set fire to homes in Fairfield and Norwalk. They held Americanprisoners aboard ships in the waters around New York City; the death toll was shocking, with thousandsperishing in the holds. Meanwhile, New York City served as a haven for Loyalists who disagreed with theeffort to break away from the Empire and establish an American republic.

GEORGE WASHINGTON AND THE CONTINENTAL ARMYWhen the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in May 1775, members approved the creationof a professional Continental Army with Washington as commander in chief (Figure 6.10). Althoughsixteen thousand volunteers enlisted, it took several years for the Continental Army to become a trulyprofessional force. In 1775 and 1776, militias still composed the bulk of the Patriots’ armed forces, andthese soldiers returned home after the summer fighting season, drastically reducing the army’s strength.

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Figure 6.10 This 1775 etching shows George Washington taking command of the Continental Army at Cambridge,Massachusetts, just two weeks after his appointment by the Continental Congress.

That changed in late 1776 and early 1777, when Washington broke with conventional eighteenth-centurymilitary tactics that called for fighting in the summer months only. Intent on raising revolutionary moraleafter the British captured New York City, he launched surprise strikes against British forces in theirwinter quarters. In Trenton, New Jersey, he led his soldiers across the Delaware River and surprisedan encampment of Hessians, German mercenaries hired by Great Britain to put down the Americanrebellion. Beginning the night of December 25, 1776, and continuing into the early hours of December26, Washington moved on Trenton where the Hessians were encamped. Maintaining the element ofsurprise by attacking at Christmastime, he defeated them, taking over nine hundred captive. On January3, 1777, Washington achieved another much-needed victory at the Battle of Princeton. He again broke witheighteenth-century military protocol by attacking unexpectedly after the fighting season had ended.

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Thomas Paine on “The American Crisis”During the American Revolution, following the publication of Common Sense in January 1776, ThomasPaine began a series of sixteen pamphlets known collectively as The American Crisis (Figure 6.11). Hewrote the first volume in 1776, describing the dire situation facing the revolutionaries at the end of thathard year.

Figure 6.11 Thomas Paine wrote the pamphlet The American Crisis, the first page of which is shownhere, in 1776.

These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves thelove and thanks of man and woman. . . . Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, hasdeclared that she has a right (not only to tax) but “to bind us in all cases whatsoever,” andif being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery uponearth. Even the expression is impious; for so unlimited a power can belong only to God. . . .I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state of our affairs; andshall begin with asking the following question, Why is it that the enemy have left the NewEngland provinces, and made these middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: NewEngland is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the cry againstthese men, and used numberless arguments to show them their danger, but it will not do tosacrifice a world either to their folly or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in whicheither they or we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. . . .By perseverance and fortitude we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardiceand submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils—a ravaged country—a depopulatedcity—habitations without safety, and slavery without hope—our homes turned into barracksand bawdy-houses for Hessians, and a future race to provide for, whose fathers we shalldoubt of. Look on this picture and weep over it! and if there yet remains one thoughtlesswretch who believes it not, let him suffer it unlamented.—Thomas Paine, “The American Crisis,” December 23, 1776

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What topics does Paine address in this pamphlet? What was his purpose in writing? What does he writeabout Tories (Loyalists), and why does he consider them a problem?

Visit Wikisource ( to read the rest of ThomasPaine’s first American Crisis pamphlet, as well as the other fifteen in the series.

PHILADELPHIA AND SARATOGA: BRITISH AND AMERICAN VICTORIESIn August 1777, General Howe brought fifteen thousand British troops to Chesapeake Bay as part ofhis plan to take Philadelphia, where the Continental Congress met. That fall, the British defeatedWashington’s soldiers in the Battle of Brandywine Creek and took control of Philadelphia, forcing theContinental Congress to flee. During the winter of 1777–1778, the British occupied the city, andWashington’s army camped at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.

Washington’s winter at Valley Forge was a low point for the American forces. A lack of supplies weakenedthe men, and disease took a heavy toll. Amid the cold, hunger, and sickness, soldiers deserted in droves.On February 16, Washington wrote to George Clinton, governor of New York: “For some days past, therehas been little less than a famine in camp. A part of the army has been a week without any kind of flesh& the rest three or four days. Naked and starving as they are, we cannot enough admire the incomparablepatience and fidelity of the soldiery, that they have not been ere [before] this excited by their sufferingsto a general mutiny and dispersion.” Of eleven thousand soldiers encamped at Valley Forge, twenty-five hundred died of starvation, malnutrition, and disease. As Washington feared, nearly one hundredsoldiers deserted every week. (Desertions continued, and by 1780, Washington was executing recaptureddeserters every Saturday.) The low morale extended all the way to Congress, where some wanted toreplace Washington with a more seasoned leader.

Assistance came to Washington and his soldiers in February 1778 in the form of the Prussian soldierFriedrich Wilhelm von Steuben (Figure 6.12). Baron von Steuben was an experienced military man, andhe implemented a thorough training course for Washington’s ragtag troops. By drilling a small corpsof soldiers and then having them train others, he finally transformed the Continental Army into a forcecapable of standing up to the professional British and Hessian soldiers. His drill manual—Regulations forthe Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States—informed military practices in the United Statesfor the next several decades.

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Figure 6.12 Prussian soldier Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, shown here in a 1786 portrait by Ralph Earl, wasinstrumental in transforming Washington’s Continental Army into a professional armed force.

Explore Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben’s Revolutionary War Drill Manual( to understand how von Steuben was able totransform the Continental Army into a professional fighting force. Note the tremendousamount of precision and detail in von Steuben’s descriptions.

Meanwhile, the campaign to sever New England from the rest of the colonies had taken an unexpectedturn during the fall of 1777. The British had attempted to implement the plan, drawn up by Lord GeorgeGermain and Prime Minister Lord North, to isolate New England with the combined forces of three armies.One army, led by General John Burgoyne, would march south from Montreal. A second force, led byColonel Barry St. Leger and made up of British troops and Iroquois, would march east from Fort Oswegoon the banks of Lake Ontario. A third force, led by General Sir Henry Clinton, would march north fromNew York City. The armies would converge at Albany and effectively cut the rebellion in two by isolatingNew England. This northern campaign fell victim to competing strategies, however, as General Howe hadmeanwhile decided to take Philadelphia. His decision to capture that city siphoned off troops that wouldhave been vital to the overall success of the campaign in 1777.

The British plan to isolate New England ended in disaster. St. Leger’s efforts to bring his force of Britishregulars, Loyalist fighters, and Iroquois allies east to link up with General Burgoyne failed, and heretreated to Quebec. Burgoyne’s forces encountered ever-stiffer resistance as he made his way south fromMontreal, down Lake Champlain and the upper Hudson River corridor. Although they did capture FortTiconderoga when American forces retreated, Burgoyne’s army found themselves surrounded by a seaof colonial militias in Saratoga, New York. In the meantime, the small British force under Clinton thatleft New York City to aid Burgoyne advanced slowly up the Hudson River, failing to provide the much-needed support for the troops at Saratoga. On October 17, 1777, Burgoyne surrendered his five thousandsoldiers to the Continental Army (Figure 6.13).

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Figure 6.13 This German engraving, created by Daniel Chodowiecki in 1784, shows British soldiers laying downtheir arms before the American forces.

The American victory at the Battle of Saratoga was the major turning point in the war. This victoryconvinced the French to recognize American independence and form a military alliance with the newnation, which changed the course of the war by opening the door to badly needed military support fromFrance. Still smarting from their defeat by Britain in the Seven Years’ War, the French supplied the UnitedStates with gunpowder and money, as well as soldiers and naval forces that proved decisive in the defeatof Great Britain. The French also contributed military leaders, including the Marquis de Lafayette, whoarrived in America in 1777 as a volunteer and served as Washington’s aide-de-camp.

The war quickly became more difficult for the British, who had to fight the rebels in North America as wellas the French in the Caribbean. Following France’s lead, Spain joined the war against Great Britain in 1779,though it did not recognize American independence until 1783. The Dutch Republic also began to supportthe American revolutionaries and signed a treaty of commerce with the United States in 1782.

Great Britain’s effort to isolate New England in 1777 failed. In June 1778, the occupying British force inPhiladelphia evacuated and returned to New York City in order to better defend that city, and the Britishthen turned their attention to the southern colonies.

6.3 War in the South

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Outline the British southern strategy and its results• Describe key American victories and the end of the war• Identify the main terms of the Treaty of Paris (1783)

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By 1778, the war had turned into a stalemate. Although some in Britain, including Prime Minister LordNorth, wanted peace, King George III demanded that the colonies be brought to obedience. To breakthe deadlock, the British revised their strategy and turned their attention to the southern colonies, wherethey could expect more support from Loyalists. The southern colonies soon became the center of thefighting. The southern strategy brought the British success at first, but thanks to the leadership of GeorgeWashington and General Nathanael Greene and the crucial assistance of French forces, the ContinentalArmy defeated the British at Yorktown, effectively ending further large-scale operations during the war.

GEORGIA AND SOUTH CAROLINAThe British architect of the war strategy, Lord George Germain, believed Britain would gain the upperhand with the support of Loyalists, slaves, and Indian allies in the South, and indeed, this southernstrategy initially achieved great success. The British began their southern campaign by capturingSavannah, the capital of Georgia, in December 1778. In Georgia, they found support from thousands ofslaves who ran to the British side to escape their bondage. As the British regained political control inGeorgia, they forced the inhabitants to swear allegiance to the king and formed twenty Loyalist regiments.The Continental Congress had suggested that slaves be given freedom if they joined the Patriot armyagainst the British, but revolutionaries in Georgia and South Carolina refused to consider this proposal.Once again, the Revolution served to further divisions over race and slavery.

After taking Georgia, the British turned their attention to South Carolina. Before the Revolution, SouthCarolina had been starkly divided between the backcountry, which harbored revolutionary partisans, andthe coastal regions, where Loyalists remained a powerful force. Waves of violence rocked the backcountryfrom the late 1770s into the early 1780s. The Revolution provided an opportunity for residents to fightover their local resentments and antagonisms with murderous consequences. Revenge killings and thedestruction of property became mainstays in the savage civil war that gripped the South.

In April 1780, a British force of eight thousand soldiers besieged American forces in Charleston (Figure6.14). After six weeks of the Siege of Charleston, the British triumphed. General Benjamin Lincoln, wholed the effort for the revolutionaries, had to surrender his entire force, the largest American loss duringthe entire war. Many of the defeated Americans were placed in jails or in British prison ships anchoredin Charleston Harbor. The British established a military government in Charleston under the command ofGeneral Sir Henry Clinton. From this base, Clinton ordered General Charles Cornwallis to subdue the restof South Carolina.

Figure 6.14 This 1780 map of Charleston (a), which shows details of the Continental defenses, was probably drawnby British engineers in anticipation of the attack on the city. The Siege of Charleston was one of a series of defeatsfor the Continental forces in the South, which led the Continental Congress to place General Nathanael Greene (b),shown here in a 1783 portrait by Charles Wilson Peale, in command in late 1780. Greene led his troops to two crucialvictories.

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The disaster at Charleston led the Continental Congress to change leadership by placing General HoratioGates in charge of American forces in the South. However, General Gates fared no better than GeneralLincoln; at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina, in August 1780, Cornwallis forced General Gates toretreat into North Carolina. Camden was one of the worst disasters suffered by American armies duringthe entire Revolutionary War. Congress again changed military leadership, this time by placing GeneralNathanael Greene (Figure 6.14) in command in December 1780.

As the British had hoped, large numbers of Loyalists helped ensure the success of the southern strategy,and thousands of slaves seeking freedom arrived to aid Cornwallis’s army. However, the war turned in theAmericans’ favor in 1781. General Greene realized that to defeat Cornwallis, he did not have to win a singlebattle. So long as he remained in the field, he could continue to destroy isolated British forces. Greenetherefore made a strategic decision to divide his own troops to wage war—and the strategy worked.American forces under General Daniel Morgan decisively beat the British at the Battle of Cowpens in SouthCarolina. General Cornwallis now abandoned his strategy of defeating the backcountry rebels in SouthCarolina. Determined to destroy Greene’s army, he gave chase as Greene strategically retreated north intoNorth Carolina. At the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in March 1781, the British prevailed on the battlefieldbut suffered extensive losses, an outcome that paralleled the Battle of Bunker Hill nearly six years earlierin June 1775.

YORKTOWNIn the summer of 1781, Cornwallis moved his army to Yorktown, Virginia. He expected the Royal Navyto transport his army to New York, where he thought he would join General Sir Henry Clinton. Yorktownwas a tobacco port on a peninsula, and Cornwallis believed the British navy would be able to keep thecoast clear of rebel ships. Sensing an opportunity, a combined French and American force of sixteenthousand men swarmed the peninsula in September 1781. Washington raced south with his forces, now adisciplined army, as did the Marquis de Lafayette and the Comte de Rochambeau with their French troops.The French Admiral de Grasse sailed his naval force into Chesapeake Bay, preventing Lord Cornwallisfrom taking a seaward escape route.

In October 1781, the American forces began the battle for Yorktown, and after a siege that lasted eightdays, Lord Cornwallis capitulated on October 19 (Figure 6.15). Tradition says that during the surrenderof his troops, the British band played “The World Turned Upside Down,” a song that befitted the Empire’sunexpected reversal of fortune.

Figure 6.15 The 1820 painting above, by John Trumbull, is titled Surrender of Lord Cornwallis, but Cornwallisactually sent his general, Charles O’Hara, to perform the ceremonial surrendering of the sword. The painting depictsGeneral Benjamin Lincoln holding out his hand to receive the sword. General George Washington is in thebackground on the brown horse, since he refused to accept the sword from anyone but Cornwallis himself.

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“The World Turned Upside Down”“The World Turned Upside Down,” reputedly played during the surrender of the British at Yorktown, wasa traditional English ballad from the seventeenth century. It was also the theme of a popular British printthat circulated in the 1790s (Figure 6.16).

Figure 6.16 In many of the images in this popular print, entitled “The World Turned Upside Down orthe Folly of Man,” animals and humans have switched places. In one, children take care of their parents,while in another, the sun, moon, and stars appear below the earth.

Why do you think these images were popular in Great Britain in the decade following the RevolutionaryWar? What would these images imply to Americans?

Visit the Public Domain Review ( toexplore the images in an eighteenth-century British chapbook (a pamphlet for tracts orballads) titled “The World Turned Upside Down.” The chapbook is illustrated withwoodcuts similar to those in the popular print mentioned above.

THE TREATY OF PARISThe British defeat at Yorktown made the outcome of the war all but certain. In light of the Americanvictory, the Parliament of Great Britain voted to end further military operations against the rebels and tobegin peace negotiations. Support for the war effort had come to an end, and British military forces beganto evacuate the former American colonies in 1782. When hostilities had ended, Washington resigned ascommander in chief and returned to his Virginia home.

In April 1782, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and John Jay had begun informal peace negotiations inParis. Officials from Great Britain and the United States finalized the treaty in 1783, signing the Treaty

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of Paris (Figure 6.17) in September of that year. The treaty recognized the independence of the UnitedStates; placed the western, eastern, northern, and southern boundaries of the nation at the MississippiRiver, the Atlantic Ocean, Canada, and Florida, respectively; and gave New Englanders fishing rights inthe waters off Newfoundland. Under the terms of the treaty, individual states were encouraged to refrainfrom persecuting Loyalists and to return their confiscated property.

Figure 6.17 The last page of the Treaty of Paris, signed on September 3, 1783, contained the signatures and sealsof representatives for both the British and the Americans. From right to left, the seals pictured belong to DavidHartley, who represented Great Britain, and John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay for the Americans.

6.4 Identity during the American Revolution

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain Loyalist and Patriot sentiments• Identify different groups that participated in the Revolutionary War

The American Revolution in effect created multiple civil wars. Many of the resentments and antagonismsthat fed these conflicts predated the Revolution, and the outbreak of war acted as the catalyst they neededto burst forth. In particular, the middle colonies of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania had deeplydivided populations. Loyalty to Great Britain came in many forms, from wealthy elites who enjoyed theprewar status quo to runaway slaves who desired the freedom that the British offered.

LOYALISTSHistorians disagree on what percentage of colonists were Loyalists; estimates range from 20 percent toover 30 percent. In general, however, of British America’s population of 2.5 million, roughly one-thirdremained loyal to Great Britain, while another third committed themselves to the cause of independence.The remaining third remained apathetic, content to continue with their daily lives as best they could andpreferring not to engage in the struggle.

Many Loyalists were royal officials and merchants with extensive business ties to Great Britain, whoviewed themselves as the rightful and just defenders of the British constitution. Others simply resented

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local business and political rivals who supported the Revolution, viewing the rebels as hypocrites andschemers who selfishly used the break with the Empire to increase their fortunes. In New York’s HudsonValley, animosity among the tenants of estates owned by Revolutionary leaders turned them to the causeof King and Empire.

During the war, all the states passed confiscation acts, which gave the new revolutionary governmentsin the former colonies the right to seize Loyalist land and property. To ferret out Loyalists, revolutionarygovernments also passed laws requiring the male population to take oaths of allegiance to the new states.Those who refused lost their property and were often imprisoned or made to work for the new localrevolutionary order.

William Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s only surviving son, remained loyal to Crown and Empire andserved as royal governor of New Jersey, a post he secured with his father’s help. During the war,revolutionaries imprisoned William in Connecticut; however, he remained steadfast in his allegiance toGreat Britain and moved to England after the Revolution. He and his father never reconciled.

As many as nineteen thousand colonists served the British in the effort to put down the rebellion, andafter the Revolution, as many as 100,000 colonists left, moving to England or north to Canada rather thanstaying in the new United States (Figure 6.18). Eight thousand whites and five thousand free blacks wentto Britain. Over thirty thousand went to Canada, transforming that nation from predominately French topredominantly British. Another sizable group of Loyalists went to the British West Indies, taking theirslaves with them.

Figure 6.18 The Coming of the Loyalists, a ca. 1880 work that artist Henry Sandham created at least a century afterthe Revolution, shows Anglo-American colonists arriving by ship in New Brunswick, Canada.

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Hannah Ingraham on Removing to Nova ScotiaHannah Ingraham was eleven years old in 1783, when her Loyalist family removed from New York to Ste.Anne’s Point in the colony of Nova Scotia. Later in life, she compiled her memories of that time.

[Father] said we were to go to Nova Scotia, that a ship was ready to take us there, so wemade all haste to get ready. . . . Then on Tuesday, suddenly the house was surrounded byrebels and father was taken prisoner and carried away. . . . When morning came, they saidhe was free to go.We had five wagon loads carried down the Hudson in a sloop and then we went on board thetransport that was to bring us to Saint John. I was just eleven years old when we left our farmto come here. It was the last transport of the season and had on board all those who could notcome sooner. The first transports had come in May so the people had all the summer beforethem to get settled. . . .We lived in a tent at St. Anne’s until father got a house ready. . . . There was no floor laid,no windows, no chimney, no door, but we had a roof at least. A good fire was blazing andmother had a big loaf of bread and she boiled a kettle of water and put a good piece of butterin a pewter bowl. We toasted the bread and all sat around the bowl and ate our breakfast thatmorning and mother said: “Thank God we are no longer in dread of having shots fired throughour house. This is the sweetest meal I ever tasted for many a day.”

What do these excerpts tell you about life as a Loyalist in New York or as a transplant to Canada?

SLAVES AND INDIANSWhile some slaves who fought for the Patriot cause received their freedom, revolutionary leaders—unlikethe British—did not grant such slaves their freedom as a matter of course. Washington, the owner of morethan two hundred slaves during the Revolution, refused to let slaves serve in the army, although he didallow free blacks. (In his will, Washington did free his slaves.) In the new United States, the Revolutionlargely reinforced a racial identity based on skin color. Whiteness, now a national identity, denotedfreedom and stood as the key to power. Blackness, more than ever before, denoted servile status. Indeed,despite their class and ethnic differences, white revolutionaries stood mostly united in their hostility toboth blacks and Indians.

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Boyrereau Brinch and Boston King on the Revolutionary WarIn the Revolutionary War, some blacks, both free and enslaved, chose to fight for the Americans (Figure6.19). Others chose to fight for the British, who offered them freedom for joining their cause. Read theexcerpts below for the perspective of a black veteran from each side of the conflict.

Figure 6.19 Jean-Baptiste-Antoine de Verger created this 1781 watercolor, which depicts Americansoldiers at the Siege of Yorktown. Verger was an officer in Rochambeau’s army, and his diary holdsfirsthand accounts of his experiences in the campaigns of 1780 and 1781. This image contains one ofthe earliest known representations of a black Continental soldier.

Boyrereau Brinch was captured in Africa at age sixteen and brought to America as a slave. He joinedthe Patriot forces and was honorably discharged and emancipated after the war. He told his story toBenjamin Prentiss, who published it as The Blind African Slave in 1810.

Finally, I was in the battles at Cambridge, White Plains, Monmouth, Princeton, Newark,Frog’s Point, Horseneck where I had a ball pass through my knapsack. All which battels[sic] the reader can obtain a more perfect account of in history, than I can give. At last wereturned to West Point and were discharged [1783], as the war was over. Thus was I, a slavefor five years fighting for liberty. After we were disbanded, I returned to my old master atWoodbury [Connecticut], with whom I lived one year, my services in the American war, havingemancipated me from further slavery, and from being bartered or sold. . . . Here I enjoyed thepleasures of a freeman; my food was sweet, my labor pleasure: and one bright gleam of lifeseemed to shine upon me.

Boston King was a Charleston-born slave who escaped his master and joined the Loyalists. He made hisway to Nova Scotia and later Sierra Leone, where he published his memoirs in 1792. The excerpt belowdescribes his experience in New York after the war.

When I arrived at New-York, my friends rejoiced to see me once more restored to liberty,and joined me in praising the Lord for his mercy and goodness. . . . [In 1783] the horrorsand devastation of war happily terminated, and peace was restored between America andGreat Britain, which diffused universal joy among all parties, except us, who had escapedfrom slavery and taken refuge in the English army; for a report prevailed at New-York, thatall the slaves, in number 2000, were to be delivered up to their masters, altho’ some ofthem had been three or four years among the English. This dreadful rumour filled us allwith inexpressible anguish and terror, especially when we saw our old masters coming fromVirginia, North-Carolina, and other parts, and seizing upon their slaves in the streets of New-York, or even dragging them out of their beds. Many of the slaves had very cruel masters, sothat the thoughts of returning home with them embittered life to us. For some days we lostour appetite for food, and sleep departed from our eyes. The English had compassion uponus in the day of distress, and issued out a Proclamation, importing, That all slaves should

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be free, who had taken refuge in the British lines, and claimed the sanction and privileges ofthe Proclamations respecting the security and protection of Negroes. In consequence of this,each of us received a certificate from the commanding officer at New-York, which dispelled allour fears, and filled us with joy and gratitude.

What do these two narratives have in common, and how are they different? How do the two men describefreedom?

For slaves willing to run away and join the British, the American Revolution offered a unique occasionto escape bondage. Of the half a million slaves in the American colonies during the Revolution, twentythousand joined the British cause. At Yorktown, for instance, thousands of black troops fought withLord Cornwallis. Slaves belonging to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and otherrevolutionaries seized the opportunity for freedom and fled to the British side. Between ten and twentythousand slaves gained their freedom because of the Revolution; arguably, the Revolution created thelargest slave uprising and the greatest emancipation until the Civil War. After the Revolution, some ofthese African Loyalists emigrated to Sierra Leone on the west coast of Africa. Others removed to Canadaand England. It is also true that people of color made heroic contributions to the cause of Americanindependence. However, while the British offered slaves freedom, most American revolutionaries clung tonotions of black inferiority.

Powerful Indian peoples who had allied themselves with the British, including the Mohawk and theCreek, also remained loyal to the Empire. A Mohawk named Joseph Brant, whose given name wasThayendanegea (Figure 6.20), rose to prominence while fighting for the British during the Revolution. Hejoined forces with Colonel Barry St. Leger during the 1777 campaign, which ended with the surrender ofGeneral Burgoyne at Saratoga. After the war, Brant moved to the Six Nations reserve in Canada. Fromhis home on the shores of Lake Ontario, he remained active in efforts to restrict white encroachment ontoIndian lands. After their defeat, the British did not keep promises they’d made to help their Indian allieskeep their territory; in fact, the Treaty of Paris granted the United States huge amounts of supposedlyBritish-owned regions that were actually Indian lands.

Figure 6.20 What similarities can you see in these two portraits of Joseph Brant, one by Gilbert Stuart in 1786 (a)and one by Charles Wilson Peale in 1797 (b)? What are the differences? Why do you think the artists made thespecific choices they did?

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PATRIOTSThe American revolutionaries (also called Patriots or Whigs) came from many different backgrounds andincluded merchants, shoemakers, farmers, and sailors. What is extraordinary is the way in which thestruggle for independence brought a vast cross-section of society together, animated by a common cause.

During the war, the revolutionaries faced great difficulties, including massive supply problems; clothing,ammunition, tents, and equipment were all hard to come by. After an initial burst of enthusiasm in 1775and 1776, the shortage of supplies became acute in 1777 through 1779, as Washington’s difficult winter atValley Forge demonstrates.

Funding the war effort also proved very difficult. Whereas the British could pay in gold and silver,the American forces relied on paper money, backed by loans obtained in Europe. This first Americanmoney was called Continental currency; unfortunately, it quickly fell in value. “Not worth a Continental”soon became a shorthand term for something of no value. The new revolutionary government printed agreat amount of this paper money, resulting in runaway inflation. By 1781, inflation was such that 146Continental dollars were worth only one dollar in gold. The problem grew worse as each former colony,now a revolutionary state, printed its own currency.

WOMENIn colonial America, women shouldered enormous domestic and child-rearing responsibilities. The warfor independence only increased their workload and, in some ways, solidified their roles. Rebel leadersrequired women to produce articles for war—everything from clothing to foodstuffs—while also keepingtheir homesteads going. This was not an easy task when their husbands and sons were away fighting.Women were also expected to provide food and lodging for armies and to nurse wounded soldiers.

The Revolution opened some new doors for women, however, as they took on public roles usuallyreserved for men. The Daughters of Liberty, an informal organization formed in the mid-1760s to opposeBritish revenue-raising measures, worked tirelessly to support the war effort. Esther DeBerdt Reed ofPhiladelphia, wife of Governor Joseph Reed, formed the Ladies Association of Philadelphia and led afundraising drive to provide sorely needed supplies to the Continental Army. In “The Sentiments of anAmerican Woman” (1780), she wrote to other women, “The time is arrived to display the same sentimentswhich animated us at the beginning of the Revolution, when we renounced the use of teas, howeveragreeable to our taste, rather than receive them from our persecutors; when we made it appear to themthat we placed former necessaries in the rank of superfluities, when our liberty was interested; when ourrepublican and laborious hands spun the flax, prepared the linen intended for the use of our soldiers; whenexiles and fugitives we supported with courage all the evils which are the concomitants of war.” Reed andother elite women in Philadelphia raised almost $300,000 in Continental money for the war.

Read the entire text of Esther Reed’s “The Sentiments of an American Woman”( on a page hosted by the University ofMichigan-Dearborn.

Women who did not share Reed’s elite status nevertheless played key economic roles by producinghomespun cloth and food. During shortages, some women formed mobs and wrested supplies from those

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who hoarded them. Crowds of women beset merchants and demanded fair prices for goods; if a merchantrefused, a riot would ensue. Still other women accompanied the army as “camp followers,” serving ascooks, washerwomen, and nurses. A few also took part in combat and proved their equality with menthrough violence against the hated British.

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confiscation acts

Continental currency

Dunmore’s Proclamation


Mecklenburg Resolves


popular sovereignty


thirteen colonies


Key Terms

state-wide acts that made it legal for state governments to seize Loyalists’ property

the paper currency that the Continental government printed to fund theRevolution

the decree signed by Lord Dunmore, the royal governor of Virginia, whichproclaimed that any slaves or indentured servants who fought on the side of the British would berewarded with their freedom

German mercenaries hired by Great Britain to put down the American rebellion

North Carolina’s declaration of rebellion against Great Britain

colonial militias prepared to mobilize and fight the British with a minute’s notice

the practice of allowing the citizens of a state or territory to decide issues based onthe principle of majority rule

a political philosophy that holds that states should be governed by representatives, not amonarch; as a social philosophy, republicanism required civic virtue of its citizens

the British colonies in North America that declared independence from Great Britain in1776, which included Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, the province of Massachusetts Bay,New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and ProvidencePlantations, South Carolina, and Virginia

the Virginia port where British General Cornwallis surrendered to American forces

Summary6.1 Britain’s Law-and-Order Strategy and Its ConsequencesUntil Parliament passed the Coercive Acts in 1774, most colonists still thought of themselves as proudsubjects of the strong British Empire. However, the Coercive (or Intolerable) Acts, which Parliamentenacted to punish Massachusetts for failing to pay for the destruction of the tea, convinced many coloniststhat Great Britain was indeed threatening to stifle their liberty. In Massachusetts and other New Englandcolonies, militias like the minutemen prepared for war by stockpiling weapons and ammunition. After thefirst loss of life at the battles of Lexington and Concord in April 1775, skirmishes continued throughoutthe colonies. When Congress met in Philadelphia in July 1776, its members signed the Declaration ofIndependence, officially breaking ties with Great Britain and declaring their intention to be self-governing.

6.2 The Early Years of the RevolutionThe British successfully implemented the first part of their strategy to isolate New England when theytook New York City in the fall of 1776. For the next seven years, they used New York as a base ofoperations, expanding their control to Philadelphia in the winter of 1777. After suffering through a terriblewinter in 1777–1778 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, American forces were revived with help from Baronvon Steuben, a Prussian military officer who helped transform the Continental Army into a professionalfighting force. The effort to cut off New England from the rest of the colonies failed with the GeneralBurgoyne’s surrender at Saratoga in October 1777. After Saratoga, the struggle for independence gained apowerful ally when France agreed to recognize the United States as a new nation and began to send much-

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needed military support. The entrance of France—Britain’s archrival in the contest of global empire—intothe American fight helped to turn the tide of the war in favor of the revolutionaries.

6.3 War in the SouthThe British gained momentum in the war when they turned their military efforts against the southerncolonies. They scored repeated victories in the coastal towns, where they found legions of supporters,including slaves escaping bondage. As in other colonies, however, control of major seaports did not meanthe British could control the interior. Fighting in the southern colonies devolved into a merciless civil waras the Revolution opened the floodgates of pent-up anger and resentment between frontier residents andthose along the coastal regions. The southern campaign came to an end at Yorktown when Cornwallissurrendered to American forces.

6.4 Identity during the American RevolutionThe American Revolution divided the colonists as much as it united them, with Loyalists (or Tories)joining the British forces against the Patriots (or revolutionaries). Both sides included a broad cross-sectionof the population. However, Great Britain was able to convince many slaves to join its forces by promisingthem freedom, something the southern revolutionaries would not agree to do. The war provided newopportunities, as well as new challenges, for slaves, free blacks, women, and Indians. After the war, manyLoyalists fled the American colonies, heading across the Atlantic to England, north to Canada, or south tothe West Indies.

Review Questions1. How did British General Thomas Gage attemptto deal with the uprising in Massachusetts in1774?

A. He offered the rebels land on the Mainefrontier in return for loyalty to England.

B. He allowed for town meetings in anattempt to appease the rebels.

C. He attempted to seize arms and munitionsfrom the colonial insurgents.

D. He ordered his troops to burn Boston to theground to show the determination ofBritain.

2. Which of the following was not a result ofDunmore’s Proclamation?

A. Slaves joined Dunmore to fight for theBritish.

B. A majority of slaves in the colonies wontheir freedom.

C. Patriot forces increased their commitmentto independence.

D. Both slaveholding and non-slaveholdingwhites feared a slave rebellion.

3. Which of the following is not true of arepublic?

A. A republic has no hereditary ruling class.B. A republic relies on the principle of popular

sovereignty.C. Representatives chosen by the people lead

the republic.D. A republic is governed by a monarch and

the royal officials he or she appoints.

4. What are the main arguments that ThomasPaine makes in his pamphlet Common Sense? Whywas this pamphlet so popular?

5. Which city served as the base for Britishoperations for most of the war?

A. BostonB. New YorkC. PhiladelphiaD. Saratoga

6. What battle turned the tide of war in favor ofthe Americans?

A. the Battle of SaratogaB. the Battle of Brandywine CreekC. the Battle of White PlainsD. the Battle of Valley Forge

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7. Which term describes German soldiers hiredby Great Britain to put down the Americanrebellion?

A. PatriotsB. RoyalistsC. HessiansD. Loyalists

8. Describe the British strategy in the early yearsof the war and explain whether or not itsucceeded.

9. How did George Washington’s military tacticshelp him to achieve success?

10. Which American general is responsible forimproving the American military position in theSouth?

A. John BurgoyneB. Nathanael GreeneC. Wilhelm Frederick von SteubenD. Charles Cornwallis

11. Describe the British southern strategy and itsresults.

12. Which of the following statements bestrepresents the division between Patriots andLoyalists?

A. Most American colonists were Patriots,with only a few traditionalists remainingloyal to the King and Empire.

B. Most American colonists were Loyalists,with only a few firebrand revolutionariesleading the charge for independence.

C. American colonists were divided amongthose who wanted independence, thosewho wanted to remain part of the BritishEmpire, and those who were neutral.

D. The vast majority of American colonistswere neutral and didn’t take a side betweenLoyalists and Patriots.

13. Which of the following is not one of the taskswomen performed during the Revolution?

A. holding government officesB. maintaining their homesteadsC. feeding, quartering, and nursing soldiersD. raising funds for the war effort

Critical Thinking Questions14. How did the colonists manage to triumph in their battle for independence despite Great Britain’smilitary might? If any of these factors had been different, how might it have affected the outcome of thewar?

15. How did the condition of certain groups, such as women, blacks, and Indians, reveal a contradictionin the Declaration of Independence?

16. What was the effect and importance of Great Britain’s promise of freedom to slaves who joined theBritish side?

17. How did the Revolutionary War provide both new opportunities and new challenges for slaves andfree blacks in America?

18. Describe the ideology of republicanism. As a political philosophy, how did republicanism compare tothe system that prevailed in Great Britain?

19. Describe the backgrounds and philosophies of Patriots and Loyalists. Why did colonists with suchdiverse individual interests unite in support of their respective causes? What might different groups ofPatriots and Loyalists, depending upon their circumstances, have hoped to achieve by winning the war?

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Creating Republican Governments,1776–1790

Figure 7.1 John Trumbull, Washington’s aide-de-camp, painted this wartime image of Washington on a promontoryabove the Hudson River. Just behind Washington, his slave William “Billy” Lee has his eyes firmly fixed on his master.In the far background, British warships fire on an American fort.

Chapter Outline7.1 Common Sense: From Monarchy to an American Republic7.2 How Much Revolutionary Change?7.3 Debating Democracy7.4 The Constitutional Convention and Federal Constitution

IntroductionAfter the Revolutionary War, the ideology that “all men are created equal” failed to match up withreality, as the revolutionary generation could not solve the contradictions of freedom and slavery in thenew United States. Trumbull’s 1780 painting of George Washington (Figure 7.1) hints at some of thesecontradictions. What attitude do you think Trumbull was trying to convey? Why did Trumbull includeWashington’s slave Billy Lee, and what does Lee represent in this painting?

During the 1770s and 1780s, Americans took bold steps to define American equality. Each state heldconstitutional conventions and crafted state constitutions that defined how government would operateand who could participate in political life. Many elite revolutionaries recoiled in horror from the idea ofmajority rule—the basic principle of democracy—fearing that it would effectively create a “mob rule” thatwould bring about the ruin of the hard-fought struggle for independence. Statesmen everywhere believedthat a republic should replace the British monarchy: a government where the important affairs would beentrusted only to representative men of learning and refinement.

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7.1 Common Sense: From Monarchy to an American Republic

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Compare and contrast monarchy and republican government• Describe the tenets of republicanism

While monarchies dominated eighteenth-century Europe, American revolutionaries were determined tofind an alternative to this method of government. Radical pamphleteer Thomas Paine, whose enormouslypopular essay Common Sense was first published in January 1776, advocated a republic: a state without aking. Six months later, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence affirmed the break with England but didnot suggest what form of government should replace monarchy, the only system most English colonistshad ever known. In the late eighteenth century, republics were few and far between. Genoa, Venice, andthe Dutch Republic provided examples of states without monarchs, but many European Enlightenmentthinkers questioned the stability of a republic. Nonetheless, after their break from Great Britain, Americansturned to republicanism for their new government.

REPUBLICANISM AS A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHYMonarchy rests on the practice of dynastic succession, in which the monarch’s child or other relativeinherits the throne. Contested dynastic succession produced chronic conflict and warfare in Europe. Inthe eighteenth century, well-established monarchs ruled most of Europe and, according to tradition,were obligated to protect and guide their subjects. However, by the mid-1770s, many American colonistsbelieved that George III, the king of Great Britain, had failed to do so. Patriots believed the Britishmonarchy under George III had been corrupted and the king turned into a tyrant who cared nothingfor the traditional liberties afforded to members of the British Empire. The disaffection from monarchyexplains why a republic appeared a better alternative to the revolutionaries.

Figure 7.2

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American revolutionaries looked to the past for inspiration for their break with the British monarchy andtheir adoption of a republican form of government. The Roman Republic provided guidance. Much likethe Americans in their struggle against Britain, Romans had thrown off monarchy and created a republicin which Roman citizens would appoint or select the leaders who would represent them.

Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art ( to seea Roman-style bust of George Washington, complete with toga. In 1791, Italiansculptor Giuseppe Ceracchi visited Philadelphia, hoping the government mightcommission a monument of his creation. He did not succeed, but the bust ofWashington, one of the ones he produced to demonstrate his skill, illustrates the

connection between the American and Roman republics that revolutionaries made.

While republicanism offered an alternative to monarchy, it was also an alternative to democracy, a systemof government characterized by majority rule, where the majority of citizens have the power to makedecisions binding upon the whole. To many revolutionaries, especially wealthy landowners, merchants,and planters, democracy did not offer a good replacement for monarchy. Indeed, conservative Whigsdefined themselves in opposition to democracy, which they equated with anarchy. In the tenth in a seriesof essays later known as The Federalist Papers, Virginian James Madison wrote: “Democracies have everbeen spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal securityor the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in theirdeaths.” Many shared this perspective and worked hard to keep democratic tendencies in check. It is easyto understand why democracy seemed threatening: majority rule can easily overpower minority rights,and the wealthy few had reason to fear that a hostile and envious majority could seize and redistributetheir wealth.

While many now assume the United States was founded as a democracy, history, as always, is morecomplicated. Conservative Whigs believed in government by a patrician class, a ruling group composedof a small number of privileged families. Radical Whigs favored broadening the popular participation inpolitical life and pushed for democracy. The great debate after independence was secured centered on thisquestion: Who should rule in the new American republic?

REPUBLICANISM AS A SOCIAL PHILOSOPHYAccording to political theory, a republic requires its citizens to cultivate virtuous behavior; if the peopleare virtuous, the republic will survive. If the people become corrupt, the republic will fall. Whetherrepublicanism succeeded or failed in the United States would depend on civic virtue and an educatedcitizenry. Revolutionary leaders agreed that the ownership of property provided one way to measure anindividual’s virtue, arguing that property holders had the greatest stake in society and therefore couldbe trusted to make decisions for it. By the same token, non-property holders, they believed, should havevery little to do with government. In other words, unlike a democracy, in which the mass of non-propertyholders could exercise the political right to vote, a republic would limit political rights to property holders.In this way, republicanism exhibited a bias toward the elite, a preference that is understandable giventhe colonial legacy. During colonial times, wealthy planters and merchants in the American colonies hadlooked to the British ruling class, whose social order demanded deference from those of lower rank, as amodel of behavior. Old habits died hard.

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Benjamin Franklin’s Thirteen Virtues for CharacterDevelopmentIn the 1780s, Benjamin Franklin carefully defined thirteen virtues to help guide his countrymen inmaintaining a virtuous republic. His choice of thirteen is telling since he wrote for the citizens of thethirteen new American republics. These virtues were:

1. Temperance. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.2. Silence. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.3. Order. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.4. Resolution. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.5. Frugality. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.6. Industry. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessaryactions.7. Sincerity. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speakaccordingly.8. Justice. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.9. Moderation. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.10. Cleanliness. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, cloaths, or habitation.11. Tranquillity. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.12. Chastity. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or theinjury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.13. Humility. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Franklin’s thirteen virtues suggest that hard work and good behavior will bring success. What factorsdoes Franklin ignore? How would he likely address a situation in which children inherit great wealth ratherthan working for it? How do Franklin’s values help to define the notion of republican virtue?

Check how well you are demonstrating all thirteen of Franklin’s virtues( on, where you canregister to track your progress.

George Washington served as a role model par excellence for the new republic, embodying the exceptionaltalent and public virtue prized under the political and social philosophy of republicanism. He did not seekto become the new king of America; instead he retired as commander in chief of the Continental Army andreturned to his Virginia estate at Mount Vernon to resume his life among the planter elite. Washingtonmodeled his behavior on that of the Roman aristocrat Cincinnatus, a representative of the patrician orruling class, who had also retired from public service in the Roman Republic and returned to his estate topursue agricultural life.

The aristocratic side of republicanism—and the belief that the true custodians of public virtue were thosewho had served in the military—found expression in the Society of the Cincinnati, of which Washingtonwas the first president general (Figure 7.3). Founded in 1783, the society admitted only officers of theContinental Army and the French forces, not militia members or minutemen. Following the rule of

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primogeniture, the eldest sons of members inherited their fathers’ memberships. The society still existstoday and retains the motto Omnia relinquit servare rempublicam (“He relinquished everything to save theRepublic”).

Figure 7.3 This membership certificate for the Society of the Cincinnati commemorates “the great Event which gaveIndependence to North America.”

7.2 How Much Revolutionary Change?

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the status of women in the new republic• Describe the status of nonwhites in the new republic

Elite republican revolutionaries did not envision a completely new society; traditional ideas and categoriesof race and gender, order and decorum remained firmly entrenched among members of their privilegedclass. Many Americans rejected the elitist and aristocratic republican order, however, and advocatedradical changes. Their efforts represented a groundswell of sentiment for greater equality, a part of thedemocratic impulse unleashed by the Revolution.

THE STATUS OF WOMENIn eighteenth-century America, as in Great Britain, the legal status of married women was defined ascoverture, meaning a married woman (or feme covert) had no legal or economic status independent of herhusband. She could not conduct business or buy and sell property. Her husband controlled any propertyshe brought to the marriage, although he could not sell it without her agreement. Married women’s statusas femes covert did not change as a result of the Revolution, and wives remained economically dependenton their husbands. The women of the newly independent nation did not call for the right to vote, but some,especially the wives of elite republican statesmen, began to agitate for equality under the law betweenhusbands and wives, and for the same educational opportunities as men.

Some women hoped to overturn coverture. From her home in Braintree, Massachusetts, Abigail Adams(Figure 7.4) wrote to her husband, Whig leader John Adams, in 1776, “In the new code of laws whichI suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be moregenerous and favorable to them than your ancestor. Do not put such unlimited power in the husbands.Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could.” Abigail Adams ran the family homestead during theRevolution, but she did not have the ability to conduct business without her husband’s consent. Elsewherein the famous 1776 letter quoted above, she speaks of the difficulties of running the homestead when her

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husband is away. Her frustration grew when her husband responded in an April 1776 letter: “As to yourextraordinary Code of Laws, I cannot but laugh. We have been told that our Struggle has loosened thebands of Government every where. That Children and Apprentices were disobedient—that schools andColledges were grown turbulent—that Indians slighted their Guardians and Negroes grew insolent totheir Masters. But your Letter was the first Intimation that another Tribe more numerous and powerfullthan all the rest were grown discontented. . . . Depend on it, We know better than to repeal our Masculinesystems.”

Figure 7.4 Abigail Adams (a), shown here in a 1766 portrait by Benjamin Blythe, is best remembered for hereloquent letters to her husband, John Adams (b), who would later become the second president of the United States.

Another privileged member of the revolutionary generation, Mercy Otis Warren, also challenged genderassumptions and traditions during the revolutionary era (Figure 7.5). Born in Massachusetts, Warrenactively opposed British reform measures before the outbreak of fighting in 1775 by publishing anti-Britishworks. In 1812, she published a three-volume history of the Revolution, a project she had started in thelate 1770s. By publishing her work, Warren stepped out of the female sphere and into the otherwise male-dominated sphere of public life.

Inspired by the Revolution, Judith Sargent Murray of Massachusetts advocated women’s economicindependence and equal educational opportunities for men and women (Figure 7.5). Murray, who camefrom a well-to-do family in Gloucester, questioned why boys were given access to education as a birthrightwhile girls had very limited educational opportunities. She began to publish her ideas about educationalequality beginning in the 1780s, arguing that God had made the minds of women and men equal.

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Figure 7.5 John Singleton Copley’s 1772 portrait of Judith Sargent Murray (a) and 1763 portrait of Mercy OtisWarren (b) show two of America’s earliest advocates for women’s rights. Notice how their fine silk dresses telegraphtheir privileged social status.

Murray’s more radical ideas championed woman’s economic independence. She argued that a woman’seducation should be extensive enough to allow her to maintain herself—and her family—if there was nomale breadwinner. Indeed, Murray was able to make money of her own from her publications. Her ideaswere both radical and traditional, however: Murray also believed that women were much better at raisingchildren and maintaining the morality and virtue of the family than men.

Adams, Murray, and Warren all came from privileged backgrounds. All three were fully literate, whilemany women in the American republic were not. Their literacy and station allowed them to push fornew roles for women in the atmosphere of unique possibility created by the Revolution and its promiseof change. Female authors who published their work provide evidence of how women in the era of theAmerican Revolution challenged traditional gender roles.

Overall, the Revolution reconfigured women’s roles by undermining the traditional expectations of wivesand mothers, including subservience. In the home, the separate domestic sphere assigned to women,women were expected to practice republican virtues, especially frugality and simplicity. Republicanmotherhood meant that women, more than men, were responsible for raising good children, instillingin them all the virtue necessary to ensure the survival of the republic. The Revolution also opened newdoors to educational opportunities for women. Men understood that the republic needed women to play asubstantial role in upholding republicanism and ensuring the survival of the new nation. Benjamin Rush, aWhig educator and physician from Philadelphia, strongly advocated for the education of girls and youngwomen as part of the larger effort to ensure that republican virtue and republican motherhood wouldendure.

THE MEANING OF RACEBy the time of the Revolution, slavery had been firmly in place in America for over one hundred years. Inmany ways, the Revolution served to reinforce the assumptions about race among white Americans. Theyviewed the new nation as a white republic; blacks were slaves, and Indians had no place. Racial hatredof blacks increased during the Revolution because many slaves fled their white masters for the freedomoffered by the British. The same was true for Indians who allied themselves with the British; Jefferson

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wrote in the Declaration of Independence that separation from the Empire was necessary because GeorgeIII had incited “the merciless Indian savages” to destroy the white inhabitants on the frontier. Similarly,Thomas Paine argued in Common Sense that Great Britain was guilty of inciting “the Indians and Negroesto destroy us.” For his part, Benjamin Franklin wrote in the 1780s that, in time, alcoholism would wipe outthe Indians, leaving the land free for white settlers.


