Early 19th Century America


On March fourth, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected President 
of the United States of America. Thomas Jefferson was a Republican. 
Republicans strongly supported farmers, and they wanted an agrarian 
nation. An agrarian nation means some changes had to be made in the 
country. The country needed strong trade with other countries, and 
they also needed more land to farm on. This led to the Louisiana 

 The French owned a huge amount of land west of the United 
States. Inside all of this land was the mouth of the Mississippi
River, New Orleans. Because the Republicans wanted a farming nation, 
America needed a port like New Orleans. Jefferson didn't think that 
Napoleon would sell all of this land, but he asked him anyway if he 
was willing to sell. To his surprise Napoleon did want to sell this 
land because he needed more money for his fight with Great Britain. So 
Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory, and doubled the nation's 
size. This purchase was a mastermind move by Jefferson that let the 
farming nation trade using the whole Mississippi.

 Another achievement of Thomas Jefferson was the exploration of 
the Louisiana Territory. He hired Lewis and Clark to explore the 
uncharted territory. He told them to search the land for a river 
passage to the Pacific Ocean. Jefferson also told them to keep diaries 
and make maps. This was Clark's task. In May, 1804, forty-four men set 
out on the expedition. The travelers tried to be friendly with the 
Indians on their way. When they reached North Dakota they hired the 
French trapper Toussaint Charbonneau, and his wife Sacajawea to be 
guides and interpreters. With them they traveled all the way to the 
Pacific Coast and back. Even though many people were disappointed upon 
their return that they had not found an all water route, Lewis and
Clark were the first to map most of this land we call America. They 
also aroused an interest in the people to move westward in the growing 

 Let's go back a little bit to when Napoleon sold the Louisiana 
Territory to the United States. He needed money to fight in the war he 
was having with Great Britain. Since the United States had a small 
military, it did not want to be involved in the French-British War. 
America tried to stay neutral while trading with Europe, but France 
and Great Britain kept on violating their neutrality rights. The 
United States kept on trying to trade, but both sides put blockades on 
each others ports. This meant that the other countries took their 
ships. The British, however, not only took their ships, but they also 
impressed American sailors. 

 During all of this mayhem President Madison came to power. 
Because of Britain's violations of America's sailors, he asked 
congress to declare war against Britain. Congress voted yes to the 
war. Afterwards, it was named the War of 1812. After two years of 
fighting, General Andrew Jackson came out victorious. A treaty was 
signed in Belgium, and the growing nation finally earned a little 
respect. They did this by changing the attitude of the Europeans 
towards them. 

 Following the War of 1812, Andrew Jackson ran for president in 
1828 and won. Jackson is said to be the first western president. 
President Jackson was odd in a the way he sided with states on some 
things and on other things he did not. He wanted to remove the 
Indians, get rid of the National Bank, and in 1828 he let a tariff 
pass that taxed imports. This angered Vice President Callhoon, and 
other people from South Carolina who said it was unfair. The 
consequence was that South Carolina nullified the tariff, Callhoon 
resigned, and South Carolina threatened to form their own government. 
Even though the Civil War wasn't until many years later, this was a 
sign of internal conflict that could threaten the growth of the 

 Part of the reason that there was this internal conflict was 
that our nation was growing very rapidly, and each area of the country 
had huge differences. For example I will take political parties. The 
Republicans were farmers. They wanted a farming nation much like the 
South was. The Federalists were much different being from New England. 
They supported industry and manufacturing goods. An example of party 
differences is that of the Whisky Rebellion. In this the Federalists 
who were in power at the time past a law which put a twenty-five 
percent tax on whisky. This angered Republican farmers who turned 
their grain into whisky. A full scale revolt came out of this which 
threatened the ever-changing young country. 

 Another difference was in the people themselves. Many Germans 
and Irish people immigrated to the United States. The Germans left 
their country because of their bad government, war, persecution, and 
because of unemployment. The Germans came to America looking for land, 
gold, opportunity, and adventure. About 1.5 million German immigrants 
came to America from 1820 to 1859. The Germans settled in the Midwest 
because most of them were skilled farmers with enough money to
move there and buy land. 

 The Irish, however, were a different story. They left their 
country for most of the same reasons as the Germans, but they also
were having a food shortage because of the Potato Famine. They came to 
America looking for a new life. Their journey was terrible because 
they were poor and unskilled people. Many of them died on their way. 
The Irish mostly settled in the ports and worked for dirt cheap 
because they were poor. About 2 million Irish people came to the 
United States from 1820 to 1859. These different people helped change 
the new nation. 

 The different people of the nation faced new hardships in 
their new country. The immigrants could be imprisoned or expelled from 
the country if the president thought the foreigner was dangerous. This 
was known as the Alien Act. Another act that disturbed the people was 
the Sedition Act. The Sedition Act restricted freedom of speech and 
freedom of the press which was unconstitutional. The Irish were the 
ones who really had hardships though. They had to settle right in the 
port in the town and because they had no money or skills, factories 
like Lowell Mills and other businesses took advantage of them, making 
them work for pennies. The Lowell Mill was a cotton factory. Mostly 
young women whose family needed money worked there, and that was about 
everybody. They worked 13 hours a day during the summer and from dawn 
until dusk in the winter. They had 30 to 45 minutes to eat until the 
bells rang, and they were rushed off. The mill was hot, loud, and very 
dangerous. In the boarding house six girls were in each room, and two 
girls had to share a bed. There was no privacy, and the girls had a
miserable time. Even though it was almost like slavery it did help the 
American Economy grow. 


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