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History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century Essay

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Updated: Jul 15th, 2021

Introduction

The history of American from the beginning until the middle of the 19th century is notable, as it can be characterized by crucial shifts in the society and the economy of the nation. It was associated with the significant expansion of the land, the conflict on slavery, and the large debate between the North and the South, which resulted in a war. This paper reflects on the passage by Daniel Walker Howe that discusses the two political programs of that time and the differences in Americans’ perspectives on the society. This report addresses these two factions, providing information about their vision and the existing debate. It concludes that the Civil War was the direct result of these conflicting visions.

Discussion

America between 1815 and 1848 was the example of how two parties can promote their views on how the nation should be. The “rival political programs” Howe talks about in the passage are the politics of the South and the North, which will be discussed below. In the perspective of Southerners, the majority of whom were satisfied with their society based on slavery, there was no need for change; they envisioned various quantitative progressions that did not affect America significantly. Conversely, Northerners aimed to establish a large qualitative reform that would have a crucial impact on the nation and align it with other global economies.

The South that was interested in preserving slavery and the economy based on agriculture, while the North was based on capitalism and aiming to make America’s economy competitive related to other countries’ ones. The confrontation between these factions would later result in the Civil War and America would change in favor of Northerners. It is vital to discuss the events of that period in detail to explain Howe’s idea.

Between 1815 and 1848, the South of America could be characterized by small farmers leading a lifestyle based on agriculture and simple traditions. Slavery flourished in this part of the country, and the population did not want reforms; rural people were satisfied with how the nation was at that time. At the same time, this period was characterized by the Second Great Awakening, the revival of the Protestant religious movement. Consequently, the Southerners were concerned about the rationalism and modernism of the Northern population and wanted to live a simple life according to their traditions. At this period, the cultural and economic differences between the South and the North started to become evident.

Conversely, Northerners were driven by the ideas of science and rationalism; they tried to establish the economy that would be based on manufacturing and trade. This tendency can even be traced in their religion, which was not based on traditions as much as it was for the people from the South. With the beginning of the Market Revolution that began in the nineteenth century the Northerners had an opportunity to modernize the country’s economy and make it influential in the global arena, which was the qualitative progress Howe mentioned (Bachman 1). The South was perceived as the faction that slows down the country’s economic development by promoting farming and peasant agriculture. The Northern population started to believe that America could not become an economic superpower due to the Southerners.

It is also vital to mention that during that time, the United States started to expand its lands to the West. The Indian removal forced Native Americans to leave their homes and relocate, and allow Americans to regain their territories. That period was associated with manifest destiny, which was based on the idea that American settlers were destined to expand their land to the North and spread their capitalistic and democratic views across the continent. The state of the acquired lands was debatable, as it was unclear whether they would allow slavery.

The Northerners and the Southerners did not want to allow each other to promote their beliefs in the regained territories and obtain political power over the new lands. They advocated for their vision through the establishment of political formations. The opposition resulted in several agreements, such as the Missouri Compromise, according to which the state was allowed to preserve slavery and Maine joined the Union.

However, the event was followed by Nevada and Kansas wanting to be a part of the Union as well. The reason for this decision was that some of the citizens of the states was pro-slavery, while some groups were anti-slavery. It led to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, according to which the states could vote for becoming slave states. In addition, the Fugitive Slave Act (1850) was established, which stated that escaped slaves would be arrested and had to be returned to their Southern owners.

The oppression between these two parties, as well as the unstable agreements, led to the Reform Movement established in Washington D.C. The Whigs, the political faction of the North, were considered weak and corrupt, as they seemed unable to stand for their values in front of the Democratic party of the South. Consequently, there was a rise of the Republican Party, which aimed to eliminate slavery and promoted pro-Northern interests.

The Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, was elected, which resulted in the secession of the Southern faction. The reason for such an action was that the Southerners were afraid that the new president would end slavery. As a result of the debate over the enslavement, the Civil War started.

The discussion shows that the Civil War plays a crucial role in these conflicting visions. It is evident that the event was caused by the desire of the agrarian South to preserve its economy, slavery, and traditions along with the Northern perspective on the modernization of the country’s economy. It is evident that the Southern population’s hostility towards its Northern neighbors would lead to its ruination, as the war would eliminate slavery. The Civil War led to the dominance of the North and allowed for modernization and the establishment of the capitalistic economy as opposed to the agrarian one. This example shows that the change may be inevitable, and the resistance to it may lead to adverse consequences.

Conclusion

The events of the beginning and the middle of the nineteenth century show that the history repeats itself and that change is vital for the development of the society. The long-term debate between the South and the North was initiated by the contrary beliefs on how the nation of that time should be. The Southerners believed that change was not necessary; they wanted to remain pro-slavery states with their agricultural economy. The Northerners, on the contrary, strived to align America with the world’s economies. As a result, the Civil War began and made the Northern views dominant, leading to the establishment of the capitalistic economy.

Work Cited

Bachman, Ryan. The Inuit vs. the Steamboat: Human Exhibitionism and Popular Concerns About the Effects of the Market Revolution in the Early Republic. 2016. Web.

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IvyPanda. (2021, July 15). History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-america-until-the-middle-of-the-19th-century/

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"History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century." IvyPanda, 15 July 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-america-until-the-middle-of-the-19th-century/.

1. IvyPanda. "History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century." July 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-america-until-the-middle-of-the-19th-century/.


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IvyPanda. "History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century." July 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-america-until-the-middle-of-the-19th-century/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century." July 15, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/history-of-america-until-the-middle-of-the-19th-century/.

References

IvyPanda. (2021) 'History of America Until the Middle of the 19th Century'. 15 July.

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