Phillis Wheatley: “On Being Brought from Africa to America”Phillis Wheatley (Figure 7.6) was born in Africa in 1753 and sold as a slave to the Wheatley family ofBoston; her African name is lost to posterity. Although most slaves in the eighteenth century had noopportunities to learn to read and write, Wheatley achieved full literacy and went on to become one of thebest-known poets of the time, although many doubted her authorship of her poems because of her race.

Figure 7.6 This portrait of Phillis Wheatley from the frontispiece of Poems on various subjects,religious and moral shows the writer at work. Despite her status as a slave, her poems won greatrenown in America and in Europe.

Wheatley’s poems reflected her deep Christian beliefs. In the poem below, how do her views onChristianity affect her views on slavery?

Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,Taught my benighted soul to understandThat there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too:Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.Some view our sable race with scornful eye,“Their colour is a diabolic dye.”Remember, Christians, Negroes, black as Cain,May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.—Phillis Wheatley, “On Being Brought from Africa to America”

SlaverySlavery offered the most glaring contradiction between the idea of equality stated in the Declaration ofIndependence (“all men are created equal”) and the reality of race relations in the late eighteenth century.

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Racism shaped white views of blacks. Although he penned the Declaration of Independence, ThomasJefferson owned more than one hundred slaves, of whom he freed only a few either during his lifetime orin his will (Figure 7.7). He thought blacks were inferior to whites, dismissing Phillis Wheatley by arguing,“Religion indeed has produced a Phillis Wheatley; but it could not produce a poet.” White slaveholderstook their female slaves as mistresses, as most historians agree that Jefferson did with one of his slaves,Sally Hemings. Together, they had several children.

Figure 7.7 This page, taken from one of Thomas Jefferson’s record books from 1795, lists his slaves.

Browse the Thomas Jefferson Papers ( atthe Massachusetts Historical Society to examine Jefferson’s “farm books,” in which hekept records of his land holdings, animal husbandry, and slaves, including specificreferences to Sally Hemings.

Jefferson understood the contradiction fully, and his writings reveal hard-edged racist assumptions. In hisNotes on the State of Virginia in the 1780s, Jefferson urged the end of slavery in Virginia and the removalof blacks from that state. He wrote: “It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacksinto the state, and thus save the expense of supplying, by importation of white settlers, the vacancies theywill leave? Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousand recollections, by the blacks, ofthe injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and manyother circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never endbut in the extermination of the one or the other race. —To these objections, which are political, may beadded others, which are physical and moral.” Jefferson envisioned an “empire of liberty” for white farmersand relied on the argument of sending blacks out of the United States, even if doing so would completelydestroy the slaveholders’ wealth in their human property.

Southern planters strongly objected to Jefferson’s views on abolishing slavery and removing blacks fromAmerica. When Jefferson was a candidate for president in 1796, an anonymous “Southern Planter” wrote,“If this wild project succeeds, under the auspices of Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States, and

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three hundred thousand slaves are set free in Virginia, farewell to the safety, prosperity, the importance,perhaps the very existence of the Southern States” (Figure 7.8). Slaveholders and many other Americansprotected and defended the institution.

Figure 7.8 This 1796 broadside to “the Citizens of the Southern States” by “a Southern Planter” argued that ThomasJefferson’s advocacy of the emancipation of slaves in his Notes on the State of Virginia posed a threat to the safety,the prosperity, and even the existence of the southern states.

FreedomWhile racial thinking permeated the new country, and slavery existed in all the new states, the ideals ofthe Revolution generated a movement toward the abolition of slavery. Private manumissions, by whichslaveholders freed their slaves, provided one pathway from bondage. Slaveholders in Virginia freed someten thousand slaves. In Massachusetts, the Wheatley family manumitted Phillis in 1773 when she wastwenty-one. Other revolutionaries formed societies dedicated to abolishing slavery. One of the earliestefforts began in 1775 in Philadelphia, where Dr. Benjamin Rush and other Philadelphia Quakers formedwhat became the Pennsylvania Abolition Society. Similarly, wealthy New Yorkers formed the New YorkManumission Society in 1785. This society worked to educate black children and devoted funds to protectfree blacks from kidnapping.

Slavery persisted in the North, however, and the example of Massachusetts highlights the complexityof the situation. The 1780 Massachusetts constitution technically freed all slaves. Nonetheless, severalhundred individuals remained enslaved in the state. In the 1780s, a series of court decisions underminedslavery in Massachusetts when several slaves, citing assault by their masters, successfully sought theirfreedom in court. These individuals refused to be treated as slaves in the wake of the American Revolution.Despite these legal victories, about eleven hundred slaves continued to be held in the New England statesin 1800. The contradictions illustrate the difference between the letter and the spirit of the laws abolishingslavery in Massachusetts. In all, over thirty-six thousand slaves remained in the North, with the highestconcentrations in New Jersey and New York. New York only gradually phased out slavery, with the lastslaves emancipated in the late 1820s.

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IndiansThe 1783 Treaty of Paris, which ended the war for independence, did not address Indians at all. All landsheld by the British east of the Mississippi and south of the Great Lakes (except Spanish Florida) nowbelonged to the new American republic (Figure 7.9). Though the treaty remained silent on the issue,much of the territory now included in the boundaries of the United States remained under the control ofnative peoples. Earlier in the eighteenth century, a “middle ground” had existed between powerful nativegroups in the West and British and French imperial zones, a place where the various groups interacted andaccommodated each other. As had happened in the French and Indian War and Pontiac’s Rebellion, theRevolutionary War turned the middle ground into a battle zone that no one group controlled.

Figure 7.9 The 1783 Treaty of Paris divided North America into territories belonging to the United States andseveral European countries, but it failed to address Indian lands at all.

During the Revolution, a complex situation existed among Indians. Many villages remained neutral.Some native groups, such as the Delaware, split into factions, with some supporting the British whileother Delaware maintained their neutrality. The Iroquois Confederacy, a longstanding alliance of tribes,also split up: the Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, and Seneca fought on the British side, while the Oneidaand Tuscarora supported the revolutionaries. Ohio River Valley tribes such as the Shawnee, Miami, andMungo had been fighting for years against colonial expansion west; these groups supported the British.Some native peoples who had previously allied with the French hoped the conflict between the colonies

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and Great Britain might lead to French intervention and the return of French rule. Few Indians sided withthe American revolutionaries, because almost all revolutionaries in the middle ground viewed them asan enemy to be destroyed. This racial hatred toward native peoples found expression in the Americanmassacre of ninety-six Christian Delawares in 1782. Most of the dead were women and children.

After the war, the victorious Americans turned a deaf ear to Indian claims to what the revolutionariessaw as their hard-won land, and they moved aggressively to assert control over western New Yorkand Pennsylvania. In response, Mohawk leader Joseph Brant helped to form the Western Confederacy,an alliance of native peoples who pledged to resist American intrusion into what was then called theNorthwest. The Northwest Indian War (1785–1795) ended with the defeat of the Indians and their claims.Under the Treaty of Greenville (1795), the United States gained dominion over land in Ohio.

RELIGION AND THE STATEPrior to the Revolution, several colonies had official, tax-supported churches. After the Revolution, somequestioned the validity of state-authorized churches; the limitation of public office-holding to those of aparticular faith; and the payment of taxes to support churches. In other states, especially in New Englandwhere the older Puritan heritage cast a long shadow, religion and state remained intertwined.

During the colonial era in Virginia, the established church had been the Church of England, which didnot tolerate Catholics, Baptists, or followers or other religions. In 1786, as a revolutionary response againstthe privileged status of the Church of England, Virginia’s lawmakers approved the Virginia Statute forReligious Freedom, which ended the Church of England’s hold and allowed religious liberty. Under thestatute, no one could be forced to attend or support a specific church or be prosecuted for his or her beliefs.

Pennsylvania’s original constitution limited officeholders in the state legislature to those who professeda belief in both the Old and the New Testaments. This religious test prohibited Jews from holding thatoffice, as the New Testament is not part of Jewish belief. In 1790, however, Pennsylvania removed thisqualification from its constitution.

The New England states were slower to embrace freedom of religion. In the former Puritan colonies,the Congregational Church (established by seventeenth-century Puritans) remained the church of mostinhabitants. Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire all required the public support of Christianchurches. Article III of the Massachusetts constitution blended the goal of republicanism with the goal ofpromoting Protestant Christianity. It reads:

As the happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government,essentially depend upon piety, religion and morality; and as these cannot be generally diffusedthrough a community, but by the institution of the public worship of GOD, and of publicinstructions in piety, religion and morality: Therefore, to promote their happiness and to securethe good order and preservation of their government, the people of this Commonwealth havea right to invest their legislature with power to authorize and require, and the legislatureshall, from time to time, authorize and require, the several towns, parishes, precincts, andother bodies-politic, or religious societies, to make suitable provision, at their own expense, forthe institution of the public worship of GOD, and for the support and maintenance of publicprotestant teachers of piety, religion and morality, in all cases where such provision shall not bemade voluntarily. . . .And every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves peaceably, and as good subjectsof the Commonwealth, shall be equally under the protection of the law: And no subordinationof any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established by law.

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Read more about religion and state governments at the Religion and the Foundingof the American Republic ( exhibition pageon the Library of Congress site. What was the meaning of the term “nursing fathers” ofthe church?

7.3 Debating Democracy

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the development of state constitutions• Describe the features of the Articles of Confederation• Analyze the causes and consequences of Shays’ Rebellion

The task of creating republican governments in each of the former colonies, now independent states,presented a new opportunity for American revolutionaries to define themselves anew after casting offBritish control. On the state and national levels, citizens of the new United States debated who would holdthe keys to political power. The states proved to be a laboratory for how much democracy, or majority rule,would be tolerated.

THE STATE CONSTITUTIONSIn 1776, John Adams urged the thirteen independent colonies—soon to be states—to write their own stateconstitutions. Enlightenment political thought profoundly influenced Adams and other revolutionaryleaders seeking to create viable republican governments. The ideas of the French philosopherMontesquieu, who had advocated the separation of powers in government, guided Adams’s thinking.Responding to a request for advice on proper government from North Carolina, Adams wrote Thoughtson Government, which influenced many state legislatures. Adams did not advocate democracy; rather, hewrote, “there is no good government but what is republican.” Fearing the potential for tyranny with onlyone group in power, he suggested a system of checks and balances in which three separate branches ofgovernment—executive, legislative, and judicial—would maintain a balance of power. He also proposedthat each state remain sovereign, as its own republic. The state constitutions of the new United Statesillustrate different approaches to addressing the question of how much democracy would prevail in thethirteen republics. Some states embraced democratic practices, while others adopted far more aristocraticand republican ones.

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Visit the Avalon Project ( to read theconstitutions of the seven states (Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina, Maryland,Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) that had written constitutions by the end of1776.

The 1776 Pennsylvania constitution and the 1784 New Hampshire constitution both provide examples ofdemocratic tendencies. In Pennsylvania, the requirement to own property in order to vote was eliminated,and if a man was twenty-one or older, had paid taxes, and had lived in the same location for one year, hecould vote (Figure 7.10). This opened voting to most free white male citizens of Pennsylvania. The 1784New Hampshire constitution allowed every small town and village to send representatives to the stategovernment, making the lower house of the legislature a model of democratic government.

Figure 7.10 The 1776 Pennsylvania constitution, the first page of which is shown here, adhered to more democraticprinciples than some other states’ constitutions did initially.

Conservative Whigs, who distrusted the idea of majority rule, recoiled from the abolition of propertyqualifications for voting and office holding in Pennsylvania. Conservative Whig John Adams reacted withhorror to the 1776 Pennsylvania constitution, declaring that it was “so democratical that it must produceconfusion and every evil work.” In his mind and those of other conservative Whigs, this constitutionsimply put too much power in the hands of men who had no business exercising the right to vote.Pennsylvania’s constitution also eliminated the executive branch (there was no governor) and the upperhouse. Instead, Pennsylvania had a one-house—a unicameral—legislature.

The Maryland and South Carolina constitutions provide examples of efforts to limit the power of ademocratic majority. Maryland’s, written in 1776, restricted office holding to the wealthy planter class. Aman had to own at least £5,000 worth of personal property to be the governor of Maryland, and possessan estate worth £1,000 to be a state senator. This latter qualification excluded over 90 percent of the whitemales in Maryland from political office. The 1778 South Carolina constitution also sought to protect theinterests of the wealthy. Governors and lieutenant governors of the state had to have “a settled plantation

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or freehold in their and each of their own right of the value of at least ten thousand pounds currency,clear of debt.” This provision limited high office in the state to its wealthiest inhabitants. Similarly, SouthCarolina state senators had to own estates valued at £2,000.

John Adams wrote much of the 1780 Massachusetts constitution, which reflected his fear of too muchdemocracy. It therefore created two legislative chambers, an upper and lower house, and a stronggovernor with broad veto powers. Like South Carolina, Massachusetts put in place office-holdingrequirements: To be governor under the new constitution, a candidate had to own an estate worth at least£1,000. To serve in the state senate, a man had to own an estate worth at least £300 and have at least £600 intotal wealth. To vote, he had to be worth at least sixty pounds. To further keep democracy in check, judgeswere appointed, not elected. One final limit was the establishment of the state capitol in the commercialcenter of Boston, which made it difficult for farmers from the western part of the state to attend legislativesessions.

THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATIONMost revolutionaries pledged their greatest loyalty to their individual states. Recalling the experienceof British reform efforts imposed in the 1760s and 1770s, they feared a strong national governmentand took some time to adopt the Articles of Confederation, the first national constitution. In June 1776,the Continental Congress prepared to announce independence and began to think about the creationof a new government to replace royal authority. Reaching agreement on the Articles of Confederationproved difficult as members of the Continental Congress argued over western land claims. Connecticut,for example, used its colonial charter to assert its claim to western lands in Pennsylvania and the OhioTerritory (Figure 7.11).

Figure 7.11 Connecticut, like many other states, used its state constitution to stake claims to uncharted westernlands.

Members of the Continental Congress also debated what type of representation would be best and tried tofigure out how to pay the expenses of the new government. In lieu of creating a new federal government,the Articles of Confederation created a “league of friendship” between the states. Congress readied theArticles in 1777 but did not officially approve them until 1781 (Figure 7.12). The delay of four yearsillustrates the difficulty of getting the thirteen states to agree on a plan of national government. Citizensviewed their respective states as sovereign republics and guarded their prerogatives against other states.

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Figure 7.12 The first page of the 1777 Articles of Confederation, printed by Alexander Purdie, emphasized the“perpetual union” between the states.

The Articles of Confederation authorized a unicameral legislature, a continuation of the earlier ContinentalCongress. The people could not vote directly for members of the national Congress; rather, statelegislatures decided who would represent the state. In practice, the national Congress was composedof state delegations. There was no president or executive office of any kind, and there was no nationaljudiciary (or Supreme Court) for the United States.

Passage of any law under the Articles of Confederation proved difficult. It took the consensus of nine statesfor any measure to pass, and amending the Articles required the consent of all the states, also extremelydifficult to achieve. Further, any acts put forward by the Congress were non-binding; states had the optionto enforce them or not. This meant that while the Congress had power over Indian affairs and foreignpolicy, individual states could choose whether or not to comply.

The Congress did not have the power to tax citizens of the United States, a fact that would soon haveserious consequences for the republic. During the Revolutionary War, the Continental Congress had sentrequisitions for funds to the individual former colonies (now revolutionary states). These states alreadyhad an enormous financial burden because they had to pay for militias as well as supply them. In the end,the states failed to provide even half the funding requested by the Congress during the war, which led toa national debt in the tens of millions by 1784.

By the 1780s, some members of the Congress were greatly concerned about the financial health of therepublic, and they argued that the national government needed greater power, especially the power to tax.This required amending the Articles of Confederation with the consent of all the states. Those who calledfor a stronger federal government were known as nationalists. The nationalist group that pushed for thepower to tax included Washington’s chief of staff, Alexander Hamilton; Virginia planter James Madison;Pennsylvania’s wealthy merchant Robert Morris (who served under the Confederation government assuperintendent of finance in the early 1780s); and Pennsylvania lawyer James Wilson. Two New Yorkers,Gouverneur Morris and James Duane, also joined the effort to address the debt and the weakness of theConfederation government.

These men proposed a 5 percent tax on imports coming into the United States, a measure that would haveyielded enough revenue to clear the debt. However, their proposal failed to achieve unanimous supportfrom the states when Rhode Island rejected it. Plans for a national bank also failed to win unanimoussupport. The lack of support illustrates the Americans’ deep suspicion of a powerful national government,

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a suspicion that originated from the unilateral and heavy-handed reform efforts that the British Parliamentimposed on the colonies in the 1760s and 1770s. Without revenue, the Congress could not pay backAmerican creditors who had lent it money. However, it did manage to make interest payments to foreigncreditors in France and the Dutch Republic, fearful that defaulting on those payments would destroy therepublic’s credit and leave it unable to secure loans.

One soldier in the Continental Army, Joseph Plumb Martin, recounted how he received no pay in papermoney after 1777 and only one month’s payment in specie, or hard currency, in 1781. Like thousandsof other soldiers, Martin had fought valiantly against the British and helped secure independence, buthad not been paid for his service. In the 1780s and beyond, men like Martin would soon express theirprofound dissatisfaction with their treatment. Their anger found expression in armed uprisings andpolitical divisions.

Establishing workable foreign and commercial policies under the Articles of Confederation also proveddifficult. Each state could decide for itself whether to comply with treaties between the Congress andforeign countries, and there were no means of enforcement. Both Great Britain and Spain understoodthe weakness of the Confederation Congress, and they refused to make commercial agreements withthe United States because they doubted they would be enforced. Without stable commercial policies,American exporters found it difficult to do business, and British goods flooded U.S. markets in the 1780s,in a repetition of the economic imbalance that existed before the Revolutionary War.

The Confederation Congress under the Articles did achieve success through a series of directives calledland ordinances, which established rules for the settlement of western lands in the public domain andthe admission of new states to the republic. The ordinances were designed to prepare the land for saleto citizens and raise revenue to boost the failing economy of the republic. In the land ordinances, theConfederation Congress created the Mississippi and Southwest Territories and stipulated that slaverywould be permitted there. The system of dividing the vast domains of the United States stands as atowering achievement of the era, a blueprint for American western expansion.

The Ordinance of 1784, written by Thomas Jefferson and the first of what were later called the NorthwestOrdinances, directed that new states would be formed from a huge area of land below the Great Lakes, andthese new states would have equal standing with the original states. The Ordinance of 1785 called for thedivision of this land into rectangular plots in order to prepare for the government sale of land. Surveyorswould divide the land into townships of six square miles, and the townships would be subdivided intothirty-six plots of 640 acres each, which could be further subdivided. The price of an acre of land wasset at a minimum of one dollar, and the land was to be sold at public auction under the direction of theConfederation.

The Ordinance of 1787 officially turned the land into an incorporated territory called the NorthwestTerritory and prohibited slavery north of the Ohio River (Figure 7.13). The map of the 1787 NorthwestTerritory shows how the public domain was to be divided by the national government for sale. Townshipsof thirty-six square miles were to be surveyed. Each had land set aside for schools and other civic purposes.Smaller parcels could then be made: a 640-acre section could be divided into quarter-sections of 160 acres,and then again into sixteen sections of 40 acres. The geometric grid pattern established by the ordinance isstill evident today on the American landscape. Indeed, much of the western United States, when viewedfrom an airplane, is composed of an orderly grid system.

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Figure 7.13 The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 created territories and an orderly method for the admission of newstates.

Visit Window Seat ( to explore aerial viewsof the grid system established by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which is stillevident in much of the Midwest.

The land ordinances proved to be the great triumph of the Confederation Congress. The Congress wouldappoint a governor for the territories, and when the population in the territory reached five thousand freeadult settlers, those citizens could create their own legislature and begin the process of moving towardstatehood. When the population reached sixty thousand, the territory could become a new state.

SHAYS’ REBELLIONDespite Congress’s victory in creating an orderly process for organizing new states and territories, landsales failed to produce the revenue necessary to deal with the dire economic problems facing the newcountry in the 1780s. Each state had issued large amounts of paper money and, in the aftermath of theRevolution, widespread internal devaluation of that currency occurred as many lost confidence in thevalue of state paper money and the Continental dollar. A period of extreme inflation set in. Added tothis dilemma was American citizens’ lack of specie (gold and silver currency) to conduct routine business.Meanwhile, demobilized soldiers, many of whom had spent their formative years fighting rather thanlearning a peacetime trade, searched desperately for work.

The economic crisis came to a head in 1786 and 1787 in western Massachusetts, where farmers were ina difficult position: they faced high taxes and debts, which they found nearly impossible to pay with theworthless state and Continental paper money. For several years after the peace in 1783, these indebtedcitizens had petitioned the state legislature for redress. Many were veterans of the Revolutionary War whohad returned to their farms and families after the fighting ended and now faced losing their homes.

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Their petitions to the state legislature raised economic and political issues for citizens of the new state.How could people pay their debts and state taxes when paper money proved unstable? Why was thestate government located in Boston, the center of the merchant elite? Why did the 1780 Massachusettsconstitution cater to the interests of the wealthy? To the indebted farmers, the situation in the 1780s seemedhauntingly familiar; the revolutionaries had routed the British, but a new form of seemingly corrupt andself-serving government had replaced them.

In 1786, when the state legislature again refused to address the petitioners’ requests, Massachusetts citizenstook up arms and closed courthouses across the state to prevent foreclosure (seizure of land in lieu ofoverdue loan payments) on farms in debt. The farmers wanted their debts forgiven, and they demandedthat the 1780 constitution be revised to address citizens beyond the wealthy elite who could serve in thelegislature.

Many of the rebels were veterans of the war for independence, including Captain Daniel Shays fromPelham (Figure 7.14). Although Shays was only one of many former officers in the Continental Armywho took part in the revolt, authorities in Boston singled him out as a ringleader, and the uprising becameknown as Shays’ Rebellion. The Massachusetts legislature responded to the closing of the courthouseswith a flurry of legislation, much of it designed to punish the rebels. The government offered the rebelsclemency if they took an oath of allegiance. Otherwise, local officials were empowered to use deadly forceagainst them without fear of prosecution. Rebels would lose their property, and if any militiamen refusedto defend the state, they would be executed.

Figure 7.14 This woodcut, from Bickerstaff’s Boston Almanack of 1787, depicts Daniel Shays and Job Shattuck.Shays and Shattuck were two of the leaders of the rebels who rose up against the Massachusetts government in1786 to 1787. As Revolutionary War veterans, both men wear the uniform of officers of the Continental Army.

Despite these measures, the rebellion continued. To address the uprising, Governor James Bowdoin raiseda private army of forty-four hundred men, funded by wealthy Boston merchants, without the approval ofthe legislature. The climax of Shays’ Rebellion came in January 1787, when the rebels attempted to seizethe federal armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. A force loyal to the state defeated them there, althoughthe rebellion continued into February.

Shays’ Rebellion resulted in eighteen deaths overall, but the uprising had lasting effects. To men ofproperty, mostly conservative Whigs, Shays’ Rebellion strongly suggested the republic was falling intoanarchy and chaos. The other twelve states had faced similar economic and political difficulties, andcontinuing problems seemed to indicate that on a national level, a democratic impulse was drivingthe population. Shays’ Rebellion convinced George Washington to come out of retirement and lead theconvention called for by Alexander Hamilton to amend the Articles of Confederation in order to deal withinsurgencies like the one in Massachusetts and provide greater stability in the United States.

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7.4 The Constitutional Convention and Federal Constitution

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the central issues of the 1787 Constitutional Convention and their solutions• Describe the conflicts over the ratification of the federal constitution

The economic problems that plagued the thirteen states of the Confederation set the stage for the creationof a strong central government under a federal constitution. Although the original purpose of theconvention was to amend the Articles of Confederation, some—though not all—delegates moved quicklyto create a new framework for a more powerful national government. This proved extremely controversial.Those who attended the convention split over the issue of robust, centralized government and questionsof how Americans would be represented in the federal government. Those who opposed the proposal fora stronger federal government argued that such a plan betrayed the Revolution by limiting the voice of theAmerican people.

THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONThere had been earlier efforts to address the Confederation’s perilous state. In early 1786, Virginia’sJames Madison advocated a meeting of states to address the widespread economic problems that plaguedthe new nation. Heeding Madison’s call, the legislature in Virginia invited all thirteen states to meet inAnnapolis, Maryland, to work on solutions to the issue of commerce between the states. Eight statesresponded to the invitation. But the resulting 1786 Annapolis Convention failed to provide any solutionsbecause only five states sent delegates. These delegates did, however, agree to a plan put forward byAlexander Hamilton for a second convention to meet in May 1787 in Philadelphia. Shays’ Rebellion gavegreater urgency to the planned convention. In February 1787, in the wake of the uprising in westernMassachusetts, the Confederation Congress authorized the Philadelphia convention. This time, all thestates except Rhode Island sent delegates to Philadelphia to confront the problems of the day.

The stated purpose of the Philadelphia Convention in 1787 was to amend the Articles of Confederation.Very quickly, however, the attendees decided to create a new framework for a national government. Thatframework became the United States Constitution, and the Philadelphia convention became known asthe Constitutional Convention of 1787. Fifty-five men met in Philadelphia in secret; historians know ofthe proceedings only because James Madison kept careful notes of what transpired. The delegates knewthat what they were doing would be controversial; Rhode Island refused to send delegates, and NewHampshire’s delegates arrived late. Two delegates from New York, Robert Yates and John Lansing, leftthe convention when it became clear that the Articles were being put aside and a new plan of nationalgovernment was being drafted. They did not believe the delegates had the authority to create a strongnational government.

Read “Reasons for Dissent from the Proposed Constitution”( in order to understand why RobertYates and John Lansing, New York’s delegates to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention,didn’t believe the convention should draft a new plan of national government.

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THE QUESTION OF REPRESENTATIONOne issue that the delegates in Philadelphia addressed was the way in which representatives to the newnational government would be chosen. Would individual citizens be able to elect representatives? Wouldrepresentatives be chosen by state legislatures? How much representation was appropriate for each state?

James Madison put forward a proposition known as the Virginia Plan, which called for a strong nationalgovernment that could overturn state laws (Figure 7.15). The plan featured a bicameral or two-houselegislature, with an upper and a lower house. The people of the states would elect the members of thelower house, whose numbers would be determined by the population of the state. State legislatures wouldsend delegates to the upper house. The number of representatives in the upper chamber would also bebased on the state’s population. This proportional representation gave the more populous states, likeVirginia, more political power. The Virginia Plan also called for an executive branch and a judicial branch,both of which were absent under the Articles of Confederation. The lower and upper house together wereto appoint members to the executive and judicial branches. Under this plan, Virginia, the most populousstate, would dominate national political power and ensure its interests, including slavery, would be safe.

Figure 7.15 James Madison’s Virginia Plan, shown here, proposed a strong national government with proportionalstate representation.

The Virginia Plan’s call for proportional representation alarmed the representatives of the smaller states.William Paterson introduced a New Jersey Plan to counter Madison’s scheme, proposing that all stateshave equal votes in a unicameral national legislature. He also addressed the economic problems of theday by calling for the Congress to have the power to regulate commerce, to raise revenue though taxes onimports and through postage, and to enforce Congressional requisitions from the states.

Roger Sherman from Connecticut offered a compromise to break the deadlock over the thorny question ofrepresentation. His Connecticut Compromise, also known as the Great Compromise, outlined a differentbicameral legislature in which the upper house, the Senate, would have equal representation for all states;each state would be represented by two senators chosen by the state legislatures. Only the lower house,the House of Representatives, would have proportional representation.

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THE QUESTION OF SLAVERYThe question of slavery stood as a major issue at the Constitutional Convention because slaveholderswanted slaves to be counted along with whites, termed “free inhabitants,” when determining a state’stotal population. This, in turn, would augment the number of representatives accorded to those statesin the lower house. Some northerners, however, such as New York’s Gouverneur Morris, hated slaveryand did not even want the term included in the new national plan of government. Slaveholders arguedthat slavery imposed great burdens upon them and that, because they carried this liability, they deservedspecial consideration; slaves needed to be counted for purposes of representation.

The issue of counting or not counting slaves for purposes of representation connected directly to thequestion of taxation. Beginning in 1775, the Second Continental Congress asked states to pay for warby collecting taxes and sending the tax money to the Congress. The amount each state had to deliver intax revenue was determined by a state’s total population, including both free and enslaved individuals.States routinely fell far short of delivering the money requested by Congress under the plan. In April 1783,the Confederation Congress amended the earlier system of requisition by having slaves count as three-fifths of the white population. In this way, slaveholders gained a significant tax break. The delegates inPhiladelphia adopted this same three-fifths formula in the summer of 1787.

Under the three-fifths compromise in the 1787 Constitution, each slave would be counted as three-fifths ofa white person. Article 1, Section 2 stipulated that “Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportionedamong the several states . . . according to their respective Number, which shall be determined by adding tothe whole number of free Persons, including those bound for service for a Term of Years [white servants],and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other persons.” Since representation in the House ofRepresentatives was based on the population of a state, the three-fifths compromise gave extra politicalpower to slave states, although not as much as if the total population, both free and slave, had been used.Significantly, no direct federal income tax was immediately imposed. (The Sixteenth Amendment, ratifiedin 1913, put in place a federal income tax.) Northerners agreed to the three-fifths compromise because theNorthwest Ordinance of 1787, passed by the Confederation Congress, banned slavery in the future statesof the northwest. Northern delegates felt this ban balanced political power between states with slaves andthose without. The three-fifths compromise gave an advantage to slaveholders; they added three-fifths oftheir human property to their state’s population, allowing them to send representatives based in part onthe number of slaves they held.

THE QUESTION OF DEMOCRACYMany of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had serious reservations about democracy, whichthey believed promoted anarchy. To allay these fears, the Constitution blunted democratic tendenciesthat appeared to undermine the republic. Thus, to avoid giving the people too much direct power, thedelegates made certain that senators were chosen by the state legislatures, not elected directly by thepeople (direct elections of senators came with the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in1913). As an additional safeguard, the delegates created the Electoral College, the mechanism for choosingthe president. Under this plan, each state has a certain number of electors, which is its number of senators(two) plus its number of representatives in the House of Representatives. Critics, then as now, argue thatthis process prevents the direct election of the president.

THE FIGHT OVER RATIFICATIONThe draft constitution was finished in September 1787. The delegates decided that in order for the newnational government to be implemented, each state must first hold a special ratifying convention. Whennine of the thirteen had approved the plan, the constitution would go into effect.

When the American public learned of the new constitution, opinions were deeply divided, but most peoplewere opposed. To salvage their work in Philadelphia, the architects of the new national government begana campaign to sway public opinion in favor of their blueprint for a strong central government. In the

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fierce debate that erupted, the two sides articulated contrasting visions of the American republic and ofdemocracy. Supporters of the 1787 Constitution, known as Federalists, made the case that a centralizedrepublic provided the best solution for the future. Those who opposed it, known as Anti-Federalists,argued that the Constitution would consolidate all power in a national government, robbing the statesof the power to make their own decisions. To them, the Constitution appeared to mimic the old corruptand centralized British regime, under which a far-off government made the laws. Anti-Federalists arguedthat wealthy aristocrats would run the new national government, and that the elite would not representordinary citizens; the rich would monopolize power and use the new government to formulate policiesthat benefited their class—a development that would also undermine local state elites. They also arguedthat the Constitution did not contain a bill of rights.

New York’s ratifying convention illustrates the divide between the Federalists and Anti-Federalists. Whenone Anti-Federalist delegate named Melancton Smith took issue with the scheme of representation asbeing too limited and not reflective of the people, Alexander Hamilton responded:

It has been observed by an honorable gentleman [Smith], that a pure democracy, if it werepracticable, would be the most perfect government. Experience has proven, that no positionin politics is more false than this. The ancient democracies, in which the people themselvesdeliberated, never possessed one feature of good government. Their very character was tyranny;their figure deformity: When they assembled, the field of debate presented an ungovernablemob, not only incapable of deliberation, but prepared for every enormity. In these assemblies,the enemies of the people brought forward their plans of ambition systematically. They wereopposed by their enemies of another party; and it became a matter of contingency, whether thepeople subjected themselves to be led blindly by one tyrant or by another.

The Federalists, particularly John Jay, Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison, put their case to the publicin a famous series of essays known as The Federalist Papers. These were first published in New York andsubsequently republished elsewhere in the United States.

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James Madison on the Benefits of RepublicanismThe tenth essay in The Federalist Papers, often called Federalist No. 10, is one of the most famous.Written by James Madison (Figure 7.16), it addresses the problems of political parties (“factions”).Madison argued that there were two approaches to solving the problem of political parties: a republicangovernment and a democracy. He argued that a large republic provided the best defense against whathe viewed as the tumult of direct democracy. Compromises would be reached in a large republic andcitizens would be represented by representatives of their own choosing.

Figure 7.16 John Vanderlyn’s 1816 portrait depicts James Madison, one of the leading Federalistswho supported the 1787 Constitution.

From this view of the subject, it may be concluded, that a pure Democracy, by which Imean a Society consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer theGovernment in person, can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passionor interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communicationand concert result from the form of Government itself; and there is nothing to check theinducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that suchDemocracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been foundincompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been asshort in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, whohave patronized this species of Government, have erroneously supposed, that by reducingmankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectlyequalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions.A Republic, by which I mean a Government in which the scheme of representation takesplace, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking. Let usexamine the points in which it varies from pure Democracy, and we shall comprehend boththe nature of the cure, and the efficacy which it must derive from the Union.The two great points of difference, between a Democracy and a Republic, are, first, thedelegation of the Government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest:Secondly, the greater number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the lattermay be extended.

Does Madison recommend republicanism or democracy as the best form of government? Whatarguments does he use to prove his point?

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Read the full text of Federalist No. 10 ( onWikisource. What do you think are Madison’s most and least compelling arguments?How would different members of the new United States view his arguments?

Including all the state ratifying conventions around the country, a total of fewer than two thousand menvoted on whether to adopt the new plan of government. In the end, the Constitution only narrowlywon approval (Figure 7.17). In New York, the vote was thirty in favor to twenty-seven opposed. InMassachusetts, the vote to approve was 187 to 168, and some claim supporters of the Constitution resortedto bribes in order to ensure approval. Virginia ratified by a vote of eighty-nine to seventy-nine, andRhode Island by thirty-four to thirty-two. The opposition to the Constitution reflected the fears that a newnational government, much like the British monarchy, created too much centralized power and, as a result,deprived citizens in the various states of the ability to make their own decisions.

Figure 7.17 The first page of the 1787 United States Constitution, shown here, begins: “We the People of the UnitedStates, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the commondefence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordainand establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

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checks and balances

Connecticut Compromise

conservative Whigs



Electoral College


majority rule



proportional representation

radical Whigs

three-fifths compromise


Key Terms

those who opposed the 1787 Constitution and favored stronger individual states

having two legislative houses, an upper and a lower house

the system that ensures a balance of power among the branches of government

also known as the Great Compromise, Roger Sherman’s proposal at theConstitutional Convention for a bicameral legislature, with the upper house having equal representationfor all states and the lower house having proportional representation

the politically and economically elite revolutionary class that wanted to limitpolitical participation to a few powerful families

the legal status of married women in the United States, which included complete legal andeconomic dependence on husbands

a system of government in which the majority rules

the mechanism by which electors, based on the number of representatives from eachstate, choose the president

those who supported the 1787 Constitution and a strong central government; these advocatesof the new national government formed the ruling political party in the 1790s

a fundamental principle of democracy, providing that the majority should have the powerto make decisions binding upon the whole

the freeing of a slave by his or her owner

a form of government with a monarch at its head

representation that gives more populous states greater political power byallowing them more representatives

revolutionaries who favored broadening participation in the political process

the agreement at the Constitutional Convention that each slave would count asthree-fifths of a white person for purposes of representation

having a single house (of legislative government)

Summary7.1 Common Sense: From Monarchy to an American RepublicThe guiding principle of republicanism was that the people themselves would appoint or select theleaders who would represent them. The debate over how much democracy (majority rule) to incorporatein the governing of the new United States raised questions about who was best qualified to participatein government and have the right to vote. Revolutionary leaders argued that property holders had thegreatest stake in society and favored a republic that would limit political rights to property holders. Inthis way, republicanism exhibited a bias toward the elite. George Washington served as a role model forthe new republic, embodying the exceptional talent and public virtue prized in its political and socialphilosophy.

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7.2 How Much Revolutionary Change?After the Revolution, the balance of power between women and men and between whites, blacks, andIndians remained largely unchanged. Yet revolutionary principles, including the call for universal equalityin the Declaration of Independence, inspired and emboldened many. Abigail Adams and others pressedfor greater rights for women, while the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and New York ManumissionSociety worked toward the abolition of slavery. Nonetheless, for blacks, women, and native peoples, therevolutionary ideals of equality fell far short of reality. In the new republic, full citizenship—including theright to vote—did not extend to nonwhites or to women.

7.3 Debating DemocracyThe late 1770s and 1780s witnessed one of the most creative political eras as each state drafted itsown constitution. The Articles of Confederation, a weak national league among the states, reflected thedominant view that power should be located in the states and not in a national government. However,neither the state governments nor the Confederation government could solve the enormous economicproblems resulting from the long and costly Revolutionary War. The economic crisis led to Shays’Rebellion by residents of western Massachusetts, and to the decision to revise the Confederationgovernment.

7.4 The Constitutional Convention and Federal ConstitutionThe economic crisis of the 1780s, shortcomings of the Articles of Confederation, and outbreak of Shays’Rebellion spurred delegates from twelve of the thirteen states to gather for the Constitutional Conventionof 1787. Although the stated purpose of the convention was to modify the Articles of Confederation, theirmission shifted to the building of a new, strong federal government. Federalists like James Madison andAlexander Hamilton led the charge for a new United States Constitution, the document that endures asthe oldest written constitution in the world, a testament to the work done in 1787 by the delegates inPhiladelphia.

Review Questions1. To what form of government did the Americanrevolutionaries turn after the war forindependence?

A. republicanismB. monarchyC. democracyD. oligarchy

2. Which of the following was not one ofFranklin’s thirteen virtues?

A. sincerityB. temperanceC. mercyD. tranquility

3. What defined republicanism as a socialphilosophy?

4. Which of the following figures did not activelychallenge the status of women in the earlyAmerican republic?

A. Abigail AdamsB. Phillis WheatleyC. Mercy Otis WarrenD. Judith Sargent Murray

5. Which state had the clearest separation ofchurch and state?

A. New HampshireB. PennsylvaniaC. VirginiaD. New York

6. How would you characterize ThomasJefferson’s ideas on race and slavery?

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7. Which of the following states had the mostdemocratic constitution in the 1780s?

A. PennsylvaniaB. MassachusettsC. South CarolinaD. Maryland

8. Under the Articles of Confederation, whatpower did the national Confederation Congresshave?

A. the power to taxB. the power to enforce foreign treatiesC. the power to enforce commercial trade

agreementsD. the power to create land ordinances

9. What were the primary causes of Shays’Rebellion?

10. Which plan resolved the issue ofrepresentation for the U.S. Constitution?

A. the Rhode Island AgreementB. the New Jersey PlanC. the Connecticut CompromiseD. the Virginia Plan

11. How was the U.S. Constitution ratified?A. by each state at special ratifying

conventionsB. at the Constitutional Convention of 1787C. at the Confederation ConventionD. by popular referendum in each state

12. Explain the argument that led to the three-fifths rule and the consequences of that rule.

Critical Thinking Questions13. Describe the state constitutions that were more democratic and those that were less so. What effectwould these different constitutions have upon those states? Who could participate in government, whetherby voting or by holding public office? Whose interests were represented, and whose were compromised?

14. In what ways does the United States Constitution manifest the principles of both republican anddemocratic forms of government? In what ways does it deviate from those principles?

15. In this chapter’s discussion of New York’s ratifying convention, Alexander Hamilton takes issue withAnti-Federalist delegate Melancton Smith’s assertion that (as Hamilton says) “a pure democracy, if it werepracticable, would be the most perfect government.” What did Smith—and Hamilton—mean by “a puredemocracy”? How does this compare to the type of democracy that represents the modern United States?

16. Describe popular attitudes toward African Americans, women, and Indians in the wake of theRevolution. In what ways did the established social and political order depend upon keeping members ofthese groups in their circumscribed roles? If those roles were to change, how would American society andpolitics have had to adjust?

17. How did the process of creating and ratifying the Constitution, and the language of the Constitutionitself, confirm the positions of African Americans, women, and Indians in the new republic? How did theseroles compare to the stated goals of the republic?

18. What were the circumstances that led to Shays’ Rebellion? What was the government’s response?Would this response have confirmed or negated the grievances of the participants in the uprising? Why?

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Growing Pains: The New Republic,1790–1820

Figure 8.1 “The happy Effects of the Grand Systom [sic] of shutting Ports against the English!!” appeared in 1808.Less than a year earlier, Thomas Jefferson had recommended (and Congress had passed) the Embargo Act of 1807,which barred American ships from leaving their ports.

Chapter Outline8.1 Competing Visions: Federalists and Democratic-Republicans8.2 The New American Republic8.3 Partisan Politics8.4 The United States Goes Back to War

IntroductionThe partisan political cartoon above (Figure 8.1) lampoons Thomas Jefferson’s 1807 Embargo Act, amove that had a devastating effect on American commerce. American farmers and merchants complain toPresident Jefferson, while the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte whispers to him, “You shall be Kinghereafter.” This image illustrates one of many political struggles in the years after the fight for ratificationof the Constitution. In the nation’s first few years, no organized political parties existed. This began tochange as U.S. citizens argued bitterly about the proper size and scope of the new national government.As a result, the 1790s witnessed the rise of opposing political parties: the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. Federalists saw unchecked democracy as a dire threat to the republic, and they pointed tothe excesses of the French Revolution as proof of what awaited. Democratic-Republicans opposed theFederalists’ notion that only the wellborn and well educated were able to oversee the republic; they saw itas a pathway to oppression by an aristocracy.

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8.1 Competing Visions: Federalists and Democratic-Republicans

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the competing visions of the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans• Identify the protections granted to citizens under the Bill of Rights• Explain Alexander Hamilton’s financial programs as secretary of the treasury

In June 1788, New Hampshire became the ninth state to ratify the federal Constitution, and the new planfor a strong central government went into effect. Elections for the first U.S. Congress were held in 1788and 1789, and members took their seats in March 1789. In a reflection of the trust placed in him as thepersonification of republican virtue, George Washington became the first president in April 1789. JohnAdams served as his vice president; the pairing of a representative from Virginia (Washington) with onefrom Massachusetts (Adams) symbolized national unity. Nonetheless, political divisions quickly becameapparent. Washington and Adams represented the Federalist Party, which generated a backlash amongthose who resisted the new government’s assertions of federal power.

FEDERALISTS IN POWERThough the Revolution had overthrown British rule in the United States, supporters of the 1787 federalconstitution, known as Federalists, adhered to a decidedly British notion of social hierarchy. TheFederalists did not, at first, compose a political party. Instead, Federalists held certain shared assumptions.For them, political participation continued to be linked to property rights, which barred many citizensfrom voting or holding office. Federalists did not believe the Revolution had changed the traditional socialroles between women and men, or between whites and other races. They did believe in clear distinctionsin rank and intelligence. To these supporters of the Constitution, the idea that all were equal appearedludicrous. Women, blacks, and native peoples, they argued, had to know their place as secondary to whitemale citizens. Attempts to impose equality, they feared, would destroy the republic. The United States wasnot created to be a democracy.

Figure 8.2

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The architects of the Constitution committed themselves to leading the new republic, and they held amajority among the members of the new national government. Indeed, as expected, many assumed thenew executive posts the first Congress created. Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton, a leadingFederalist, as secretary of the treasury. For secretary of state, he chose Thomas Jefferson. For secretaryof war, he appointed Henry Knox, who had served with him during the Revolutionary War. EdmondRandolph, a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention, was named attorney general. In July 1789,Congress also passed the Judiciary Act, creating a Supreme Court of six justices headed by those who werecommitted to the new national government.

Congress passed its first major piece of legislation by placing a duty on imports under the 1789 TariffAct. Intended to raise revenue to address the country’s economic problems, the act was a victory fornationalists, who favored a robust, powerful federal government and had worked unsuccessfully forsimilar measures during the Confederation Congress in the 1780s. Congress also placed a fifty-cent-per-ton duty (based on materials transported, not the weight of a ship) on foreign ships coming into Americanports, a move designed to give the commercial advantage to American ships and goods.

THE BILL OF RIGHTSMany Americans opposed the 1787 Constitution because it seemed a dangerous concentration ofcentralized power that threatened the rights and liberties of ordinary U.S. citizens. These opponents,known collectively as Anti-Federalists, did not constitute a political party, but they united in demandingprotection for individual rights, and several states made the passing of a bill of rights a condition of theiracceptance of the Constitution. Rhode Island and North Carolina rejected the Constitution because it didnot already have this specific bill of rights.

Federalists followed through on their promise to add such a bill in 1789, when Virginia RepresentativeJames Madison introduced and Congress approved the Bill of Rights (Table 8.1). Adopted in 1791, the billconsisted of the first ten amendments to the Constitution and outlined many of the personal rights stateconstitutions already guaranteed.

Table 8.1 Rights Protected by the First Ten Amendments

Amendment 1 Right to freedoms of religion and speech; right to assemble and to petition thegovernment for redress of grievances

Amendment 2 Right to keep and bear arms to maintain a well-regulated militia

Amendment 3 Right not to house soldiers during time of war

Amendment 4 Right to be secure from unreasonable search and seizure

Amendment 5 Rights in criminal cases, including to due process and indictment by grand jury forcapital crimes, as well as the right not to testify against oneself

Amendment 6 Right to a speedy trial by an impartial jury

Amendment 7 Right to a jury trial in civil cases

Amendment 8 Right not to face excessive bail or fines, or cruel and unusual punishment

Amendment 9 Rights retained by the people, even if they are not specifically enumerated by theConstitution

Amendment 10 States’ rights to powers not specifically delegated to the federal government

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The adoption of the Bill of Rights softened the Anti-Federalists’ opposition to the Constitution and gavethe new federal government greater legitimacy among those who otherwise distrusted the new centralizedpower created by men of property during the secret 1787 Philadelphia Constitutional Convention.

Visit the National Archives ( to consider thefirst ten amendments to the Constitution as an expression of the fears many citizensharbored about the powers of the new federal government. What were these fears?How did the Bill of Rights calm them?

ALEXANDER HAMILTON’S PROGRAMAlexander Hamilton, Washington’s secretary of the treasury, was an ardent nationalist who believed astrong federal government could solve many of the new country’s financial ills. Born in the West Indies,Hamilton had worked on a St. Croix plantation as a teenager and was in charge of the accounts at a youngage. He knew the Atlantic trade very well and used that knowledge in setting policy for the United States.In the early 1790s, he created the foundation for the U.S. financial system. He understood that a robustfederal government would provide a solid financial foundation for the country.

The United States began mired in debt. In 1789, when Hamilton took up his post, the federal debt wasover $53 million. The states had a combined debt of around $25 million, and the United States had beenunable to pay its debts in the 1780s and was therefore considered a credit risk by European countries.Hamilton wrote three reports offering solutions to the economic crisis brought on by these problems. Thefirst addressed public credit, the second addressed banking, and the third addressed raising revenue.

