Early 19th Century America
On March fourth, 1801, Thomas Jefferson was elected President of
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 Purchase. 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 . 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 nation. 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 country. 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.