The Report on Public CreditFor the national government to be effective, Hamilton deemed it essential to have the support of those towhom it owed money: the wealthy, domestic creditor class as well as foreign creditors. In January 1790, hedelivered his “Report on Public Credit“ (Figure 8.3), addressing the pressing need of the new republic tobecome creditworthy. He recommended that the new federal government honor all its debts, including allpaper money issued by the Confederation and the states during the war, at face value. Hamilton especiallywanted wealthy American creditors who held large amounts of paper money to be invested, literally, inthe future and welfare of the new national government. He also understood the importance of making thenew United States financially stable for creditors abroad. To pay these debts, Hamilton proposed that thefederal government sell bonds—federal interest-bearing notes—to the public. These bonds would have thebacking of the government and yield interest payments. Creditors could exchange their old notes for thenew government bonds. Hamilton wanted to give the paper money that states had issued during the warthe same status as government bonds; these federal notes would begin to yield interest payments in 1792.

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Figure 8.3 As the first secretary of the treasury, Alexander Hamilton (a), shown here in a 1792 portrait by JohnTrumbull, released the “Report on Public Credit” (b) in January 1790.

Hamilton designed his “Report on Public Credit” (later called “First Report on Public Credit”) to ensurethe survival of the new and shaky American republic. He knew the importance of making the United Statesfinancially reliable, secure, and strong, and his plan provided a blueprint to achieve that goal. He arguedthat his plan would satisfy creditors, citing the goal of “doing justice to the creditors of the nation.” Atthe same time, the plan would work “to promote the increasing respectability of the American name; toanswer the calls for justice; to restore landed property to its due value; to furnish new resources both toagriculture and commerce; to cement more closely the union of the states; to add to their security againstforeign attack; to establish public order on the basis of upright and liberal policy.”

Hamilton’s program ignited a heated debate in Congress. A great many of both Confederation and statenotes had found their way into the hands of speculators, who had bought them from hard-pressedveterans in the 1780s and paid a fraction of their face value in anticipation of redeeming them at full valueat a later date. Because these speculators held so many notes, many in Congress objected that Hamilton’splan would benefit them at the expense of the original note-holders. One of those who opposed Hamilton’s1790 report was James Madison, who questioned the fairness of a plan that seemed to cheat poor soldiers.

Not surprisingly, states with a large debt, like South Carolina, supported Hamilton’s plan, while stateswith less debt, like North Carolina, did not. To gain acceptance of his plan, Hamilton worked out acompromise with Virginians Madison and Jefferson, whereby in return for their support he would give upNew York City as the nation’s capital and agree on a more southern location, which they preferred. In July1790, a site along the Potomac River was selected as the new “federal city,” which became the District ofColumbia.

Hamilton’s plan to convert notes to bonds worked extremely well to restore European confidence in theU.S. economy. It also proved a windfall for creditors, especially those who had bought up state andConfederation notes at far less than face value. But it immediately generated controversy about the sizeand scope of the government. Some saw the plan as an unjust use of federal power, while Hamilton arguedthat Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution granted the government “implied powers” that gave the greenlight to his program.

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The Report on a National BankAs secretary of the treasury, Hamilton hoped to stabilize the American economy further by establishing anational bank. The United States operated with a flurry of different notes from multiple state banks andno coherent regulation. By proposing that the new national bank buy up large volumes of state bank notesand demanding their conversion into gold, Hamilton especially wanted to discipline those state banks thatissued paper money irresponsibly. To that end, he delivered his “Report on a National Bank” in December1790, proposing a Bank of the United States, an institution modeled on the Bank of England. The bankwould issue loans to American merchants and bills of credit (federal bank notes that would circulate asmoney) while serving as a repository of government revenue from the sale of land. Stockholders wouldown the bank, along with the federal government.

Like the recommendations in his “Report on Public Credit,” Hamilton’s bank proposal generatedopposition. Jefferson, in particular, argued that the Constitution did not permit the creation of a nationalbank. In response, Hamilton again invoked the Constitution’s implied powers. President Washingtonbacked Hamilton’s position and signed legislation creating the bank in 1791.

The Report on ManufacturesThe third report Hamilton delivered to Congress, known as the “Report on Manufactures,” addressedthe need to raise revenue to pay the interest on the national debt. Using the power to tax as providedunder the Constitution, Hamilton put forth a proposal to tax American-made whiskey. He also knew theimportance of promoting domestic manufacturing so the new United States would no longer have to relyon imported manufactured goods. To break from the old colonial system, Hamilton therefore advocatedtariffs on all foreign imports to stimulate the production of American-made goods. To promote domesticindustry further, he proposed federal subsidies to American industries. Like all of Hamilton’s programs,the idea of government involvement in the development of American industries was new.

With the support of Washington, the entire Hamiltonian economic program received the necessarysupport in Congress to be implemented. In the long run, Hamilton’s financial program helped to rescue theUnited States from its state of near-bankruptcy in the late 1780s. His initiatives marked the beginning of anAmerican capitalism, making the republic creditworthy, promoting commerce, and setting for the nationa solid financial foundation. His policies also facilitated the growth of the stock market, as U.S. citizensbought and sold the federal government’s interest-bearing certificates.

THE DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY AND THE FIRST PARTY SYSTEMJames Madison and Thomas Jefferson felt the federal government had overstepped its authority byadopting the treasury secretary’s plan. Madison found Hamilton’s scheme immoral and offensive. Heargued that it turned the reins of government over to the class of speculators who profited at the expenseof hardworking citizens.

Jefferson, who had returned to the United States in 1790 after serving as a diplomat in France, triedunsuccessfully to convince Washington to block the creation of a national bank. He also took issue withwhat he perceived as favoritism given to commercial classes in the principal American cities. He thoughturban life widened the gap between the wealthy few and an underclass of landless poor workers who,because of their oppressed condition, could never be good republican property owners. Rural areas, incontrast, offered far more opportunities for property ownership and virtue. In 1783 Jefferson wrote, “Thosewho labor in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people.” Jefferson believedthat self-sufficient, property-owning republican citizens or yeoman farmers held the key to the success andlongevity of the American republic. (As a creature of his times, he did not envision a similar role for eitherwomen or nonwhite men.) To him, Hamilton’s program seemed to encourage economic inequalities andwork against the ordinary American yeoman.

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Opposition to Hamilton, who had significant power in the new federal government, including the ear ofPresident Washington, began in earnest in the early 1790s. Jefferson turned to his friend Philip Freneau tohelp organize the effort through the publication of the National Gazette as a counter to the Federalist press,especially the Gazette of the United States (Figure 8.4). From 1791 until 1793, when it ceased publication,Freneau’s partisan paper attacked Hamilton’s program and Washington’s administration. “Rules forChanging a Republic into a Monarchy,” written by Freneau, is an example of the type of attack aimed at thenational government, and especially at the elitism of the Federalist Party. Newspapers in the 1790s becameenormously important in American culture as partisans like Freneau attempted to sway public opinion.These newspapers did not aim to be objective; instead, they served to broadcast the views of a particularparty.

Figure 8.4 Here, the front page of the Federalist Gazette of the United States from September 9, 1789 (a), is shownbeside that of the oppositional National Gazette from November 14, 1791 (b). The Gazette of the United Statesfeatured articles, sometimes written pseudonymously or anonymously, from leading Federalists like AlexanderHamilton and John Adams. The National Gazette was founded two years later to counter their political influence.

Visit ( to read Philip Freneau’sessay and others from the National Gazette. Can you identify three instances ofpersuasive writing against the Federalist Party or the government?

Opposition to the Federalists led to the formation of Democratic-Republican societies, composed of menwho felt the domestic policies of the Washington administration were designed to enrich the few whileignoring everyone else. Democratic-Republicans championed limited government. Their fear of

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centralized power originated in the experience of the 1760s and 1770s when the distant, overbearing,and seemingly corrupt British Parliament attempted to impose its will on the colonies. The 1787 federalconstitution, written in secret by fifty-five wealthy men of property and standing, ignited fears of a similarmenacing plot. To opponents, the Federalists promoted aristocracy and a monarchical government—abetrayal of what many believed to be the goal of the American Revolution.

While wealthy merchants and planters formed the core of the Federalist leadership, members of theDemocratic-Republican societies in cities like Philadelphia and New York came from the ranks of artisans.These citizens saw themselves as acting in the spirit of 1776, this time not against the haughty British butby what they believed to have replaced them—a commercial class with no interest in the public good.Their political efforts against the Federalists were a battle to preserve republicanism, to promote the publicgood against private self-interest. They published their views, held meetings to voice their opposition,and sponsored festivals and parades. In their strident newspapers attacks, they also worked to underminethe traditional forms of deference and subordination to aristocrats, in this case the Federalist elites. Somemembers of northern Democratic-Republican clubs denounced slavery as well.

DEFINING CITIZENSHIPWhile questions regarding the proper size and scope of the new national government created a divideamong Americans and gave rise to political parties, a consensus existed among men on the issue of whoqualified and who did not qualify as a citizen. The 1790 Naturalization Act defined citizenship in starkracial terms. To be a citizen of the American republic, an immigrant had to be a “free white person” of“good character.” By excluding slaves, free blacks, Indians, and Asians from citizenship, the act laid thefoundation for the United States as a republic of white men.

Full citizenship that included the right to vote was restricted as well. Many state constitutions directedthat only male property owners or taxpayers could vote. For women, the right to vote remained out ofreach except in the state of New Jersey. In 1776, the fervor of the Revolution led New Jersey revolutionariesto write a constitution extending the right to vote to unmarried women who owned property worth£50. Federalists and Democratic-Republicans competed for the votes of New Jersey women who met therequirements to cast ballots. This radical innovation continued until 1807, when New Jersey restrictedvoting to free white males.

8.2 The New American Republic

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the major foreign and domestic uprisings of the early 1790s• Explain the effect of these uprisings on the political system of the United States

The colonies’ alliance with France, secured after the victory at Saratoga in 1777, proved crucial in theirvictory against the British, and during the 1780s France and the new United States enjoyed a specialrelationship. Together they had defeated their common enemy, Great Britain. But despite this sharedexperience, American opinions regarding France diverged sharply in the 1790s when France underwent itsown revolution. Democratic-Republicans seized on the French revolutionaries’ struggle against monarchyas the welcome harbinger of a larger republican movement around the world. To the Federalists, however,the French Revolution represented pure anarchy, especially after the execution of the French king in 1793.Along with other foreign and domestic uprisings, the French Revolution helped harden the political dividein the United States in the early 1790s.

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THE FRENCH REVOLUTIONThe French Revolution, which began in 1789, further split American thinkers into different ideologicalcamps, deepening the political divide between Federalists and their Democratic-Republican foes. At first,in 1789 and 1790, the revolution in France appeared to most in the United States as part of a new chapterin the rejection of corrupt monarchy, a trend inspired by the American Revolution. A constitutionalmonarchy replaced the absolute monarchy of Louis XVI in 1791, and in 1792, France was declared arepublic. Republican liberty, the creed of the United States, seemed to be ushering in a new era in France.Indeed, the American Revolution served as an inspiration for French revolutionaries.

The events of 1793 and 1794 challenged the simple interpretation of the French Revolution as a happychapter in the unfolding triumph of republican government over monarchy. The French king was executedin January 1793 (Figure 8.5), and the next two years became known as the Terror, a period of extremeviolence against perceived enemies of the revolutionary government. Revolutionaries advocated directrepresentative democracy, dismantled Catholicism, replaced that religion with a new philosophy knownas the Cult of the Supreme Being, renamed the months of the year, and relentlessly employed the guillotineagainst their enemies. Federalists viewed these excesses with growing alarm, fearing that the radicalismof the French Revolution might infect the minds of citizens at home. Democratic-Republicans interpretedthe same events with greater optimism, seeing them as a necessary evil of eliminating the monarchy andaristocratic culture that supported the privileges of a hereditary class of rulers.

Figure 8.5 An image from a 1791 Hungarian journal depicts the beheading of Louis XVI during the FrenchRevolution. The violence of the revolutionary French horrified many in the United States—especially Federalists, whosaw it as an example of what could happen when the mob gained political control and instituted direct democracy.

The controversy in the United States intensified when France declared war on Great Britain and Hollandin February 1793. France requested that the United States make a large repayment of the money it hadborrowed from France to fund the Revolutionary War. However, Great Britain would judge any aidgiven to France as a hostile act. Washington declared the United States neutral in 1793, but Democratic-Republican groups denounced neutrality and declared their support of the French republicans. TheFederalists used the violence of the French revolutionaries as a reason to attack Democratic-Republicanismin the United States, arguing that Jefferson and Madison would lead the country down a similarlydisastrous path.

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Visit Liberty, Equality, Fraternity ( forimages, texts, and songs relating to the French Revolution. This momentous event’simpact extended far beyond Europe, influencing politics in the United States andelsewhere in the Atlantic World.

THE CITIZEN GENÊT AFFAIR AND JAY’S TREATYIn 1793, the revolutionary French government sent Edmond-Charles Genêt to the United States tonegotiate an alliance with the U.S. government. France empowered Genêt to issue letters ofmarque—documents authorizing ships and their crews to engage in piracy—to allow him to arm capturedBritish ships in American ports with U.S. soldiers. Genêt arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, amidgreat Democratic-Republican fanfare. He immediately began commissioning American privateer shipsand organizing volunteer American militias to attack Spanish holdings in the Americas, then traveled toPhiladelphia, gathering support for the French cause along the way. President Washington and Hamiltondenounced Genêt, knowing his actions threatened to pull the United States into a war with Great Britain.The Citizen Genêt affair, as it became known, spurred Great Britain to instruct its naval commanders inthe West Indies to seize all ships trading with the French. The British captured hundreds of American shipsand their cargoes, increasing the possibility of war between the two countries.

In this tense situation, Great Britain worked to prevent a wider conflict by ending its seizure of Americanships and offered to pay for captured cargoes. Hamilton saw an opportunity and recommended toWashington that the United States negotiate. Supreme Court Justice John Jay was sent to Britain, instructedby Hamilton to secure compensation for captured American ships; ensure the British leave the Northwestoutposts they still occupied despite the 1783 Treaty of Paris; and gain an agreement for American tradein the West Indies. Even though Jay personally disliked slavery, his mission also required him to seekcompensation from the British for slaves who left with the British at the end of the Revolutionary War.

The resulting 1794 agreement, known as Jay’s Treaty, fulfilled most of his original goals. The British wouldturn over the frontier posts in the Northwest, American ships would be allowed to trade freely in theWest Indies, and the United States agreed to assemble a commission charged with settling colonial debtsU.S. citizens owed British merchants. The treaty did not address the important issue of impressment,however—the British navy’s practice of forcing or “impressing” American sailors to work and fight onBritish warships. Jay’s Treaty led the Spanish, who worried that it signaled an alliance between the UnitedStates and Great Britain, to negotiate a treaty of their own—Pinckney’s Treaty—that allowed Americancommerce to flow through the Spanish port of New Orleans. Pinckney’s Treaty allowed American farmers,who were moving in greater numbers to the Ohio River Valley, to ship their products down the Ohio andMississippi Rivers to New Orleans, where they could be transported to East Coast markets.

Jay’s Treaty confirmed the fears of Democratic-Republicans, who saw it as a betrayal of republican France,cementing the idea that the Federalists favored aristocracy and monarchy. Partisan American newspaperstried to sway public opinion, while the skillful writing of Hamilton, who published a number of essays onthe subject, explained the benefits of commerce with Great Britain.

THE FRENCH REVOLUTION’S CARIBBEAN LEGACYUnlike the American Revolution, which ultimately strengthened the institution of slavery and the powersof American slaveholders, the French Revolution inspired slave rebellions in the Caribbean, including

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a 1791 slave uprising in the French colony of Saint-Domingue (modern-day Haiti). Thousands of slavesjoined together to overthrow the brutal system of slavery. They took control of a large section of the island,burning sugar plantations and killing the white planters who had forced them to labor under the lash.

In 1794, French revolutionaries abolished slavery in the French empire, and both Spain and Englandattacked Saint-Domingue, hoping to add the colony to their own empires. Toussaint L’Ouverture, a formerdomestic slave, emerged as the leader in the fight against Spain and England to secure a Haiti free ofslavery and further European colonialism. Because revolutionary France had abolished slavery, Toussaintaligned himself with France, hoping to keep Spain and England at bay (Figure 8.6).

Figure 8.6 An 1802 portrait shows Toussaint L’Ouverture, “Chef des Noirs Insurgés de Saint Domingue” (“Leader ofthe Black Insurgents of Saint Domingue”), mounted and armed in an elaborate uniform.

Events in Haiti further complicated the partisan wrangling in the United States. White refugee plantersfrom Haiti and other French West Indian islands, along with slaves and free people of color, left theCaribbean for the United States and for Louisiana, which at the time was held by Spain. The presenceof these French migrants raised fears, especially among Federalists, that they would bring the contagionof French radicalism to the United States. In addition, the idea that the French Revolution could inspirea successful slave uprising just off the American coastline filled southern whites and slaveholders withhorror.

THE WHISKEY REBELLIONWhile the wars in France and the Caribbean divided American citizens, a major domestic test of the newnational government came in 1794 over the issue of a tax on whiskey, an important part of Hamilton’sfinancial program. In 1791, Congress had authorized a tax of 7.5 cents per gallon of whiskey and rum.Although most citizens paid without incident, trouble erupted in four western Pennsylvania counties inan uprising known as the Whiskey Rebellion.

Farmers in the western counties of Pennsylvania produced whiskey from their grain for economic reasons.Without adequate roads or other means to transport a bulky grain harvest, these farmers distilled theirgrains into gin and whiskey, which were more cost-effective to transport. Since these farmers depended onthe sale of whiskey, some citizens in western Pennsylvania (and elsewhere) viewed the new tax as furtherproof that the new national government favored the commercial classes on the eastern seaboard at theexpense of farmers in the West. On the other hand, supporters of the tax argued that it helped stabilize

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the economy and its cost could easily be passed on to the consumer, not the farmer-distiller. However,in the spring and summer months of 1794, angry citizens rebelled against the federal officials in chargeof enforcing the federal excise law. Like the Sons of Liberty before the American Revolution, the whiskeyrebels used violence and intimidation to protest policies they saw as unfair. They tarred and featheredfederal officials, intercepted the federal mail, and intimidated wealthy citizens (Figure 8.7). The extentof their discontent found expression in their plan to form an independent western commonwealth, andthey even began negotiations with British and Spanish representatives, hoping to secure their support forindependence from the United States. The rebels also contacted their backcountry neighbors in Kentuckyand South Carolina, circulating the idea of secession.

Figure 8.7 This painting, attributed to Frederick Kemmelmeyer ca. 1795, depicts the massive force GeorgeWashington led to put down the Whiskey Rebellion of the previous year. Federalists made clear they would nottolerate mob action.

With their emphasis on personal freedoms, the whiskey rebels aligned themselves with the Democratic-Republican Party. They saw the tax as part of a larger Federalist plot to destroy their republican libertyand, in its most extreme interpretation, turn the United States into a monarchy. The federal governmentlowered the tax, but when federal officials tried to subpoena those distillers who remained intractable,trouble escalated. Washington responded by creating a thirteen-thousand-man militia, drawn from severalstates, to put down the rebellion. This force made it known, both domestically and to the European powersthat looked on in anticipation of the new republic’s collapse, that the national government would doeverything in its power to ensure the survival of the United States.

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Alexander Hamilton: “Shall the majority govern or begoverned?”Alexander Hamilton frequently wrote persuasive essays under pseudonyms, like “Tully,” as he does here.In this 1794 essay, Hamilton denounces the whiskey rebels and majority rule.

It has been observed that the means most likely to be employed to turn the insurrection in thewestern country to the detriment of the government, would be artfully calculated among otherthings ‘to divert your attention from the true question to be decided.’Let us see then what is this question. It is plainly this—shall the majority govern or begoverned? shall the nation rule, or be ruled? shall the general will prevail, or the will of afaction? shall there be government, or no government? . . .The Constitution you have ordained for yourselves and your posterity contains this expressclause, ‘The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and Excises,to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the UnitedStates.’ You have then, by a solemn and deliberate act, the most important and sacred thata nation can perform, pronounced and decreed, that your Representatives in Congress shallhave power to lay Excises. You have done nothing since to reverse or impair that decree. . . .But the four western counties of Pennsylvania, undertake to rejudge and reverse yourdecrees, you have said, ‘The Congress shall have power to lay Excises.’ They say, ‘TheCongress shall not have this power.’ . . .There is no road to despotism more sure or more to be dreaded than that which begins atanarchy.”—Alexander Hamilton’s “Tully No. II” for the American Daily Advertiser, Philadelphia, August26, 1794

What are the major arguments put forward by Hamilton in this document? Who do you think his audienceis?

WASHINGTON’S INDIAN POLICYRelationships with Indians were a significant problem for Washington’s administration, but one on whichwhite citizens agreed: Indians stood in the way of white settlement and, as the 1790 Naturalization Actmade clear, were not citizens. After the War of Independence, white settlers poured into lands west of theAppalachian Mountains. As a result, from 1785 to 1795, a state of war existed on the frontier between thesesettlers and the Indians who lived in the Ohio territory. In both 1790 and 1791, the Shawnee and Miamihad defended their lands against the whites who arrived in greater and greater numbers from the East.In response, Washington appointed General Anthony Wayne to bring the Western Confederacy—a loosealliance of tribes—to heel. In 1794, at the Battle of Fallen Timbers, Wayne was victorious. With the 1795Treaty of Greenville (Figure 8.8), the Western Confederacy gave up their claims to Ohio.

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Figure 8.8 Notice the contrasts between the depictions of federal and native representatives in this painting of thesigning of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795. What message or messages did the artist intend to convey?

8.3 Partisan Politics

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify key examples of partisan wrangling between the Federalists and Democratic-

Republicans• Describe how foreign relations affected American politics• Assess the importance of the Louisiana Purchase

George Washington, who had been reelected in 1792 by an overwhelming majority, refused to run fora third term, thus setting a precedent for future presidents. In the presidential election of 1796, thetwo parties—Federalist and Democratic-Republican—competed for the first time. Partisan rancor overthe French Revolution and the Whiskey Rebellion fueled the divide between them, and Federalist JohnAdams defeated his Democratic-Republican rival Thomas Jefferson by a narrow margin of only threeelectoral votes. In 1800, another close election swung the other way, and Jefferson began a long period ofDemocratic-Republican government.

THE PRESIDENCY OF JOHN ADAMSThe war between Great Britain and France in the 1790s shaped U.S. foreign policy. As a new and, incomparison to the European powers, extremely weak nation, the American republic had no control overEuropean events, and no real leverage to obtain its goals of trading freely in the Atlantic. To Federalistpresident John Adams, relations with France posed the biggest problem. After the Terror, the FrenchDirectory ruled France from 1795 to 1799. During this time, Napoleon rose to power.

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The Art of Ralph EarlRalph Earl was an eighteenth-century American artist, born in Massachusetts, who remained loyal to theBritish during the Revolutionary War. He fled to England in 1778, but he returned to New England in themid-1780s and began painting portraits of leading Federalists.

His portrait of Connecticut Federalist Oliver Ellsworth and his wife Abigail conveys the world asFederalists liked to view it: an orderly landscape administered by men of property and learning. Hisportrait of dry goods merchant Elijah Boardman shows Boardman as well-to-do and highly cultivated; hisbooks include the works of Shakespeare and Milton (Figure 8.9).

Figure 8.9 Ralph Earl’s portraits are known for placing their subjects in an orderly world, as seen herein the 1801 portrait of Oliver and Abigail Wolcott Ellsworth (a) and the 1789 portrait of Elijah Boardman(b).

What similarities do you see in the two portraits by Ralph Earl? What do the details of each portrait revealabout the sitters? About the artist and the 1790s?

Because France and Great Britain were at war, the French Directory issued decrees stating that any shipcarrying British goods could be seized on the high seas. In practice, this meant the French would targetAmerican ships, especially those in the West Indies, where the United States conducted a brisk trade withthe British. France declared its 1778 treaty with the United States null and void, and as a result, France andthe United States waged an undeclared war—or what historians refer to as the Quasi-War—from 1796 to1800. Between 1797 and 1799, the French seized 834 American ships, and Adams urged the buildup of theU.S. Navy, which consisted of only a single vessel at the time of his election in 1796 (Figure 8.10).

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Figure 8.10 This 1799 print, entitled “Preparation for WAR to defend Commerce,” shows the construction of a navalship, part of the effort to ensure the United States had access to free trade in the Atlantic world.

In 1797, Adams sought a diplomatic solution to the conflict with France and dispatched envoys tonegotiate terms. The French foreign minister, Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand, sent emissaries who told theAmerican envoys that the United States must repay all outstanding debts owed to France, lend France 32million guilders (Dutch currency), and pay a £50,000 bribe before any negotiations could take place. Newsof the attempt to extract a bribe, known as the XYZ affair because the French emissaries were referred to asX, Y, and Z in letters that President Adams released to Congress, outraged the American public and turnedpublic opinion decidedly against France (Figure 8.11). In the court of public opinion, Federalists appearedto have been correct in their interpretation of France, while the pro-French Democratic-Republicans hadbeen misled.

Figure 8.11 This anonymous 1798 cartoon, Property Protected à la Françoise, satirizes the XYZ affair. FiveFrenchmen are shown plundering the treasures of a woman representing the United States. One man holds a swordlabeled “French Argument” and a sack of gold and riches labeled “National Sack and Diplomatic Perquisites,” whilethe others collect her valuables. A group of other Europeans look on and commiserate that France treated them thesame way.

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Read the “transcript” of the above cartoon in the America in Caricature, 1765–1865( collection at Indiana University’s Lilly Library.

The complicated situation in Haiti, which remained a French colony in the late 1790s, also came to theattention of President Adams. The president, with the support of Congress, had created a U.S. Navy thatnow included scores of vessels. Most of the American ships cruised the Caribbean, giving the United Statesthe edge over France in the region. In Haiti, the rebellion leader Toussaint, who had to contend withvarious domestic rivals seeking to displace him, looked to end an U.S. embargo on France and its colonies,put in place in 1798, so that his forces would receive help to deal with the civil unrest. In early 1799, inorder to capitalize upon trade in the lucrative West Indies and undermine France’s hold on the island,Congress ended the ban on trade with Haiti—a move that acknowledged Toussaint’s leadership, to thehorror of American slaveholders. Toussaint was able to secure an independent black republic in Haiti by1804.

THE ALIEN AND SEDITION ACTSThe surge of animosity against France during the Quasi-War led Congress to pass several measures thatin time undermined Federalist power. These 1798 war measures, known as the Alien and Sedition Acts,aimed to increase national security against what most had come to regard as the French menace. The AlienAct and the Alien Enemies Act took particular aim at French immigrants fleeing the West Indies by givingthe president the power to deport new arrivals who appeared to be a threat to national security. The actexpired in 1800 with no immigrants having been deported. The Sedition Act imposed harsh penalties—upto five years’ imprisonment and a massive fine of $5,000 in 1790 dollars—on those convicted of speakingor writing “in a scandalous or malicious” manner against the government of the United States. Twenty-five men, all Democratic-Republicans, were indicted under the act, and ten were convicted. One of thesewas Congressman Matthew Lyon (Figure 8.12), representative from Vermont, who had launched his ownnewspaper, The Scourge Of Aristocracy and Repository of Important Political Truth.

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Figure 8.12 This 1798 cartoon, “Congressional Pugilists,” shows partisan chaos in the U.S. House ofRepresentatives as Matthew Lyon, a Democratic-Republican from Vermont, holds forth against his opponent,Federalist Roger Griswold.

The Alien and Sedition Acts raised constitutional questions about the freedom of the press provided underthe First Amendment. Democratic-Republicans argued that the acts were evidence of the Federalists’ intentto squash individual liberties and, by enlarging the powers of the national government, crush states’rights. Jefferson and Madison mobilized the response to the acts in the form of statements known as theVirginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which argued that the acts were illegal and unconstitutional. Theresolutions introduced the idea of nullification, the right of states to nullify acts of Congress, and advancedthe argument of states’ rights. The resolutions failed to rally support in other states, however. Indeed, mostother states rejected them, citing the necessity of a strong national government.

The Quasi-War with France came to an end in 1800, when President Adams was able to secure the Treatyof Mortefontaine. His willingness to open talks with France divided the Federalist Party, but the treatyreopened trade between the two countries and ended the French practice of taking American ships on thehigh seas.

THE REVOLUTION OF 1800 AND THE PRESIDENCY OF THOMAS JEFFERSONThe Revolution of 1800 refers to the first transfer of power from one party to another in Americanhistory, when the presidency passed to Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson (Figure 8.13) in the1800 election. The peaceful transition calmed contemporary fears about possible violent reactions to a newparty’s taking the reins of government. The passing of political power from one political party to anotherwithout bloodshed also set an important precedent.

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Figure 8.13 Thomas Jefferson’s victory in 1800 signaled the ascendency of the Democratic-Republicans and thedecline of Federalist power.

The election did prove even more divisive than the 1796 election, however, as both the Federalist andDemocratic-Republican Parties waged a mudslinging campaign unlike any seen before. Because theFederalists were badly divided, the Democratic-Republicans gained political ground. Alexander Hamilton,who disagreed with President Adams’s approach to France, wrote a lengthy letter, meant for people withinhis party, attacking his fellow Federalist’s character and judgment and ridiculing his handling of foreignaffairs. Democratic-Republicans got hold of and happily reprinted the letter.

Jefferson viewed participatory democracy as a positive force for the republic, a direct departure fromFederalist views. His version of participatory democracy only extended, however, to the white yeomanfarmers in whom Jefferson placed great trust. While Federalist statesmen, like the architects of the 1787federal constitution, feared a pure democracy, Jefferson was far more optimistic that the commonAmerican farmer could be trusted to make good decisions. He believed in majority rule, that is, thatthe majority of yeoman should have the power to make decisions binding upon the whole. Jeffersonhad cheered the French Revolution, even when the French republic instituted the Terror to ensure themonarchy would not return. By 1799, however, he had rejected the cause of France because of hisopposition to Napoleon’s seizure of power and creation of a dictatorship.

Over the course of his two terms as president—he was reelected in 1804—Jefferson reversed the policiesof the Federalist Party by turning away from urban commercial development. Instead, he promotedagriculture through the sale of western public lands in small and affordable lots. Perhaps Jefferson’s mostlasting legacy is his vision of an “empire of liberty.” He distrusted cities and instead envisioned a ruralrepublic of land-owning white men, or yeoman republican farmers. He wanted the United States to be thebreadbasket of the world, exporting its agricultural commodities without suffering the ills of urbanizationand industrialization. Since American yeomen would own their own land, they could stand up againstthose who might try to buy their votes with promises of property. Jefferson championed the rights of statesand insisted on limited federal government as well as limited taxes. This stood in stark contrast to theFederalists’ insistence on a strong, active federal government. Jefferson also believed in fiscal austerity. Hepushed for—and Congress approved—the end of all internal taxes, such as those on whiskey and rum.The most significant trimming of the federal budget came at the expense of the military; Jefferson did notbelieve in maintaining a costly military, and he slashed the size of the navy Adams had worked to buildup. Nonetheless, Jefferson responded to the capture of American ships and sailors by pirates off the coastof North Africa by leading the United States into war against the Muslim Barbary States in 1801, the firstconflict fought by Americans overseas.

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The slow decline of the Federalists, which began under Jefferson, led to a period of one-party rule innational politics. Historians call the years between 1815 and 1828 the “Era of Good Feelings” and highlightthe “Virginia dynasty” of the time, since the two presidents who followed Jefferson—James Madisonand James Monroe—both hailed from his home state. Like him, they owned slaves and representedthe Democratic-Republican Party. Though Federalists continued to enjoy popularity, especially in theNortheast, their days of prominence in setting foreign and domestic policy had ended.

PARTISAN ACRIMONYThe earliest years of the nineteenth century were hardly free of problems between the two political parties.Early in Jefferson’s term, controversy swirled over President Adams’s judicial appointments of manyFederalists during his final days in office. When Jefferson took the oath of office, he refused to have thecommissions for these Federalist justices delivered to the appointed officials.

One of Adams’s appointees, William Marbury, had been selected to be a justice of the peace in the Districtof Columbia, and when his commission did not arrive, he petitioned the Supreme Court for an explanationfrom Jefferson’s secretary of state, James Madison. In deciding the case, Marbury v. Madison, in 1803, ChiefJustice John Marshall agreed that Marbury had the right to a legal remedy, establishing that individualshad rights even the president of the United States could not abridge. However, Marshall also found thatCongress’s Judicial Act of 1789, which would have given the Supreme Court the power to grant Marburyremedy, was unconstitutional because the Constitution did not allow for cases like Marbury’s to comedirectly before the Supreme Court. Thus, Marshall established the principle of judicial review, whichstrengthened the court by asserting its power to review (and possibly nullify) the actions of Congress andthe president. Jefferson was not pleased, but neither did Marbury get his commission.

The animosity between the political parties exploded into open violence in 1804, when Aaron Burr,Jefferson’s first vice president, and Alexander Hamilton engaged in a duel. When Democratic-RepublicanBurr lost his bid for the office of governor of New York, he was quick to blame Hamilton, who had longhated him and had done everything in his power to discredit him. On July 11, the two antagonists metin Weehawken, New Jersey, to exchange bullets in a duel in which Burr shot and mortally woundedHamilton.

THE LOUISIANA PURCHASEJefferson, who wanted to expand the United States to bring about his “empire of liberty,” realized hisgreatest triumph in 1803 when the United States bought the Louisiana territory from France. For $15million—a bargain price, considering the amount of land involved—the United States doubled in size.Perhaps the greatest real estate deal in American history, the Louisiana Purchase greatly enhanced theJeffersonian vision of the United States as an agrarian republic in which yeomen farmers worked the land.Jefferson also wanted to bolster trade in the West, seeing the port of New Orleans and the MississippiRiver (then the western boundary of the United States) as crucial to American agricultural commerce. Inhis mind, farmers would send their produce down the Mississippi River to New Orleans, where it wouldbe sold to European traders.

The purchase of Louisiana came about largely because of circumstances beyond Jefferson’s control, thoughhe certainly recognized the implications of the transaction. Until 1801, Spain had controlled New Orleansand had given the United States the right to traffic goods in the port without paying customs duties. Thatyear, however, the Spanish had ceded Louisiana (and New Orleans) to France. In 1802, the United Stateslost its right to deposit goods free in the port, causing outrage among many, some of whom called for warwith France.

Jefferson instructed Robert Livingston, the American envoy to France, to secure access to New Orleans,sending James Monroe to France to add additional pressure. The timing proved advantageous. Becauseblack slaves in the French colony of Haiti had successfully overthrown the brutal plantation regime,Napoleon could no longer hope to restore the empire lost with France’s defeat in the French and Indian

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War (1754–1763). His vision of Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley as the source for food for Haiti, themost profitable sugar island in the world, had failed. The emperor therefore agreed to the sale in early1803.

Explore the collected maps and documents relating to the Louisiana Purchase and itshistory at the Library of Congress ( site.

The true extent of the United States’ new territory remained unknown (Figure 8.14). Would it provide thelong-sought quick access to Asian markets? Geographical knowledge was limited; indeed, no one knewprecisely what lay to the west or how long it took to travel from the Mississippi to the Pacific. Jeffersonselected two fellow Virginians, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, to lead an expedition to the newwestern lands. Their purpose was to discover the commercial possibilities of the new land and, mostimportantly, potential trade routes. From 1804 to 1806, Lewis and Clark traversed the West.

Figure 8.14 This 1804 map (a) shows the territory added to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase of 1803.Compare this depiction to the contemporary map (b). How does the 1804 version differ from what you know of thegeography of the United States?

The Louisiana Purchase helped Jefferson win reelection in 1804 by a landslide. Of 176 electoral votescast, all but 14 were in his favor. The great expansion of the United States did have its critics, however,especially northerners who feared the addition of more slave states and a corresponding lack of

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representation of their interests in the North. And under a strict interpretation of the Constitution, itremained unclear whether the president had the power to add territory in this fashion. But the vastmajority of citizens cheered the increase in the size of the republic. For slaveholders, new western landswould be a boon; for slaves, the Louisiana Purchase threatened to entrench their suffering further.

8.4 The United States Goes Back to War

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the causes and consequences of the War of 1812• Identify the important events of the War of 1812 and explain their significance

The origins of the War of 1812, often called the Second War of American Independence, are found in theunresolved issues between the United States and Great Britain. One major cause was the British practiceof impressment, whereby American sailors were taken at sea and forced to fight on British warships; thisissue was left unresolved by Jay’s Treaty in 1794. In addition, the British in Canada supported Indiansin their fight against further U.S. expansion in the Great Lakes region. Though Jefferson wanted to avoidwhat he called “entangling alliances,” staying neutral proved impossible.

THE EMBARGO OF 1807France and England, engaged in the Napoleonic Wars, which raged between 1803 and 1815, both declaredopen season on American ships, which they seized on the high seas. England was the major offender, sincethe Royal Navy, following a time-honored practice, “impressed” American sailors by forcing them into itsservice. The issue came to a head in 1807 when the HMS Leopard, a British warship, fired on a U.S. navalship, the Chesapeake, off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. The British then boarded the ship and took foursailors. Jefferson chose what he thought was the best of his limited options and responded to the crisisthrough the economic means of a sweeping ban on trade, the Embargo Act of 1807. This law prohibitedAmerican ships from leaving their ports until Britain and France stopped seizing them on the high seas.As a result of the embargo, American commerce came to a near-total halt.

The logic behind the embargo was that cutting off all trade would so severely hurt Britain and France thatthe seizures at sea would end. However, while the embargo did have some effect on the British economy,it was American commerce that actually felt the brunt of the impact (Figure 8.15). The embargo hurtAmerican farmers, who could no longer sell their goods overseas, and seaport cities experienced a hugeincrease in unemployment and an uptick in bankruptcies. All told, American business activity declined by75 percent from 1808 to 1809.

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Figure 8.15 In this political cartoon from 1807, a snapping turtle (holding a shipping license) grabs a smuggler in theact of sneaking a barrel of sugar to a British ship. The smuggler cries, “Oh, this cursed Ograbme!” (“Ograbme” is“embargo” spelled backwards.)

Enforcement of the embargo proved very difficult, especially in the states bordering British Canada.Smuggling was widespread; Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont, for example, earned its name from illegal tradewith British Canada. Jefferson attributed the problems with the embargo to lax enforcement.

At the very end of his second term, Jefferson signed the Non-Intercourse Act of 1808, lifting the unpopularembargoes on trade except with Britain and France. In the election of 1808, American voters electedanother Democratic-Republican, James Madison. Madison inherited Jefferson’s foreign policy issuesinvolving Britain and France. Most people in the United States, especially those in the West, saw GreatBritain as the major problem.

TECUMSEH AND THE WESTERN CONFEDERACYAnother underlying cause of the War of 1812 was British support for native resistance to U.S. westernexpansion. For many years, white settlers in the American western territories had besieged the Indiansliving there. Under Jefferson, two Indian policies existed: forcing Indians to adopt American ways ofagricultural life, or aggressively driving Indians into debt in order to force them to sell their lands.

In 1809, Tecumseh, a Shawnee war chief, rejuvenated the Western Confederacy. His brother,Tenskwatawa, was a prophet among the Shawnee who urged a revival of native ways and rejection ofAnglo-American culture, including alcohol. In 1811, William Henry Harrison, the governor of the IndianaTerritory, attempted to eliminate the native presence by attacking Prophetstown, a Shawnee settlementnamed in honor of Tenskwatawa. In the ensuing Battle of Tippecanoe, U.S. forces led by Harrisondestroyed the settlement (Figure 8.16). They also found ample evidence that the British had supplied theWestern Confederacy with weapons, despite the stipulations of earlier treaties.

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Figure 8.16 Portrait (a), painted by Charles Bird King in 1820, is a depiction of Shawnee prophet Tenskwatawa.Portrait (b) is Rembrandt Peele’s 1813 depiction of William Henry Harrison. What are the significant similarities anddifferences between the portraits? What was each artist trying to convey?

THE WAR OF 1812The seizure of American ships and sailors, combined with the British support of Indian resistance, ledto strident calls for war against Great Britain. The loudest came from the “war hawks,” led by HenryClay from Kentucky and John C. Calhoun from South Carolina, who would not tolerate British insultsto American honor. Opposition to the war came from Federalists, especially those in the Northeast,who knew war would disrupt the maritime trade on which they depended. In a narrow vote, Congressauthorized the president to declare war against Britain in June 1812.

The war went very badly for the United States at first. In August 1812, the United States lost Detroit tothe British and their Indian allies, including a force of one thousand men led by Tecumseh. By the end ofthe year, the British controlled half the Northwest. The following year, however, U.S. forces scored severalvictories. Captain Oliver Hazard Perry and his naval force defeated the British on Lake Erie. At the Battleof the Thames in Ontario, the United States defeated the British and their native allies, and Tecumseh wascounted among the dead. Indian resistance began to ebb, opening the Indiana and Michigan territories forwhite settlement.

These victories could not turn the tide of the war, however. With the British gaining the upper hand duringthe Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon’s French army on the run, Great Britain now could divert skilledcombat troops from Europe to fight in the United States. In July 1814, forty-five hundred hardened Britishsoldiers sailed up the Chesapeake Bay and burned Washington, DC, to the ground, forcing PresidentMadison and his wife to run for their lives (Figure 8.17). According to one report, they left behind a dinnerthe British officers ate. That summer, the British shelled Baltimore, hoping for another victory. However,they failed to dislodge the U.S. forces, whose survival of the bombardment inspired Francis Scott Key towrite “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

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Figure 8.17 George Munger painted The President’s House shortly after the War of 1812, ca. 1814–1815. Thepainting shows the result of the British burning of Washington, DC.

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Francis Scott Key’s “In Defense of Fort McHenry”After the British bombed Baltimore’s Fort McHenry in 1814 but failed to overcome the U.S. forces there,Francis Scott Key was inspired by the sight of the American flag, which remained hanging proudly inthe aftermath. He wrote the poem “In Defense of Fort McHenry,” which was later set to the tune of aBritish song called “The Anacreontic Song” and eventually became the U.S. national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thru the perilous fight,O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.O say, does that star-spangled banner yet waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly sworeThat the havoc of war and the battle’s confusionA home and a country should leave us no more?Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.No refuge could save the hireling and slaveFrom the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n-rescued landPraise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,And this be our motto: “In God is our trust”And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall waveO’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!—Francis Scott Key, “In Defense of Fort McHenry,” 1814

What images does Key use to describe the American spirit? Most people are familiar with only the firstverse of the song; what do you think the last three verses add?

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Visit the Smithsonian Institute ( to explore aninteractive feature on the flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner,” whereclickable “hot spots” on the flag reveal elements of its history.

With the end of the war in Europe, Britain was eager to end the conflict in the Americas as well. In 1814,British and U.S. diplomats met in Flanders, in northern Belgium, to negotiate the Treaty of Ghent, signedin December. The boundaries between the United States and British Canada remained as they were beforethe war, an outcome welcome to those in the United States who feared a rupture in the country’s otherwisesteady expansion into the West.

The War of 1812 was very unpopular in New England because it inflicted further economic harm on aregion dependent on maritime commerce. This unpopularity caused a resurgence of the Federalist Partyin New England. Many Federalists deeply resented the power of the slaveholding Virginians (Jeffersonand then Madison), who appeared indifferent to their region. The depth of the Federalists’ discontentis illustrated by the proceedings of the December 1814 Hartford Convention, a meeting of twenty-sixFederalists in Connecticut, where some attendees issued calls for New England to secede from the UnitedStates. These arguments for disunion during wartime, combined with the convention’s condemnation ofthe government, made Federalists appear unpatriotic. The convention forever discredited the FederalistParty and led to its downfall.

EPILOGUE: THE BATTLE OF NEW ORLEANSDue to slow communication, the last battle in the War of 1812 happened after the Treaty of Ghent hadbeen signed ending the war. Andrew Jackson had distinguished himself in the war by defeating the CreekIndians in March 1814 before invading Florida in May of that year. After taking Pensacola, he moved hisforce of Tennessee fighters to New Orleans to defend the strategic port against British attack.

On January 8, 1815 (despite the official end of the war), a force of battle-tested British veterans of theNapoleonic Wars attempted to take the port. Jackson’s forces devastated the British, killing over twothousand. New Orleans and the vast Mississippi River Valley had been successfully defended, ensuringthe future of American settlement and commerce. The Battle of New Orleans immediately catapultedJackson to national prominence as a war hero, and in the 1820s, he emerged as the head of the newDemocratic Party.

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Bill of Rights

Citizen Genêt affair



letters of marque

Louisiana Purchase

Marbury v. Madison

Revolution of 1800

the Terror

XYZ affair

Key Terms

the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution, which guarantee individualrights

the controversy over the French representative who tried to involve the UnitedStates in France’s war against Great Britain

advocates of limited government who were troubled by the expansivedomestic policies of Washington’s administration and opposed the Federalists

the practice of capturing sailors and forcing them into military service

French warrants allowing ships and their crews to engage in piracy

the U.S. purchase of the large territory of Louisiana from France in 1803

the landmark 1803 case establishing the Supreme Court’s powers of judicial review,specifically the power to review and possibly nullify actions of Congress and the president

the peaceful transfer of power from the Federalists to the Democratic-Republicanswith the election of 1800

a period during the French Revolution characterized by extreme violence and the execution ofnumerous enemies of the revolutionary government, from 1793 through 1794

the French attempt to extract a bribe from the United States during the Quasi-War of1798–1800

Summary8.1 Competing Visions: Federalists and Democratic-RepublicansWhile they did not yet constitute distinct political parties, Federalists and Anti-Federalists, shortly afterthe Revolution, found themselves at odds over the Constitution and the power that it concentrated in thefederal government. While many of the Anti-Federalists’ fears were assuaged by the adoption of the Bill ofRights in 1791, the early 1790s nevertheless witnessed the rise of two political parties: the Federalists andthe Democratic-Republicans. These rival political factions began by defining themselves in relationshipto Hamilton’s financial program, a debate that exposed contrasting views of the proper role of thefederal government. By championing Hamilton’s bold financial program, Federalists, including PresidentWashington, made clear their intent to use the federal government to stabilize the national economyand overcome the financial problems that had plagued it since the 1780s. Members of the Democratic-Republican opposition, however, deplored the expanded role of the new national government. Theyargued that the Constitution did not permit the treasury secretary’s expansive program and worried thatthe new national government had assumed powers it did not rightfully possess. Only on the question ofcitizenship was there broad agreement: only free, white males who met taxpayer or property qualificationscould cast ballots as full citizens of the republic.

8.2 The New American RepublicFederalists and Democratic-Republicans interpreted the execution of the French monarch and the violentestablishment of a French republic in very different ways. Revolutionaries’ excesses in France and theslaves’ revolt in the French colony of Haiti raised fears among Federalists of similar radicalism and slaveuprisings on American shores. They looked to better relationships with Great Britain through Jay’s Treaty.

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Pinckney’s Treaty, which came about as a result of Jay’s Treaty, improved U.S. relations with the Spanishand opened the Spanish port of New Orleans to American commerce. Democratic-Republicans took amore positive view of the French Revolution and grew suspicious of the Federalists when they brokeredJay’s Treaty. Domestically, the partisan divide came to a dramatic head in western Pennsylvania whendistillers of whiskey, many aligned with the Democratic-Republicans, took action against the federal taxon their product. Washington led a massive force to put down the uprising, demonstrating Federalistintolerance of mob action. Though divided on many issues, the majority of white citizens agreed on thenecessity of eradicating the Indian presence on the frontier.

8.3 Partisan PoliticsPartisan politics dominated the American political scene at the close of the eighteenth century. TheFederalists’ and Democratic-Republicans’ views of the role of government were in direct opposition toeach other, and the close elections of 1796 and 1801 show how the nation grappled with these opposingvisions. The high tide of the Federalist Party came after the election of 1796, when the United Statesengaged in the Quasi-War with France. The issues arising from the Quasi-War gave Adams and theFederalists license to expand the powers of the federal government. However, the tide turned with theclose election of 1800, when Jefferson began an administration based on Democratic-Republican ideals. Amajor success of Jefferson’s administration was the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, which helped to fulfill hisvision of the United States as an agrarian republic.

8.4 The United States Goes Back to WarThe United States was drawn into its “Second War of Independence” against Great Britain when theBritish, engaged in the Napoleonic Wars against France, took liberties with the fledgling nation byimpressing (capturing) its sailors on the high seas and arming its Indian enemies. The War of 1812 endedwith the boundaries of the United Stated remaining as they were before the war. The Indians in theWestern Confederacy suffered a significant defeat, losing both their leader Tecumseh and their fight forcontested land in the Northwest. The War of 1812 proved to be of great importance because it generated asurge of national pride, with expressions of American identity such as the poem by Francis Scott Key. TheUnited States was unequivocally separate from Britain and could now turn as never before to expansionin the West.

Review Questions1. Which of the following is not one of the rightsthe Bill of Rights guarantees?

A. the right to freedom of speechB. the right to an educationC. the right to bear armsD. the right to a trial by jury

2. Which of Alexander Hamilton’s financialpolicies and programs seemed to benefitspeculators at the expense of poor soldiers?

A. the creation of a national bankB. the public credit planC. the tax on whiskeyD. the “Report on Manufactures”

3. What were the fundamental differencesbetween the Federalist and Democratic-Republican visions?

4. Which of the following was not true of Jay’sTreaty of 1794?

A. It gave the United States land rights in theWest Indies.

B. It gave American ships the right to trade inthe West Indies.

C. It hardened differences between thepolitical parties of the United States.

D. It stipulated that U.S. citizens would repaytheir debts from the Revolutionary War.

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5. What was the primary complaint of the rebelsin the Whiskey Rebellion?

A. the ban on alcoholB. the lack of political representation for

farmersC. the need to fight Indians for more landD. the tax on whiskey and rum

6. How did the French Revolution in the early1790s influence the evolution of the Americanpolitical system?

7. What was the primary issue of Adams’spresidency?

A. war with SpainB. relations with the native populationC. infighting within the Federalist PartyD. relations with France

8. Which of the following events is not anexample of partisan acrimony?

A. the jailing of Matthew LyonB. the XYZ affairC. the Marbury v. Madison caseD. the Hamilton-Burr duel

9. What was the importance of the LouisianaPurchase?

A. It gave the United States control of the portof New Orleans for trade.

B. It opened up the possibility of quick traderoutes to Asia.

C. It gave the United States political leverageagainst the Spanish.

D. It provided Napoleon with an impetus torestore France’s empire.

10. How did U.S. relations with France influenceevents at the end of the eighteenth century?

11. Why do historians refer to the election ofThomas Jefferson as the Revolution of 1800?

12. What prompted the Embargo of 1807?A. British soldiers burned the U.S. capitol.B. The British supplied arms to Indian

insurgents.C. The British navy captured American ships

on the high seas and impressed their sailorsinto service for the British.

D. The British hadn’t abandoned their posts inthe Northwest Territory as required byJay’s Treaty.

13. What event inspired “The Star-SpangledBanner”?

A. Betsy Ross sewing the first American flagraised during a time of war

B. the British bombardment of BaltimoreC. the British burning of Washington, DCD. the naval battle between the Leopard and the


Critical Thinking Questions14. Describe Alexander Hamilton’s plans to address the nation’s financial woes. Which aspects provedmost controversial, and why? What elements of the foundation Hamilton laid can still be found in thesystem today?

15. Describe the growth of the first party system in the United States. How did these parties come todevelop? How did they define themselves, both independently and in opposition to one another? Wheredid they find themselves in agreement?

16. What led to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts? What made them so controversial?

17. What was the most significant impact of the War of 1812?

18. In what ways did the events of this era pose challenges to the U.S. Constitution? What constitutionalissues were raised, and how were they addressed?

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Industrial Transformation in theNorth, 1800–1850

Figure 9.1 Five Points (1827), by George Catlin, depicts the infamous Five Points neighborhood of New York City,so called because it was centered at the intersection of five streets. Five Points was home to a polyglot mix of recentimmigrants, freed slaves, and other members of the working class.

Chapter Outline9.1 Early Industrialization in the Northeast9.2 A Vibrant Capitalist Republic9.3 On the Move: The Transportation Revolution9.4 A New Social Order: Class Divisions

IntroductionBy the 1830s, the United States had developed a thriving industrial and commercial sector in the Northeast.Farmers embraced regional and distant markets as the primary destination for their products. Artisanswitnessed the methodical division of the labor process in factories. Wage labor became an increasinglycommon experience. These industrial and market revolutions, combined with advances in transportation,transformed the economic and social landscape. Americans could now quickly produce larger amounts ofgoods for a nationwide, and sometimes an international, market and rely less on foreign imports than incolonial times.

As American economic life shifted rapidly and modes of production changed, new class divisions emergedand solidified, resulting in previously unknown economic and social inequalities. This image of the FivePoints district in New York City captures the turbulence of the time (Figure 9.1). Five Points began as asettlement for freed slaves, but it soon became a crowded urban world of American day laborers and low-wage workers who lived a precarious existence that the economic benefits of the new economy largelybypassed. An influx of immigrant workers swelled and diversified an already crowded urban population.By the 1830s, the area had become a slum, home to widespread poverty, crime, and disease. Advances inindustrialization and the market revolution came at a human price.

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9.1 Early Industrialization in the Northeast

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the role of the putting-out system in the rise of industrialization• Understand industrialization’s impact on the nature of production and work• Describe the effect of industrialization on consumption• Identify the goals of workers’ organizations like the Working Men’s Party

Northern industrialization expanded rapidly following the War of 1812. Industrialized manufacturingbegan in New England, where wealthy merchants built water-powered textile mills (and mill townsto support them) along the rivers of the Northeast. These mills introduced new modes of productioncentralized within the confines of the mill itself. As never before, production relied on mechanized sourceswith water power, and later steam, to provide the force necessary to drive machines. In addition tothe mechanization and centralization of work in the mills, specialized, repetitive tasks assigned to wagelaborers replaced earlier modes of handicraft production done by artisans at home. The operations ofthese mills irrevocably changed the nature of work by deskilling tasks, breaking down the process ofproduction to its most basic, elemental parts. In return for their labor, the workers, who at first wereyoung women from rural New England farming families, received wages. From its origin in New England,manufacturing soon spread to other regions of the United States.

FROM ARTISANS TO WAGE WORKERSDuring the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, artisans—skilled, experienced craft workers—producedgoods by hand. The production of shoes provides a good example. In colonial times, people bought theirshoes from master shoemakers, who achieved their status by living and working as apprentices under therule of an older master artisan. An apprenticeship would be followed by work as a journeyman (a skilledworker without his own shop). After sufficient time as a journeyman, a shoemaker could at last set up hisown shop as a master artisan. People came to the shop, usually attached to the back of the master artisan’shouse, and there the shoemaker measured their feet in order to cut and stitch together an individualizedproduct for each customer.

Figure 9.2 (credit “1807 photo”: Project Gutenberg Archives)

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In the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, merchants in the Northeast and elsewhere turnedtheir attention as never before to the benefits of using unskilled wage labor to make a greater profit byreducing labor costs. They used the putting-out system, which the British had employed at the beginningof their own Industrial Revolution, whereby they hired farming families to perform specific tasks in theproduction process for a set wage. In the case of shoes, for instance, American merchants hired one groupof workers to cut soles into standardized sizes. A different group of families cut pieces of leather for theuppers, while still another was employed to stitch the standardized parts together.

This process proved attractive because it whittled production costs. The families who participated inthe putting-out system were not skilled artisans. They had not spent years learning and perfecting theircraft and did not have ambitious journeymen to pay. Therefore, they could not demand—and did notreceive—high wages. Most of the year they tended fields and orchards, ate the food that they produced,and sold the surplus. Putting-out work proved a welcome source of extra income for New England farmfamilies who saw their profits dwindle from new competition from midwestern farms with higher-yieldlands.

Much of this part-time production was done under contract to merchants. Some farming families engagedin shoemaking (or shoe assemblage), as noted above. Many made brooms, plaited hats from straw or palmleaves (which merchants imported from Cuba and the West Indies), crafted furniture, made pottery, orwove baskets. Some, especially those who lived in Connecticut, made parts for clocks. The most commonpart-time occupation, however, was the manufacture of textiles. Farm women spun woolen thread andwove fabric. They also wove blankets, made rugs, and knit stockings. All this manufacturing took placeon the farm, giving farmers and their wives control over the timing and pace of their labor. Their domesticproductivity increased the quantity of goods available for sale in country towns and nearby cities.

THE RISE OF MANUFACTURINGIn the late 1790s and early 1800s, Great Britain boasted the most advanced textile mills and machines inthe world, and the United States continued to rely on Great Britain for finished goods. Great Britain hopedto maintain its economic advantage over its former colonies in North America. So, in an effort to preventthe knowledge of advanced manufacturing from leaving the Empire, the British banned the emigration ofmechanics, skilled workers who knew how to build and repair the latest textile machines.

Some skilled British mechanics, including Samuel Slater, managed to travel to the United States in thehopes of profiting from their knowledge and experience with advanced textile manufacturing. Slater(Figure 9.3) understood the workings of the latest water-powered textile mills, which British industrialistRichard Arkwright had pioneered. In the 1790s in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Slater convinced severalAmerican merchants, including the wealthy Providence industrialist Moses Brown, to finance and builda water-powered cotton mill based on the British models. Slater’s knowledge of both technology and millorganization made him the founder of the first truly successful cotton mill in the United States.

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Figure 9.3 Samuel Slater (a) was a British migrant who brought plans for English textile mills to the United Statesand built the nation’s first successful water-powered mill in Pawtucket, Massachusetts (b).

The success of Slater and his partners Smith Brown and William Almy, relatives of Moses Brown, inspiredothers to build additional mills in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. By 1807, thirteen more mills had beenestablished. President Jefferson’s embargo on British manufactured goods from late 1807 to early 1809(discussed in a previous chapter) spurred more New England merchants to invest in industrial enterprises.By 1812, seventy-eight new textile mills had been built in rural New England towns. More than half turnedout woolen goods, while the rest produced cotton cloth.

Slater’s mills and those built in imitation of his were fairly small, employing only seventy people onaverage. Workers were organized the way that they had been in English factories, in family units. Underthe “Rhode Island system,” families were hired. The father was placed in charge of the family unit, andhe directed the labor of his wife and children. Instead of being paid in cash, the father was given “credit”equal to the extent of his family’s labor that could be redeemed in the form of rent (of company-ownedhousing) or goods from the company-owned store.

The Embargo of 1807 and the War of 1812 played a pivotal role in spurring industrial development in theUnited States. Jefferson’s embargo prevented American merchants from engaging in the Atlantic trade,severely cutting into their profits. The War of 1812 further compounded the financial woes of Americanmerchants. The acute economic problems led some New England merchants, including Francis CabotLowell, to cast their gaze on manufacturing. Lowell had toured English mills during a stay in Great Britain.He returned to Massachusetts having memorized the designs for the advanced textile machines he hadseen in his travels, especially the power loom, which replaced individual hand weavers. Lowell convincedother wealthy merchant families to invest in the creation of new mill towns. In 1813, Lowell and thesewealthy investors, known as the Boston Associates, created the Boston Manufacturing Company. Togetherthey raised $400,000 and, in 1814, established a textile mill in Waltham and a second one in the same townshortly thereafter (Figure 9.4).

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Figure 9.4 The Boston Manufacturing Company, shown in this engraving made in 1813–1816, was headquarteredin Waltham, Massachusetts. The company started the northeastern textile industry by building water-powered textilemills along suitable rivers and developing mill towns around them.

At Waltham, cotton was carded and drawn into coarse strands of cotton fibers called rovings. The rovingswere then spun into yarn, and the yarn woven into cotton cloth. Yarn no longer had to be put out to farmfamilies for further processing. All the work was now performed at a central location—the factory.

The work in Lowell’s mills was both mechanized and specialized. Specialization meant the work wasbroken down into specific tasks, and workers repeatedly did the one task assigned to them in the courseof a day. As machines took over labor from humans and people increasingly found themselves confined tothe same repetitive step, the process of deskilling began.

The Boston Associates’ mills, which each employed hundreds of workers, were located in company towns,where the factories and worker housing were owned by a single company. This gave the owners and theiragents control over their workers. The most famous of these company towns was Lowell, Massachusetts.The new town was built on land the Boston Associates purchased in 1821 from the village of EastChelmsford at the falls of the Merrimack River, north of Boston. The mill buildings themselves wereconstructed of red brick with large windows to let in light. Company-owned boarding houses to shelteremployees were constructed near the mills. The mill owners planted flowers and trees to maintain theappearance of a rural New England town and to forestall arguments, made by many, that factory workwas unnatural and unwholesome.

In contrast to many smaller mills, the Boston Associates’ enterprises avoided the Rhode Island system,preferring individual workers to families. These employees were not difficult to find. The competitionNew England farmers faced from farmers now settling in the West, and the growing scarcity of land inpopulation-dense New England, had important implications for farmers’ children. Realizing their chancesof inheriting a large farm or receiving a substantial dowry were remote, these teenagers sought otheremployment opportunities, often at the urging of their parents. While young men could work at a varietyof occupations, young women had more limited options. The textile mills provided suitable employmentfor the daughters of Yankee farm families.

Needing to reassure anxious parents that their daughters’ virtue would be protected and hoping to avoidwhat they viewed as the problems of industrialization—filth and vice—the Boston Associates establishedstrict rules governing the lives of these young workers. The women lived in company-owned boardinghouses to which they paid a portion of their wages. They woke early at the sound of a bell and workeda twelve-hour day during which talking was forbidden. They could not swear or drink alcohol, and theywere required to attend church on Sunday. Overseers at the mills and boarding-house keepers kept a close

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eye on the young women’s behavior; workers who associated with people of questionable reputation oracted in ways that called their virtue into question lost their jobs and were evicted.


Michel Chevalier on Mill Worker Rules and WagesIn the 1830s, the French government sent engineer and economist Michel Chevalier to study industrialand financial affairs in Mexico and the United States. In 1839, he published Society, Manners, and Politicsin the United States, in which he recorded his impressions of the Lowell textile mills. In the excerpt below,Chevalier describes the rules and wages of the Lawrence Company in 1833.

All persons employed by the Company must devote themselves assiduously to their dutyduring working-hours. They must be capable of doing the work which they undertake, oruse all their efforts to this effect. They must on all occasions, both in their words and intheir actions, show that they are penetrated by a laudable love of temperance and virtue,and animated by a sense of their moral and social obligations. The Agent of the Companyshall endeavour to set to all a good example in this respect. Every individual who shall benotoriously dissolute, idle, dishonest, or intemperate, who shall be in the practice of absentinghimself from divine service, or shall violate the Sabbath, or shall be addicted to gaming, shallbe dismissed from the service of the Company. . . . All ardent spirits are banished from theCompany’s grounds, except when prescribed by a physician. All games of hazard and cardsare prohibited within their limits and in the boarding-houses.Weekly wages were as follows:For picking and carding, $2.78 to $3.10For spinning, $3.00For weaving, $3.10 to $3.12For warping and sizing, $3.45 to $4.00For measuring and folding, $3.12

What kind of world were the factory owners trying to create with these rules? How do you think thosewho believed all white people were born free and equal would react to them?

Visit the Textile Industry History ( site toexplore the mills of New England through its collection of history, images, andephemera.

The mechanization of formerly handcrafted goods, and the removal of production from the home to thefactory, dramatically increased output of goods. For example, in one nine-month period, the numerousRhode Island women who spun yarn into cloth on hand looms in their homes produced a total of thirty-four thousand yards of fabrics of different types. In 1855, the women working in just one of Lowell’smechanized mills produced more than forty-three thousand yards.

The Boston Associates’ cotton mills quickly gained a competitive edge over the smaller mills established bySamuel Slater and those who had imitated him. Their success prompted the Boston Associates to expand.In Massachusetts, in addition to Lowell, they built new mill towns in Chicopee, Lawrence, and Holyoke.

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In New Hampshire, they built them in Manchester, Dover, and Nashua. And in Maine, they built a largemill in Saco on the Saco River. Other entrepreneurs copied them. By the time of the Civil War, 878 textilefactories had been built in New England. All together, these factories employed more than 100,000 peopleand produced more than 940 million yards of cloth.

Success in New England was repeated elsewhere. Small mills, more like those in Rhode Island thanthose in northern Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, were built in New York, Delaware, andPennsylvania. By midcentury, three hundred textile mills were located in and near Philadelphia. Manyproduced specialty goods, such as silks and printed fabrics, and employed skilled workers, includingpeople working in their own homes. Even in the South, the region that otherwise relied on slave labor toproduce the very cotton that fed the northern factory movement, more than two hundred textile mills werebuilt. Most textiles, however, continued to be produced in New England before the Civil War.

Alongside the production of cotton and woolen cloth, which formed the backbone of the IndustrialRevolution in the United States as in Britain, other crafts increasingly became mechanized and centralizedin factories in the first half of the nineteenth century. Shoe making, leather tanning, papermaking, hatmaking, clock making, and gun making had all become mechanized to one degree or another by the timeof the Civil War. Flour milling, because of the inventions of Oliver Evans (Figure 9.5), had become almostcompletely automated and centralized by the early decades of the nineteenth century. So efficient wereEvans-style mills that two employees were able to do work that had originally required five, and millsusing Evans’s system spread throughout the mid-Atlantic states.

Figure 9.5 Oliver Evans was an American engineer and inventor, best known for developing ways to automate theflour milling process, which is illustrated here in a drawing from a 1785 instructional book called The Young Mill-Wright & Miller’s Guide.

THE RISE OF CONSUMERISMAt the end of the eighteenth century, most American families lived in candlelit homes with bare floors andunadorned walls, cooked and warmed themselves over fireplaces, and owned few changes of clothing. Allmanufactured goods were made by hand and, as a result, were usually scarce and fairly expensive.

The automation of the manufacturing process changed that, making consumer goods that had once beenthought of as luxury items widely available for the first time. Now all but the very poor could afford thenecessities and some of the small luxuries of life. Rooms were lit by oil lamps, which gave brighter lightthan candles. Homes were heated by parlor stoves, which allowed for more privacy; people no longerneeded to huddle together around the hearth. Iron cookstoves with multiple burners made it possible forhousewives to prepare more elaborate meals. Many people could afford carpets and upholstered furniture,

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and even farmers could decorate their homes with curtains and wallpaper. Clocks, which had once beenquite expensive, were now within the reach of most ordinary people.

THE WORK EXPERIENCE TRANSFORMEDAs production became mechanized and relocated to factories, the experience of workers underwentsignificant changes. Farmers and artisans had controlled the pace of their labor and the order in whichthings were done. If an artisan wanted to take the afternoon off, he could. If a farmer wished to rebuildhis fence on Thursday instead of on Wednesday, he could. They conversed and often drank during theworkday. Indeed, journeymen were often promised alcohol as part of their wages. One member of thegroup might be asked to read a book or a newspaper aloud to the others. In the warm weather, doors andwindows might be opened to the outside, and work stopped when it was too dark to see.

Work in factories proved to be quite different. Employees were expected to report at a certain time, usuallyearly in the morning, and to work all day. They could not leave when they were tired or take breaks otherthan at designated times. Those who arrived late found their pay docked; five minutes’ tardiness couldresult in several hours’ worth of lost pay, and repeated tardiness could result in dismissal. The monotonyof repetitive tasks made days particularly long. Hours varied according to the factory, but most factoryemployees toiled ten to twelve hours a day, six days a week. In the winter, when the sun set early, oil lampswere used to light the factory floor, and employees strained their eyes to see their work and coughed asthe rooms filled with smoke from the lamps. In the spring, as the days began to grow longer, factories held“blowing-out” celebrations to mark the extinguishing of the oil lamps. These “blow-outs” often featuredprocessions and dancing.

Freedom within factories was limited. Drinking was prohibited. Some factories did not allow employees tosit down. Doors and windows were kept closed, especially in textile factories where fibers could be easilydisturbed by incoming breezes, and mills were often unbearably hot and humid in the summer. In thewinter, workers often shivered in the cold. In such environments, workers’ health suffered.

The workplace posed other dangers as well. The presence of cotton bales alongside the oil used to lubricatemachines made fire a common problem in textile factories. Workplace injuries were also common.Workers’ hands and fingers were maimed or severed when they were caught in machines; in some cases,their limbs or entire bodies were crushed. Workers who didn’t die from such injuries almost certainly losttheir jobs, and with them, their income. Corporal punishment of both children and adults was commonin factories; where abuse was most extreme, children sometimes died as a result of injuries suffered at thehands of an overseer.

As the decades passed, working conditions deteriorated in many mills. Workers were assigned moremachines to tend, and the owners increased the speed at which the machines operated. Wages were cut inmany factories, and employees who had once labored for an hourly wage now found themselves reducedto piecework, paid for the amount they produced and not for the hours they toiled. Owners also reducedcompensation for piecework. Low wages combined with regular periods of unemployment to make thelives of workers difficult, especially for those with families to support. In New York City in 1850, forexample, the average male worker earned $300 a year; it cost approximately $600 a year to support a familyof five.

WORKERS AND THE LABOR MOVEMENTMany workers undoubtedly enjoyed some of the new wage opportunities factory work presented. Formany of the young New England women who ran the machines in Waltham, Lowell, and elsewhere, theexperience of being away from the family was exhilarating and provided a sense of solidarity among them.Though most sent a large portion of their wages home, having even a small amount of money of theirown was a liberating experience, and many used their earnings to purchase clothes, ribbons, and otherconsumer goods for themselves.

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The long hours, strict discipline, and low wages, however, soon led workers to organize to protest theirworking conditions and pay. In 1821, the young women employed by the Boston Manufacturing Companyin Waltham went on strike for two days when their wages were cut. In 1824, workers in Pawtucket struckto protest reduced pay rates and longer hours, the latter of which had been achieved by cutting back theamount of time allowed for meals. Similar strikes occurred at Lowell and in other mill towns like Dover,New Hampshire, where the women employed by the Cocheco Manufacturing Company ceased workingin December 1828 after their wages were reduced. In the 1830s, female mill operatives in Lowell formedthe Lowell Factory Girls Association to organize strike activities in the face of wage cuts (Figure 9.6)and, later, established the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association to protest the twelve-hour workday.Even though strikes were rarely successful and workers usually were forced to accept reduced wagesand increased hours, work stoppages as a form of labor protest represented the beginnings of the labormovement in the United States.

Figure 9.6 New England mill workers were often young women, as seen in this early tintype made ca. 1870 (a).When management proposed rent increases for those living in company boarding houses, female textile workers inLowell responded by forming the Lowell Factory Girls Association—its constitution is shown in image (b)—in 1836and organizing a “turn-out” or strike.

Critics of industrialization blamed it for the increased concentration of wealth in the hands of the few: thefactory owners made vast profits while the workers received only a small fraction of the revenue fromwhat they produced. Under the labor theory of value, said critics, the value of a product should accuratelyreflect the labor needed to produce it. Profits from the sale of goods produced by workers should bedistributed so laborers recovered in the form of wages the value their effort had added to the finishedproduct. While factory owners, who contributed the workspace, the machinery, and the raw materialsneeded to create a product, should receive a share of the profits, their share should not be greater thanthe value of their contribution. Workers should thus receive a much larger portion of the profits than theycurrently did, and factory owners should receive less.

In Philadelphia, New York, and Boston—all cities that experienced dizzying industrial growth duringthe nineteenth century—workers united to form political parties. Thomas Skidmore, from Connecticut,was the outspoken organizer of the Working Men’s Party, which lodged a radical protest against the

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exploitation of workers that accompanied industrialization. Skidmore took his cue from Thomas Paine andthe American Revolution to challenge the growing inequity in the United States. He argued that inequalityoriginated in the unequal distribution of property through inheritance laws. In his 1829 treatise, The Rightsof Man to Property, Skidmore called for the abolition of inheritance and the redistribution of property. TheWorking Men’s Party also advocated the end of imprisonment for debt, a common practice whereby thedebtor who could not pay was put in jail and his tools and property, if any, were confiscated. Skidmore’svision of radical equality extended to all; women and men, no matter their race, should be allowed to voteand receive property, he believed. Skidmore died in 1832 when a cholera epidemic swept New York City,but the state of New York did away with imprisonment for debt in the same year.

Worker activism became less common in the late 1840s and 1850s. As German and Irish immigrantspoured into the United States in the decades preceding the Civil War, native-born laborers foundthemselves competing for jobs with new arrivals who were willing to work longer hours for less pay.In Lowell, Massachusetts, for example, the daughters of New England farmers encountered competitionfrom the daughters of Irish farmers suffering the effects of the potato famine; these immigrant womenwere willing to work for far less and endure worse conditions than native-born women. Many of thesenative-born “daughters of freemen,” as they referred to themselves, left the factories and returned to theirfamilies. Not all wage workers had this luxury, however. Widows with children to support and girls fromdestitute families had no choice but to stay and accept the faster pace and lower pay. Male German andIrish immigrants competed with native-born men. Germans, many of whom were skilled workers, tookjobs in furniture making. The Irish provided a ready source of unskilled labor needed to lay railroad trackand dig canals. American men with families to support grudgingly accepted low wages in order to keeptheir jobs. As work became increasingly deskilled, no worker was irreplaceable, and no one’s job was safe.

9.2 A Vibrant Capitalist Republic

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the process of selling western land• Discuss the causes of the Panic of 1819• Identify key American innovators and inventors

By the 1840s, the United States economy bore little resemblance to the import-and-export economy ofcolonial days. It was now a market economy, one in which the production of goods, and their prices, wereunregulated by the government. Commercial centers, to which job seekers flocked, mushroomed. NewYork City’s population skyrocketed. In 1790, it was 33,000; by 1820, it had reached 200,000; and by 1825, ithad swelled to 270,000. New opportunities for wealth appeared to be available to anyone.

However, the expansion of the American economy made it prone to the boom-and-bust cycle. Marketeconomies involve fluctuating prices for labor, raw materials, and consumer goods and depend on creditand financial instruments—any one of which can be the source of an imbalance and an economicdownturn in which businesses and farmers default, wage workers lose their employment, and investorslose their assets. This happened for the first time in the United States in 1819, when waves of enthusiasticspeculation (expectations of rapidly rising prices) in land and commodities gave way to drops in prices.

THE LAND OFFICE BUSINESSIn the early nineteenth century, people poured into the territories west of the long-settled eastern seaboard.Among them were speculators seeking to buy cheap parcels from the federal government in anticipationof a rise in prices. The Ohio Country in the Northwest Territory appeared to offer the best prospects for

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many in the East, especially New Englanders. The result was “Ohio fever,” as thousands traveled there toreap the benefits of settling in this newly available territory (Figure 9.7).

Figure 9.7 Cartographer John Cary drew this map “exhibiting The Western Territory, Kentucky, Pennsylvania,Maryland, Virginia &c” for his 1808 atlas; it depicted the huge western territory that fascinated settlers in the earlynineteenth century.

The federal government oversaw the orderly transfer of public land to citizens at public auctions. TheLand Law of 1796 applied to the territory of Ohio after it had been wrested from Indians. Under thislaw, the United States would sell a minimum parcel of 640 acres for $2 an acre. The Land Law of1800 further encouraged land sales in the Northwest Territory by reducing the minimum parcel sizeby half and enabling sales on credit, with the goal of stimulating settlement by ordinary farmers. Thegovernment created land offices to handle these sales and established them in the West within easy reachof prospective landowners. They could thus purchase land directly from the government, at the price thegovernment had set. Buyers were given low interest rates, with payments that could be spread over fouryears. Surveyors marked off the parcels in straight lines, creating a landscape of checkerboard squares.

The future looked bright for those who turned their gaze on the land in the West. Surveying, settling,and farming, turning the wilderness into a profitable commodity, gave purchasers a sense of progress. Auniquely American story of settling the land developed: hardy individuals wielding an axe cleared it, builta log cabin, and turned the frontier into a farm that paved the way for mills and towns (Figure 9.8).

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Figure 9.8 Thomas Cole, who painted Home in the Woods in 1847, was an American artist. Cole founded theHudson River School, a style renowned for portrayals of landscapes and wilderness influenced by the emotionalaesthetic known as romanticism. In what ways is this image realistic, and how is it idealized or romanticized?

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A New Englander Heads WestA native of Vermont, Gershom Flagg was one of thousands of New Englanders who caught “Ohio fever.”In this letter to his brother, Azariah Flagg, dated August 3, 1817, he describes the hustle and bustle ofthe emerging commercial town of Cincinnati.

DEAR BROTHER,Cincinnati is an incorporated City. It contained in 1815, 1,100 buildings of differentdescriptions among which are above 20 of Stone 250 of brick & 800 of Wood. The populationin 1815 was 6,500. There are about 60 Mercantile stores several of which are wholesale.Here are a great share of Mechanics of all kinds.Here is one Woolen Factory four Cotton factories but not now in operation. A moststupendously large building of Stone is likewise erected immediately on the bank of the Riverfor a steam Mill. It is nine stories high at the Waters edge & is 87 by 62 feet. It drives four pairof Stones besides various other Machinery as Wool carding &c &c. There is also a valuableSteam Saw Mill driving four saws also an inclined Wheel ox Saw Mill with two saws, oneGlass Factory. The town is Rapidly increasing in Wealth & population. Here is a Branch of theUnited States Bank and three other banks & two Printing offices. The country around is rich. .. .That you may all be prospered in the world is the anxious wish of your affectionate BrotherGERSHOM FLAGG

What caught Flagg’s attention? From your reading of this letter and study of the engraving below (Figure9.9), what impression can you take away of Cincinnati in 1817?

Figure 9.9 This engraving from A Topographical Description of the State of Ohio, Indiana Territory, andLouisiana (1812), by Jervis Cutler, presents a view of Cincinnati as it may have looked to GershomFlagg.

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Learn more about settlement of and immigration to the Northwest Territory by exploringthe National Park Service’s Historic Resource Study ( related to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. According to theguide’s maps, what lands were available for purchase?

THE PANIC OF 1819The first major economic crisis in the United States after the War of 1812 was due, in large measure, tofactors in the larger Atlantic economy. It was made worse, however, by land speculation and poor bankingpractices at home. British textile mills voraciously consumed American cotton, and the devastation of theNapoleonic Wars made Europe reliant on other American agricultural commodities such as wheat. Thisdrove up both the price of American agricultural products and the value of the land on which staples suchas cotton, wheat, corn, and tobacco were grown.

Many Americans were struck with “land fever.” Farmers strove to expand their acreage, and those wholived in areas where unoccupied land was scarce sought holdings in the West. They needed money topurchase this land, however. Small merchants and factory owners, hoping to take advantage of this boomtime, also sought to borrow money to expand their businesses. When existing banks refused to lend moneyto small farmers and others without a credit history, state legislatures chartered new banks to meet thedemand. In one legislative session, Kentucky chartered forty-six. As loans increased, paper money fromnew state banks flooded the country, creating inflation that drove the price of land and goods still higher.This, in turn, encouraged even more people to borrow money with which to purchase land or to expandor start their own businesses. Speculators took advantage of this boom in the sale of land by purchasingproperty not to live on, but to buy cheaply and resell at exorbitant prices.

During the War of 1812, the Bank of the United States had suspended payments in specie, “hard money”usually in the form of gold and silver coins. When the war ended, the bank continued to issue only paperbanknotes and to redeem notes issued by state banks with paper only. The newly chartered banks alsoadopted this practice, issuing banknotes in excess of the amount of specie in their vaults. This shakyeconomic scheme worked only so long as people were content to conduct business with paper moneyand refrain from demanding that banks instead give them the gold and silver that was supposed to backit. If large numbers of people, or banks that had loaned money to other banks, began to demand speciepayments, the banking system would collapse, because there was no longer enough specie to support theamount of paper money the banks had put into circulation. So terrified were bankers that customers woulddemand gold and silver that an irate bank employee in Ohio stabbed a customer who had the audacity toask for specie in exchange for the banknotes he held.

In an effort to bring stability to the nation’s banking system, Congress chartered the Second Bank of theUnited States (a revival of Alexander Hamilton’s national bank) in 1816. But this new institution onlycompounded the problem by making risky loans, opening branches in the South and West where landfever was highest, and issuing a steady stream of Bank of the United States notes, a move that increasedinflation and speculation.

The inflated economic bubble burst in 1819, resulting in a prolonged economic depression or severedownturn in the economy called the Panic of 1819. It was the first economic depression experienced bythe American public, who panicked as they saw the prices of agricultural products fall and businessesfail. Prices had already begun falling in 1815, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, when Britain began to

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“dump” its surplus manufactured goods, the result of wartime overproduction, in American ports, wherethey were sold for low prices and competed with American-manufactured goods. In 1818, to make theeconomic situation worse, prices for American agricultural products began to fall both in the United Statesand in Europe; the overproduction of staples such as wheat and cotton coincided with the recovery ofEuropean agriculture, which reduced demand for American crops. Crop prices tumbled by as much 75percent.

This dramatic decrease in the value of agricultural goods left farmers unable to pay their debts. As theydefaulted on their loans, banks seized their property. However, because the drastic fall in agriculturalprices had greatly reduced the value of land, the banks were left with farms they were unable to sell. Landspeculators lost the value of their investments. As the countryside suffered, hard-hit farmers ceased topurchase manufactured goods. Factories responded by cutting wages or firing employees.

In 1818, the Second Bank of the United States needed specie to pay foreign investors who had loanedmoney to the United States to enable the country to purchase Louisiana. The bank began to call in the loansit had made and required that state banks pay their debts in gold and silver. State banks that could notcollect loan payments from hard-pressed farmers could not, in turn, meet their obligations to the SecondBank of the United States. Severe consequences followed as banks closed their doors and businessesfailed. Three-quarters of the work force in Philadelphia was unemployed, and charities were swamped bythousands of newly destitute people needing assistance. In states with imprisonment for debt, the prisonpopulation swelled. As a result, many states drafted laws to provide relief for debtors. Even those at thetop of the social ladder were affected by the Panic of 1819. Thomas Jefferson, who had cosigned a loan for afriend, nearly lost Monticello when his acquaintance defaulted, leaving Jefferson responsible for the debt.

In an effort to stimulate the economy in the midst of the economic depression, Congress passed several actsmodifying land sales. The Land Law of 1820 lowered the price of land to $1.25 per acre and allowed smallparcels of eighty acres to be sold. The Relief Act of 1821 allowed Ohioans to return land to the governmentif they could not afford to keep it. The money they received in return was credited toward their debt. Theact also extended the credit period to eight years. States, too, attempted to aid those faced with economichard times by passing laws to prevent mortgage foreclosures so buyers could keep their homes. Americansmade the best of the opportunities presented in business, in farming, or on the frontier, and by 1823 thePanic of 1819 had ended. The recovery provided ample evidence of the vibrant and resilient nature of theAmerican people.

ENTREPRENEURS AND INVENTORSThe volatility of the U.S. economy did nothing to dampen the creative energies of its citizens in the yearsbefore the Civil War. In the 1800s, a frenzy of entrepreneurship and invention yielded many new productsand machines. The republic seemed to be a laboratory of innovation, and technological advances appearedunlimited.

One of the most influential advancements of the early nineteenth century was the cotton engine or gin,invented by Eli Whitney and patented in 1794. Whitney, who was born in Massachusetts, had spent timein the South and knew that a device to speed up the production of cotton was desperately needed so cottonfarmers could meet the growing demand for their crop. He hoped the cotton gin would render slaveryobsolete. Whitney’s seemingly simple invention cleaned the seeds from the raw cotton far more quicklyand efficiently than could slaves working by hand (Figure 9.10). The raw cotton with seeds was placed inthe cotton gin, and with the use of a hand crank, the seeds were extracted through a carding device thataligned the cotton fibers in strands for spinning.

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Figure 9.10 The First Cotton-Gin, an 1869 drawing by William L. Sheppard, shows the first use of a cotton gin “atthe close of the last century.” African American slaves handle the gin while white men conduct business in thebackground. What do you think the artist was trying to convey with this image? (credit: Library of Congress)

Whitney also worked on machine tools, devices that cut and shaped metal to make standardized,interchangeable parts for other mechanical devices like clocks and guns. Whitney’s machine tools tomanufacture parts for muskets enabled guns to be manufactured and repaired by people other than skilledgunsmiths. His creative genius served as a source of inspiration for many other American inventors.

Another influential new technology of the early 1800s was the steamship engine, invented by RobertFulton in 1807. Fulton’s first steamship, the Clermont, used paddle wheels to travel the 150 miles from NewYork City to Albany in a record time of only thirty-two hours (Figure 9.11). Soon, a fleet of steamboats wastraversing the Hudson River and New York Harbor, later expanding to travel every major American riverincluding the mighty Mississippi. By the 1830s there were over one thousand of these vessels, radicallychanging water transportation by ending its dependence on the wind. Steamboats could travel faster andmore cheaply than sailing vessels or keelboats, which floated downriver and had to be poled or towedupriver on the return voyage. Steamboats also arrived with much greater dependability. The steamboatfacilitated the rapid economic development of the massive Mississippi River Valley and the settlement ofthe West.

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Figure 9.11 Fulton’s steamboat the Clermont transformed the speed, cost, and dependability of water transportationin the United States. (credit: Project Gutenberg Archives)

Virginia-born Cyrus McCormick wanted to replace the laborious process of using a scythe to cut andgather wheat for harvest. In 1831, he and the slaves on his family’s plantation tested a horse-drawnmechanical reaper, and over the next several decades, he made constant improvements to it (Figure 9.12).More farmers began using it in the 1840s, and greater demand for the McCormick reaper led McCormickand his brother to establish the McCormick Harvesting Machine Company in Chicago, where labor wasmore readily available. By the 1850s, McCormick’s mechanical reaper had enabled farmers to vastlyincrease their output. McCormick—and also John Deere, who improved on the design of plows—openedthe prairies to agriculture. McCormick’s bigger machine could harvest grain faster, and Deere’s plow couldcut through the thick prairie sod. Agriculture north of the Ohio River became the pantry that would lowerfood prices and feed the major cities in the East. In short order, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois all become majoragricultural states.

Figure 9.12 This sketch is from the 1845 patent for an improved grain reaper invented by Cyrus Hall McCormick.The reaper mechanized the labor-intensive use of scythes to harvest wheat.

Samuel Morse added the telegraph to the list of American innovations introduced in the years beforethe Civil War. Born in Massachusetts in 1791, Morse first gained renown as a painter before turning hisattention to the development of a method of rapid communication in the 1830s. In 1838, he gave the first

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public demonstration of his method of conveying electric pulses over a wire, using the basis of whatbecame known as Morse code. In 1843, Congress agreed to help fund the new technology by allocating$30,000 for a telegraph line to connect Washington, DC, and Baltimore along the route of the Baltimore andOhio Railroad. In 1844, Morse sent the first telegraph message on the new link. Improved communicationsystems fostered the development of business, economics, and politics by allowing for dissemination ofnews at a speed previously unknown.

9.3 On the Move: The Transportation Revolution

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the development of improved methods of nineteenth-century domestic

transportation• Identify the ways in which roads, canals, and railroads impacted Americans’ lives in

the nineteenth century

Americans in the early 1800s were a people on the move, as thousands left the eastern coastal statesfor opportunities in the West. Unlike their predecessors, who traveled by foot or wagon train, thesesettlers had new transport options. Their trek was made possible by the construction of roads, canals, andrailroads, projects that required the funding of the federal government and the states.

New technologies, like the steamship and railroad lines, had brought about what historians call thetransportation revolution. States competed for the honor of having the most advanced transport systems.People celebrated the transformation of the wilderness into an orderly world of improvementdemonstrating the steady march of progress and the greatness of the republic. In 1817, John C. Calhoun ofSouth Carolina looked to a future of rapid internal improvements, declaring, “Let us . . . bind the Republictogether with a perfect system of roads and canals.” Americans agreed that internal transportation routeswould promote progress. By the eve of the Civil War, the United States had moved beyond roads andcanals to a well-established and extensive system of railroads.

ROADS AND CANALSOne key part of the transportation revolution was the widespread building of roads and turnpikes. In1811, construction began on the Cumberland Road, a national highway that provided thousands witha route from Maryland to Illinois. The federal government funded this important artery to the West,beginning the creation of a transportation infrastructure for the benefit of settlers and farmers. Otherentities built turnpikes, which (as today) charged fees for use. New York State, for instance, charteredturnpike companies that dramatically increased the miles of state roads from one thousand in 1810 to fourthousand by 1820. New York led the way in building turnpikes.

Canal mania swept the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century. Promoters knew theseartificial rivers could save travelers immense amounts of time and money. Even short waterways, suchas the two-and-a-half-mile canal going around the rapids of the Ohio River near Louisville, Kentucky,proved a huge leap forward, in this case by opening a water route from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. Thepreeminent example was the Erie Canal (Figure 9.13), which linked the Hudson River, and thus NewYork City and the Atlantic seaboard, to the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River Valley.

With its central location, large harbor, and access to the hinterland via the Hudson River, New YorkCity already commanded the lion’s share of commerce. Still, the city’s merchants worried about losingground to their competitors in Philadelphia and Baltimore. Their search for commercial advantage led tothe dream of creating a water highway connecting the city’s Hudson River to Lake Erie and markets in

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the West. The result was the Erie Canal. Chartered in 1817 by the state of New York, the canal took sevenyears to complete. When it opened in 1825, it dramatically decreased the cost of shipping while reducingthe time to travel to the West. Soon $15 million worth of goods (more than $200 million in today’s money)was being transported on the 363-mile waterway every year.

Figure 9.13 Although the Erie Canal was primarily used for commerce and trade, in Pittsford on the Erie Canal(1837), George Harvey portrays it in a pastoral, natural setting. Why do you think the painter chose to portray thecanal this way?

Explore the Erie Canal on ( an interactive map. Click throughout the map for images of and artifacts from thishistoric waterway.

The success of the Erie Canal led to other, similar projects. The Wabash and Erie Canal, which openedin the early 1840s, stretched over 450 miles, making it the longest canal in North America (Figure 9.14).Canals added immensely to the country’s sense of progress. Indeed, they appeared to be the logical nextstep in the process of transforming wilderness into civilization.

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Figure 9.14 This map (a) shows the route taken by the Wabash and Erie Canal through the state of Indiana. Thecanal began operation in 1843 and boats operated on it until the 1870s. Sections have since been restored, as shownin this 2007 photo (b) from Delphi, Indiana.

Visit Southern Indiana Trails ( to seehistoric photographs of the Wabash and Erie Canal:

As with highway projects such as the Cumberland Road, many canals were federally sponsored, especiallyduring the presidency of John Quincy Adams in the late 1820s. Adams, along with Secretary of StateHenry Clay, championed what was known as the American System, part of which included plans for abroad range of internal transportation improvements. Adams endorsed the creation of roads and canals tofacilitate commerce and develop markets for agriculture as well as to advance settlement in the West.

RAILROADSStarting in the late 1820s, steam locomotives began to compete with horse-drawn locomotives. Therailroads with steam locomotives offered a new mode of transportation that fascinated citizens, buoyingtheir optimistic view of the possibilities of technological progress. The Mohawk and Hudson Railroadwas the first to begin service with a steam locomotive. Its inaugural train ran in 1831 on a track outsideAlbany and covered twelve miles in twenty-five minutes. Soon it was traveling regularly between Albanyand Schenectady.

Toward the middle of the century, railroad construction kicked into high gear, and eager investorsquickly formed a number of railroad companies. As a railroad grid began to take shape, it stimulated agreater demand for coal, iron, and steel. Soon, both railroads and canals crisscrossed the states (Figure

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9.15), providing a transportation infrastructure that fueled the growth of American commerce. Indeed,the transportation revolution led to development in the coal, iron, and steel industries, providing manyAmericans with new job opportunities.

Figure 9.15 This 1853 map of the “Empire State” shows the extent of New York’s canal and railroad networks. Theentire country’s transportation infrastructure grew dramatically during the first half of the nineteenth century.

AMERICANS ON THE MOVEThe expansion of roads, canals, and railroads changed people’s lives. In 1786, it had taken a minimum offour days to travel from Boston, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island. By 1840, the trip took halfa day on a train. In the twenty-first century, this may seem intolerably slow, but people at the time wereamazed by the railroad’s speed. Its average of twenty miles per hour was twice as fast as other availablemodes of transportation.

By 1840, more than three thousand miles of canals had been dug in the United States, and thirty thousandmiles of railroad track had been laid by the beginning of the Civil War. Together with the hundreds ofsteamboats that plied American rivers, these advances in transportation made it easier and less expensiveto ship agricultural products from the West to feed people in eastern cities, and to send manufacturedgoods from the East to people in the West. Without this ability to transport goods, the market revolutionwould not have been possible. Rural families also became less isolated as a result of the transportationrevolution. Traveling circuses, menageries, peddlers, and itinerant painters could now more easily maketheir way into rural districts, and people in search of work found cities and mill towns within their reach.

9.4 A New Social Order: Class Divisions

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the shared perceptions and ideals of each social class• Assess different social classes’ views of slavery

The profound economic changes sweeping the United States led to equally important social and culturaltransformations. The formation of distinct classes, especially in the rapidly industrializing North, wasone of the most striking developments. The unequal distribution of newly created wealth spurred newdivisions along class lines. Each class had its own specific culture and views on the issue of slavery.

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THE ECONOMIC ELITEEconomic elites gained further social and political ascendance in the United States due to a fast-growingeconomy that enhanced their wealth and allowed distinctive social and cultural characteristics to developamong different economic groups. In the major northern cities of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia,leading merchants formed an industrial capitalist elite. Many came from families that had been deeplyengaged in colonial trade in tea, sugar, pepper, slaves, and other commodities and that were familiar withtrade networks connecting the United States with Europe, the West Indies, and the Far East. These colonialmerchants had passed their wealth to their children.

After the War of 1812, the new generation of merchants expanded their economic activities. They beganto specialize in specific types of industry, spearheading the development of industrial capitalism based onfactories they owned and on specific commercial services such as banking, insurance, and shipping. JuniusSpencer Morgan (Figure 9.16), for example, rose to prominence as a banker. His success began in Boston,where he worked in the import business in the 1830s. He then formed a partnership with a London banker,George Peabody, and created Peabody, Morgan & Co. In 1864, he renamed the enterprise J. S. Morgan &Co. His son, J. P. Morgan, became a noted financier in the later nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Figure 9.16 Junius Spencer Morgan of Boston was one of the fathers of the American private banking system.(credit: Project Gutenberg Archives)

Visit the Internet Archive ( to see scannedpages from Hunt’s Merchant’s Magazine and Commercial Review. This monthlybusiness review provided the business elite with important information about issuespertaining to trade and finance: commodity prices, new laws affecting business,statistics regarding imports and exports, and similar content. Choose three articles and

decide how they might have been important to the northern business elite.

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Members of the northern business elite forged close ties with each other to protect and expand theireconomic interests. Marriages between leading families formed a crucial strategy to advance economicadvantage, and the homes of the northern elite became important venues for solidifying social bonds.Exclusive neighborhoods started to develop as the wealthy distanced themselves from the poorer urbanresidents, and cities soon became segregated by class.

Industrial elites created chambers of commerce to advance their interests; by 1858 there were ten in theUnited States. These networking organizations allowed top bankers and merchants to stay current onthe economic activities of their peers and further strengthen the bonds among themselves. The elite alsoestablished social clubs to forge and maintain ties. The first of these, the Philadelphia Club, came into beingin 1834. Similar clubs soon formed in other cities and hosted a range of social activities designed to furtherbind together the leading economic families. Many northern elites worked hard to ensure the transmissionof their inherited wealth from one generation to the next. Politically, they exercised considerable power inlocal and state elections. Most also had ties to the cotton trade, so they were strong supporters of slavery.

The Industrial Revolution led some former artisans to reinvent themselves as manufacturers. Theseenterprising leaders of manufacturing differed from the established commercial elite in the North andSouth because they did not inherit wealth. Instead, many came from very humble working-class originsand embodied the dream of achieving upward social mobility through hard work and discipline. Asthe beneficiaries of the economic transformations sweeping the republic, these newly establishedmanufacturers formed a new economic elite that thrived in the cities and cultivated its own distinctsensibilities. They created a culture that celebrated hard work, a position that put them at odds withsouthern planter elites who prized leisure and with other elite northerners who had largely inherited theirwealth and status.

Peter Cooper provides one example of the new northern manufacturing class. Ever inventive, Cooperdabbled in many different moneymaking enterprises before gaining success in the glue business. Heopened his Manhattan glue factory in the 1820s and was soon using his profits to expand into a host ofother activities, including iron production. One of his innovations was the steam locomotive, which heinvented in 1827 (Figure 9.17). Despite becoming one of the wealthiest men in New York City, Cooperlived simply. Rather than buying an ornate bed, for example, he built his own. He believed respectabilitycame through hard work, not family pedigree.

Figure 9.17 Peter Cooper, who would go on to found the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art inNew York City, designed and built the Tom Thumb, the first American-built steam locomotive, a replica of which isshown here.

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Those who had inherited their wealth derided self-made men like Cooper, and he and others like himwere excluded from the social clubs established by the merchant and financial elite of New York City. Self-made northern manufacturers, however, created their own organizations that aimed to promote upwardmobility. The Providence Association of Mechanics and Manufacturers was formed in 1789 and promotedboth industrial arts and education as a pathway to economic success. In 1859, Peter Cooper established theCooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, a school in New York City dedicated to providingeducation in technology. Merit, not wealth, mattered most according to Cooper, and admission to theschool was based solely on ability; race, sex, and family connections had no place. The best and brightestcould attend Cooper Union tuition-free, a policy that remained in place until 2014.

THE MIDDLE CLASSNot all enterprising artisans were so successful that they could rise to the level of the elite. However,many artisans and small merchants, who owned small factories and stores, did manage to achieve andmaintain respectability in an emerging middle class. Lacking the protection of great wealth, members ofthe middle class agonized over the fear that they might slip into the ranks of wage laborers; thus theystrove to maintain or improve their middle-class status and that of their children.

To this end, the middle class valued cleanliness, discipline, morality, hard work, education, and goodmanners. Hard work and education enabled them to rise in life. Middle-class children, therefore, didnot work in factories. Instead they attended school and in their free time engaged in “self-improving”activities, such as reading or playing the piano, or they played with toys and games that would teach themthe skills and values they needed to succeed in life. In the early nineteenth century, members of the middleclass began to limit the number of children they had. Children no longer contributed economically to thehousehold, and raising them “correctly” required money and attention. It therefore made sense to havefewer of them.

Middle-class women did not work for wages. Their job was to care for the children and to keep the housein a state of order and cleanliness, often with the help of a servant. They also performed the importanttasks of cultivating good manners among their children and their husbands and of purchasing consumergoods; both activities proclaimed to neighbors and prospective business partners that their families wereeducated, cultured, and financially successful.

Northern business elites, many of whom owned or had invested in businesses like cotton mills thatprofited from slave labor, often viewed the institution of slavery with ambivalence. Most members of themiddle class took a dim view of it, however, since it promoted a culture of leisure. Slavery stood as theantithesis of the middle-class view that dignity and respectability were achieved through work, and manymembers of this class became active in efforts to end it.

This class of upwardly mobile citizens promoted temperance, or abstinence from alcohol. They alsogave their support to Protestant ministers like George Grandison Finney, who preached that all peoplepossessed free moral agency, meaning they could change their lives and bring about their own salvation, amessage that resonated with members of the middle class, who already believed their worldly efforts hadled to their economic success.

THE WORKING CLASSThe Industrial Revolution in the United States created a new class of wage workers, and this working classalso developed its own culture. They formed their own neighborhoods, living away from the oversightof bosses and managers. While industrialization and the market revolution brought some improvementsto the lives of the working class, these sweeping changes did not benefit laborers as much as they didthe middle class and the elites. The working class continued to live an often precarious existence. Theysuffered greatly during economic slumps, such as the Panic of 1819.

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Although most working-class men sought to emulate the middle class by keeping their wives and childrenout of the work force, their economic situation often necessitated that others besides the male head of thefamily contribute to its support. Thus, working-class children might attend school for a few years or learnto read and write at Sunday school, but education was sacrificed when income was needed, and manyworking-class children went to work in factories. While the wives of wage laborers usually did not workfor wages outside the home, many took in laundry or did piecework at home to supplement the family’sincome.

Although the urban working class could not afford the consumer goods that the middle class could, itsmembers did exercise a great deal of influence over popular culture. Theirs was a festive public culture ofrelease and escape from the drudgery of factory work, catered to by the likes of Phineas Taylor Barnum,the celebrated circus promoter and showman. Taverns also served an important function as places toforget the long hours and uncertain wages of the factories. Alcohol consumption was high among theworking class, although many workers did take part in the temperance movement. It is little wonder thatmiddle-class manufacturers attempted to abolish alcohol.


P. T. Barnum and the Feejee MermaidThe Connecticut native P. T. Barnum catered to the demand for escape and cheap amusements amongthe working class. His American Museum in New York City opened in 1841 and achieved great success.Millions flocked to see Barnum’s exhibits, which included a number of fantastic human and animaloddities, almost all of which were hoaxes. One exhibit in the 1840s featured the “Feejee Mermaid,” whichBarnum presented as proof of the existence of the mythical mermaids of the deep (Figure 9.18). In truth,the mermaid was a half-monkey, half-fish stitched together.

Figure 9.18 Spurious though they were, attractions such as the Feejee mermaid (a) from P. T.Barnum’s American Museum in New York City (b) drew throngs of working-class wage earners in themiddle of the nineteenth century.

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Visit The Lost Museum ( to take avirtual tour of P. T. Barnum’s incredible museum.

Wage workers in the North were largely hostile to the abolition of slavery, fearing it would unleash morecompetition for jobs from free blacks. Many were also hostile to immigration. The pace of immigrationto the United States accelerated in the 1840s and 1850s as Europeans were drawn to the promise ofemployment and land in the United States. Many new members of the working class came from the ranksof these immigrants, who brought new foods, customs, and religions. The Roman Catholic populationof the United States, fairly small before this period, began to swell with the arrival of the Irish and theGermans.

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Cumberland Road


Erie Canal

free moral agency

labor theory of value

land offices

machine tools

Mohawk and Hudson Railroad

putting-out system


Working Men’s Party

Key Terms

skilled, experienced worker who produces specialized goods by hand

a national highway that provided thousands with a route from Maryland to Illinois

breaking an artisanal production process into smaller steps that unskilled workers canperform

a canal that connected the Hudson River to Lake Erie and markets in the West

the freedom to change one’s own life and bring about one’s own salvation

an economic theory holding that profits from the sale of the goods produced byworkers should be equitably distributed to those workers

sites where prospective landowners could buy public land from the government

machines that cut and shape metal to produce standardized, interchangeable parts formechanical devices such as clocks or guns

the first steam-powered locomotive railroad in the United States

a labor system whereby a merchant hired different families to perform specific tasksin a production process

“hard” money, usually in the form of gold and silver coins

a political group that radically opposed what they viewed as the exploitation ofworkers

Summary9.1 Early Industrialization in the NortheastIndustrialization led to radical changes in American life. New industrial towns, like Waltham, Lowell,and countless others, dotted the landscape of the Northeast. The mills provided many young womenan opportunity to experience a new and liberating life, and these workers relished their new freedom.Workers also gained a greater appreciation of the value of their work and, in some instances, beganto question the basic fairness of the new industrial order. The world of work had been fundamentallyreorganized.

9.2 A Vibrant Capitalist RepublicThe selling of the public domain was one of the key features of the early nineteenth century in theUnited States. Thousands rushed west to take part in the bounty. In the wild frenzy of land purchasesand speculation in land, state banks advanced risky loans and created unstable paper money not backedby gold or silver, ultimately leading to the Panic of 1819. The ensuing economic depression was thefirst in U.S. history. Recovery came in the 1820s, followed by a period of robust growth. In this ageof entrepreneurship, in which those who invested their money wisely in land, business ventures, ortechnological improvements reaped vast profits, inventors produced new wonders that transformedAmerican life.

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9.3 On the Move: The Transportation RevolutionA transportation infrastructure rapidly took shape in the 1800s as American investors and the governmentbegan building roads, turnpikes, canals, and railroads. The time required to travel shrank vastly, andpeople marveled at their ability to conquer great distances, enhancing their sense of the steady advanceof progress. The transportation revolution also made it possible to ship agricultural and manufacturedgoods throughout the country and enabled rural people to travel to towns and cities for employmentopportunities.

9.4 A New Social Order: Class DivisionsThe creation of distinctive classes in the North drove striking new cultural developments. Even among thewealthy elites, northern business families, who had mainly inherited their money, distanced themselvesfrom the newly wealthy manufacturing leaders. Regardless of how they had earned their money, however,the elite lived and socialized apart from members of the growing middle class. The middle class valuedwork, consumption, and education and dedicated their energies to maintaining or advancing their socialstatus. Wage workers formed their own society in industrial cities and mill villages, though lack of moneyand long working hours effectively prevented the working class from consuming the fruits of their labor,educating their children, or advancing up the economic ladder.

Review Questions1. How were the New England textile millsplanned and built?

A. Experienced British builders traveled to theUnited States to advise Americanmerchants.

B. New England merchants paid French andGerman mechanics to design factories forthem.

C. New England merchants and Britishmigrants memorized plans from Britishmills.

D. Textile mills were a purely Americancreation, invented by Francis Cabot Lowellin 1813.

2. Which is the best characterization of textile millworkers in the early nineteenth century?

A. male and female indentured servants fromGreat Britain who worked hard to win theirfreedom

B. young men who found freedom in therowdy lifestyle of mill work

C. experienced artisans who shared theirknowledge in exchange for part ownershipin the company

D. young farm women whose behavior wasclosely monitored

3. What effect did industrialization have onconsumers?

4. Most people who migrated within the UnitedStates in the early nineteenth century went________.

A. north toward CanadaB. west toward OhioC. south toward GeorgiaD. east across the Mississippi River

5. Which of the following was not a cause of thePanic of 1819?

A. The Second Bank of the United States maderisky loans.

B. States chartered too many banks.C. Prices for American commodities dropped.D. Banks hoarded gold and silver.

6. Robert Fulton is known for inventing ________.

A. the cotton ginB. the mechanical reaperC. the steamship engineD. machine tools

7. What did federal and state governments do tohelp people who were hurt in the Panic of 1819?

8. Which of the following was not a factor in thetransportation revolution?

A. the steam-powered locomotive

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B. the canal systemC. the combustion engineD. the government-funded road system

9. What was the significance of the CumberlandRoad?

A. It gave settlers a quicker way to move west.B. It reduced the time it took to move goods

from New York Harbor to Lake Erie.C. It improved trade from the Port of New

Orleans.D. It was the first paved road.

10. What were the benefits of the transportationrevolution?

11. Which of the following groups supported theabolition of slavery?

A. northern business elitesB. southern planter elitesC. wage workersD. middle-class northerners

12. Which social class was most drawn toamusements like P. T. Barnum’s museum?

A. wage workersB. middle-class northernersC. southern planter elitesD. northern business elites

13. What did Peter Cooper envision for theUnited States, and how did he work to bring hisvision to life?

Critical Thinking Questions14. Industrialization in the Northeast produced great benefits and also major problems. What were they?Who benefited and who suffered? Did the benefits outweigh the problems, or vice versa?

15. What factors led to the Panic of 1819? What government regulations might have prevented it?

16. Would the Industrial Revolution have been possible without the use of slave labor? Why or why not?

17. What might have been the advantages and disadvantages of railroads for the people who lived alongthe routes or near the stations?

18. What were the values of the middle class? How did they differ from the values of those above andbelow them on the socioeconomic ladder? In what ways are these values similar to or different from thoseheld by the middle class today?

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Jacksonian Democracy, 1820–1840

Figure 10.1 In President’s Levee, or all Creation going to the White House, Washington (1841), by RobertCruikshank, the artist depicts Andrew Jackson’s inauguration in 1829, with crowds surging into the White House tojoin the celebrations. Rowdy revelers destroyed many White House furnishings in their merriment. A new political eraof democracy had begun, one characterized by the rule of the majority.

Chapter Outline10.1 A New Political Style: From John Quincy Adams to Andrew Jackson10.2 The Rise of American Democracy10.3 The Nullification Crisis and the Bank War10.4 Indian Removal10.5 The Tyranny and Triumph of the Majority

IntroductionThe most extraordinary political development in the years before the Civil War was the rise of Americandemocracy. Whereas the founders envisioned the United States as a republic, not a democracy, and hadplaced safeguards such as the Electoral College in the 1787 Constitution to prevent simple majority rule,the early 1820s saw many Americans embracing majority rule and rejecting old forms of deference thatwere based on elite ideas of virtue, learning, and family lineage.

A new breed of politicians learned to harness the magic of the many by appealing to the resentments, fears,and passions of ordinary citizens to win elections. The charismatic Andrew Jackson gained a reputationas a fighter and defender of American expansion, emerging as the quintessential figure leading the rise ofAmerican democracy. In the image above (Figure 10.1), crowds flock to the White House to celebrate hisinauguration as president. While earlier inaugurations had been reserved for Washington’s political elite,Jackson’s was an event for the people, so much so that the pushing throngs caused thousands of dollars ofdamage to White House property. Characteristics of modern American democracy, including the turbulentnature of majority rule, first appeared during the Age of Jackson.

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10.1 A New Political Style: From John Quincy Adams to AndrewJackson

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain and illustrate the new style of American politics in the 1820s• Describe the policies of John Quincy Adams’s presidency and explain the political

divisions that resulted

In the 1820s, American political culture gave way to the democratic urges of the citizenry. Political leadersand parties rose to popularity by championing the will of the people, pushing the country toward a futurein which a wider swath of citizens gained a political voice. However, this expansion of political power waslimited to white men; women, free blacks, and Indians remained—or grew increasingly—disenfranchisedby the American political system.

THE DECLINE OF FEDERALISMThe first party system in the United States shaped the political contest between the Federalists andthe Democratic-Republicans. The Federalists, led by Washington, Hamilton, and Adams, dominatedAmerican politics in the 1790s. After the election of Thomas Jefferson—the Revolution of 1800—theDemocratic-Republicans gained ascendance. The gradual decline of the Federalist Party is evident in itslosses in the presidential contests that occurred between 1800 and 1820. After 1816, in which Democratic-Republican James Monroe defeated his Federalist rival Rufus King, the Federalists never ran anotherpresidential candidate.

Before the 1820s, a code of deference had underwritten the republic’s political order. Deference wasthe practice of showing respect for individuals who had distinguished themselves through military

Figure 10.2

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accomplishments, educational attainment, business success, or family pedigree. Such individuals weremembers of what many Americans in the early republic agreed was a natural aristocracy. Deference shownto them dovetailed with republicanism and its emphasis on virtue, the ideal of placing the common goodabove narrow self-interest. Republican statesmen in the 1780s and 1790s expected and routinely receiveddeferential treatment from others, and ordinary Americans deferred to their “social betters” as a matter ofcourse.

For the generation who lived through the American Revolution, for instance, George Washingtonepitomized republican virtue, entitling him to great deference from his countrymen. His judgment anddecisions were considered beyond reproach. An Anglican minister named Mason Locke Weems wrote theclassic tale of Washington’s unimpeachable virtue in his 1800 book, The Life of Washington. Generations ofnineteenth-century American children read its fictional story of a youthful Washington chopping downone of his father’s cherry trees and, when confronted by his father, confessing: “I cannot tell a lie”(Figure 10.3). The story spoke to Washington’s unflinching honesty and integrity, encouraging readers toremember the deference owed to such towering national figures.

Figure 10.3 “Father, I Can Not Tell a Lie: I Cut the Tree” (1867) by John McRae, after a painting by George GorgasWhite, illustrates Mason Locke Weems’s tale of Washington’s honesty and integrity as revealed in the incident of thecherry tree. Although it was fiction, this story about Washington taught generations of children about the importanceof virtue.

Washington and those who celebrated his role as president established a standard for elite, virtuousleadership that cast a long shadow over subsequent presidential administrations. The presidents whofollowed Washington shared the first president’s pedigree. With the exception of John Adams, whowas from Massachusetts, all the early presidents—Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and JamesMonroe—were members of Virginia’s elite slaveholder aristocracy.

DEMOCRATIC REFORMSIn the early 1820s, deference to pedigree began to wane in American society. A new type of deference—tothe will of the majority and not to a ruling class—took hold. The spirit of democratic reform became mostevident in the widespread belief that all white men, regardless of whether they owned property, had theright to participate in elections.

Before the 1820s, many state constitutions had imposed property qualifications for voting as a means tokeep democratic tendencies in check. However, as Federalist ideals fell out of favor, ordinary men fromthe middle and lower classes increasingly questioned the idea that property ownership was an indicationof virtue. They argued for universal manhood suffrage, or voting rights for all white male adults.

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New states adopted constitutions that did not contain property qualifications for voting, a move designedto stimulate migration across their borders. Vermont and Kentucky, admitted to the Union in 1791 and1792 respectively, granted the right to vote to all white men regardless of whether they owned propertyor paid taxes. Ohio’s state constitution placed a minor taxpaying requirement on voters but otherwiseallowed for expansive white male suffrage. Alabama, admitted to the Union in 1819, eliminated propertyqualifications for voting in its state constitution. Two other new states, Indiana (1816) and Illinois (1818),also extended the right to vote to white men regardless of property. Initially, the new state of Mississippi(1817) restricted voting to white male property holders, but in 1832 it eliminated this provision.

In Connecticut, Federalist power largely collapsed in 1818 when the state held a constitutional convention.The new constitution granted the right to vote to all white men who paid taxes or served in the militia.Similarly, New York amended its state constitution in 1821–1822 and removed the property qualificationsfor voting.

Expanded voting rights did not extend to women, Indians, or free blacks in the North. Indeed, racereplaced property qualifications as the criterion for voting rights. American democracy had a decidedlyracist orientation; a white majority limited the rights of black minorities. New Jersey explicitly restrictedthe right to vote to white men only. Connecticut passed a law in 1814 taking the right to vote away fromfree black men and restricting suffrage to white men only. By the 1820s, 80 percent of the white malepopulation could vote in New York State elections. No other state had expanded suffrage so dramatically.At the same time, however, New York effectively disenfranchised free black men in 1822 (black men hadhad the right to vote under the 1777 constitution) by requiring that “men of color” must possess propertyover the value of $250.

PARTY POLITICS AND THE ELECTION OF 1824In addition to expanding white men’s right to vote, democratic currents also led to a new style of politicalparty organization, most evident in New York State in the years after the War of 1812. Under the leadershipof Martin Van Buren, New York’s “Bucktail” Republican faction (so named because members wore a deer’stail on their hats, a symbol of membership in the Tammany Society) gained political power by cultivatingloyalty to the will of the majority, not to an elite family or renowned figure. The Bucktails emphasized apragmatic approach. For example, at first they opposed the Erie Canal project, but when the popularity ofthe massive transportation venture became clear, they supported it.

One of the Bucktails’ greatest achievements in New York came in the form of revisions to the stateconstitution in the 1820s. Under the original constitution, a Council of Appointments selected local officialssuch as sheriffs and county clerks. The Bucktails replaced this process with a system of direct elections,which meant thousands of jobs immediately became available to candidates who had the support of themajority. In practice, Van Buren’s party could nominate and support their own candidates based on theirloyalty to the party. In this way, Van Buren helped create a political machine of disciplined party memberswho prized loyalty above all else, a harbinger of future patronage politics in the United States. This systemof rewarding party loyalists is known as the spoils system (from the expression, “To the victor belong thespoils”). Van Buren’s political machine helped radically transform New York politics.

Party politics also transformed the national political landscape, and the election of 1824 proved a turningpoint in American politics. With tens of thousands of new voters, the older system of having members ofCongress form congressional caucuses to determine who would run no longer worked. The new votershad regional interests and voted on them. For the first time, the popular vote mattered in a presidentialelection. Electors were chosen by popular vote in eighteen states, while the six remaining states used theolder system in which state legislatures chose electors.

With the caucus system defunct, the presidential election of 1824 featured five candidates, all of whom ranas Democratic-Republicans (the Federalists having ceased to be a national political force). The crowdedfield included John Quincy Adams, the son of the second president, John Adams. Candidate Adams hadbroken with the Federalists in the early 1800s and served on various diplomatic missions, including the

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mission to secure peace with Great Britain in 1814. He represented New England. A second candidate,John C. Calhoun from South Carolina, had served as secretary of war and represented the slaveholdingSouth. He dropped out of the presidential race to run for vice president. A third candidate, Henry Clay,the Speaker of the House of Representatives, hailed from Kentucky and represented the western states. Hefavored an active federal government committed to internal improvements, such as roads and canals, tobolster national economic development and settlement of the West. William H. Crawford, a slaveholderfrom Georgia, suffered a stroke in 1823 that left him largely incapacitated, but he ran nonetheless andhad the backing of the New York machine headed by Van Buren. Andrew Jackson, the famed “hero ofNew Orleans,” rounded out the field. Jackson had very little formal education, but he was popular for hismilitary victories in the War of 1812 and in wars against the Creek and the Seminole. He had been electedto the Senate in 1823, and his popularity soared as pro-Jackson newspapers sang the praises of the courageand daring of the Tennessee slaveholder (Figure 10.4).

Figure 10.4 The two most popular presidential candidates in the election of 1824 were Andrew Jackson (a), whowon the popular vote but failed to secure the requisite number of votes in the Electoral College, and John QuincyAdams (b), who emerged victorious after a contentious vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Results from the eighteen states where the popular vote determined the electoral vote gave Jacksonthe election, with 152,901 votes to Adams’s 114,023, Clay’s 47,217, and Crawford’s 46,979. The ElectoralCollege, however, was another matter. Of the 261 electoral votes, Jackson needed 131 or better to win butsecured only 99. Adams won 84, Crawford 41, and Clay 37. Because Jackson did not receive a majorityvote from the Electoral College, the election was decided following the terms of the Twelfth Amendment,which stipulated that when a candidate did not receive a majority of electoral votes, the election went tothe House of Representatives, where each state would provide one vote. House Speaker Clay did not wantto see his rival, Jackson, become president and therefore worked within the House to secure the presidencyfor Adams, convincing many to cast their vote for the New Englander. Clay’s efforts paid off; despite nothaving won the popular vote, John Quincy Adams was certified by the House as the next president. Oncein office, he elevated Henry Clay to the post of secretary of state.

Jackson and his supporters cried foul. To them, the election of Adams reeked of anti-democraticcorruption. So too did the appointment of Clay as secretary of state. John C. Calhoun labeled the wholeaffair a “corrupt bargain” (Figure 10.5). Everywhere, Jackson supporters vowed revenge against the anti-majoritarian result of 1824.

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Figure 10.5 John C. Calhoun (a) believed that the assistance Henry Clay (b) gave to John Quincy Adams in theU.S. House of Representatives’ vote to decide the presidential election of 1824 indicated that a “corrupt bargain” hadbeen made.

THE PRESIDENCY OF JOHN QUINCY ADAMSSecretary of State Clay championed what was known as the American System of high tariffs, a nationalbank, and federally sponsored internal improvements of canals and roads. Once in office, President Adamsembraced Clay’s American System and proposed a national university and naval academy to train futureleaders of the republic. The president’s opponents smelled elitism in these proposals and pounced on whatthey viewed as the administration’s catering to a small privileged class at the expense of ordinary citizens.

Clay also envisioned a broad range of internal transportation improvements. Using the proceeds fromland sales in the West, Adams endorsed the creation of roads and canals to facilitate commerce and theadvance of settlement in the West. Many in Congress vigorously opposed federal funding of internalimprovements, citing among other reasons that the Constitution did not give the federal government thepower to fund these projects. However, in the end, Adams succeeded in extending the Cumberland Roadinto Ohio (a federal highway project). He also broke ground for the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal on July 4,1828.

Visit the Cumberland Road Project ( the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park( to learn more about transportationdevelopments in the first half of the nineteenth century. How were these two projectsimportant for westward expansion?

Tariffs, which both Clay and Adams promoted, were not a novel idea; since the birth of the republic theyhad been seen as a way to advance domestic manufacturing by making imports more expensive. Congresshad approved a tariff in 1789, for instance, and Alexander Hamilton had proposed a protective tariff in

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1790. Congress also passed tariffs in 1816 and 1824. Clay spearheaded the drive for the federal governmentto impose high tariffs to help bolster domestic manufacturing. If imported goods were more expensivethan domestic goods, then people would buy American-made goods.

President Adams wished to promote manufacturing, especially in his home region of New England. Tothat end, in 1828 he proposed a high tariff on imported goods, amounting to 50 percent of their value. Thetariff raised questions about how power should be distributed, causing a fiery debate between those whosupported states’ rights and those who supported the expanded power of the federal government (Figure10.6). Those who championed states’ rights denounced the 1828 measure as the Tariff of Abominations,clear evidence that the federal government favored one region, in this case the North, over another, theSouth. They made their case by pointing out that the North had an expanding manufacturing base whilethe South did not. Therefore, the South imported far more manufactured goods than the North, causingthe tariff to fall most heavily on the southern states.

Figure 10.6 The Monkey System or ‘Every one for himself at the expense of his neighbor!!!!!!!!’ (1831) critiquedHenry Clay’s proposed tariff and system of internal improvements. In this political cartoon by Edward Williams Clay,four caged monkeys labeled “Home,” “Consumption,” “Internal,” and “Improv” (improvements)—different parts of thenation’s economy—steal each other’s food while Henry Clay, in the foreground, extols the virtues of his “grandoriginal American System.” (credit: Project Gutenberg Archives)

The 1828 tariff generated additional fears among southerners. In particular, it suggested to them that thefederal government would unilaterally take steps that hurt the South. This line of reasoning led somesoutherners to fear that the very foundation of the South—slavery—could come under attack from ahostile northern majority in Congress. The spokesman for this southern view was President Adams’s vicepresident, John C. Calhoun.

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John C. Calhoun on the Tariff of 1828Vice President John C. Calhoun, angry about the passage of the Tariff of 1828, anonymously wrote areport titled “South Carolina Exposition and Protest” (later known as “Calhoun’s Exposition”) for the SouthCarolina legislature. As a native of South Carolina, Calhoun articulated the fear among many southernersthat the federal government could exercise undue power over the states.

If it be conceded, as it must be by every one who is the least conversant with our institutions,that the sovereign powers delegated are divided between the General and StateGovernments, and that the latter hold their portion by the same tenure as the former, it wouldseem impossible to deny to the States the right of deciding on the infractions of their powers,and the proper remedy to be applied for their correction. The right of judging, in such cases,is an essential attribute of sovereignty, of which the States cannot be divested without losingtheir sovereignty itself, and being reduced to a subordinate corporate condition. In fact, todivide power, and to give to one of the parties the exclusive right of judging of the portionallotted to each, is, in reality, not to divide it at all; and to reserve such exclusive right to theGeneral Government (it matters not by what department) to be exercised, is to convert it, infact, into a great consolidated government, with unlimited powers, and to divest the States, inreality, of all their rights, It is impossible to understand the force of terms, and to deny so plaina conclusion.—John C. Calhoun, “South Carolina Exposition and Protest,” 1828

What is Calhoun’s main point of protest? What does he say about the sovereignty of the states?

10.2 The Rise of American Democracy

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the key points of the election of 1828• Explain the scandals of Andrew Jackson’s first term in office

A turning point in American political history occurred in 1828, which witnessed the election of AndrewJackson over the incumbent John Quincy Adams. While democratic practices had been in ascendance since1800, the year also saw the further unfolding of a democratic spirit in the United States. Supporters ofJackson called themselves Democrats or the Democracy, giving birth to the Democratic Party. Politicalauthority appeared to rest with the majority as never before.

THE CAMPAIGN AND ELECTION OF 1828During the 1800s, democratic reforms made steady progress with the abolition of property qualificationsfor voting and the birth of new forms of political party organization. The 1828 campaign pushed newdemocratic practices even further and highlighted the difference between the Jacksonian expandedelectorate and the older, exclusive Adams style. A slogan of the day, “Adams who can write/Jackson whocan fight,” captured the contrast between Adams the aristocrat and Jackson the frontiersman.

The 1828 campaign differed significantly from earlier presidential contests because of the partyorganization that promoted Andrew Jackson. Jackson and his supporters reminded voters of the “corruptbargain” of 1824. They framed it as the work of a small group of political elites deciding who wouldlead the nation, acting in a self-serving manner and ignoring the will of the majority (Figure 10.7). FromNashville, Tennessee, the Jackson campaign organized supporters around the nation through editorials inpartisan newspapers and other publications. Pro-Jackson newspapers heralded the “hero of New Orleans”

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while denouncing Adams. Though he did not wage an election campaign filled with public appearances,Jackson did give one major campaign speech in New Orleans on January 8, the anniversary of the defeatof the British in 1815. He also engaged in rounds of discussion with politicians who came to his home, theHermitage, in Nashville.

Figure 10.7 The bitter rivalry between Andrew Jackson and Henry Clay was exacerbated by the “corrupt bargain” of1824, which Jackson made much of during his successful presidential campaign in 1828. This drawing, published inthe 1830s during the debates over the future of the Second Bank of the United States, shows Clay sewing upJackson’s mouth while the “cure for calumny [slander]” protrudes from his pocket.

At the local level, Jackson’s supporters worked to bring in as many new voters as possible. Rallies, parades,and other rituals further broadcast the message that Jackson stood for the common man against the corruptelite backing Adams and Clay. Democratic organizations called Hickory Clubs, a tribute to Jackson’snickname, Old Hickory, also worked tirelessly to ensure his election.

In November 1828, Jackson won an overwhelming victory over Adams, capturing 56 percent of thepopular vote and 68 percent of the electoral vote. As in 1800, when Jefferson had won over the Federalistincumbent John Adams, the presidency passed to a new political party, the Democrats. The election wasthe climax of several decades of expanding democracy in the United States and the end of the older politicsof deference.

Visit The Hermitage ( to explore atimeline of Andrew Jackson’s life and career. How do you think the events of hisyounger life affected the trajectory of his political career?

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SCANDAL IN THE PRESIDENCYAmid revelations of widespread fraud, including the disclosure that some $300,000 was missing from theTreasury Department, Jackson removed almost 50 percent of appointed civil officers, which allowed himto handpick their replacements. This replacement of appointed federal officials is called rotation in office.Lucrative posts, such as postmaster and deputy postmaster, went to party loyalists, especially in placeswhere Jackson’s support had been weakest, such as New England. Some Democratic newspaper editorswho had supported Jackson during the campaign also gained public jobs.

Jackson’s opponents were angered and took to calling the practice the spoils system, after the policies ofVan Buren’s Bucktail Republican Party. The rewarding of party loyalists with government jobs resultedin spectacular instances of corruption. Perhaps the most notorious occurred in New York City, where aJackson appointee made off with over $1 million. Such examples seemed proof positive that the Democratswere disregarding merit, education, and respectability in decisions about the governing of the nation.

In addition to dealing with rancor over rotation in office, the Jackson administration became embroiledin a personal scandal known as the Petticoat affair. This incident exacerbated the division between thepresident’s team and the insider class in the nation’s capital, who found the new arrivals from Tennesseelacking in decorum and propriety. At the center of the storm was Margaret (“Peggy”) O’Neal, a well-known socialite in Washington, DC (Figure 10.8). O’Neal cut a striking figure and had connections to therepublic’s most powerful men. She married John Timberlake, a naval officer, and they had three children.Rumors abounded, however, about her involvement with John Eaton, a U.S. senator from Tennessee whohad come to Washington in 1818.

Figure 10.8 Peggy O’Neal was so well known that advertisers used her image to sell products to the public. In thisanonymous nineteenth-century cigar-box lid, her portrait is flanked by vignettes showing her scandalous past. On theleft, President Andrew Jackson presents her with flowers. On the right, two men fight a duel for her.

Timberlake committed suicide in 1828, setting off a flurry of rumors that he had been distraught overhis wife’s reputed infidelities. Eaton and Mrs. Timberlake married soon after, with the full approval ofPresident Jackson. The so-called Petticoat affair divided Washington society. Many Washington socialitessnubbed the new Mrs. Eaton as a woman of low moral character. Among those who would have nothingto do with her was Vice President John C. Calhoun’s wife, Floride. Calhoun fell out of favor with PresidentJackson, who defended Peggy Eaton and derided those who would not socialize with her, declaring shewas “as chaste as a virgin.” (Jackson had personal reasons for defending Eaton: he drew a parallel betweenEaton’s treatment and that of his late wife, Rachel, who had been subjected to attacks on her reputationrelated to her first marriage, which had ended in divorce.) Martin Van Buren, who defended the Eatonsand organized social gatherings with them, became close to Jackson, who came to rely on a group ofinformal advisers that included Van Buren and was dubbed the Kitchen Cabinet. This select group ofpresidential supporters highlights the importance of party loyalty to Jackson and the Democratic Party.

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10.3 The Nullification Crisis and the Bank War

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the factors that contributed to the Nullification Crisis• Discuss the origins and creation of the Whig Party

The crisis over the Tariff of 1828 continued into the 1830s and highlighted one of the currents of democracyin the Age of Jackson: namely, that many southerners believed a democratic majority could be harmfulto their interests. These southerners saw themselves as an embattled minority and claimed the right ofstates to nullify federal laws that appeared to threaten state sovereignty. Another undercurrent was theresentment and anger of the majority against symbols of elite privilege, especially powerful financialinstitutions like the Second Bank of the United States.

THE NULLIFICATION CRISISThe Tariff of 1828 had driven Vice President Calhoun to pen his “South Carolina Exposition and Protest,”in which he argued that if a national majority acted against the interest of a regional minority, thenindividual states could void—or nullify—federal law. By the early 1830s, the battle over the tariff took onnew urgency as the price of cotton continued to fall. In 1818, cotton had been thirty-one cents per pound.By 1831, it had sunk to eight cents per pound. While production of cotton had soared during this timeand this increase contributed to the decline in prices, many southerners blamed their economic problemssquarely on the tariff for raising the prices they had to pay for imported goods while their own incomeshrank.

Resentment of the tariff was linked directly to the issue of slavery, because the tariff demonstratedthe use of federal power. Some southerners feared the federal government would next take additionalaction against the South, including the abolition of slavery. The theory of nullification, or the voidingof unwelcome federal laws, provided wealthy slaveholders, who were a minority in the United States,with an argument for resisting the national government if it acted contrary to their interests. JamesHamilton, who served as governor of South Carolina in the early 1830s, denounced the “despotic majoritythat oppresses us.” Nullification also raised the specter of secession; aggrieved states at the mercy of anaggressive majority would be forced to leave the Union.

On the issue of nullification, South Carolina stood alone. Other southern states backed away from whatthey saw as the extremism behind the idea. President Jackson did not make the repeal of the 1828 tariff apriority and denied the nullifiers’ arguments. He and others, including former President Madison, arguedthat Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gave Congress the power to “lay and collect taxes, duties,imposts, and excises.” Jackson pledged to protect the Union against those who would try to tear it apartover the tariff issue. “The union shall be preserved,” he declared in 1830.

To deal with the crisis, Jackson advocated a reduction in tariff rates. The Tariff of 1832, passed in thesummer, lowered the rates on imported goods, a move designed to calm southerners. It did not havethe desired effect, however, and Calhoun’s nullifiers still claimed their right to override federal law. InNovember, South Carolina passed the Ordinance of Nullification, declaring the 1828 and 1832 tariffsnull and void in the Palmetto State. Jackson responded, however, by declaring in the December 1832Nullification Proclamation that a state did not have the power to void a federal law.

With the states and the federal government at an impasse, civil war seemed a real possibility. The nextgovernor of South Carolina, Robert Hayne, called for a force of ten thousand volunteers (Figure 10.9) todefend the state against any federal action. At the same time, South Carolinians who opposed the nullifierstold Jackson that eight thousand men stood ready to defend the Union. Congress passed the Force Billof 1833, which gave the federal government the right to use federal troops to ensure compliance with

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federal law. The crisis—or at least the prospect of armed conflict in South Carolina—was defused by theCompromise Tariff of 1833, which reduced tariff rates considerably. Nullifiers in South Carolina acceptedit, but in a move that demonstrated their inflexibility, they nullified the Force Bill.

Figure 10.9 The governor of South Carolina, Robert Hayne, elected in 1832, was a strong proponent of states’rights and the theory of nullification.

The Nullification Crisis illustrated the growing tensions in American democracy: an aggrieved minority ofelite, wealthy slaveholders taking a stand against the will of a democratic majority; an emerging sectionaldivide between South and North over slavery; and a clash between those who believed in free trade andthose who believed in protective tariffs to encourage the nation’s economic growth. These tensions wouldcolor the next three decades of politics in the United States.

THE BANK WARCongress established the Bank of the United States in 1791 as a key pillar of Alexander Hamilton’s financialprogram, but its twenty-year charter expired in 1811. Congress, swayed by the majority’s hostility to thebank as an institution catering to the wealthy elite, did not renew the charter at that time. In its place,Congress approved a new national bank—the Second Bank of the United States—in 1816. It too had atwenty-year charter, set to expire in 1836.

The Second Bank of the United States was created to stabilize the banking system. More than two hundredbanks existed in the United States in 1816, and almost all of them issued paper money. In other words,citizens faced a bewildering welter of paper money with no standard value. In fact, the problem of papermoney had contributed significantly to the Panic of 1819.

In the 1820s, the national bank moved into a magnificent new building in Philadelphia. However, despiteCongress’s approval of the Second Bank of the United States, a great many people continued to view it astool of the wealthy, an anti-democratic force. President Jackson was among them; he had faced economiccrises of his own during his days speculating in land, an experience that had made him uneasy about papermoney. To Jackson, hard currency—that is, gold or silver—was the far better alternative. The presidentalso personally disliked the bank’s director, Nicholas Biddle.

A large part of the allure of mass democracy for politicians was the opportunity to capture the anger andresentment of ordinary Americans against what they saw as the privileges of a few. One of the leadingopponents of the bank was Thomas Hart Benton, a senator from Missouri, who declared that the bank

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served “to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer.” The self-important statements of Biddle, whoclaimed to have more power that President Jackson, helped fuel sentiments like Benton’s.

In the reelection campaign of 1832, Jackson’s opponents in Congress, including Henry Clay, hoped to usetheir support of the bank to their advantage. In January 1832, they pushed for legislation that would re-charter it, even though its charter was not scheduled to expire until 1836. When the bill for re-charteringpassed and came to President Jackson, he used his executive authority to veto the measure.

The defeat of the Second Bank of the United States demonstrates Jackson’s ability to focus on the specificissues that aroused the democratic majority. Jackson understood people’s anger and distrust towardthe bank, which stood as an emblem of special privilege and big government. He skillfully used thatperception to his advantage, presenting the bank issue as a struggle of ordinary people against a rapaciouselite class who cared nothing for the public and pursued only their own selfish ends. As Jackson portrayedit, his was a battle for small government and ordinary Americans. His stand against what bank opponentscalled the “monster bank” proved very popular, and the Democratic press lionized him for it (Figure10.10). In the election of 1832, Jackson received nearly 53 percent of the popular vote against his opponentHenry Clay.

Figure 10.10 In General Jackson Slaying the Many Headed Monster (1836), the artist, Henry R. Robinson, depictsPresident Jackson using a cane marked “Veto” to battle a many-headed snake representing state banks, whichsupported the national bank. Battling alongside Martin Van Buren and Jack Downing, Jackson addresses the largesthead, that of Nicholas Biddle, the director of the national bank: “Biddle thou Monster Avaunt [go away]!! . . .”

Jackson’s veto was only one part of the war on the “monster bank.” In 1833, the president removed thedeposits from the national bank and placed them in state banks. Biddle, the bank’s director, retaliated byrestricting loans to the state banks, resulting in a reduction of the money supply. The financial turmoilonly increased when Jackson issued an executive order known as the Specie Circular, which required thatwestern land sales be conducted using gold or silver only. Unfortunately, this policy proved a disasterwhen the Bank of England, the source of much of the hard currency borrowed by American businesses,dramatically cut back on loans to the United States. Without the flow of hard currency from England,American depositors drained the gold and silver from their own domestic banks, making hard currencyscarce. Adding to the economic distress of the late 1830s, cotton prices plummeted, contributing to afinancial crisis called the Panic of 1837. This economic panic would prove politically useful for Jackson’sopponents in the coming years and Van Buren, elected president in 1836, would pay the price for Jackson’shard-currency preferences.

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WHIGSJackson’s veto of the bank and his Specie Circular helped galvanize opposition forces into a new politicalparty, the Whigs, a faction that began to form in 1834. The name was significant; opponents of Jacksonsaw him as exercising tyrannical power, so they chose the name Whig after the eighteenth-century politicalparty that resisted the monarchical power of King George III. One political cartoon dubbed the president“King Andrew the First” and displayed Jackson standing on the Constitution, which has been ripped toshreds (Figure 10.11).

Figure 10.11 This anonymous 1833 political caricature (a) represents President Andrew Jackson as a despotic ruler,holding a scepter in one hand and a veto in the other. Contrast the image of “King Andrew” with a political cartoonfrom 1831 (b) of Jackson overseeing a scene of uncontrollable chaos as he falls from a hickory chair “coming topieces at last.”

Whigs championed an active federal government committed to internal improvements, including anational bank. They made their first national appearance in the presidential election of 1836, a contestthat pitted Jackson’s handpicked successor, Martin Van Buren, against a field of several Whig candidates.Indeed, the large field of Whig candidates indicated the new party’s lack of organization compared to theDemocrats. This helped Van Buren, who carried the day in the Electoral College. As the effects of the Panicof 1837 continued to be felt for years afterward, the Whig press pinned the blame for the economic crisison Van Buren and the Democrats.

Explore a Library of Congress ( collectionof 1830s political cartoons from the pages of Harper’s Weekly to learn more about howAndrew Jackson was viewed by the public in that era.

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10.4 Indian Removal

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the legal wrangling that surrounded the Indian Removal Act• Describe how depictions of Indians in popular culture helped lead to Indian removal

Pro-Jackson newspapers touted the president as a champion of opening land for white settlement andmoving native inhabitants beyond the boundaries of “American civilization.” In this effort, Jacksonreflected majority opinion: most Americans believed Indians had no place in the white republic. Jackson’sanimosity toward Indians ran deep. He had fought against the Creek in 1813 and against the Seminolein 1817, and his reputation and popularity rested in large measure on his firm commitment to removeIndians from states in the South. The 1830 Indian Removal Act and subsequent displacement of the Creek,Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Cherokee tribes of the Southeast fulfilled the vision of a white nationand became one of the identifying characteristics of the Age of Jackson.

INDIANS IN POPULAR CULTUREPopular culture in the first half of the nineteenth century reflected the aversion to Indians that waspervasive during the Age of Jackson. Jackson skillfully played upon this racial hatred to engage the UnitedStates in a policy of ethnic cleansing, eradicating the Indian presence from the land to make way for whitecivilization.

In an age of mass democracy, powerful anti-Indian sentiments found expression in mass culture, shapingpopular perceptions. James Fenimore Cooper’s very popular historical novel, The Last of the Mohicans,published in 1826 as part of his Leatherstocking series, told the tale of Nathaniel “Natty” Bumppo (akaHawkeye), who lived among Indians but had been born to white parents. Cooper provides a romanticversion of the French and Indian War in which Natty helps the British against the French and the feral,bloodthirsty Huron. Natty endures even as his Indian friends die, including the noble Uncas, the lastMohican, in a narrative that dovetailed with most people’s approval of Indian removal.

Indians also made frequent appearances in art. George Catlin produced many paintings of native peoples,which he offered as true representations despite routinely emphasizing their supposed savage nature. TheCutting Scene, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony (Figure 10.12) is one example. Scholars have long questionedthe accuracy of this portrayal of a rite of passage among the Mandan people. Accuracy aside, the paintingcaptured the imaginations of white viewers, reinforcing their disgust at the savagery of Indians.

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Figure 10.12 The Cutting Scene, Mandan O-kee-pa Ceremony, an 1832 painting by George Catlin, depicts a rite-of-passage ceremony that Catlin said he witnessed. It featured wooden splints inserted into the chest and back musclesof young men. Such paintings increased Indians’ reputation as savages.

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The Paintings of George CatlinGeorge Catlin seized upon the public fascination with the supposedly exotic and savage Indian, seeingan opportunity to make money by painting them in a way that conformed to popular white stereotypes(Figure 10.13). In the late 1830s, he toured major cities with his Indian Gallery, a collection of paintings ofnative peoples. Though he hoped his exhibition would be profitable, it did not bring him financial security.

Figure 10.13 In Attacking the Grizzly Bear (a), painted in 1844, Catlin focused on the Indians’ ownvanishing culture, while in Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon’s Egg Head (The Light) Going To and Returning FromWashington (b), painted in 1837–1839, he contrasted their ways with those of whites by showing anAssiniboine chief transformed by a visit to Washington, DC.

Catlin routinely painted Indians in a supposedly aboriginal state. In Attacking the Grizzly Bear, the huntersdo not have rifles and instead rely on spears. Such a portrayal stretches credibility as native peoples hadlong been exposed to and adopted European weapons. Indeed, the painting’s depiction of Indians ridinghorses, which were introduced by the Spanish, makes clear that, as much as Catlin and white viewerswanted to believe in the primitive and savage native, the reality was otherwise.

In Wi-jún-jon, Pigeon's Egg Head (The Light) Going To and Returning From Washington, the viewer isshown a before and after portrait of Wi-jún-jon, who tried to emulate white dress and manners after goingto Washington, DC. What differences do you see between these two representations of Wi-jún-jon? Doyou think his attempt to imitate whites was successful? Why or why not? What do you think Catlin wastrying to convey with this depiction of Wi-jún-jon’s assimilation?

THE INDIAN REMOVAL ACTIn his first message to Congress, Jackson had proclaimed that Indian groups living independently withinstates, as sovereign entities, presented a major problem for state sovereignty. This message referreddirectly to the situation in Georgia, Mississippi, and Alabama, where the Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw,Seminole, and Cherokee peoples stood as obstacles to white settlement. These groups were known as theFive Civilized Tribes, because they had largely adopted Anglo-American culture, speaking English andpracticing Christianity. Some held slaves like their white counterparts.

Whites especially resented the Cherokee in Georgia, coveting the tribe’s rich agricultural lands in thenorthern part of the state. The impulse to remove the Cherokee only increased when gold was discoveredon their lands. Ironically, while whites insisted the Cherokee and other native peoples could never be goodcitizens because of their savage ways, the Cherokee had arguably gone farther than any other indigenousgroup in adopting white culture. The Cherokee Phoenix, the newspaper of the Cherokee, began publication

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in 1828 (Figure 10.14) in English and the Cherokee language. Although the Cherokee followed the leadof their white neighbors by farming and owning property, as well as embracing Christianity and owningtheir own slaves, this proved of little consequence in an era when whites perceived all Indians as incapableof becoming full citizens of the republic.

Figure 10.14 This image depicts the front page of the Cherokee Phoenix newspaper from May 21, 1828. The paperwas published in both English and the Cherokee language.

Jackson’s anti-Indian stance struck a chord with a majority of white citizens, many of whom shared ahatred of nonwhites that spurred Congress to pass the 1830 Indian Removal Act. The act called for theremoval of the Five Civilized Tribes from their home in the southeastern United States to land in theWest, in present-day Oklahoma. Jackson declared in December 1830, “It gives me pleasure to announce toCongress that the benevolent policy of the Government, steadily pursued for nearly thirty years, in relationto the removal of the Indians beyond the white settlements is approaching to a happy consummation. Twoimportant tribes have accepted the provision made for their removal at the last session of Congress, and itis believed that their example will induce the remaining tribes also to seek the same obvious advantages.”

The Cherokee decided to fight the federal law, however, and took their case to the Supreme Court.Their legal fight had the support of anti-Jackson members of Congress, including Henry Clay and DanielWebster, and they retained the legal services of former attorney general William Wirt. In Cherokee Nation v.Georgia, Wirt argued that the Cherokee constituted an independent foreign nation, and that an injunction(a stop) should be placed on Georgia laws aimed at eradicating them. In 1831, the Supreme Court foundthe Cherokee did not meet the criteria for being a foreign nation.

Another case involving the Cherokee also found its way to the highest court in the land. This legalstruggle—Worcester v. Georgia—asserted the rights of non-natives to live on Indian lands. SamuelWorcester was a Christian missionary and federal postmaster of New Echota, the capital of the Cherokeenation. A Congregationalist, he had gone to live among the Cherokee in Georgia to further the spread ofChristianity, and he strongly opposed Indian removal.

By living among the Cherokee, Worcester had violated a Georgia law forbidding whites, unless theywere agents of the federal government, to live in Indian territory. Worcester was arrested, but becausehis federal job as postmaster gave him the right to live there, he was released. Jackson supporters thensucceeded in taking away Worcester’s job, and he was re-arrested. This time, a court sentenced him andnine others for violating the Georgia state law banning whites from living on Indian land. Worcester was

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sentenced to four years of hard labor. When the case of Worcester v. Georgia came before the Supreme Courtin 1832, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled in favor of Worcester, finding that the Cherokee constituted“distinct political communities” with sovereign rights to their own territory.


Chief Justice John Marshall’s Ruling in Worcester v. GeorgiaIn 1832, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall ruled in favor of Samuel Worcester inWorcester v. Georgia. In doing so, he established the principle of tribal sovereignty. Although thisjudgment contradicted Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, it failed to halt the Indian Removal Act. In his opinion,Marshall wrote the following:

From the commencement of our government Congress has passed acts to regulate trade andintercourse with the Indians; which treat them as nations, respect their rights, and manifesta firm purpose to afford that protection which treaties stipulate. All these acts, and especiallythat of 1802, which is still in force, manifestly consider the several Indian nations as distinctpolitical communities, having territorial boundaries, within which their authority is exclusive,and having a right to all the lands within those boundaries, which is not only acknowledged,but guaranteed by the United States. . . .The Cherokee Nation, then, is a distinct community, occupying its own territory, withboundaries accurately described, in which the laws of Georgia can have no force, and whichthe citizens of Georgia have no right to enter but with the assent of the Cherokees themselvesor in conformity with treaties and with the acts of Congress. The whole intercourse betweenthe United States and this nation is, by our Constitution and laws, vested in the governmentof the United States.The act of the State of Georgia under which the plaintiff in error was prosecuted isconsequently void, and the judgment a nullity. . . . The Acts of Georgia are repugnant to theConstitution, laws, and treaties of the United States.

How does this opinion differ from the outcome of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia just one year earlier? Whydo you think the two outcomes were different?

The Supreme Court did not have the power to enforce its ruling in Worcester v. Georgia, however, andit became clear that the Cherokee would be compelled to move. Those who understood that the onlyoption was removal traveled west, but the majority stayed on their land. In order to remove them, thepresident relied on the U.S. military. In a series of forced marches, some fifteen thousand Cherokee werefinally relocated to Oklahoma. This forced migration, known as the Trail of Tears, caused the deaths of asmany as four thousand Cherokee (Figure 10.15). The Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole peopleswere also compelled to go. The removal of the Five Civilized Tribes provides an example of the power ofmajority opinion in a democracy.

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Figure 10.15 After the passage of the Indian Removal Act, the U.S. military forced the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw,Chickasaw, and Seminole to relocate from the Southeast to an area in the western territory (now Oklahoma),marching them along the routes shown here.

Explore the interactive Trail of Tears map ( at to see the routes the Five Civilized Tribes traveled when theywere expelled from their lands. Then listen to a collection of Cherokee oral histories( including verses of a Cherokee-language song about the Trail of Tears. What do you think is the importance of oral

history in documenting the Cherokee experience?

BLACK HAWK’S WARThe policy of removal led some Indians to actively resist. In 1832, the Fox and the Sauk, led by Sauk chiefBlack Hawk (Makataimeshekiakiah), moved back across the Mississippi River to reclaim their ancestralhome in northern Illinois. A brief war in 1832, Black Hawk’s War, ensued. White settlers panicked at thereturn of the native peoples, and militias and federal troops quickly mobilized. At the Battle of Bad Axe(also known as the Bad Axe Massacre), they killed over two hundred men, women, and children. Someseventy white settlers and soldiers also lost their lives in the conflict (Figure 10.16). The war, which lastedonly a matter of weeks, illustrates how much whites on the frontier hated and feared Indians during theAge of Jackson.

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Figure 10.16 Charles Bird King’s 1837 portrait Sauk Chief Makataimeshekiakiah, or Black Hawk (a), depicts theSauk chief who led the Fox and Sauk peoples in an ill-fated effort to return to their native lands in northern Illinois.This engraving depicting the Battle of Bad Axe (b) shows U.S. soldiers on a steamer firing on Indians aboard a raft.(credit b: modification of work by Library of Congress)

10.5 The Tyranny and Triumph of the Majority

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain Alexis de Tocqueville’s analysis of American democracy• Describe the election of 1840 and its outcome

To some observers, the rise of democracy in the United States raised troubling questions about thenew power of the majority to silence minority opinion. As the will of the majority became the rule ofthe day, everyone outside of mainstream, white American opinion, especially Indians and blacks, werevulnerable to the wrath of the majority. Some worried that the rights of those who opposed the will ofthe majority would never be safe. Mass democracy also shaped political campaigns as never before. The1840 presidential election marked a significant turning point in the evolving style of American democraticpolitics.

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLEPerhaps the most insightful commentator on American democracy was the young French aristocrat Alexisde Tocqueville, whom the French government sent to the United States to report on American prisonreforms (Figure 10.17). Tocqueville marveled at the spirit of democracy that pervaded American life.Given his place in French society, however, much of what he saw of American democracy caused himconcern.

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Figure 10.17 Alexis de Tocqueville is best known for his insightful commentary on American democracy found in Dela démocratie en Amérique. The first volume of Tocqueville’s two-volume work was immediately popular throughoutEurope. The first English translation, by Henry Reeve and titled Democracy in America (a), was published in NewYork in 1838. Théodore Chassériau painted this portrait of Alexis de Tocqueville in 1850 (b).

Tocqueville’s experience led him to believe that democracy was an unstoppable force that would one dayoverthrow monarchy around the world. He wrote and published his findings in 1835 and 1840 in a two-part work entitled Democracy in America. In analyzing the democratic revolution in the United States, hewrote that the major benefit of democracy came in the form of equality before the law. A great deal of thesocial revolution of democracy, however, carried negative consequences. Indeed, Tocqueville described anew type of tyranny, the tyranny of the majority, which overpowers the will of minorities and individualsand was, in his view, unleashed by democracy in the United States.

In this excerpt from Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville warns of the dangers of democracy whenthe majority will can turn to tyranny:

When an individual or a party is wronged in the United States, to whom can he apply forredress? If to public opinion, public opinion constitutes the majority; if to the legislature, itrepresents the majority, and implicitly obeys its injunctions; if to the executive power, it isappointed by the majority, and remains a passive tool in its hands; the public troops consist ofthe majority under arms; the jury is the majority invested with the right of hearing judicial cases;and in certain States even the judges are elected by the majority. However iniquitous or absurdthe evil of which you complain may be, you must submit to it as well as you can.The authority of a king is purely physical, and it controls the actions of the subject withoutsubduing his private will; but the majority possesses a power which is physical and moral at thesame time; it acts upon the will as well as upon the actions of men, and it represses not only allcontest, but all controversy. I know no country in which there is so little true independence ofmind and freedom of discussion as in America.

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Take the Alexis de Tocqueville Tour ( experience nineteenth-century America as Tocqueville did, by reading his journalentries about the states and territories he visited with fellow countryman Gustave deBeaumont. What regional differences can you draw from his descriptions?

THE 1840 ELECTIONThe presidential election contest of 1840 marked the culmination of the democratic revolution that sweptthe United States. By this time, the second party system had taken hold, a system whereby the olderFederalist and Democratic-Republican Parties had been replaced by the new Democratic and Whig Parties.Both Whigs and Democrats jockeyed for election victories and commanded the steady loyalty of politicalpartisans. Large-scale presidential campaign rallies and emotional propaganda became the order of theday. Voter turnout increased dramatically under the second party system. Roughly 25 percent of eligiblevoters had cast ballots in 1828. In 1840, voter participation surged to nearly 80 percent.

The differences between the parties were largely about economic policies. Whigs advocated acceleratedeconomic growth, often endorsing federal government projects to achieve that goal. Democrats did notview the federal government as an engine promoting economic growth and advocated a smaller role forthe national government. The membership of the parties also differed: Whigs tended to be wealthier; theywere prominent planters in the South and wealthy urban northerners—in other words, the beneficiariesof the market revolution. Democrats presented themselves as defenders of the common people against theelite.

In the 1840 presidential campaign, taking their cue from the Democrats who had lionized Jackson’smilitary accomplishments, the Whigs promoted William Henry Harrison as a war hero based on his 1811military service against the Shawnee chief Tecumseh at the Battle of Tippecanoe. John Tyler of Virginiaran as the vice presidential candidate, leading the Whigs to trumpet, “Tippecanoe and Tyler too!” as acampaign slogan.

The campaign thrust Harrison into the national spotlight. Democrats tried to discredit him by declaring,“Give him a barrel of hard [alcoholic] cider and settle a pension of two thousand a year on him, and takemy word for it, he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin.” The Whigs turned the slur to theiradvantage by presenting Harrison as a man of the people who had been born in a log cabin (in fact, hecame from a privileged background in Virginia), and the contest became known as the log cabin campaign(Figure 10.18). At Whig political rallies, the faithful were treated to whiskey made by the E. C. BoozCompany, leading to the introduction of the word “booze” into the American lexicon. Tippecanoe Clubs,where booze flowed freely, helped in the marketing of the Whig candidate.

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Figure 10.18 The Whig campaign song “Tippecanoe and Tyler Too!” (a) and the anti-Whig flyers (b) that werecirculated in response to the “log cabin campaign” illustrate the partisan fervor of the 1840 election.

The Whigs’ efforts, combined with their strategy of blaming Democrats for the lingering economic collapsethat began with the hard-currency Panic of 1837, succeeded in carrying the day. A mass campaign withpolitical rallies and party mobilization had molded a candidate to fit an ideal palatable to a majority ofAmerican voters, and in 1840 Harrison won what many consider the first modern election.

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American System

code of deference

corrupt bargain

Five Civilized Tribes

Kitchen Cabinet

log cabin campaign

monster bank


rotation in office

second party system

spoils system

Tariff of Abominations

Trail of Tears

tyranny of the majority

universal manhood suffrage


Key Terms

the program of federally sponsored roads and canals, protective tariffs, and a nationalbank advocated by Henry Clay and enacted by President Adams

the practice of showing respect for individuals who had distinguished themselvesthrough accomplishments or birth

the term that Andrew Jackson’s supporters applied to John Quincy Adams’s 1824election, which had occurred through the machinations of Henry Clay in the U.S. House ofRepresentatives

the five tribes—Cherokee, Seminole, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw—who hadmost thoroughly adopted Anglo-American culture; they also happened to be the tribes that were believedto stand in the way of western settlement in the South

a nickname for Andrew Jackson’s informal group of loyal advisers

the 1840 election, in which the Whigs painted William Henry Harrison as a man ofthe people

the term Democratic opponents used to denounce the Second Bank of the United States asan emblem of special privilege and big government

the theory, advocated in response to the Tariff of 1828, that states could void federal law attheir discretion

originally, simply the system of having term limits on political appointments; in theJackson era, this came to mean the replacement of officials with party loyalists

the system in which the Democratic and Whig Parties were the two main politicalparties after the decline of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican Parties

the political system of rewarding friends and supporters with political appointments

a federal tariff introduced in 1828 that placed a high duty on imported goods inorder to help American manufacturers, which southerners viewed as unfair and harmful to their region

the route of the forced removal of the Cherokee and other tribes from the southeasternUnited States to the territory that is now Oklahoma

Alexis de Tocqueville’s phrase warning of the dangers of American democracy

voting rights for all male adults

a political party that emerged in the early 1830s to oppose what members saw as PresidentAndrew Jackson’s abuses of power

Summary10.1 A New Political Style: From John Quincy Adams to Andrew JacksonThe early 1800s saw an age of deference give way to universal manhood suffrage and a new type ofpolitical organization based on loyalty to the party. The election of 1824 was a fight among Democratic-Republicans that ended up pitting southerner Andrew Jackson against northerner John Quincy Adams.When Adams won through political negotiations in the House of Representatives, Jackson’s supporters

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derided the election as a “corrupt bargain.” The Tariff of 1828 further stirred southern sentiment, thistime against a perceived bias in the federal government toward northeastern manufacturers. At the sametime, the tariff stirred deeper fears that the federal government might take steps that could undermine thesystem of slavery.

10.2 The Rise of American DemocracyThe Democratic-Republicans’ “corrupt bargain” that brought John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay tooffice in 1824 also helped to push them out of office in 1828. Jackson used it to highlight the cronyism ofWashington politics. Supporters presented him as a true man of the people fighting against the elitismof Clay and Adams. Jackson rode a wave of populist fervor all the way to the White House, ushering inthe ascendency of a new political party: the Democrats. Although Jackson ran on a platform of clearingthe corruption out of Washington, he rewarded his own loyal followers with plum government jobs, thuscontinuing and intensifying the cycle of favoritism and corruption.

10.3 The Nullification Crisis and the Bank WarAndrew Jackson’s election in 1832 signaled the rise of the Democratic Party and a new style of Americanpolitics. Jackson understood the views of the majority, and he skillfully used the popular will to hisadvantage. He adroitly navigated through the Nullification Crisis and made headlines with what hissupporters viewed as his righteous war against the bastion of money, power, and entrenched insiderinterests, the Second Bank of the United States. His actions, however, stimulated opponents to fashion anopposition party, the Whigs.

10.4 Indian RemovalPopular culture in the Age of Jackson emphasized the savagery of the native peoples and shaped domesticpolicy. Popular animosity found expression in the Indian Removal Act. Even the U.S. Supreme Court’sruling in favor of the Cherokee in Georgia offered no protection against the forced removal of the FiveCivilized Tribes from the Southeast, mandated by the 1830 Indian Removal Act and carried out by the U.S.military.

10.5 The Tyranny and Triumph of the MajorityAmerican culture of the 1830s reflected the rise of democracy. The majority exercised a new type ofpower that went well beyond politics, leading Alexis de Tocqueville to write about the “tyranny of themajority.” Very quickly, politicians among the Whigs and Democrats learned to master the magic of themany by presenting candidates and policies that catered to the will of the majority. In the 1840 “log cabincampaign,” both sides engaged in the new democratic electioneering. The uninhibited expression duringthe campaign inaugurated a new political style.

Review Questions1. Which group saw an expansion of their votingrights in the early nineteenth century?

A. free blacksB. non-property-owning menC. womenD. Indians

2. What was the lasting impact of the BucktailRepublican Party in New York?

A. They implemented universal suffrage.B. They pushed for the expansion of the canal

system.C. They elevated Martin Van Buren to the

national political stage.

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D. They changed state election laws from anappointee system to a system of openelections.

3. Who won the popular vote in the election of1824?

A. Andrew JacksonB. Martin Van BurenC. Henry ClayD. John Quincy Adams

4. Why did Andrew Jackson and his supportersconsider the election of John Quincy Adams to bea “corrupt bargain”?

5. Who stood to gain from the Tariff ofAbominations, and who expected to lose by it?

6. What was the actual result of Jackson’s policyof “rotation in office”?

A. an end to corruption in WashingtonB. a replacement of Adams’s political loyalists

with Jackson’s political loyalistsC. the filling of government posts with

officials the people chose themselvesD. the creation of the Kitchen Cabinet

7. The election of 1828 brought in the firstpresidency of which political party?

A. the DemocratsB. the Democratic-RepublicansC. the RepublicansD. the Bucktails

8. What were the planks of Andrew Jackson’scampaign platform in 1828?

9. What was the significance of the Petticoataffair?

10. South Carolina threatened to nullify whichfederal act?

A. the abolition of slaveryB. the expansion of the transportation

infrastructureC. the protective tariff on imported goodsD. the rotation in office that expelled several

federal officers

11. How did President Jackson respond toCongress’s re-chartering of the Second Bank of theUnited States?

A. He vetoed it.B. He gave states the right to implement it or

not.C. He signed it into law.D. He wrote a counterproposal.

12. Why did the Second Bank of the United Statesmake such an inviting target for PresidentJackson?

13. What were the philosophies and policies ofthe new Whig Party?

14. How did most whites in the United Statesview Indians in the 1820s?

A. as savagesB. as being in touch with natureC. as slavesD. as shamans

15. The 1830 Indian Removal Act is bestunderstood as ________.

A. an example of President Jackson forcingCongress to pursue an unpopular policy

B. an illustration of the widespread hatred ofIndians during the Age of Jackson

C. an example of laws designed to integrateIndians into American life

D. an effort to deprive the Cherokee of theirslave property

16. What was the Trail of Tears?

17. The winner of the 1840 election was ________.

A. a DemocratB. a Democratic-RepublicanC. an Anti-FederalistD. a Whig

18. Which of the following did not characterizepolitical changes in the 1830s?

A. higher voter participationB. increasing political power of free black

votersC. stronger partisan ties

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D. political battles between Whigs andDemocrats

19. How did Alexis de Tocqueville react to hisvisit to the United States? What impressed andwhat worried him?

Critical Thinking Questions20. What were some of the social and cultural beliefs that became widespread during the Age of Jackson?What lay behind these beliefs, and do you observe any of them in American culture today?

21. Were the political changes of the early nineteenth century positive or negative? Explain your opinion.

22. If you were defending the Cherokee and other native nations before the U.S. Supreme Court in the1830s, what arguments would you make? If you were supporting Indian removal, what arguments wouldyou make?

23. How did depictions of Indians in popular culture help to sway popular opinion? Does modernpopular culture continue to wield this kind of power over us? Why or why not?

24. Does Alexis de Tocqueville’s argument about the tyranny of the majority reflect American democracytoday? Provide examples to support your answer.

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A Nation on the Move: WestwardExpansion, 1800–1860

Figure 11.1 In the first half of the nineteenth century, settlers began to move west of the Mississippi River in largenumbers. In John Gast’s American Progress (ca. 1872), the figure of Columbia, representing the United States andthe spirit of democracy, makes her way westward, literally bringing light to the darkness as she advances.

Chapter Outline11.1 Lewis and Clark11.2 The Missouri Crisis11.3 Independence for Texas11.4 The Mexican-American War, 1846–184811.5 Free Soil or Slave? The Dilemma of the West

IntroductionAfter 1800, the United States militantly expanded westward across North America, confident of its rightand duty to gain control of the continent and spread the benefits of its “superior” culture. In John Gast’sAmerican Progress (Figure 11.1), the white, blonde figure of Columbia—a historical personification of theUnited States—strides triumphantly westward with the Star of Empire on her head. She brings education,symbolized by the schoolbook, and modern technology, represented by the telegraph wire. White settlersfollow her lead, driving the helpless natives away and bringing successive waves of technological progressin their wake. In the first half of the nineteenth century, the quest for control of the West led to theLouisiana Purchase, the annexation of Texas, and the Mexican-American War. Efforts to seize westernterritories from native peoples and expand the republic by warring with Mexico succeeded beyondexpectations. Few nations ever expanded so quickly. Yet, this expansion led to debates about the fateof slavery in the West, creating tensions between North and South that ultimately led to the collapse ofAmerican democracy and a brutal civil war.

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11.1 Lewis and Clark

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the significance of the Louisiana Purchase• Describe the terms of the Adams-Onís Treaty• Describe the role played by the filibuster in American expansion

For centuries Europeans had mistakenly believed an all-water route across the North American continentexisted. This “Northwest Passage” would afford the country that controlled it not only access to theinterior of North America but also—more importantly—a relatively quick route to the Pacific Ocean andto trade with Asia. The Spanish, French, and British searched for years before American explorers tookup the challenge of finding it. Indeed, shortly before Lewis and Clark set out on their expedition for theU.S. government, Alexander Mackenzie, an officer of the British North West Company, a fur trading outfit,had attempted to discover the route. Mackenzie made it to the Pacific and even believed (erroneously) hehad discovered the headwaters of the Columbia River, but he could not find an easy water route with aminimum of difficult portages, that is, spots where boats must be carried overland.

Many Americans also dreamed of finding a Northwest Passage and opening the Pacific to Americancommerce and influence, including President Thomas Jefferson. In April 1803, Jefferson achieved his goalof purchasing the Louisiana Territory from France, effectively doubling the size of the United States.The purchase was made possible due to events outside the nation’s control. With the success of theHaitian Revolution, an uprising of slaves against the French, France’s Napoleon abandoned his quest tore-establish an extensive French Empire in America. As a result, he was amenable to selling off the vastLouisiana territory. President Jefferson quickly set out to learn precisely what he had bought and to assessits potential for commercial exploitation. Above all else, Jefferson wanted to exert U.S. control over theterritory, an area already well known to French and British explorers. It was therefore vital for the UnitedStates to explore and map the land to pave the way for future white settlement.

Figure 11.2

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JEFFERSON’S CORPS OF DISCOVERY HEADS WESTTo head the expedition into the Louisiana territory, Jefferson appointed his friend and personal secretary,twenty-nine-year-old army captain Meriwether Lewis, who was instructed to form a Corps of Discovery.Lewis in turn selected William Clark, who had once been his commanding officer, to help him lead thegroup (Figure 11.3).

Figure 11.3 Charles Willson Peale, celebrated portraitist of the American Revolution, painted both William Clark (a)and Meriwether Lewis (b) in 1810 and 1807, respectively, after they returned from their expedition west.

Jefferson wanted to improve the ability of American merchants to access the ports of China. Establishing ariver route from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean was crucial to capturing a portion of the fur trade that hadproven so profitable to Great Britain. He also wanted to legitimize American claims to the land againstrivals, such as Great Britain and Spain. Lewis and Clark were thus instructed to map the territory throughwhich they would pass and to explore all tributaries of the Missouri River. This part of the expeditionstruck fear into Spanish officials, who believed that Lewis and Clark would encroach on New Mexico, thenorthern part of New Spain. Spain dispatched four unsuccessful expeditions from Santa Fe to intercept theexplorers. Lewis and Clark also had directives to establish friendly relationships with the western tribes,introducing them to American trade goods and encouraging warring groups to make peace. Establishingan overland route to the Pacific would bolster U.S. claims to the Pacific Northwest, first established in 1792when Captain Robert Gray sailed his ship Columbia into the mouth of the river that now bears his vessel’sname and forms the present-day border between Oregon and Washington. Finally, Jefferson, who had akeen interest in science and nature, ordered Lewis and Clark to take extensive notes on the geography,plant life, animals, and natural resources of the region into which they would journey.

After spending the winter of 1803–1804 encamped at the mouth of the Missouri River while the menprepared for their expedition, the corps set off in May 1804. Although the thirty-three frontiersmen,boatmen, and hunters took with them Alexander Mackenzie’s account of his explorations and the bestmaps they could find, they did not have any real understanding of the difficulties they would face. Fiercestorms left them drenched and freezing. Enormous clouds of gnats and mosquitos swarmed about theirheads as they made their way up the Missouri River. Along the way they encountered (and killed) a varietyof animals including elk, buffalo, and grizzly bears. One member of the expedition survived a rattlesnakebite. As the men collected minerals and specimens of plants and animals, the overly curious Lewis sampledminerals by tasting them and became seriously ill at one point. What they did not collect, they sketchedand documented in the journals they kept. They also noted the customs of the Indian tribes who controlled

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the land and attempted to establish peaceful relationships with them in order to ensure that future whitesettlement would not be impeded.

Read the journals of Lewis and Clark on the University of Virginia( website or on the University ofNebraska–Lincoln ( website, which alsohas footnotes, maps, and commentary. According to their writings, what challenges didthe explorers confront?

The corps spent their first winter in the wilderness, 1804–1805, in a Mandan village in what is nowNorth Dakota. There they encountered a reminder of France’s former vast North American empire whenthey met a French fur trapper named Toussaint Charbonneau. When the corps left in the spring of1805, Charbonneau accompanied them as a guide and interpreter, bringing his teenage Shoshone wifeSacagawea and their newborn son. Charbonneau knew the land better than the Americans, and Sacagaweaproved invaluable in many ways, not least of which was that the presence of a young woman and herinfant convinced many groups that the men were not a war party and meant no harm (Figure 11.4).

Figure 11.4 In this idealized image, Sacagawea leads Lewis and Clark through the Montana wilderness. In reality,she was still a teenager at the time and served as interpreter; she did not actually guide the party, although legendsays she did. Kidnapped as a child, she would not likely have retained detailed memories about the place where shegrew up.

The corps set about making friends with native tribes while simultaneously attempting to assert Americanpower over the territory. Hoping to overawe the people of the land, Lewis would let out a blast of hisair rifle, a relatively new piece of technology the Indians had never seen. The corps also followed nativecustom by distributing gifts, including shirts, ribbons, and kettles, as a sign of goodwill. The explorerspresented native leaders with medallions, many of which bore Jefferson’s image, and invited them to visittheir new “ruler” in the East. These medallions or peace medals were meant to allow future explorers toidentify friendly native groups. Not all efforts to assert U.S. control went peacefully; some Indians rejected

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the explorers’ intrusion onto their land. An encounter with the Blackfoot turned hostile, for example, andmembers of the corps killed two Blackfoot men.

After spending eighteen long months on the trail and nearly starving to death in the Bitterroot Mountainsof Montana, the Corps of Discovery finally reached the Pacific Ocean in 1805 and spent the winter of1805–1806 in Oregon. They returned to St. Louis later in 1806 having lost only one man, who had diedof appendicitis. Upon their return, Meriwether Lewis was named governor of the Louisiana Territory.Unfortunately, he died only three years later in circumstances that are still disputed, before he could writea complete account of what the expedition had discovered.

Although the Corps of Discovery failed to find an all-water route to the Pacific Ocean (for none existed),it nevertheless accomplished many of the goals Jefferson had set. The men traveled across the NorthAmerican continent and established relationships with many Indian tribes, paving the way for fur traderslike John Jacob Astor who later established trading posts solidifying U.S. claims to Oregon. Delegates ofseveral tribes did go to Washington to meet the president. Hundreds of plant and animal specimens werecollected, several of which were named for Lewis and Clark in recognition of their efforts. And the territorywas now more accurately mapped and legally claimed by the United States. Nonetheless, most of the vastterritory, home to a variety of native peoples, remained unknown to Americans (Figure 11.5).

Figure 11.5 This 1814 map of Lewis and Clark’s path across North America from the Missouri River to the PacificOcean was based on maps and notes made by William Clark. Although most of the West still remained unknown, theexpedition added greatly to knowledge of what lay west of the Mississippi. Most important, it allowed the UnitedStates to solidify its claim to the immense territory.

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A Selection of Hats for the Fashionable GentlemanBeaver hats (Figure 11.6) were popular apparel in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in bothEurope and the United States because they were naturally waterproof and bore a glossy sheen. Demandfor beaver pelts (and for the pelts of sea otters, foxes, and martens) by hat makers, dressmakers, andtailors led many fur trappers into the wilderness in pursuit of riches. Beaver hats fell out of fashion in the1850s when silk hats became the rage and beaver became harder to find. In some parts of the West, theanimals had been hunted nearly to extinction.

Figure 11.6 This illustration from Castrologia, Or, The History and Traditions of the Canadian Beavershows a variety of beaver hat styles. Beaver pelts were also used to trim women’s bonnets.

Are there any contemporary fashions or fads that likewise promise to alter the natural world?

SPANISH FLORIDA AND THE ADAMS-ONÍS TREATYDespite the Lewis and Clark expedition, the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase remained contested.Expansionists chose to believe the purchase included vast stretches of land, including all of Spanish Texas.The Spanish government disagreed, however. The first attempt to resolve this issue took place in February1819 with the signing of the Adams-Onís Treaty, which was actually intended to settle the problem ofFlorida.

Spanish Florida had presented difficulties for its neighbors since the settlement of the original NorthAmerican colonies, first for England and then for the United States. By 1819, American settlers no longerfeared attack by Spanish troops garrisoned in Florida, but hostile tribes like the Creek and Seminole raidedGeorgia and then retreated to the relative safety of the Florida wilderness. These tribes also shelteredrunaway slaves, often intermarrying with them and making them members of their tribes. Sparselypopulated by Spanish colonists and far from both Mexico City and Madrid, the frontier in Florida provednext to impossible for the Spanish government to control.

In March 1818, General Andrew Jackson, frustrated by his inability to punish Creek and Seminole raiders,pursued them across the international border into Spanish Florida. Under Jackson’s command, U.S. troops

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defeated the Creek and Seminole, occupied several Florida settlements, and executed two British citizensaccused of acting against the United States. Outraged by the U.S. invasion of its territory, the Spanishgovernment demanded that Jackson and his troops withdraw. In agreeing to the withdrawal, however,U.S. Secretary of State John Quincy Adams also offered to purchase the colony. Realizing that conflictbetween the United States and the Creeks and Seminoles would continue, Spain opted to cede the Spanishcolony to its northern neighbor. The Adams-Onís Treaty, named for Adams and the Spanish ambassador,Luís de Onís, made the cession of Florida official while also setting the boundary between the United Statesand Mexico at the Sabine River (Figure 11.7). In exchange, Adams gave up U.S. claims to lands west of theSabine and forgave Spain’s $5 million debt to the United States.

Figure 11.7 The red line indicates the border between U.S. and Spanish territory established by the Adams-OnísTreaty of 1819.

The Adams-Onís Treaty upset many American expansionists, who criticized Adams for not laying claimto all of Texas, which they believed had been included in the Louisiana Purchase. In the summer of 1819,James Long, a planter from Natchez, Mississippi, became a filibuster, or a private, unauthorized militaryadventurer, when he led three hundred men on an expedition across the Sabine River to take controlof Texas. Long’s men succeeded in capturing Nacogdoches, writing a Declaration of Independence (seebelow), and setting up a republican government. Spanish troops drove them out a month later. Returningin 1820 with a much smaller force, Long was arrested by the Spanish authorities, imprisoned, and killed.Long was but one of many nineteenth-century American filibusters who aimed at seizing territory in theCaribbean and Central America.

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The Long Expedition’s Declaration of IndependenceThe Long Expedition’s short-lived Republic of Texas was announced with the drafting of a Declaration ofIndependence in 1819. The declaration named settlers’ grievances against the limits put on expansionby the Adams-Onís treaty and expressed their fears of Spain:

The citizens of Texas have long indulged the hope, that in the adjustment of the boundariesof the Spanish possessions in America, and of the territories of the United States, that theyshould be included within the limits of the latter. The claims of the United States, long andstrenuously urged, encouraged the hope. The recent [Adams-Onís] treaty between Spain andthe United States of America has dissipated an illusion too long fondly cherished, and hasroused the citizens of Texas . . . They have seen themselves . . . literally abandoned to thedominion of the crown of Spain and left a prey . . . to all those exactions which Spanishrapacity is fertile in devising. The citizens of Texas would have proved themselves unworthyof the age . . . unworthy of their ancestry, of the kindred of the republics of the Americancontinent, could they have hesitated in this emergency . . . Spurning the fetters of colonialvassalage, disdaining to submit to the most atrocious despotism that ever disgraced theannals of Europe, they have resolved under the blessing of God to be free.

How did the filibusters view Spain? What do their actions say about the nature of American society andof U.S. expansion?

11.2 The Missouri Crisis

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain why the North and South differed over the admission of Missouri as a state• Explain how the admission of new states to the Union threatened to upset the balance

between free and slave states in Congress

Another stage of U.S. expansion took place when inhabitants of Missouri began petitioning for statehoodbeginning in 1817. The Missouri territory had been part of the Louisiana Purchase and was the first part ofthat vast acquisition to apply for statehood. By 1818, tens of thousands of settlers had flocked to Missouri,including slaveholders who brought with them some ten thousand slaves. When the status of the Missouriterritory was taken up in earnest in the U.S. House of Representatives in early 1819, its admission to theUnion proved to be no easy matter, since it brought to the surface a violent debate over whether slaverywould be allowed in the new state.

Politicians had sought to avoid the issue of slavery ever since the 1787 Constitutional Convention arrivedat an uneasy compromise in the form of the “three-fifths clause.” This provision stated that the entiretyof a state’s free population and 60 percent of its enslaved population would be counted in establishingthe number of that state’s members in the House of Representatives and the size of its federal tax bill.Although slavery existed in several northern states at the time, the compromise had angered manynorthern politicians because, they argued, the “extra” population of slaves would give southern statesmore votes than they deserved in both the House and the Electoral College. Admitting Missouri as a slavestate also threatened the tenuous balance between free and slave states in the Senate by giving slave statesa two-vote advantage.

The debate about representation shifted to the morality of slavery itself when New York representativeJames Tallmadge, an opponent of slavery, attempted to amend the statehood bill in the House ofRepresentatives. Tallmadge proposed that Missouri be admitted as a free state, that no more slaves be

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allowed to enter Missouri after it achieved statehood, and that all enslaved children born there after itsadmission be freed at age twenty-five. The amendment shifted the terms of debate by presenting slaveryas an evil to be stopped.

Northern representatives supported the Tallmadge Amendment, denouncing slavery as immoral andopposed to the nation’s founding principles of equality and liberty. Southerners in Congress rejectedthe amendment as an attempt to gradually abolish slavery—not just in Missouri but throughout theUnion—by violating the property rights of slaveholders and their freedom to take their property whereverthey wished. Slavery’s apologists, who had long argued that slavery was a necessary evil, now began toperpetuate the idea that slavery was a positive good for the United States. They asserted that it generatedwealth and left white men free to exercise their true talents instead of toiling in the soil, as the descendantsof Africans were better suited to do. Slaves were cared for, supporters argued, and were better off exposedto the teachings of Christianity as slaves than living as free heathens in uncivilized Africa. Above all, theUnited States had a destiny, they argued, to create an empire of slavery throughout the Americas. Theseproslavery arguments were to be made repeatedly and forcefully as expansion to the West proceeded.

Most disturbing for the unity of the young nation, however, was that debaters divided along sectionallines, not party lines. With only a few exceptions, northerners supported the Tallmadge Amendmentregardless of party affiliation, and southerners opposed it despite having party differences on othermatters. It did not pass, and the crisis over Missouri led to strident calls of disunion and threats of civilwar.

Congress finally came to an agreement, called the Missouri Compromise, in 1820. Missouri and Maine(which had been part of Massachusetts) would enter the Union at the same time, Maine as a free state,Missouri as a slave state. The Tallmadge Amendment was narrowly rejected, the balance between free andslave states was maintained in the Senate, and southerners did not have to fear that Missouri slaveholderswould be deprived of their human property. To prevent similar conflicts each time a territory applied forstatehood, a line coinciding with the southern border of Missouri (at latitude 36° 30') was drawn across theremainder of the Louisiana Territory (Figure 11.8). Slavery could exist south of this line but was forbiddennorth of it, with the obvious exception of Missouri.

Figure 11.8 The Missouri Compromise resulted in the District of Maine, which had originally been settled in 1607 bythe Plymouth Company and was a part of Massachusetts, being admitted to the Union as a free state and Missouribeing admitted as a slave state.

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Thomas Jefferson on the Missouri CrisisOn April 22, 1820, Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Holmes to express his reaction to the Missouri Crisis,especially the open threat of disunion and war:

I thank you, Dear Sir, for the copy you have been so kind as to send me of the letter to yourconstituents on the Missouri question. it is a perfect justification to them. I had for a long timeceased to read the newspapers or pay any attention to public affairs, confident they were ingood hands, and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which I am notdistant. but this momentous question [over slavery in Missouri], like a fire bell in the night,awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. it ishushed indeed for the moment. but this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence. a geographicalline, coinciding with a marked principle, moral and political, once concieved [sic] and held upto the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated; and every new irritation will mark itdeeper and deeper. I can say with conscious truth that there is not a man on earth who wouldsacrifice more than I would, to relieve us from this heavy reproach, in any practicable way. . ..I regret that I am now to die in the belief that the useless sacrifice of themselves, by thegeneration of 76. to acquire self government and happiness to their country, is to be thrownaway by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation isto be that I live not to weep over it. if they would but dispassionately weigh the blessingsthey will throw away against an abstract principle more likely to be effected by union than byscission, they would pause before they would perpetuate this act of suicide themselves andof treason against the hopes of the world. to yourself as the faithful advocate of union I tenderthe offering of my high esteem and respect.Th. Jefferson

How would you characterize the former president’s reaction? What do you think he means by writing thatthe Missouri Compromise line “is a reprieve only, not a final sentence”?

Access a collection of primary documents relating to the Missouri Compromise,including Missouri’s application for admission into the Union and Jefferson’scorrespondence on the Missouri question, at the Library of Congress( website.

11.3 Independence for Texas

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain why American settlers in Texas sought independence from Mexico• Discuss early attempts to make Texas independent of Mexico• Describe the relationship between Anglo-Americans and Tejanos in Texas before and

after independence

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As the incursions of the earlier filibusters into Texas demonstrated, American expansionists had desiredthis area of Spain’s empire in America for many years. After the 1819 Adams-Onís treaty established theboundary between Mexico and the United States, more American expansionists began to move into thenorthern portion of Mexico’s province of Coahuila y Texas. Following Mexico’s independence from Spainin 1821, American settlers immigrated to Texas in even larger numbers, intent on taking the land from thenew and vulnerable Mexican nation in order to create a new American slave state.

AMERICAN SETTLERS MOVE TO TEXASAfter the 1819 Adams-Onís Treaty defined the U.S.-Mexico boundary, Spain began actively encouragingAmericans to settle their northern province. Texas was sparsely settled, and the few Mexican farmersand ranchers who lived there were under constant threat of attack by hostile Indian tribes, especially theComanche, who supplemented their hunting with raids in pursuit of horses and cattle.

To increase the non-Indian population in Texas and provide a buffer zone between its hostile tribes and therest of Mexico, Spain began to recruit empresarios. An empresario was someone who brought settlers to theregion in exchange for generous grants of land. Moses Austin, a once-prosperous entrepreneur reducedto poverty by the Panic of 1819, requested permission to settle three hundred English-speaking Americanresidents in Texas. Spain agreed on the condition that the resettled people convert to Roman Catholicism.

On his deathbed in 1821, Austin asked his son Stephen to carry out his plans, and Mexico, which had wonindependence from Spain the same year, allowed Stephen to take control of his father’s grant. Like Spain,Mexico also wished to encourage settlement in the state of Coahuila y Texas and passed colonization lawsto encourage immigration. Thousands of Americans, primarily from slave states, flocked to Texas andquickly came to outnumber the Tejanos, the Mexican residents of the region. The soil and climate offeredgood opportunities to expand slavery and the cotton kingdom. Land was plentiful and offered at generousterms. Unlike the U.S. government, Mexico allowed buyers to pay for their land in installments and did notrequire a minimum purchase. Furthermore, to many whites, it seemed not only their God-given right butalso their patriotic duty to populate the lands beyond the Mississippi River, bringing with them Americanslavery, culture, laws, and political traditions (Figure 11.9).

Figure 11.9 By the early 1830s, all the lands east of the Mississippi River had been settled and admitted to theUnion as states. The land west of the river, though in this contemporary map united with the settled areas in the bodyof an eagle symbolizing the territorial ambitions of the United States, remained largely unsettled by white Americans.Texas (just southwest of the bird’s tail feathers) remained outside the U.S. border.

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THE TEXAS WAR FOR INDEPENDENCEMany Americans who migrated to Texas at the invitation of the Mexican government did not completelyshed their identity or loyalty to the United States. They brought American traditions and expectations withthem (including, for many, the right to own slaves). For instance, the majority of these new settlers wereProtestant, and though they were not required to attend the Catholic mass, Mexico’s prohibition on thepublic practice of other religions upset them and they routinely ignored it.

Accustomed to representative democracy, jury trials, and the defendant’s right to appear before a judge,the Anglo-American settlers in Texas also disliked the Mexican legal system, which provided for aninitial hearing by an alcalde, an administrator who often combined the duties of mayor, judge, and lawenforcement officer. The alcalde sent a written record of the proceeding to a judge in Saltillo, the statecapital, who decided the outcome. Settlers also resented that at most two Texas representatives wereallowed in the state legislature.

Their greatest source of discontent, though, was the Mexican government’s 1829 abolition of slavery. MostAmerican settlers were from southern states, and many had brought slaves with them. Mexico tried toaccommodate them by maintaining the fiction that the slaves were indentured servants. But Americanslaveholders in Texas distrusted the Mexican government and wanted Texas to be a new U.S. slave state.The dislike of most for Roman Catholicism (the prevailing religion of Mexico) and a widely held belief inAmerican racial superiority led them generally to regard Mexicans as dishonest, ignorant, and backward.

Belief in their own superiority inspired some Texans to try to undermine the power of the Mexicangovernment. When empresario Haden Edwards attempted to evict people who had settled his land grantbefore he gained title to it, the Mexican government nullified its agreement with him. Outraged, Edwardsand a small party of men took prisoner the alcalde of Nacogdoches. The Mexican army marched to thetown, and Edwards and his troop then declared the formation of the Republic of Fredonia between theSabine and Rio Grande Rivers. To demonstrate loyalty to their adopted country, a force led by StephenAustin hastened to Nacogdoches to support the Mexican army. Edwards’s revolt collapsed, and therevolutionaries fled Texas.

The growing presence of American settlers in Texas, their reluctance to abide by Mexican law, and theirdesire for independence caused the Mexican government to grow wary. In 1830, it forbade future U.S.immigration and increased its military presence in Texas. Settlers continued to stream illegally across thelong border; by 1835, after immigration resumed, there were twenty thousand Anglo-Americans in Texas(Figure 11.10).

Figure 11.10 This 1833 map shows the extent of land grants made by Mexico to American settlers in Texas. Nearlyall are in the eastern portion of the state, one factor that led to war with Mexico in 1846.

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Fifty-five delegates from the Anglo-American settlements gathered in 1831 to demand the suspensionof customs duties, the resumption of immigration from the United States, better protection from Indiantribes, the granting of promised land titles, and the creation of an independent state of Texas separate fromCoahuila. Ordered to disband, the delegates reconvened in early April 1833 to write a constitution for anindependent Texas. Surprisingly, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, Mexico’s new president, agreedto all demands, except the call for statehood (Figure 11.11). Coahuila y Texas made provisions for jurytrials, increased Texas’s representation in the state legislature, and removed restrictions on commerce.

Figure 11.11 This portrait of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna depicts the Mexican president and general in fullmilitary regalia.

Texans’ hopes for independence were quashed in 1834, however, when Santa Anna dismissed the MexicanCongress and abolished all state governments, including that of Coahuila y Texas. In January 1835,reneging on earlier promises, he dispatched troops to the town of Anahuac to collect customs duties.Lawyer and soldier William B. Travis and a small force marched on Anahuac in June, and the fortsurrendered. On October 2, Anglo-American forces met Mexican troops at the town of Gonzales; theMexican troops fled and the Americans moved on to take San Antonio. Now more cautious, delegates tothe Consultation of 1835 at San Felipe de Austin voted against declaring independence, instead draftinga statement, which became known as the Declaration of Causes, promising continued loyalty if Mexicoreturned to a constitutional form of government. They selected Henry Smith, leader of the IndependenceParty, as governor of Texas and placed Sam Houston, a former soldier who had been a congressman andgovernor of Tennessee, in charge of its small military force.

The Consultation delegates met again in March 1836. They declared their independence from Mexicoand drafted a constitution calling for an American-style judicial system and an elected president andlegislature. Significantly, they also established that slavery would not be prohibited in Texas. Manywealthy Tejanos supported the push for independence, hoping for liberal governmental reforms andeconomic benefits.

REMEMBER THE ALAMO!Mexico had no intention of losing its northern province. Santa Anna and his army of four thousandhad besieged San Antonio in February 1836. Hopelessly outnumbered, its two hundred defenders, underTravis, fought fiercely from their refuge in an old mission known as the Alamo (Figure 11.12). After tendays, however, the mission was taken and all but a few of the defenders were dead, including Travis

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and James Bowie, the famed frontiersman who was also a land speculator and slave trader. A few malesurvivors, possibly including the frontier legend and former Tennessee congressman Davy Crockett, wereled outside the walls and executed. The few women and children inside the mission were allowed to leavewith the only adult male survivor, a slave owned by Travis who was then freed by the Mexican Army.Terrified, they fled.

Figure 11.12 The Fall of the Alamo, painted by Theodore Gentilz fewer than ten years after this pivotal moment inthe Texas Revolution, depicts the 1836 assault on the Alamo complex.

Although hungry for revenge, the Texas forces under Sam Houston nevertheless withdrew across Texas,gathering recruits as they went. Coming upon Santa Anna’s encampment on the banks of San Jacinto Riveron April 21, 1836, they waited as the Mexican troops settled for an afternoon nap. Assured by Houstonthat “Victory is certain!” and told to “Trust in God and fear not!” the seven hundred men descended ona sleeping force nearly twice their number with cries of “Remember the Alamo!” Within fifteen minutesthe Battle of San Jacinto was over. Approximately half the Mexican troops were killed, and the survivors,including Santa Anna, taken prisoner.

Santa Anna grudgingly signed a peace treaty and was sent to Washington, where he met with PresidentAndrew Jackson and, under pressure, agreed to recognize an independent Texas with the Rio GrandeRiver as its southwestern border. By the time the agreement had been signed, however, Santa Anna hadbeen removed from power in Mexico. For that reason, the Mexican Congress refused to be bound by SantaAnna’s promises and continued to insist that the renegade territory still belonged to Mexico.

Visit the official Alamo ( website to learn moreabout the battle of the Alamo and take a virtual tour of the old mission.

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THE LONE STAR REPUBLICIn September 1836, military hero Sam Houston was elected president of Texas, and, following therelentless logic of U.S. expansion, Texans voted in favor of annexation to the United States. This had beenthe dream of many settlers in Texas all along. They wanted to expand the United States west and sawTexas as the next logical step. Slaveholders there, such as Sam Houston, William B. Travis and James Bowie(the latter two of whom died at the Alamo), believed too in the destiny of slavery. Mindful of the viciousdebates over Missouri that had led to talk of disunion and war, American politicians were reluctant toannex Texas or, indeed, even to recognize it as a sovereign nation. Annexation would almost certainlymean war with Mexico, and the admission of a state with a large slave population, though permissibleunder the Missouri Compromise, would bring the issue of slavery once again to the fore. Texas hadno choice but to organize itself as the independent Lone Star Republic. To protect itself from Mexicanattempts to reclaim it, Texas sought and received recognition from France, Great Britain, Belgium, and theNetherlands. The United States did not officially recognize Texas as an independent nation until March1837, nearly a year after the final victory over the Mexican army at San Jacinto.

Uncertainty about its future did not discourage Americans committed to expansion, especiallyslaveholders, from rushing to settle in the Lone Star Republic, however. Between 1836 and 1846, itspopulation nearly tripled. By 1840, nearly twelve thousand enslaved Africans had been brought to Texasby American slaveholders. Many new settlers had suffered financial losses in the severe financialdepression of 1837 and hoped for a new start in the new nation. According to folklore, across the UnitedStates, homes and farms were deserted overnight, and curious neighbors found notes reading only “GTT”(“Gone to Texas”). Many Europeans, especially Germans, also immigrated to Texas during this period.

In keeping with the program of ethnic cleansing and white racial domination, as illustrated by the imageat the beginning of this chapter, Americans in Texas generally treated both Tejano and Indian residentswith utter contempt, eager to displace and dispossess them. Anglo-American leaders failed to return thesupport their Tejano neighbors had extended during the rebellion and repaid them by seizing their lands.In 1839, the republic’s militia attempted to drive out the Cherokee and Comanche.

The impulse to expand did not lay dormant, and Anglo-American settlers and leaders in the newly formedTexas republic soon cast their gaze on the Mexican province of New Mexico as well. Repeating the tacticsof earlier filibusters, a Texas force set out in 1841 intent on taking Santa Fe. Its members encountered anarmy of New Mexicans and were taken prisoner and sent to Mexico City. On Christmas Day, 1842, Texansavenged a Mexican assault on San Antonio by attacking the Mexican town of Mier. In August, anotherTexas army was sent to attack Santa Fe, but Mexican troops forced them to retreat. Clearly, hostilitiesbetween Texas and Mexico had not ended simply because Texas had declared its independence.

11.4 The Mexican-American War, 1846–1848

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Identify the causes of the Mexican-American War• Describe the outcomes of the war in 1848, especially the Mexican Cession• Describe the effect of the California Gold Rush on westward expansion

Tensions between the United States and Mexico rapidly deteriorated in the 1840s as Americanexpansionists eagerly eyed Mexican land to the west, including the lush northern Mexican province ofCalifornia. Indeed, in 1842, a U.S. naval fleet, incorrectly believing war had broken out, seized Monterey,California, a part of Mexico. Monterey was returned the next day, but the episode only added to theuneasiness with which Mexico viewed its northern neighbor. The forces of expansion, however, couldnot be contained, and American voters elected James Polk in 1844 because he promised to deliver more

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lands. President Polk fulfilled his promise by gaining Oregon and, most spectacularly, provoking a warwith Mexico that ultimately fulfilled the wildest fantasies of expansionists. By 1848, the United Statesencompassed much of North America, a republic that stretched from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

JAMES K. POLK AND THE TRIUMPH OF EXPANSIONA fervent belief in expansion gripped the United States in the 1840s. In 1845, a New York newspapereditor, John O’Sullivan, introduced the concept of “manifest destiny” to describe the very popular idea ofthe special role of the United States in overspreading the continent—the divine right and duty of whiteAmericans to seize and settle the American West, thus spreading Protestant, democratic values. In thisclimate of opinion, voters in 1844 elected James K. Polk, a slaveholder from Tennessee, because he vowedto annex Texas as a new slave state and take Oregon.

Annexing Oregon was an important objective for U.S. foreign policy because it appeared to be an arearich in commercial possibilities. Northerners favored U.S. control of Oregon because ports in the PacificNorthwest would be gateways for trade with Asia. Southerners hoped that, in exchange for their supportof expansion into the northwest, northerners would not oppose plans for expansion into the southwest.

President Polk—whose campaign slogan in 1844 had been “Fifty-four forty or fight!”—asserted the UnitedStates’ right to gain full control of what was known as Oregon Country, from its southern border at 42°latitude (the current boundary with California) to its northern border at 54° 40' latitude. According to an1818 agreement, Great Britain and the United States held joint ownership of this territory, but the 1827Treaty of Joint Occupation opened the land to settlement by both countries. Realizing that the British werenot willing to cede all claims to the territory, Polk proposed the land be divided at 49° latitude (the currentborder between Washington and Canada). The British, however, denied U.S. claims to land north of theColumbia River (Oregon’s current northern border) (Figure 11.13). Indeed, the British foreign secretaryrefused even to relay Polk’s proposal to London. However, reports of the difficulty Great Britain wouldface defending Oregon in the event of a U.S. attack, combined with concerns over affairs at home andelsewhere in its empire, quickly changed the minds of the British, and in June 1846, Queen Victoria’sgovernment agreed to a division at the forty-ninth parallel.

Figure 11.13 This map of the Oregon territory during the period of joint occupation by the United States and GreatBritain shows the area whose ownership was contested by the two powers.

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In contrast to the diplomatic solution with Great Britain over Oregon, when it came to Mexico, Polk andthe American people proved willing to use force to wrest more land for the United States. In keepingwith voters’ expectations, President Polk set his sights on the Mexican state of California. After themistaken capture of Monterey, negotiations about purchasing the port of San Francisco from Mexicobroke off until September 1845. Then, following a revolt in California that left it divided in two, Polkattempted to purchase Upper California and New Mexico as well. These efforts went nowhere. TheMexican government, angered by U.S. actions, refused to recognize the independence of Texas.

Finally, after nearly a decade of public clamoring for the annexation of Texas, in December 1845 Polkofficially agreed to the annexation of the former Mexican state, making the Lone Star Republic anadditional slave state. Incensed that the United States had annexed Texas, however, the Mexicangovernment refused to discuss the matter of selling land to the United States. Indeed, Mexico refused evento acknowledge Polk’s emissary, John Slidell, who had been sent to Mexico City to negotiate. Not to bedeterred, Polk encouraged Thomas O. Larkin, the U.S. consul in Monterey, to assist any American settlersand any Californios, the Mexican residents of the state, who wished to proclaim their independence fromMexico. By the end of 1845, having broken diplomatic ties with the United States over Texas and havinggrown alarmed by American actions in California, the Mexican government warily anticipated the nextmove. It did not have long to wait.

WAR WITH MEXICO, 1846–1848Expansionistic fervor propelled the United States to war against Mexico in 1846. The United States hadlong argued that the Rio Grande was the border between Mexico and the United States, and at the end ofthe Texas war for independence Santa Anna had been pressured to agree. Mexico, however, refused to bebound by Santa Anna’s promises and insisted the border lay farther north, at the Nueces River (Figure11.14). To set it at the Rio Grande would, in effect, allow the United States to control land it had neveroccupied. In Mexico’s eyes, therefore, President Polk violated its sovereign territory when he ordered U.S.troops into the disputed lands in 1846. From the Mexican perspective, it appeared the United States hadinvaded their nation.

Figure 11.14 In 1845, when Texas joined the United States, Mexico insisted the United States had a right only to theterritory northeast of the Nueces River. The United States argued in turn that it should have title to all land betweenthe Nueces and the Rio Grande as well.

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In January 1846, the U.S. force that was ordered to the banks of the Rio Grande to build a fort on the“American” side encountered a Mexican cavalry unit on patrol. Shots rang out, and sixteen U.S. soldierswere killed or wounded. Angrily declaring that Mexico “has invaded our territory and shed Americanblood upon American soil,” President Polk demanded the United States declare war on Mexico. On May12, Congress obliged.

The small but vocal antislavery faction decried the decision to go to war, arguing that Polk had deliberatelyprovoked hostilities so the United States could annex more slave territory. Illinois representative AbrahamLincoln and other members of Congress issued the “Spot Resolutions” in which they demanded to knowthe precise spot on U.S. soil where American blood had been spilled. Many Whigs also denounced the war.Democrats, however, supported Polk’s decision, and volunteers for the army came forward in droves fromevery part of the country except New England, the seat of abolitionist activity. Enthusiasm for the warwas aided by the widely held belief that Mexico was a weak, impoverished country and that the Mexicanpeople, perceived as ignorant, lazy, and controlled by a corrupt Roman Catholic clergy, would be easy todefeat. (Figure 11.15).

Figure 11.15 Anti-Catholic sentiment played an important role in the Mexican-American War. The American publicwidely regarded Roman Catholics as cowardly and vice-ridden, like the clergy in this ca. 1846 lithograph who areshown fleeing the Mexican town of Matamoros accompanied by pretty women and baskets full of alcohol. (credit:Library of Congress)

U.S. military strategy had three main objectives: 1) Take control of northern Mexico, including NewMexico; 2) seize California; and 3) capture Mexico City. General Zachary Taylor and his Army of theCenter were assigned to accomplish the first goal, and with superior weapons they soon captured theMexican city of Monterrey. Taylor quickly became a hero in the eyes of the American people, and Polkappointed him commander of all U.S. forces.

General Stephen Watts Kearny, commander of the Army of the West, accepted the surrender of SantaFe, New Mexico, and moved on to take control of California, leaving Colonel Sterling Price in command.Despite Kearny’s assurances that New Mexicans need not fear for their lives or their property, and in factthe region’s residents rose in revolt in January 1847 in an effort to drive the Americans away. AlthoughPrice managed to put an end to the rebellion, tensions remained high.

Kearny, meanwhile, arrived in California to find it already in American hands through the joint efforts ofCalifornia settlers, U.S. naval commander John D. Sloat, and John C. Fremont, a former army captain andson-in-law of Missouri senator Thomas Benton. Sloat, at anchor off the coast of Mazatlan, learned that warhad begun and quickly set sail for California. He seized the town of Monterey in July 1846, less than amonth after a group of American settlers led by William B. Ide had taken control of Sonoma and declared

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California a republic. A week after the fall of Monterey, the navy took San Francisco with no resistance.Although some Californios staged a short-lived rebellion in September 1846, many others submitted to theU.S. takeover. Thus Kearny had little to do other than take command of California as its governor.

Leading the Army of the South was General Winfield Scott. Both Taylor and Scott were potentialcompetitors for the presidency, and believing—correctly—that whoever seized Mexico City would becomea hero, Polk assigned Scott the campaign to avoid elevating the more popular Taylor, who wasaffectionately known as “Old Rough and Ready.”

Scott captured Veracruz in March 1847, and moving in a northwesterly direction from there (much asSpanish conquistador Hernán Cortés had done in 1519), he slowly closed in on the capital. Every step ofthe way was a hard-fought victory, however, and Mexican soldiers and civilians both fought bravely tosave their land from the American invaders. Mexico City’s defenders, including young military cadets,fought to the end. According to legend, cadet Juan Escutia’s last act was to save the Mexican flag, and heleapt from the city’s walls with it wrapped around his body. On September 14, 1847, Scott entered MexicoCity’s central plaza; the city had fallen (Figure 11.16). While Polk and other expansionists called for “allMexico,” the Mexican government and the United States negotiated for peace in 1848, resulting in theTreaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Figure 11.16 In General Scott’s Entrance into Mexico (1851), Carl Nebel depicts General Winfield Scott on a whitehorse entering Mexico City’s Plaza de la Constitución as anxious residents of the city watch. One woman peersfurtively from behind the curtain of an upstairs window. On the left, a man bends down to pick up a paving stone tothrow at the invaders.

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed in February 1848, was a triumph for American expansionismunder which Mexico ceded nearly half its land to the United States. The Mexican Cession, as the conquestof land west of the Rio Grande was called, included the current states of California, New Mexico, Arizona,Nevada, Utah, and portions of Colorado and Wyoming. Mexico also recognized the Rio Grande as theborder with the United States. Mexican citizens in the ceded territory were promised U.S. citizenship inthe future when the territories they were living in became states. In exchange, the United States agreed toassume $3.35 million worth of Mexican debts owed to U.S. citizens, paid Mexico $15 million for the loss ofits land, and promised to guard the residents of the Mexican Cession from Indian raids.

As extensive as the Mexican Cession was, some argued the United States should not be satisfied until ithad taken all of Mexico. Many who were opposed to this idea were southerners who, while desiring theannexation of more slave territory, did not want to make Mexico’s large mestizo (people of mixed Indianand European ancestry) population part of the United States. Others did not want to absorb a large groupof Roman Catholics. These expansionists could not accept the idea of new U.S. territory filled with mixed-race, Catholic populations.

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Explore the U.S.-Mexican War ( at PBSto read about life in the Mexican and U.S. armies during the war and to learn moreabout the various battles.

CALIFORNIA AND THE GOLD RUSHThe United States had no way of knowing that part of the land about to be ceded by Mexico hadjust become far more valuable than anyone could have imagined. On January 24, 1848, James Marshalldiscovered gold in the millrace of the sawmill he had built with his partner John Sutter on the south fork ofCalifornia’s American River. Word quickly spread, and within a few weeks all of Sutter’s employees hadleft to search for gold. When the news reached San Francisco, most of its inhabitants abandoned the townand headed for the American River. By the end of the year, thousands of California’s residents had gonenorth to the gold fields with visions of wealth dancing in their heads, and in 1849 thousands of peoplefrom around the world followed them (Figure 11.17). The Gold Rush had begun.

Figure 11.17 Word about the discovery of gold in California in 1848 quickly spread and thousands soon made theirway to the West Coast in search of quick riches.

The fantasy of instant wealth induced a mass exodus to California. Settlers in Oregon and Utah rushedto the American River. Easterners sailed around the southern tip of South America or to Panama’sAtlantic coast, where they crossed the Isthmus of Panama to the Pacific and booked ship’s passage for SanFrancisco. As California-bound vessels stopped in South American ports to take on food and fresh water,hundreds of Peruvians and Chileans streamed aboard. Easterners who could not afford to sail to Californiacrossed the continent on foot, on horseback, or in wagons. Others journeyed from as far away as Hawaiiand Europe. Chinese people came as well, adding to the polyglot population in the California boomtowns(Figure 11.18).

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Figure 11.18 This Currier & Ives lithograph from 1849 imagines the extreme lengths that people might go to in orderto be part of the California Gold Rush. In addition to the men with picks and shovels trying to reach the ship from thedock, airships and rocket are shown flying overhead. (credit: Library of Congress)

Once in California, gathered in camps with names like Drunkard’s Bar, Angel’s Camp, Gouge Eye, andWhiskeytown, the “forty-niners” did not find wealth so easy to come by as they had first imagined.Although some were able to find gold by panning for it or shoveling soil from river bottoms into sieve-like contraptions called rockers, most did not. The placer gold, the gold that had been washed down themountains into streams and rivers, was quickly exhausted, and what remained was deep below ground.Independent miners were supplanted by companies that could afford not only to purchase hydraulicmining technology but also to hire laborers to work the hills. The frustration of many a miner wasexpressed in the words of Sullivan Osborne. In 1857, Osborne wrote that he had arrived in California “fullof high hopes and bright anticipations of the future” only to find his dreams “have long since perished.”Although $550 million worth of gold was found in California between 1849 and 1850, very little of it wentto individuals.

Observers in the gold fields also reported abuse of Indians by miners. Some miners forced Indians to worktheir claims for them; others drove Indians off their lands, stole from them, and even murdered them.Foreigners were generally disliked, especially those from South America. The most despised, however,were the thousands of Chinese migrants. Eager to earn money to send to their families in Hong Kongand southern China, they quickly earned a reputation as frugal men and hard workers who routinelytook over diggings others had abandoned as worthless and worked them until every scrap of gold hadbeen found. Many American miners, often spendthrifts, resented their presence and discriminated againstthem, believing the Chinese, who represented about 8 percent of the nearly 300,000 who arrived, weredepriving them of the opportunity to make a living.

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Visit The Chinese in California ( to learnmore about the experience of Chinese migrants who came to California in the GoldRush era.

In 1850, California imposed a tax on foreign miners, and in 1858 it prohibited all immigration from China.Those Chinese who remained in the face of the growing hostility were often beaten and killed, and someWesterners made a sport of cutting off Chinese men’s queues, the long braids of hair worn down theirbacks (Figure 11.19). In 1882, Congress took up the power to restrict immigration by banning the furtherimmigration of Chinese.

Figure 11.19 “Pacific Chivalry: Encouragement to Chinese Immigration,” which appeared in Harper’s Weekly in1869, depicts a white man attacking a Chinese man with a whip as he holds him by the queue. Americans sometimesforcefully cut off the queues of Chinese immigrants. This could have serious consequences for the victim. Until 1911,all Chinese men were required by their nation’s law to wear the queue as a sign of loyalty. Miners returning to Chinawithout it could be put to death. (credit: Library of Congress)

As people flocked to California in 1849, the population of the new territory swelled from a few thousandto about 100,000. The new arrivals quickly organized themselves into communities, and the trappings of“civilized” life—stores, saloons, libraries, stage lines, and fraternal lodges—began to appear. Newspaperswere established, and musicians, singers, and acting companies arrived to entertain the gold seekers. Theepitome of these Gold Rush boomtowns was San Francisco, which counted only a few hundred residentsin 1846 but by 1850 had reached a population of thirty-four thousand (Figure 11.20). So quickly did theterritory grow that by 1850 California was ready to enter the Union as a state. When it sought admission,however, the issue of slavery expansion and sectional tensions emerged once again.

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Figure 11.20 This daguerreotype shows the bustling port of San Francisco in January 1851, just a few months afterSan Francisco became part of the new U.S. state of California. (credit: Library of Congress)

11.5 Free Soil or Slave? The Dilemma of the West

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Describe the terms of the Wilmot Proviso• Discuss why the Free-Soil Party objected to the westward expansion of slavery• Explain why sectional and political divisions in the United States grew• Describe the terms of the Compromise of 1850

The 1848 treaty with Mexico did not bring the United States domestic peace. Instead, the acquisition of newterritory revived and intensified the debate over the future of slavery in the western territories, wideningthe growing division between North and South and leading to the creation of new single-issue parties.Increasingly, the South came to regard itself as under attack by radical northern abolitionists, and manynortherners began to speak ominously of a southern drive to dominate American politics for the purposeof protecting slaveholders’ human property. As tensions mounted and both sides hurled accusations,national unity frayed. Compromise became nearly impossible and antagonistic sectional rivalries replacedthe idea of a unified, democratic republic.

THE LIBERTY PARTY, THE WILMOT PROVISO, AND THE ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENTCommitted to protecting white workers by keeping slavery out of the lands taken from Mexico,Pennsylvania congressman David Wilmot attached to an 1846 revenue bill an amendment that wouldprohibit slavery in the new territory. The Wilmot Proviso was not entirely new. Other congressmen haddrafted similar legislation, and Wilmot’s language was largely copied from the 1787 Northwest Ordinancethat had banned slavery in that territory. His ideas were very controversial in the 1840s, however, becausehis proposals would prevent American slaveholders from bringing what they viewed as their lawfulproperty, their slaves, into the western lands. The measure passed the House but was defeated in theSenate. When Polk tried again to raise revenue the following year (to pay for lands taken from Mexico), theWilmot Proviso was reintroduced, this time calling for the prohibition of slavery not only in the MexicanCession but in all U.S. territories. The revenue bill passed, but without the proviso.

That Wilmot, a loyal Democrat, should attempt to counter the actions of a Democratic president hintedat the party divisions that were to come. The 1840s were a particularly active time in the creation andreorganization of political parties and constituencies, mainly because of discontent with the positions of

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the mainstream Whig and Democratic Parties in regard to slavery and its extension into the territories. Thefirst new party, the small and politically weak Liberty Party founded in 1840, was a single-issue party, aswere many of those that followed it. Its members were abolitionists who fervently believed slavery wasevil and should be ended, and that this was best accomplished by political means.

The Wilmot Proviso captured the “antislavery” sentiments during and after the Mexican War. Antislaveryadvocates differed from the abolitionists. While abolitionists called for the end of slavery everywhere,antislavery advocates, for various reasons, did not challenge the presence of slavery in the states where italready existed. Those who supported antislavery fervently opposed its expansion westward because, theyargued, slavery would degrade white labor and reduce its value, cast a stigma upon hard-working whites,and deprive them of a chance to advance economically. The western lands, they argued, should be opento white men only—small farmers and urban workers for whom the West held the promise of economicadvancement. Where slavery was entrenched, according to antislavery advocates, there was little land leftfor small farmers to purchase, and such men could not compete fairly with slaveholders who held largefarms and gangs of slaves. Ordinary laborers suffered also; no one would pay a white man a decent wagewhen a slave worked for nothing. When labor was associated with loss of freedom, antislavery supportersargued, all white workers carried a stigma that marked them as little better than slaves.

Wilmot opposed the extension of slavery into the Mexican Cession not because of his concern for AfricanAmericans, but because of his belief that slavery hurt white workers, and that lands acquired by thegovernment should be used to better the position of white small farmers and laborers. Work was notsimply something that people did; it gave them dignity, but in a slave society, labor had no dignity.In response to these arguments, southerners maintained that laborers in northern factories were treatedworse than slaves. Their work was tedious and low paid. Their meager income was spent on inadequatefood, clothing, and shelter. There was no dignity in such a life. In contrast, they argued, southern slaveswere provided with a home, the necessities of life, and the protection of their masters. Factory owners didnot care for or protect their employees in the same way.

THE FREE-SOIL PARTY AND THE ELECTION OF 1848The Wilmot Proviso was an issue of great importance to the Democrats. Would they pledge to support it?At the party’s New York State convention in Buffalo, Martin Van Buren’s antislavery supporters—calledBarnburners because they were likened to farmers who were willing to burn down their own barn toget rid of a rat infestation—spoke in favor of the proviso. Their opponents, known as Hunkers, refusedto support it. Angered, the Barnburners organized their own convention, where they chose antislavery,pro–Wilmot Proviso delegates to send to the Democrats’ national convention in Baltimore. In this way, thecontroversy over the expansion of slavery divided the Democratic Party.

At the national convention, both sets of delegates were seated—the pro-proviso ones chosen by theBarnburners and the anti-proviso ones chosen by the Hunkers. When it came time to vote for the party’spresidential nominee, the majority of votes were for Lewis Cass, an advocate of popular sovereignty.Popular sovereignty was the belief that citizens should be able to decide issues based on the principle ofmajority rule; in this case, residents of a territory should have the right to decide whether slavery would beallowed in it. Theoretically, this doctrine would allow slavery to become established in any U.S. territory,including those from which it had been banned by earlier laws.

Disgusted by the result, the Barnburners united with antislavery Whigs and former members of theLiberty Party to form a new political party—the Free-Soil Party, which took as its slogan “Free Soil, FreeSpeech, Free Labor, and Free Men.” The party had one real goal—to oppose the extension of slaveryinto the territories (Figure 11.21). In the minds of its members and many other northerners of thetime, southern slaveholders had marshaled their wealth and power to control national politics for thepurpose of protecting the institution of slavery and extending it into the territories. Many in the Free-SoilParty believed in this far-reaching conspiracy of the slaveholding elite to control both foreign affairs anddomestic policies for their own ends, a cabal that came to be known as the Slave Power.

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Figure 11.21 This political cartoon depicts Martin Van Buren and his son John, both Barnburners, forcing the slaveryissue within the Democratic Party by “smoking out” fellow Democrat Lewis Cass on the roof. Their support of theWilmot Proviso and the new Free-Soil Party is demonstrated by John’s declaration, “That’s you Dad! more ‘Free-Soil.’We'll rat ‘em out yet. Long life to Davy Wilmot.” (credit: Library of Congress)

In the wake of the Mexican War, antislavery sentiment entered mainstream American politics when thenew Free-Soil party promptly selected Martin Van Buren as its presidential candidate. For the first time, anational political party committed itself to the goal of stopping the expansion of slavery. The Democratschose Lewis Cass, and the Whigs nominated General Zachary Taylor, as Polk had assumed they would.On Election Day, Democrats split their votes between Van Buren and Cass. With the strength of theDemocratic vote diluted, Taylor won. His popularity with the American people served him well, and hisstatus as a slaveholder helped him win the South.

Visit the archives of the Gilder Lehrman Institute ( to read an August 1848 letter from Gerrit Smith, a staunch abolitionist,regarding the Free-Soil candidate, Martin Van Buren. Smith played a major role in theLiberty Party and was their presidential candidate in 1848.

THE COMPROMISE OF 1850The election of 1848 did nothing to quell the controversy over whether slavery would advance into theMexican Cession. Some slaveholders, like President Taylor, considered the question a moot point becausethe lands acquired from Mexico were far too dry for growing cotton and therefore, they thought, noslaveholder would want to move there. Other southerners, however, argued that the question was notwhether slaveholders would want to move to the lands of the Mexican Cession, but whether they couldand still retain control of their slave property. Denying them the right to freely relocate with their lawfulproperty was, they maintained, unfair and unconstitutional. Northerners argued, just as fervidly, thatbecause Mexico had abolished slavery, no slaves currently lived in the Mexican Cession, and to introduceslavery there would extend it to a new territory, thus furthering the institution and giving the Slave Powermore control over the United States. The strong current of antislavery sentiment—that is, the desire toprotect white labor—only increased the opposition to the expansion of slavery into the West.

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Most northerners, except members of the Free-Soil Party, favored popular sovereignty for California andthe New Mexico territory. Many southerners opposed this position, however, for they feared residentsof these regions might choose to outlaw slavery. Some southern politicians spoke ominously of secessionfrom the United States. Free-Soilers rejected popular sovereignty and demanded that slavery bepermanently excluded from the territories.

Beginning in January 1850, Congress worked for eight months on a compromise that might quiet thegrowing sectional conflict. Led by the aged Henry Clay, members finally agreed to the following:

1. California, which was ready to enter the Union, was admitted as a free state in accordancewith its state constitution.2. Popular sovereignty was to determine the status of slavery in New Mexico and Utah, eventhough Utah and part of New Mexico were north of the Missouri Compromise line.3. The slave trade was banned in the nation’s capital. Slavery, however, was allowed to remain.4. Under a new fugitive slave law, those who helped runaway slaves or refused to assist in theirreturn would be fined and possibly imprisoned.5. The border between Texas and New Mexico was established.

The Compromise of 1850 brought temporary relief. It resolved the issue of slavery in the territories forthe moment and prevented secession. The peace would not last, however. Instead of relieving tensionsbetween North and South, it had actually made them worse.

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Compromise of 1850

Corps of Discovery




Free-Soil Party

Liberty Party

Mexican Cession

Missouri Compromise

Northwest Passage

Slave Power

Tallmadge Amendment


Wilmot Proviso

Key Terms

a Mexican official who often served as combined civil administrator, judge, and law enforcementofficer

northern Democrats loyal to Martin Van Buren who opposed the extension of slavery intothe territories and broke away from the main party when it nominated a pro-popular sovereigntycandidate

Mexican residents of California

five separate laws passed by Congress in September 1850 to resolve issuesstemming from the Mexican Cession and the sectional crisis

the group led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark on the expedition to exploreand map the territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase

a person who brought new settlers to Texas in exchange for a grant of land

a person who engages in an unofficial military operation intended to seize land from foreigncountries or foment revolution there

the nickname for those who traveled to California in 1849 in hopes of finding gold

a political party that sought to exclude slavery from the western territories, leaving theseareas open for settlement by white farmers and ensuring that white laborers would not have to competewith slaves

a political party formed in 1840 by those who believed political measures were the bestmeans by which abolition could be accomplished

the lands west of the Rio Grande ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848,including California, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and parts of Wyoming and Colorado

an agreement reached in Congress in 1820 that allowed Missouri to enter theUnion as a slave state, brought Maine into the Union as a free state, and prohibited slavery north of 36°30' latitude

the nonexistent all-water route across the North American continent sought byEuropean and American explorers

a term northerners used to describe the disproportionate influence that they felt elitesouthern slaveholders wielded in both domestic and international affairs

an amendment (which did not pass) proposed by representative JamesTallmadge in 1819 that called for Missouri to be admitted as a free state and for all slaves there to begradually emancipated

Mexican residents of Texas

an amendment to a revenue bill that would have barred slavery from all the territoryacquired from Mexico


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11.1 Lewis and ClarkIn 1803, Thomas Jefferson appointed Meriwether Lewis to organize an expedition into the LouisianaTerritory to explore and map the area but also to find an all-water route from the Missouri River to thePacific Coast. The Louisiana Purchase and the journey of Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery capturedthe imagination of many, who dedicated themselves to the economic exploitation of the western landsand the expansion of American influence and power. In the South, the Adams-Onís treaty legally securedFlorida for the United States, though it did nothing to end the resistance of the Seminoles against Americanexpansionists. At the same time, the treaty frustrated those Americans who considered Texas a part of theLouisiana Purchase. Taking matters into their own hands, some American settlers tried to take Texas byforce.

11.2 The Missouri CrisisThe Missouri Crisis created a division over slavery that profoundly and ominously shaped sectionalidentities and rivalries as never before. Conflict over the uneasy balance between slave and free statesin Congress came to a head when Missouri petitioned to join the Union as a slave state in 1819, and thedebate broadened from simple issues of representation to a critique of the morality of slavery. The debatesalso raised the specter of disunion and civil war, leading many, including Thomas Jefferson, to fear forthe future of the republic. Under the Missouri Compromise, Missouri and Maine entered the Union at thesame time, Maine as a free state, Missouri as a slave state, and a line was drawn across the remainder ofthe Louisiana territory north of which slavery was forbidden.

11.3 Independence for TexasThe establishment of the Lone Star Republic formed a new chapter in the history of U.S. westwardexpansion. In contrast to the addition of the Louisiana Territory through diplomacy with France,Americans in Texas employed violence against Mexico to achieve their goals. Orchestrated largely byslaveholders, the acquisition of Texas appeared the next logical step in creating an American empire thatincluded slavery. Nonetheless, with the Missouri Crisis in mind, the United States refused the Texans’request to enter the United States as a slave state in 1836. Instead, Texas formed an independent republicwhere slavery was legal. But American settlers there continued to press for more land. The strainedrelationship between expansionists in Texas and Mexico in the early 1840s hinted of things to come.

11.4 The Mexican-American War, 1846–1848President James K. Polk’s administration was a period of intensive expansion for the United States. Afteroverseeing the final details regarding the annexation of Texas from Mexico, Polk negotiated a peacefulsettlement with Great Britain regarding ownership of the Oregon Country, which brought the UnitedStates what are now the states of Washington and Oregon. The acquisition of additional lands fromMexico, a country many in the United States perceived as weak and inferior, was not so bloodless. TheMexican Cession added nearly half of Mexico’s territory to the United States, including New Mexico andCalifornia, and established the U.S.-Mexico border at the Rio Grande. The California Gold Rush rapidlyexpanded the population of the new territory, but also prompted concerns over immigration, especiallyfrom China.

11.5 Free Soil or Slave? The Dilemma of the WestThe acquisition of lands from Mexico in 1848 reawakened debates regarding slavery. The suggestion thatslavery be barred from the Mexican Cession caused rancorous debate between North and South andsplit the Democratic Party when many northern members left to create the Free-Soil Party. Although the

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Compromise of 1850 resolved the question of whether slavery would be allowed in the new territories,the solution pleased no one. The peace brought by the compromise was short-lived, and the debate overslavery continued.

Review Questions1. As a result of the Adams-Onís Treaty, theUnited States gained which territory from Spain?

A. FloridaB. New MexicoC. CaliforniaD. Nevada

2. The Long Expedition established a short-livedrepublic in Texas known as ________.

A. the Lone Star RepublicB. the Republic of TexasC. ColumbianaD. the Republic of Fredonia

3. For what purposes did Thomas Jefferson sendLewis and Clark to explore the LouisianaTerritory? What did he want them to accomplish?

4. A proposal to prohibit the importation ofslaves to Missouri following its admission to theUnited States was made by ________.

A. John C. CalhounB. Henry ClayC. James TallmadgeD. John Quincy Adams

5. To balance votes in the Senate, ________ wasadmitted to the Union as a free state at the sametime that Missouri was admitted as a slave state.

A. FloridaB. MaineC. New YorkD. Arkansas

6. Why did the Missouri Crisis trigger threats ofdisunion and war? Identify the positions of bothsouthern slaveholders and northern opponents ofthe spread of slavery.

7. Texas won its independence from Mexico in________.

A. 1821B. 1830C. 1836

D. 1845

8. Texans defeated the army of General AntonioLopez de Santa Anna at the battle of ________.

A. the AlamoB. San JacintoC. NacogdochesD. Austin

9. How did Texas settlers’ view of Mexico and itspeople contribute to the history of Texas in the1830s?

10. Which of the following was not a reason theUnited States was reluctant to annex Texas?

A. The United States did not want to fight awar with Mexico.

B. Annexing Texas would add more slaveterritory to the United States and angerabolitionists.

C. Texans considered U.S. citizens inferior anddid not want to be part of their country.

D. Adding Texas would upset the balancebetween free and slave states in Congress.

11. According to treaties signed in 1818 and 1827,with which country did the United States jointlyoccupy Oregon?

A. Great BritainB. SpainC. MexicoD. France

12. During the war between the United Statesand Mexico, revolts against U.S. control broke outin ________.

A. Florida and TexasB. New Mexico and CaliforniaC. California and TexasD. Florida and California

13. Why did whites in California dislike theChinese so much?

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14. The practice of allowing residents ofterritories to decide whether their land should beslave or free was called ________.

A. the democratic processB. the Wilmot ProvisoC. popular sovereigntyD. the Free Soil solution

15. Which of the following was not a provision ofthe Compromise of 1850?

A. California was admitted as a free state.B. Slavery was abolished in Washington, DC.C. A stronger fugitive slave law was passed.D. Residents of New Mexico and Utah were to

decide for themselves whether theirterritories would be slave or free.

16. Describe the events leading up to theformation of the Free-Soil Party.

Critical Thinking Questions17. Consider the role of filibusters in American expansion. What are some arguments in favor offilibustering? What are some arguments against it?

18. What are the economic and political issues raised by having an imbalance between free and slavestates? Why did the balance of free and slave states matter?

19. How did Anglo-American settlers in Texas see themselves? Did they adopt a Mexican identity becausethey were living in Mexican territory? Why or why not?

20. Consider the annexation of Texas and the Mexican-American War from a Mexican perspective. Whatwould you find objectionable about American actions, foreign policy, and attitudes in the 1840s?

21. Describe the place of Texas in the history of American westward expansion by comparing Texas’searly history to the Missouri Crisis in 1819–1820. What are the similarities and what are the differences?

22. Consider the arguments over the expansion of slavery made by both northerners and southerners inthe aftermath of the U.S. victory over Mexico. Who had the more compelling case? Or did each side makeequally significant arguments?

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Cotton is King: The AntebellumSouth, 1800–1860

Figure 12.1 Bateaux à Vapeur Géant, la Nouvelle-Orléans 1853 (Giant Steamboats at New Orleans, 1853), byHippolyte Sebron, shows how New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi River, was the primary trading hub for thecotton that fueled the growth of the southern economy.

Chapter Outline12.1 The Economics of Cotton12.2 African Americans in the Antebellum United States12.3 Wealth and Culture in the South12.4 The Filibuster and the Quest for New Slave States

IntroductionNine new slave states entered the Union between 1789 and 1860, rapidly expanding and transforming theSouth into a region of economic growth built on slave labor. In the image above (Figure 12.1), innumerableslaves load cargo onto a steamship in the Port of New Orleans, the commercial center of the antebellumSouth, while two well-dressed white men stand by talking. Commercial activity extends as far as the eyecan see.

By the mid-nineteenth century, southern commercial centers like New Orleans had become home to thegreatest concentration of wealth in the United States. While most white southerners did not own slaves,they aspired to join the ranks of elite slaveholders, who played a key role in the politics of both the Southand the nation. Meanwhile, slavery shaped the culture and society of the South, which rested on a racialideology of white supremacy and a vision of the United States as a white man’s republic. Slaves enduredthe traumas of slavery by creating their own culture and using the Christian message of redemption tofind hope for a world of freedom without violence.

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12.1 The Economics of Cotton

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the labor-intensive processes of cotton production• Describe the importance of cotton to the Atlantic and American antebellum economy

In the antebellum era—that is, in the years before the Civil War—American planters in the Southcontinued to grow Chesapeake tobacco and Carolina rice as they had in the colonial era. Cotton, however,emerged as the antebellum South’s major commercial crop, eclipsing tobacco, rice, and sugar in economicimportance. By 1860, the region was producing two-thirds of the world’s cotton. In 1793, Eli Whitneyrevolutionized the production of cotton when he invented the cotton gin, a device that separated the seedsfrom raw cotton. Suddenly, a process that was extraordinarily labor-intensive when done by hand couldbe completed quickly and easily. American plantation owners, who were searching for a successful staplecrop to compete on the world market, found it in cotton.

As a commodity, cotton had the advantage of being easily stored and transported. A demand for italready existed in the industrial textile mills in Great Britain, and in time, a steady stream of slave-grownAmerican cotton would also supply northern textile mills. Southern cotton, picked and processed byAmerican slaves, helped fuel the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution in both the United States andGreat Britain.

KING COTTONAlmost no cotton was grown in the United States in 1787, the year the federal constitution was written.However, following the War of 1812, a huge increase in production resulted in the so-called cotton boom,and by midcentury, cotton became the key cash crop (a crop grown to sell rather than for the farmer’s soleuse) of the southern economy and the most important American commodity. By 1850, of the 3.2 millionslaves in the country’s fifteen slave states, 1.8 million were producing cotton; by 1860, slave labor wasproducing over two billion pounds of cotton per year. Indeed, American cotton soon made up two-thirdsof the global supply, and production continued to soar. By the time of the Civil War, South Carolina

Figure 12.2

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politician James Hammond confidently proclaimed that the North could never threaten the South because“cotton is king.”

The crop grown in the South was a hybrid: Gossypium barbadense, known as Petit Gulf cotton, a mixof Mexican, Georgia, and Siamese strains. Petit Gulf cotton grew extremely well in different soils andclimates. It dominated cotton production in the Mississippi River Valley—home of the new slave states ofLouisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri—as well as in other states like Texas.Whenever new slave states entered the Union, white slaveholders sent armies of slaves to clear the land inorder to grow and pick the lucrative crop. The phrase “to be sold down the river,” used by Harriet BeecherStowe in her 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, refers to this forced migration from the upper southern statesto the Deep South, lower on the Mississippi, to grow cotton.

The slaves who built this cotton kingdom with their labor started by clearing the land. Although theJeffersonian vision of the settlement of new U.S. territories entailed white yeoman farmers single-handedlycarving out small independent farms, the reality proved quite different. Entire old-growth forests andcypress swamps fell to the axe as slaves labored to strip the vegetation to make way for cotton. With theland cleared, slaves readied the earth by plowing and planting. To ambitious white planters, the extent ofnew land available for cotton production seemed almost limitless, and many planters simply leapfroggedfrom one area to the next, abandoning their fields every ten to fifteen years after the soil became exhausted.Theirs was a world of mobility and restlessness, a constant search for the next area to grow the valuablecrop. Slaves composed the vanguard of this American expansion to the West.

Cotton planting took place in March and April, when slaves planted seeds in rows around three to fivefeet apart. Over the next several months, from April to August, they carefully tended the plants. Weedingthe cotton rows took significant energy and time. In August, after the cotton plants had flowered and theflowers had begun to give way to cotton bolls (the seed-bearing capsule that contains the cotton fiber),all the plantation’s slaves—men, women, and children—worked together to pick the crop (Figure 12.3).On each day of cotton picking, slaves went to the fields with sacks, which they would fill as many timesas they could. The effort was laborious, and a white “driver” employed the lash to make slaves work asquickly as possible.

Figure 12.3 In the late nineteenth century, J. N. Wilson captured this image of harvest time at a southern plantation.While the workers in this photograph are not slave laborers, the process of cotton harvesting shown here hadchanged little from antebellum times.

Cotton planters projected the amount of cotton they could harvest based on the number of slaves undertheir control. In general, planters expected a good “hand,” or slave, to work ten acres of land and picktwo hundred pounds of cotton a day. An overseer or master measured each individual slave’s daily yield.

Chapter 12 Cotton is King: The Antebellum South, 1800–1860 333

Great pressure existed to meet the expected daily amount, and some masters whipped slaves who pickedless than expected.

Cotton picking occurred as many as seven times a season as the plant grew and continued to produce bollsthrough the fall and early winter. During the picking season, slaves worked from sunrise to sunset witha ten-minute break at lunch; many slaveholders tended to give them little to eat, since spending on foodwould cut into their profits. Other slaveholders knew that feeding slaves could increase productivity andtherefore provided what they thought would help ensure a profitable crop. The slaves’ day didn’t end afterthey picked the cotton; once they had brought it to the gin house to be weighed, they then had to care forthe animals and perform other chores. Indeed, slaves often maintained their own gardens and livestock,which they tended after working the cotton fields, in order to supplement their supply of food.

Sometimes the cotton was dried before it was ginned (put through the process of separating the seeds fromthe cotton fiber). The cotton gin allowed a slave to remove the seeds from fifty pounds of cotton a day,compared to one pound if done by hand. After the seeds had been removed, the cotton was pressed intobales. These bales, weighing about four hundred to five hundred pounds, were wrapped in burlap clothand sent down the Mississippi River.

Visit the Internet Archive ( to watch a1937 WPA film showing cotton bales being loaded onto a steamboat.

As the cotton industry boomed in the South, the Mississippi River quickly became the essential waterhighway in the United States. Steamboats, a crucial part of the transportation revolution thanks to theirenormous freight-carrying capacity and ability to navigate shallow waterways, became a definingcomponent of the cotton kingdom. Steamboats also illustrated the class and social distinctions of theantebellum age. While the decks carried precious cargo, ornate rooms graced the interior. In these spaces,whites socialized in the ship’s saloons and dining halls while black slaves served them (Figure 12.4).

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Figure 12.4 As in this depiction of the saloon of the Mississippi River steamboat Princess, elegant and luxuriousrooms often occupied the interiors of antebellum steamships, whose decks were filled with cargo.

Investors poured huge sums into steamships. In 1817, only seventeen plied the waters of western rivers,but by 1837, there were over seven hundred steamships in operation. Major new ports developed at St.Louis, Missouri; Memphis, Tennessee; and other locations. By 1860, some thirty-five hundred vessels weresteaming in and out of New Orleans, carrying an annual cargo made up primarily of cotton that amountedto $220 million worth of goods (approximately $6.5 billion in 2014 dollars).

New Orleans had been part of the French empire before the United States purchased it, along with therest of the Louisiana Territory, in 1803. In the first half of the nineteenth century, it rose in prominenceand importance largely because of the cotton boom, steam-powered river traffic, and its strategic positionnear the mouth of the Mississippi River. Steamboats moved down the river transporting cotton grown onplantations along the river and throughout the South to the port at New Orleans. From there, the bulkof American cotton went to Liverpool, England, where it was sold to British manufacturers who ran thecotton mills in Manchester and elsewhere. This lucrative international trade brought new wealth and newresidents to the city. By 1840, New Orleans alone had 12 percent of the nation’s total banking capital,and visitors often commented on the great cultural diversity of the city. In 1835, Joseph Holt Ingrahamwrote: “Truly does New-Orleans represent every other city and nation upon earth. I know of none whereis congregated so great a variety of the human species.” Slaves, cotton, and the steamship transformed thecity from a relatively isolated corner of North America in the eighteenth century to a thriving metropolisthat rivaled New York in importance (Figure 12.5).

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Figure 12.5 This print of The Levee – New Orleans (1884) shows the bustling port of New Orleans with bales ofcotton waiting to be shipped. The sheer volume of cotton indicates its economic importance throughout the century.

THE DOMESTIC SLAVE TRADEThe South’s dependence on cotton was matched by its dependence on slaves to harvest the cotton. Despitethe rhetoric of the Revolution that “all men are created equal,” slavery not only endured in the Americanrepublic but formed the very foundation of the country’s economic success. Cotton and slavery occupieda central—and intertwined—place in the nineteenth-century economy.

In 1807, the U.S. Congress abolished the foreign slave trade, a ban that went into effect on January 1,1808. After this date, importing slaves from Africa became illegal in the United States. While smugglingcontinued to occur, the end of the international slave trade meant that domestic slaves were in very highdemand. Fortunately for Americans whose wealth depended upon the exploitation of slave labor, a fall inthe price of tobacco had caused landowners in the Upper South to reduce their production of this crop anduse more of their land to grow wheat, which was far more profitable. While tobacco was a labor-intensivecrop that required many people to cultivate it, wheat was not. Former tobacco farmers in the older states ofVirginia and Maryland found themselves with “surplus” slaves whom they were obligated to feed, clothe,and shelter. Some slaveholders responded to this situation by freeing slaves; far more decided to sell theirexcess bondsmen. Virginia and Maryland therefore took the lead in the domestic slave trade, the tradingof slaves within the borders of the United States.

The domestic slave trade offered many economic opportunities for white men. Those who sold theirslaves could realize great profits, as could the slave brokers who served as middlemen between sellersand buyers. Other white men could benefit from the trade as owners of warehouses and pens in whichslaves were held, or as suppliers of clothing and food for slaves on the move. Between 1790 and 1859,slaveholders in Virginia sold more than half a million slaves. In the early part of this period, manyof these slaves were sold to people living in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North and South Carolina. Bythe 1820s, however, people in Kentucky and the Carolinas had begun to sell many of their slaves aswell. Maryland slave dealers sold at least 185,000 slaves. Kentucky slaveholders sold some seventy-onethousand individuals. Most of the slave traders carried these slaves further south to Alabama, Louisiana,and Mississippi. New Orleans, the hub of commerce, boasted the largest slave market in the United Statesand grew to become the nation’s fourth-largest city as a result. Natchez, Mississippi, had the second-largestmarket. In Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and elsewhere in the South, slave auctions happened everyday.

All told, the movement of slaves in the South made up one of the largest forced internal migrations in theUnited States. In each of the decades between 1820 and 1860, about 200,000 people were sold and relocated.The 1800 census recorded over one million African Americans, of which nearly 900,000 were slaves. By1860, the total number of African Americans increased to 4.4 million, and of that number, 3.95 million were

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held in bondage. For many slaves, the domestic slave trade incited the terror of being sold away fromfamily and friends.


Solomon Northup Remembers the New Orleans Slave MarketSolomon Northup was a free black man living in Saratoga, New York, when he was kidnapped andsold into slavery in 1841. He later escaped and wrote a book about his experiences: Twelve Years aSlave. Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841 andRescued in 1853 (the basis of a 2013 Academy Award–winning film). This excerpt derives from Northup’sdescription of being sold in New Orleans, along with fellow slave Eliza and her children Randall andEmily.

One old gentleman, who said he wanted a coachman, appeared to take a fancy to me. . . .The same man also purchased Randall. The little fellow was made to jump, and run acrossthe floor, and perform many other feats, exhibiting his activity and condition. All the time thetrade was going on, Eliza was crying aloud, and wringing her hands. She besought the mannot to buy him, unless he also bought her self and Emily. . . . Freeman turned round to her,savagely, with his whip in his uplifted hand, ordering her to stop her noise, or he would flogher. He would not have such work—such snivelling; and unless she ceased that minute, hewould take her to the yard and give her a hundred lashes. . . . Eliza shrunk before him, andtried to wipe away her tears, but it was all in vain. She wanted to be with her children, shesaid, the little time she had to live. All the frowns and threats of Freeman, could not whollysilence the afflicted mother.

What does Northup’s narrative tell you about the experience of being a slave? How does he characterizeFreeman, the slave trader? How does he characterize Eliza?

THE SOUTH IN THE AMERICAN AND WORLD MARKETSThe first half of the nineteenth century saw a market revolution in the United States, one in whichindustrialization brought changes to both the production and the consumption of goods. Some southernersof the time believed that their region’s reliance on a single cash crop and its use of slaves to produce it gavethe South economic independence and made it immune from the effects of these changes, but this was farfrom the truth. Indeed, the production of cotton brought the South more firmly into the larger Americanand Atlantic markets. Northern mills depended on the South for supplies of raw cotton that was thenconverted into textiles. But this domestic cotton market paled in comparison to the Atlantic market. About75 percent of the cotton produced in the United States was eventually exported abroad. Exporting at suchhigh volumes made the United States the undisputed world leader in cotton production. Between the years1820 and 1860, approximately 80 percent of the global cotton supply was produced in the United States.Nearly all the exported cotton was shipped to Great Britain, fueling its burgeoning textile industry andmaking the powerful British Empire increasingly dependent on American cotton and southern slavery.

The power of cotton on the world market may have brought wealth to the South, but it also increased itseconomic dependence on other countries and other parts of the United States. Much of the corn and porkthat slaves consumed came from farms in the West. Some of the inexpensive clothing, called “slops,” andshoes worn by slaves were manufactured in the North. The North also supplied the furnishings found inthe homes of both wealthy planters and members of the middle class. Many of the trappings of domesticlife, such as carpets, lamps, dinnerware, upholstered furniture, books, and musical instruments—all theaccoutrements of comfortable living for southern whites—were made in either the North or Europe.Southern planters also borrowed money from banks in northern cities, and in the southern summers, tookadvantage of the developments in transportation to travel to resorts at Saratoga, New York; Litchfield,Connecticut; and Newport, Rhode Island.

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12.2 African Americans in the Antebellum United States

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Discuss the similarities and differences in the lives of slaves and free blacks• Describe the independent culture and customs that slaves developed

In addition to cotton, the great commodity of the antebellum South was human chattel. Slavery was thecornerstone of the southern economy. By 1850, about 3.2 million slaves labored in the United States, 1.8million of whom worked in the cotton fields. Slaves faced arbitrary power abuses from whites; they copedby creating family and community networks. Storytelling, song, and Christianity also provided solace andallowed slaves to develop their own interpretations of their condition.

LIFE AS A SLAVESouthern whites frequently relied upon the idea of paternalism—the premise that white slaveholdersacted in the best interests of slaves, taking responsibility for their care, feeding, discipline, and even theirChristian morality—to justify the existence of slavery. This grossly misrepresented the reality of slavery,which was, by any measure, a dehumanizing, traumatizing, and horrifying human disaster and crimeagainst humanity. Nevertheless, slaves were hardly passive victims of their conditions; they sought andfound myriad ways to resist their shackles and develop their own communities and cultures.

Slaves often used the notion of paternalism to their advantage, finding opportunities within this system toengage in acts of resistance and win a degree of freedom and autonomy. For example, some slaves playedinto their masters’ racism by hiding their intelligence and feigning childishness and ignorance. The slavescould then slow down the workday and sabotage the system in small ways by “accidentally” breakingtools, for example; the master, seeing his slaves as unsophisticated and childlike, would believe theseincidents were accidents rather than rebellions. Some slaves engaged in more dramatic forms of resistance,such as poisoning their masters slowly. Other slaves reported rebellious slaves to their masters, hoping togain preferential treatment. Slaves who informed their masters about planned slave rebellions could oftenexpect the slaveholder’s gratitude and, perhaps, more lenient treatment. Such expectations were alwaystempered by the individual personality and caprice of the master.

Slaveholders used both psychological coercion and physical violence to prevent slaves from disobeyingtheir wishes. Often, the most efficient way to discipline slaves was to threaten to sell them. The lash, whilethe most common form of punishment, was effective but not efficient; whippings sometimes left slavesincapacitated or even dead. Slave masters also used punishment gear like neck braces, balls and chains,leg irons, and paddles with holes to produce blood blisters. Slaves lived in constant terror of both physicalviolence and separation from family and friends (Figure 12.6).

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Figure 12.6 The original caption of this photograph of a slave’s scarred back (a), taken in Baton Rouge, Louisiana,in 1863, reads as follows: “Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping.My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer. The very words of poor Peter, taken as he sat forhis picture.” Images like this one helped bolster the northern abolitionist message of the inhumanity of slavery. Thedrawing of an iron mask, collar, leg shackles, and spurs (b) demonstrates the various cruel and painful instrumentsused to restrain slaves.

Under southern law, slaves could not marry. Nonetheless, some slaveholders allowed marriages topromote the birth of children and to foster harmony on plantations. Some masters even forced certainslaves to form unions, anticipating the birth of more children (and consequently greater profits) from them.Masters sometimes allowed slaves to choose their own partners, but they could also veto a match. Slavecouples always faced the prospect of being sold away from each other, and, once they had children, thehorrifying reality that their children could be sold and sent away at any time.

Browse a collection of first-hand narratives of slaves and former slaves at the NationalHumanities Center ( to learn moreabout the experience of slavery.

Slave parents had to show their children the best way to survive under slavery. This meant teachingthem to be discreet, submissive, and guarded around whites. Parents also taught their children throughthe stories they told. Popular stories among slaves included tales of tricksters, sly slaves, or animals likeBrer Rabbit, who outwitted their antagonists (Figure 12.7). Such stories provided comfort in humor andconveyed the slaves’ sense of the wrongs of slavery. Slaves’ work songs commented on the harshness oftheir life and often had double meanings—a literal meaning that whites would not find offensive and adeeper meaning for slaves.

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Figure 12.7 Brer Rabbit, depicted here in an illustration from Uncle Remus, His Songs and His Sayings: The Folk-Lore of the Old Plantation (1881) by Joel Chandler Harris, was a trickster who outwitted his opponents.

African beliefs, including ideas about the spiritual world and the importance of African healers, survivedin the South as well. Whites who became aware of non-Christian rituals among slaves labeled suchpractices as witchcraft. Among Africans, however, the rituals and use of various plants by respected slavehealers created connections between the African past and the American South while also providing a senseof community and identity for slaves. Other African customs, including traditional naming patterns, themaking of baskets, and the cultivation of certain native African plants that had been brought to the NewWorld, also endured.

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African Americans and Christian SpiritualsMany slaves embraced Christianity. Their masters emphasized a scriptural message of obedience towhites and a better day awaiting slaves in heaven, but slaves focused on the uplifting message of beingfreed from bondage.

The styles of worship in the Methodist and Baptist churches, which emphasized emotional responses toscripture, attracted slaves to those traditions and inspired some to become preachers. Spiritual songsthat referenced the Exodus (the biblical account of the Hebrews’ escape from slavery in Egypt), suchas “Roll, Jordan, Roll,” allowed slaves to freely express messages of hope, struggle, and overcomingadversity (Figure 12.8).

Figure 12.8 This version of “Roll, Jordan, Roll” was included in Slave Songs of the United States, thefirst published collection of African American music, which appeared in 1867.

What imagery might the Jordan River suggest to slaves working in the Deep South? What lyrics in thissong suggest redemption and a better world ahead?

Listen to a rendition of “Roll, Jordan, Roll” ( from the movie based on Solomon Northup’s memoir and life.

THE FREE BLACK POPULATIONComplicating the picture of the antebellum South was the existence of a large free black population. In fact,more free blacks lived in the South than in the North; roughly 261,000 lived in slave states, while 226,000lived in northern states without slavery. Most free blacks did not live in the Lower, or Deep South: thestates of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. Instead,the largest number lived in the upper southern states of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina,and later Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

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Part of the reason for the large number of free blacks living in slave states were the many instances ofmanumission—the formal granting of freedom to slaves—that occurred as a result of the Revolution, whenmany slaveholders put into action the ideal that “all men are created equal” and freed their slaves. Thetransition in the Upper South to the staple crop of wheat, which did not require large numbers of slavesto produce, also spurred manumissions. Another large group of free blacks in the South had been freeresidents of Louisiana before the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, while still other free blacks came from Cubaand Haiti.

Most free blacks in the South lived in cities, and a majority of free blacks were lighter-skinned women,a reflection of the interracial unions that formed between white men and black women. Everywhere inthe United States blackness had come to be associated with slavery, the station at the bottom of the socialladder. Both whites and those with African ancestry tended to delineate varying degrees of lightness inskin color in a social hierarchy. In the slaveholding South, different names described one’s distance fromblackness or whiteness: mulattos (those with one black and one white parent), quadroons (those withone black grandparent), and octoroons (those with one black great-grandparent) (Figure 12.9). Lighter-skinned blacks often looked down on their darker counterparts, an indication of the ways in which bothwhites and blacks internalized the racism of the age.

Figure 12.9 In this late eighteenth-century painting, a free woman of color stands with her quadroon daughter inNew Orleans. Families with members that had widely varying ethnic characteristics were not uncommon at the time,especially in the larger cities.

Some free blacks in the South owned slaves of their own. Andrew Durnford, for example, was born inNew Orleans in 1800, three years before the Louisiana Purchase. His father was white, and his mother wasa free black. Durnford became an American citizen after the Louisiana Purchase, rising to prominence asa Louisiana sugar planter and slaveholder. William Ellison, another free black who amassed great wealthand power in the South, was born a slave in 1790 in South Carolina. After buying his freedom and that ofhis wife and daughter, he proceeded to purchase his own slaves, whom he then put to work manufacturingcotton gins. By the eve of the Civil War, Ellison had become one of the richest and largest slaveholders inthe entire state.

The phenomenon of free blacks amassing large fortunes within a slave society predicated on racialdifference, however, was exceedingly rare. Most free blacks in the South lived under the specter of slaveryand faced many obstacles. Beginning in the early nineteenth century, southern states increasingly mademanumission of slaves illegal. They also devised laws that divested free blacks of their rights, such as theright to testify against whites in court or the right to seek employment where they pleased. Interestingly,it was in the upper southern states that such laws were the harshest. In Virginia, for example, legislatorsmade efforts to require free blacks to leave the state. In parts of the Deep South, free blacks were able to

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maintain their rights more easily. The difference in treatment between free blacks in the Deep South andthose in the Upper South, historians have surmised, came down to economics. In the Deep South, slaveryas an institution was strong and profitable. In the Upper South, the opposite was true. The anxiety of thiseconomic uncertainty manifested in the form of harsh laws that targeted free blacks.

SLAVE REVOLTSSlaves resisted their enslavement in small ways every day, but this resistance did not usually translateinto mass uprisings. Slaves understood that the chances of ending slavery through rebellion were slimand would likely result in massive retaliation; many also feared the risk that participating in such actionswould pose to themselves and their families. White slaveholders, however, constantly feared uprisingsand took drastic steps, including torture and mutilation, whenever they believed that rebellions might besimmering. Gripped by the fear of insurrection, whites often imagined revolts to be in the works evenwhen no uprising actually happened.

At least two major slave uprisings did occur in the antebellum South. In 1811, a major rebellion broke outin the sugar parishes of the booming territory of Louisiana. Inspired by the successful overthrow of thewhite planter class in Haiti, Louisiana slaves took up arms against planters. Perhaps as many five hundredslaves joined the rebellion, led by Charles Deslondes, a mixed-race slave driver on a sugar plantationowned by Manuel Andry.

The revolt began in January 1811 on Andry’s plantation. Deslondes and other slaves attacked the Andryhousehold, where they killed the slave master’s son (although Andry himself escaped). The rebels thenbegan traveling toward New Orleans, armed with weapons gathered at Andry’s plantation. Whitesmobilized to stop the rebellion, but not before Deslondes and the other rebelling slaves set fire to threeplantations and killed numerous whites. A small white force led by Andry ultimately captured Deslondes,whose body was mutilated and burned following his execution. Other slave rebels were beheaded, andtheir heads placed on pikes along the Mississippi River.

The second rebellion, led by the slave Nat Turner, occurred in 1831 in Southampton County, Virginia.Turner had suffered not only from personal enslavement, but also from the additional trauma of having hiswife sold away from him. Bolstered by Christianity, Turner became convinced that like Christ, he shouldlay down his life to end slavery. Mustering his relatives and friends, he began the rebellion August 22,killing scores of whites in the county. Whites mobilized quickly and within forty-eight hours had broughtthe rebellion to an end. Shocked by Nat Turner’s Rebellion, Virginia’s state legislature considered endingslavery in the state in order to provide greater security. In the end, legislators decided slavery wouldremain and that their state would continue to play a key role in the domestic slave trade.

SLAVE MARKETSAs discussed above, after centuries of slave trade with West Africa, Congress banned the furtherimportation of slaves beginning in 1808. The domestic slave trade then expanded rapidly. As the cottontrade grew in size and importance, so did the domestic slave trade; the cultivation of cotton gave new lifeand importance to slavery, increasing the value of slaves. To meet the South’s fierce demand for labor,American smugglers illegally transferred slaves through Florida and later through Texas. Many moreslaves arrived illegally from Cuba; indeed, Cubans relied on the smuggling of slaves to prop up theirfinances. The largest number of slaves after 1808, however, came from the massive, legal internal slavemarket in which slave states in the Upper South sold enslaved men, women, and children to states in theLower South. For slaves, the domestic trade presented the full horrors of slavery as children were rippedfrom their mothers and fathers and families destroyed, creating heartbreak and alienation.

Some slaveholders sought to increase the number of slave children by placing male slaves with fertilefemale slaves, and slave masters routinely raped their female slaves. The resulting births played animportant role in slavery’s expansion in the first half of the nineteenth century, as many slave childrenwere born as a result of rape. One account written by a slave named William J. Anderson captures

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the horror of sexual exploitation in the antebellum South. Anderson wrote about how a Mississippislaveholder

divested a poor female slave of all wearing apparel, tied her down to stakes, and whippedher with a handsaw until he broke it over her naked body. In process of time he ravished[raped] her person, and became the father of a child by her. Besides, he always kept a coloredMiss in the house with him. This is another curse of Slavery—concubinage and illegitimateconnections—which is carried on to an alarming extent in the far South. A poor slave man wholives close by his wife, is permitted to visit her but very seldom, and other men, both white andcolored, cohabit with her. It is undoubtedly the worst place of incest and bigamy in the world. Awhite man thinks nothing of putting a colored man out to carry the fore row [front row in fieldwork], and carry on the same sport with the colored man’s wife at the same time.

Anderson, a devout Christian, recognized and explains in his narrative that one of the evils of slavery isthe way it undermines the family. Anderson was not the only critic of slavery to emphasize this point.Frederick Douglass, a Maryland slave who escaped to the North in 1838, elaborated on this dimension ofslavery in his 1845 narrative. He recounted how slave masters had to sell their own children whom theyhad with slave women to appease the white wives who despised their offspring.

The selling of slaves was a major business enterprise in the antebellum South, representing a key part ofthe economy. White men invested substantial sums in slaves, carefully calculating the annual returns theycould expect from a slave as well as the possibility of greater profits through natural increase. The domesticslave trade was highly visible, and like the infamous Middle Passage that brought captive Africans tothe Americas, it constituted an equally disruptive and horrifying journey now called the second middlepassage. Between 1820 and 1860, white American traders sold a million or more slaves in the domesticslave market. Groups of slaves were transported by ship from places like Virginia, a state that specializedin raising slaves for sale, to New Orleans, where they were sold to planters in the Mississippi Valley. Otherslaves made the overland trek from older states like North Carolina to new and booming Deep South stateslike Alabama.

New Orleans had the largest slave market in the United States (Figure 12.10). Slaveholders brought theirslaves there from the East (Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas) and the West (Tennessee and Kentucky)to be sold for work in the Mississippi Valley. The slave trade benefited whites in the Chesapeake andCarolinas, providing them with extra income: A healthy young male slave in the 1850s could be sold for$1,000 (approximately $30,000 in 2014 dollars), and a planter who could sell ten such slaves collected awindfall.

Figure 12.10 In Sale of Estates, Pictures and Slaves in the Rotunda, New Orleans (1853) by J. M. Starling, it isclear that slaves are considered property to be auctioned off, just like pictures or other items.

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In fact, by the 1850s, the demand for slaves reached an all-time high, and prices therefore doubled. A slavewho would have sold for $400 in the 1820s could command a price of $800 in the 1850s. The high price ofslaves in the 1850s and the inability of natural increase to satisfy demands led some southerners to demandthe reopening of the international slave trade, a movement that caused a rift between the Upper Southand the Lower South. Whites in the Upper South who sold slaves to their counterparts in the Lower Southworried that reopening the trade would lower prices and therefore hurt their profits.


John Brown on Slave Life in GeorgiaA slave named John Brown lived in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia before he escaped and movedto England. While there, he dictated his autobiography to someone at the British and Foreign Anti-SlaverySociety, who published it in 1855.

I really thought my mother would have died of grief at being obliged to leave her two children,her mother, and her relations behind. But it was of no use lamenting, the few things we hadwere put together that night, and we completed our preparations for being parted for life bykissing one another over and over again, and saying good bye till some of us little ones fellasleep. . . . And here I may as well tell what kind of man our new master was. He was of smallstature, and thin, but very strong. He had sandy hair, a very red face, and chewed tobacco.His countenance had a very cruel expression, and his disposition was a match for it. He was,indeed, a very bad man, and used to flog us dreadfully. He would make his slaves work onone meal a day, until quite night, and after supper, set them to burn brush or spin cotton. Weworked from four in the morning till twelve before we broke our fast, and from that time tilleleven or twelve at night . . . we labored eighteen hours a day.—John Brown, Slave Life in Georgia: A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of JohnBrown, A Fugitive Slave, Now in England, 1855

What features of the domestic slave trade does Brown’s narrative illuminate? Why do you think hebrought his story to an antislavery society? How do you think people responded to this narrative?

Read through several narratives at “Born in Slavery,” part of the American Memory( collection at the Library of Congress.Do these narratives have anything in common? What differences can you find betweenthem?

12.3 Wealth and Culture in the South

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Assess the distribution of wealth in the antebellum South• Describe the southern culture of honor• Identify the main proslavery arguments in the years prior to the Civil War

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During the antebellum years, wealthy southern planters formed an elite master class that wielded mostof the economic and political power of the region. They created their own standards of gentility andhonor, defining ideals of southern white manhood and womanhood and shaping the culture of the South.To defend the system of forced labor on which their economic survival and genteel lifestyles depended,elite southerners developed several proslavery arguments that they levied at those who would see theinstitution dismantled.

SLAVERY AND THE WHITE CLASS STRUCTUREThe South prospered, but its wealth was very unequally distributed. Upward social mobility did notexist for the millions of slaves who produced a good portion of the nation’s wealth, while poor southernwhites envisioned a day when they might rise enough in the world to own slaves of their own. Becauseof the cotton boom, there were more millionaires per capita in the Mississippi River Valley by 1860 thananywhere else in the United States. However, in that same year, only 3 percent of whites owned more thanfifty slaves, and two-thirds of white households in the South did not own any slaves at all (Figure 12.11).Distribution of wealth in the South became less democratic over time; fewer whites owned slaves in 1860than in 1840.

Figure 12.11 As the wealth of the antebellum South increased, it also became more unequally distributed, and anever-smaller percentage of slaveholders held a substantial number of slaves.

At the top of southern white society stood the planter elite, which comprised two groups. In the UpperSouth, an aristocratic gentry, generation upon generation of whom had grown up with slavery, held aprivileged place. In the Deep South, an elite group of slaveholders gained new wealth from cotton. Somemembers of this group hailed from established families in the eastern states (Virginia and the Carolinas),while others came from humbler backgrounds. South Carolinian Nathaniel Heyward, a wealthy riceplanter and member of the aristocratic gentry, came from an established family and sat atop the pyramidof southern slaveholders. He amassed an enormous estate; in 1850, he owned more than eighteen hundredslaves. When he died in 1851, he left an estate worth more than $2 million (approximately $63 million in2014 dollars).

As cotton production increased, new wealth flowed to the cotton planters. These planters became thestaunchest defenders of slavery, and as their wealth grew, they gained considerable political power.

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One member of the planter elite was Edward Lloyd V, who came from an established and wealthy familyof Talbot County, Maryland. Lloyd had inherited his position rather than rising to it through his ownlabors. His hundreds of slaves formed a crucial part of his wealth. Like many of the planter elite, Lloyd’splantation was a masterpiece of elegant architecture and gardens (Figure 12.12).

Figure 12.12 The grand house of Edward Lloyd V advertised the status and wealth of its owner. In its heyday, theLloyd family’s plantation boasted holdings of forty-two thousand acres and one thousand slaves.

One of the slaves on Lloyd’s plantation was Frederick Douglass, who escaped in 1838 and became anabolitionist leader, writer, statesman, and orator in the North. In his autobiography, Douglass describedthe plantation’s elaborate gardens and racehorses, but also its underfed and brutalized slave population.Lloyd provided employment opportunities to other whites in Talbot County, many of whom servedas slave traders and the “slave breakers” entrusted with beating and overworking unruly slaves intosubmission. Like other members of the planter elite, Lloyd himself served in a variety of local andnational political offices. He was governor of Maryland from 1809 to 1811, a member of the House ofRepresentatives from 1807 to 1809, and a senator from 1819 to 1826. As a representative and a senator,Lloyd defended slavery as the foundation of the American economy.

Wealthy plantation owners like Lloyd came close to forming an American ruling class in the years beforethe Civil War. They helped shape foreign and domestic policy with one goal in view: to expand thepower and reach of the cotton kingdom of the South. Socially, they cultivated a refined manner andbelieved whites, especially members of their class, should not perform manual labor. Rather, they createdan identity for themselves based on a world of leisure in which horse racing and entertainment matteredgreatly, and where the enslavement of others was the bedrock of civilization.

Below the wealthy planters were the yeoman farmers, or small landowners (Figure 12.13). Below yeomenwere poor, landless whites, who made up the majority of whites in the South. These landless white mendreamed of owning land and slaves and served as slave overseers, drivers, and traders in the southerneconomy. In fact, owning land and slaves provided one of the only opportunities for upward social andeconomic mobility. In the South, living the American dream meant possessing slaves, producing cotton,and owning land.

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Figure 12.13 In this painting by Felix Octavius Carr Darley, a yeoman farmer carrying a scythe follows his livestockdown the road.

Despite this unequal distribution of wealth, non-slaveholding whites shared with white planters acommon set of values, most notably a belief in white supremacy. Whites, whether rich or poor, were boundtogether by racism. Slavery defused class tensions among them, because no matter how poor they were,white southerners had race in common with the mighty plantation owners. Non-slaveholders accepted therule of the planters as defenders of their shared interest in maintaining a racial hierarchy. Significantly, allwhites were also bound together by the constant, prevailing fear of slave uprisings.


D. R. Hundley on the Southern YeomanD. R. Hundley was a well-educated planter, lawyer, and banker from Alabama. Something of an amateursociologist, he argued against the common northern assumption that the South was made up exclusivelyof two tiers of white residents: the very wealthy planter class and the very poor landless whites. In his1860 book, Social Relations in Our Southern States, Hundley describes what he calls the “SouthernYeomen,” a social group he insists is roughly equivalent to the middle-class farmers of the North.

But you have no Yeomen in the South, my dear Sir? Beg your pardon, our dear Sir, butwe have—hosts of them. I thought you had only poor White Trash? Yes, we dare say asmuch—and that the moon is made of green cheese! . . . Know, then, that the Poor Whitesof the South constitute a separate class to themselves; the Southern Yeomen are as distinctfrom them as the Southern Gentleman is from the Cotton Snob. Certainly the SouthernYeomen are nearly always poor, at least so far as this world’s goods are to be taken intoaccount. As a general thing they own no slaves; and even in case they do, the wealthiestof them rarely possess more than from ten to fifteen. . . . The Southern Yeoman muchresembles in his speech, religious opinions, household arrangements, indoor sports, andfamily traditions, the middle class farmers of the Northern States. He is fully as intelligent asthe latter, and is on the whole much better versed in the lore of politics and the provisionsof our Federal and State Constitutions. . . . [A]lthough not as a class pecuniarily interestedin slave property, the Southern Yeomanry are almost unanimously pro-slavery in sentiment.Nor do we see how any honest, thoughtful person can reasonably find fault with them on thisaccount.—D. R. Hundley, Social Relations in Our Southern States, 1860

What elements of social relations in the South is Hundley attempting to emphasize for his readers? Inwhat respects might his position as an educated and wealthy planter influence his understanding of socialrelations in the South?

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Because race bound all whites together as members of the master race, non-slaveholding whites took partin civil duties. They served on juries and voted. They also engaged in the daily rounds of maintainingslavery by serving on neighborhood patrols to ensure that slaves did not escape and that rebellions did notoccur. The practical consequence of such activities was that the institution of slavery, and its perpetuation,became a source of commonality among different economic and social tiers that otherwise were separatedby a gulf of difference.

Southern planters exerted a powerful influence on the federal government. Seven of the first elevenpresidents owned slaves, and more than half of the Supreme Court justices who served on the courtfrom its inception to the Civil War came from slaveholding states. However, southern white yeomanfarmers generally did not support an active federal government. They were suspicious of the state bankand supported President Jackson’s dismantling of the Second Bank of the United States. They also didnot support taxes to create internal improvements such as canals and railroads; to them, governmentinvolvement in the economic life of the nation disrupted what they perceived as the natural workings ofthe economy. They also feared a strong national government might tamper with slavery.

Planters operated within a larger capitalist society, but the labor system they used to produce goods—thatis, slavery—was similar to systems that existed before capitalism, such as feudalism and serfdom. Undercapitalism, free workers are paid for their labor (by owners of capital) to produce commodities; the moneyfrom the sale of the goods is used to pay for the work performed. As slaves did not reap any earnings fromtheir forced labor, some economic historians consider the antebellum plantation system a “pre-capitalist”system.

HONOR IN THE SOUTHA complicated code of honor among privileged white southerners, dictating the beliefs and behavior of“gentlemen” and “ladies,” developed in the antebellum years. Maintaining appearances and reputationwas supremely important. It can be argued that, as in many societies, the concept of honor in theantebellum South had much to do with control over dependents, whether slaves, wives, or relatives.Defending their honor and ensuring that they received proper respect became preoccupations of whitesin the slaveholding South. To question another man’s assertions was to call his honor and reputation intoquestion. Insults in the form of words or behavior, such as calling someone a coward, could trigger arupture that might well end on the dueling ground (Figure 12.14). Dueling had largely disappeared in theantebellum North by the early nineteenth century, but it remained an important part of the southern codeof honor through the Civil War years. Southern white men, especially those of high social status, settledtheir differences with duels, before which antagonists usually attempted reconciliation, often through theexchange of letters addressing the alleged insult. If the challenger was not satisfied by the exchange, a duelwould often result.

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Figure 12.14 “The Modern Tribunal and Arbiter of Men’s Differences,” an illustration that appeared on the cover ofThe Mascot, a newspaper published in nineteenth-century New Orleans, reveals the importance of dueling insouthern culture; it shows men bowing before an altar on which are laid a pistol and knife.

The dispute between South Carolina’s James Hammond and his erstwhile friend (and brother-in-law)Wade Hampton II illustrates the southern culture of honor and the place of the duel in that culture. Astrong friendship bound Hammond and Hampton together. Both stood at the top of South Carolina’ssociety as successful, married plantation owners involved in state politics. Prior to his election as governorof the state in 1842, Hammond became sexually involved with each of Hampton’s four teenage daughters,who were his nieces by marriage. “[A]ll of them rushing on every occasion into my arms,” Hammondconfided in his private diary, “covering me with kisses, lolling on my lap, pressing their bodies almostinto mine . . . and permitting my hands to stray unchecked.” Hampton found out about these dalliances,and in keeping with the code of honor, could have demanded a duel with Hammond. However, Hamptoninstead tried to use the liaisons to destroy his former friend politically. This effort proved disastrous forHampton, because it represented a violation of the southern code of honor. “As matters now stand,”Hammond wrote, “he [Hampton] is a convicted dastard who, not having nerve to redress his own wrongs,put forward bullies to do it for him. . . . To challenge me [to a duel] would be to throw himself uponmy mercy for he knows I am not bound to meet him [for a duel].” Because Hampton’s behavior markedhim as a man who lacked honor, Hammond was no longer bound to meet Hampton in a duel even ifHampton were to demand one. Hammond’s reputation, though tarnished, remained high in the esteem ofSouth Carolinians, and the governor went on to serve as a U.S. senator from 1857 to 1860. As for the fourHampton daughters, they never married; their names were disgraced, not only by the whispered-aboutscandal but by their father’s actions in response to it; and no man of honor in South Carolina would stoopso low as to marry them.

GENDER AND THE SOUTHERN HOUSEHOLDThe antebellum South was an especially male-dominated society. Far more than in the North, southernmen, particularly wealthy planters, were patriarchs and sovereigns of their own household. Amongthe white members of the household, labor and daily ritual conformed to rigid gender delineations.Men represented their household in the larger world of politics, business, and war. Within the family,the patriarchal male was the ultimate authority. White women were relegated to the household andlived under the thumb and protection of the male patriarch. The ideal southern lady conformed to herprescribed gender role, a role that was largely domestic and subservient. While responsibilities and

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experiences varied across different social tiers, women’s subordinate state in relation to the male patriarchremained the same.

Writers in the antebellum period were fond of celebrating the image of the ideal southern woman (Figure12.15). One such writer, Thomas Roderick Dew, president of Virginia’s College of William and Mary inthe mid-nineteenth century, wrote approvingly of the virtue of southern women, a virtue he concludedderived from their natural weakness, piety, grace, and modesty. In his Dissertation on the CharacteristicDifferences Between the Sexes, he writes that southern women derive their power not by

leading armies to combat, or of enabling her to bring into more formidable action the physicalpower which nature has conferred on her. No! It is but the better to perfect all those femininegraces, all those fascinating attributes, which render her the center of attraction, and whichdelight and charm all those who breathe the atmosphere in which she moves; and, in thelanguage of Mr. Burke, would make ten thousand swords leap from their scabbards to avengethe insult that might be offered to her. By her very meekness and beauty does she subdue allaround her.

Such popular idealizations of elite southern white women, however, are difficult to reconcile with theirlived experience: in their own words, these women frequently described the trauma of childbirth, the lossof children, and the loneliness of the plantation.

Figure 12.15 This cover illustration from Harper’s Weekly in 1861 shows the ideal of southern womanhood.

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Louisa Cheves McCord’s “Woman’s Progress”Louisa Cheves McCord was born in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1810. A child of some privilege in theSouth, she received an excellent education and became a prolific writer. As the excerpt from her poem“Woman’s Progress” indicates, some southern women also contributed to the idealization of southernwhite womanhood.

Sweet Sister! stoop not thou to be a man!Man has his place as woman hers; and sheAs made to comfort, minister and help;Moulded for gentler duties, ill fulfilsHis jarring destinies. Her mission isTo labour and to pray; to help, to heal,To soothe, to bear; patient, with smiles, to suffer;And with self-abnegation noble loseHer private interest in the dearer wealOf those she loves and lives for. Call not this—(The all-fulfilling of her destiny;She the world’s soothing mother)—call it not,With scorn and mocking sneer, a drudgery.The ribald tongue profanes Heaven’s holiest things,But holy still they are. The lowliest tasksAre sanctified in nobly acting them.Christ washed the apostles’ feet, not thus cast shameUpon the God-like in him. Woman livesMan’s constant prophet. If her life be trueAnd based upon the instincts of her being,She is a living sermon of that truthWhich ever through her gentle actions speaks,That life is given to labour and to love.—Louisa Susanna Cheves McCord, “Woman’s Progress,” 1853

What womanly virtues does Louisa Cheves McCord emphasize? How might her social status, as aneducated southern woman of great privilege, influence her understanding of gender relations in theSouth?

For slaveholding whites, the male-dominated household operated to protect gendered divisions andprevalent gender norms; for slave women, however, the same system exposed them to brutality andfrequent sexual domination. The demands on the labor of slave women made it impossible for them toperform the role of domestic caretaker that was so idealized by southern men. That slaveholders put themout into the fields, where they frequently performed work traditionally thought of as male, reflected littlethe ideal image of gentleness and delicacy reserved for white women. Nor did the slave woman’s role asdaughter, wife, or mother garner any patriarchal protection. Each of these roles and the relationships theydefined was subject to the prerogative of a master, who could freely violate enslaved women’s persons,sell off their children, or separate them from their families.

DEFENDING SLAVERYWith the rise of democracy during the Jacksonian era in the 1830s, slaveholders worried about the power ofthe majority. If political power went to a majority that was hostile to slavery, the South—and the honor ofwhite southerners—would be imperiled. White southerners keen on preserving the institution of slaverybristled at what they perceived to be northern attempts to deprive them of their livelihood. Powerfulsoutherners like South Carolinian John C. Calhoun (Figure 12.16) highlighted laws like the Tariff of

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1828 as evidence of the North’s desire to destroy the southern economy and, by extension, its culture.Such a tariff, he and others concluded, would disproportionately harm the South, which relied heavilyon imports, and benefit the North, which would receive protections for its manufacturing centers. Thetariff appeared to open the door for other federal initiatives, including the abolition of slavery. Because ofthis perceived threat to southern society, Calhoun argued that states could nullify federal laws. This beliefillustrated the importance of the states’ rights argument to the southern states. It also showed slaveholders’willingness to unite against the federal government when they believed it acted unjustly against theirinterests.

Figure 12.16 John C. Calhoun, shown here in a ca. 1845 portrait by George Alexander Healy, defended states’rights, especially the right of the southern states to protect slavery from a hostile northern majority.

As the nation expanded in the 1830s and 1840s, the writings of abolitionists—a small but vocal groupof northerners committed to ending slavery—reached a larger national audience. White southernersresponded by putting forth arguments in defense of slavery, their way of life, and their honor. Calhounbecame a leading political theorist defending slavery and the rights of the South, which he saw ascontaining an increasingly embattled minority. He advanced the idea of a concurrent majority, a majorityof a separate region (that would otherwise be in the minority of the nation) with the power to veto ordisallow legislation put forward by a hostile majority.

Calhoun’s idea of the concurrent majority found full expression in his 1850 essay “Disquisition onGovernment.” In this treatise, he wrote about government as a necessary means to ensure the preservationof society, since society existed to “preserve and protect our race.” If government grew hostile to society,then a concurrent majority had to take action, including forming a new government. “Disquisition onGovernment” advanced a profoundly anti-democratic argument. It illustrates southern leaders’ intensesuspicion of democratic majorities and their ability to effect legislation that would challenge southerninterests.

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Go to the Internet Archive ( to readJohn C. Calhoun’s “Disquisition on Government.” Why do you think he proposed thecreation of a concurrent majority?

White southerners reacted strongly to abolitionists’ attacks on slavery. In making their defense of slavery,they critiqued wage labor in the North. They argued that the Industrial Revolution had brought about anew type of slavery—wage slavery—and that this form of “slavery” was far worse than the slave laborused on southern plantations. Defenders of the institution also lashed out directly at abolitionists such asWilliam Lloyd Garrison for daring to call into question their way of life. Indeed, Virginians cited Garrisonas the instigator of Nat Turner’s 1831 rebellion.

The Virginian George Fitzhugh contributed to the defense of slavery with his book Sociology for theSouth, or the Failure of Free Society (1854). Fitzhugh argued that laissez-faire capitalism, as celebrated byAdam Smith, benefited only the quick-witted and intelligent, leaving the ignorant at a huge disadvantage.Slaveholders, he argued, took care of the ignorant—in Fitzhugh’s argument, the slaves of the South.Southerners provided slaves with care from birth to death, he asserted; this offered a stark contrast to thewage slavery of the North, where workers were at the mercy of economic forces beyond their control.Fitzhugh’s ideas exemplified southern notions of paternalism.


George Fitzhugh’s Defense of SlaveryGeorge Fitzhugh, a southern writer of social treatises, was a staunch supporter of slavery, not as anecessary evil but as what he argued was a necessary good, a way to take care of slaves and keep themfrom being a burden on society. He published Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society in1854, in which he laid out what he believed to be the benefits of slavery to both the slaves and society asa whole. According to Fitzhugh:

[I]t is clear the Athenian democracy would not suit a negro nation, nor will the government ofmere law suffice for the individual negro. He is but a grown up child and must be governed asa child . . . The master occupies towards him the place of parent or guardian. . . . The negro isimprovident; will not lay up in summer for the wants of winter; will not accumulate in youth forthe exigencies of age. He would become an insufferable burden to society. Society has theright to prevent this, and can only do so by subjecting him to domestic slavery.In the last place, the negro race is inferior to the white race, and living in their midst, theywould be far outstripped or outwitted in the chase of free competition. . . . Our negroes arenot only better off as to physical comfort than free laborers, but their moral condition is better.

What arguments does Fitzhugh use to promote slavery? What basic premise underlies his ideas? Canyou think of a modern parallel to Fitzhugh’s argument?

The North also produced defenders of slavery, including Louis Agassiz, a Harvard professor of zoologyand geology. Agassiz helped to popularize polygenism, the idea that different human races came fromseparate origins. According to this formulation, no single human family origin existed, and blacks madeup a race wholly separate from the white race. Agassiz’s notion gained widespread popularity in the 1850s

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with the 1854 publication of George Gliddon and Josiah Nott’s Types of Mankind and other books. Thetheory of polygenism codified racism, giving the notion of black inferiority the lofty mantle of science. Onepopular advocate of the idea posited that blacks occupied a place in evolution between the Greeks andchimpanzees (Figure 12.17).

Figure 12.17 This 1857 illustration by an advocate of polygenism indicates that the “Negro” occupies a placebetween the Greeks and chimpanzees. What does this image reveal about the methods of those who advocatedpolygenism?

12.4 The Filibuster and the Quest for New Slave States

By the end of this section, you will be able to:• Explain the expansionist goals of advocates of slavery• Describe the filibuster expeditions undertaken during the antebellum era

Southern expansionists had spearheaded the drive to add more territory to the United States. Theyapplauded the Louisiana Purchase and fervently supported Indian removal, the annexation of Texas, andthe Mexican-American War. Drawing inspiration from the annexation of Texas, proslavery expansionistshoped to replicate that feat by bringing Cuba and other territories into the United States and therebyenlarging the American empire of slavery.

In the 1850s, the expansionist drive among white southerners intensified. Among southern imperialists,one way to push for the creation of an American empire of slavery was through the actions offilibusters—men who led unofficial military operations intended to seize land from foreign countries orfoment revolution there. These unsanctioned military adventures were not part of the official foreignpolicy of the United States; American citizens simply formed themselves into private armies to forcefullyannex new land without the government’s approval.

An 1818 federal law made it a crime to undertake such adventures, which was an indication of both thereality of efforts at expansion through these illegal expeditions and the government’s effort to create a U.S.foreign policy. Nonetheless, Americans continued to filibuster throughout the nineteenth century. In 1819,an expedition of two hundred Americans invaded Spanish Texas, intent on creating a republic modeled onthe United States, only to be driven out by Spanish forces. Using force, taking action, and asserting whitesupremacy in these militaristic drives were seen by many as an ideal of American male vigor. PresidentJackson epitomized this military prowess as an officer in the Tennessee militia, where earlier in the centuryhe had played a leading role in ending the Creek War and driving Indian peoples out of Alabama andGeorgia. His reputation helped him to win the presidency in 1828 and again in 1832.

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Filibustering plots picked up pace in the 1850s as the drive for expansion continued. Slaveholders lookedsouth to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America, hoping to add new slave states. Spanish Cubabecame the objective of many American slaveholders in the 1850s, as debate over the island dominated thenational conversation. Many who urged its annexation believed Cuba had to be made part of the UnitedStates to prevent it from going the route of Haiti, with black slaves overthrowing their masters and creatinganother black republic, a prospect horrifying to many in the United States. Americans also feared thatthe British, who had an interest in the sugar island, would make the first move and snatch Cuba fromthe United States. Since Britain had outlawed slavery in its colonies in 1833, blacks on the island of Cubawould then be free.

Narisco López, a Cuban who wanted to end Spanish control of the island, gained American support. Hetried five times to take the island, with his last effort occurring in the summer of 1851 when he led anarmed group from New Orleans. Thousands came out to cheer his small force as they set off to wrest Cubafrom the Spanish. Unfortunately for López and his supporters, however, the effort to take Cuba did notproduce the hoped-for spontaneous uprising of the Cuban people. Spanish authorities in Cuba capturedand executed López and the American filibusters.

Efforts to take Cuba continued under President Franklin Pierce, who had announced at his inaugurationin 1853 his intention to pursue expansion. In 1854, American diplomats met in Ostend, Belgium, to find away to gain Cuba. They wrote a secret memo, known as the Ostend Manifesto (thought to be penned byJames Buchanan, who was elected president two years later), stating that if Spain refused to sell Cuba tothe United States, the United States was justified in taking the island as a national security measure.

The contents of this memo were supposed to remain secret, but details were leaked to the public, leadingthe House of Representatives to demand a copy. Many in the North were outraged over what appearedto be a southern scheme, orchestrated by what they perceived as the Slave Power—a term they usedto describe the disproportionate influence that elite slaveholders wielded—to expand slavery. Europeanpowers also reacted with anger. Southern annexationists, however, applauded the effort to take Cuba. TheLouisiana legislature in 1854 asked the federal government to take decisive action, and John Quitman, aformer Mississippi governor, raised money from slaveholders to fund efforts to take the island.

Read an 1860 editorial titled Annexation of Cuba Made Easy( from the online archives of The NewYork Times. Does the author support annexation? Why or why not?

Controversy around the Ostend Manifesto caused President Pierce to step back from the plan to take Cuba.After his election, President Buchanan, despite his earlier expansionist efforts, denounced filibustering asthe action of pirates. Filibustering caused an even wider gulf between the North and the South (Figure12.18).

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Figure 12.18 The “Ostend Doctrine” (1856), by artist Louis Maurer and lithographer Nathaniel Currier, mocks JamesBuchanan by depicting him being robbed, just as many northerners believed slaveholders were attempting to robSpain. The thugs robbing Buchanan use specific phrases from the Ostend Manifesto as they relieve him of hisbelongings.

Cuba was not the only territory in slaveholders’ expansionist sights: some focused on Mexico and CentralAmerica. In 1855, Tennessee-born William Walker, along with an army of no more than sixty mercenaries,gained control of the Central American nation of Nicaragua. Previously, Walker had launched a successfulinvasion of Mexico, dubbing his conquered land the Republic of Sonora. In a relatively short period oftime, Walker was dislodged from Sonora by Mexican authorities and forced to retreat back to the UnitedStates. His conquest of Nicaragua garnered far more attention, catapulting him into national popularity asthe heroic embodiment of white supremacy (Figure 12.19).

Figure 12.19 Famed Civil War photographer Mathew Brady took this photograph (a) of “General” William Walkercirca 1855–1860. Walker led a filibuster expedition and briefly conquered Nicaragua, fulfilling a dream of many pro-expansionist southern slaveholders. Cornelius Vanderbilt (b), the shipping tycoon who controlled much of the trafficacross Nicaragua between the Atlantic and the Pacific, clashed with Walker and ultimately supported Costa Rica in itswar against him.

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Why Nicaragua? Nicaragua presented a tempting target because it provided a quick route from theCaribbean to the Pacific: Only twelve miles of land stood between the Pacific Ocean, the inland LakeNicaragua, and the river that drained into the Atlantic. Shipping from the East Coast to the West Coastof the United States had to travel either by land across the continent, south around the entire continent ofSouth America, or through Nicaragua. Previously, American tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt (Figure 12.19)had recognized the strategic importance of Nicaragua and worked with the Nicaraguan governmentto control shipping there. The filibustering of William Walker may have excited expansionist-mindedsoutherners, but it greatly upset Vanderbilt’s business interests in the region.

Walker clung to the racist, expansionist philosophies of the proslavery South. In 1856, Walker madeslavery legal in Nicaragua—it had been illegal there for thirty years—in a move to gain the support of theSouth. He also reopened the slave trade. In 1856, he was elected president of Nicaragua, but in 1857, hewas chased from the country. When he returned to Central America in 1860, he was captured by the Britishand released to Honduran authorities, who executed him by firing squad.

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cash crop

concurrent majority

cotton boom

cotton gin

domestic slave trade

Ostend Manifesto



second middle passage

Key Terms

a term meaning “before the war” and used to describe the decades before the American CivilWar began in 1861

a crop grown to be sold for profit instead of consumption by the farmer’s family

a majority of a separate region (that would otherwise be in the minority of thenation) with the power to veto or disallow legislation put forward by a hostile majority

the upswing in American cotton production during the nineteenth century

a device, patented by Eli Whitney in 1794, that separated the seeds from raw cotton quicklyand easily

the trading of slaves within the borders of the United States

the secret diplomatic memo stating that if Spain refused to sell Cuba to the UnitedStates, the United States was justified in taking the island as a national security measure

the premise that southern white slaveholders acted in the best interests of their slaves

the idea that blacks and whites come from different origins

the internal forced migration of slaves to the South and West in the United States

Summary12.1 The Economics of CottonIn the years before the Civil War, the South produced the bulk of the world’s supply of cotton. TheMississippi River Valley slave states became the epicenter of cotton production, an area of frantic economicactivity where the landscape changed dramatically as land was transformed from pinewoods and swampsinto cotton fields. Cotton’s profitability relied on the institution of slavery, which generated the productthat fueled cotton mill profits in the North. When the international slave trade was outlawed in 1808, thedomestic slave trade exploded, providing economic opportunities for whites involved in many aspectsof the trade and increasing the possibility of slaves’ dislocation and separation from kin and friends.Although the larger American and Atlantic markets relied on southern cotton in this era, the Southdepended on these other markets for food, manufactured goods, and loans. Thus, the market revolutiontransformed the South just as it had other regions.

12.2 African Americans in the Antebellum United StatesSlave labor in the antebellum South generated great wealth for plantation owners. Slaves, in contrast,endured daily traumas as the human property of masters. Slaves resisted their condition in a varietyof ways, and many found some solace in Christianity and the communities they created in the slavequarters. While some free blacks achieved economic prosperity and even became slaveholders themselves,the vast majority found themselves restricted by the same white-supremacist assumptions upon which theinstitution of slavery was based.

12.3 Wealth and Culture in the SouthAlthough a small white elite owned the vast majority of slaves in the South, and most other whites couldonly aspire to slaveholders’ wealth and status, slavery shaped the social life of all white southerners

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in profound ways. Southern culture valued a behavioral code in which men’s honor, based on thedomination of others and the protection of southern white womanhood, stood as the highest good. Slaveryalso decreased class tensions, binding whites together on the basis of race despite their inequalities ofwealth. Several defenses of slavery were prevalent in the antebellum era, including Calhoun’s argumentthat the South