Following are the main points of Westward Expansion and Regional Differences taken from US History Book by State Department.
The War of 1812 was, in a sense, a second war of independence that confirmed once and for all the American break with England. With its conclusion, many of the serious difficulties that the young republic had faced since the Revolution disappeared. National union under the Constitution brought a balance between liberty and order. With a low national debt and a continent awaiting exploration, the prospect of peace, prosperity, and social progress opened before the nation.
To foster self-sufficiency, congressional leaders Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun of South Carolina urged a policy of protectionism — imposition of restrictions on imported goods to foster the development of American industry.
The Customs tariff enacted on foreign imports in 1816 imposed duties high enough to give manufacturers real protection.
In 1786 George Washington wrote that he devoutly wished some plan might be adopted “by which slavery may be abolished by slow, sure, and imperceptible degrees.” Virginians Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe and other leading Southern statesmen made similar statements.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 had banned slavery in the Northwest Territory. As late as 1808, when the international slave trade was abolished, there were many Southerners who thought that slavery would soon end. The expectation proved false, for during the next generation, the South became solidly united behind the institution of slavery as new economic factors made slavery far more profitable than it had been before 1790.
Chief among these was the rise of a great cotton-growing industry in the South, stimulated by the introduction of new types of cotton and by Eli Whitney’s invention in 1793 of the cotton gin, which separated the seeds from cotton. At the same time, the Industrial Revolution, which made textile manufacturing a large scale operation, vastly increased the demand for raw cotton. And the opening of new lands in the West after 1812 greatly extended the area available for cotton cultivation.
The free society of the North and the slave society of the South spread westward. In 1818, when Illinois was admitted to the Union, 10 states permitted slavery and 11 states prohibited it; but balance was restored after Alabama was admitted as a slave state.
In 1819 Missouri, which had 10,000 slaves, applied to enter the Union. Northerners rallied to oppose Missouri’s entry except as a free state, and a storm of protest swept the country. For a time Congress was deadlocked, but Henry Clay arranged the so-called Missouri Compromise: Missouri was admitted as a slave state at the same time Maine came in as a free state. In addition, Congress banned slavery from the territory acquired by the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri’s southern boundary. At the time, this provision appeared to be a victory for the Southern states because it was thought unlikely that this “Great American Desert” would ever be settled.
In December 1823, with the knowledge that the British navy would defend Latin America from the Holy Alliance and France, President Monroe took the occasion of his annual message to Congress to pronounce what would become known as the Monroe Doctrine — the refusal to tolerate any further extension of European domination in the Americas.
John Quincy Adams was then elected as President.
In the election of 1828, Jackson defeated John Quincy Adams (son of former President John Adams) by an overwhelming electoral majority.
In 1832, the South Carolina state adopted an Ordinance of Nullification, which declared both the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void within state borders. Its legislature also passed laws to enforce the ordinance, including authorization for raising a military force and appropriations for arms. In response to South Carolina’s threat, Jackson sent seven small naval vessels and a man-of-war to Charleston in November 1832.The Nullification crisis possessed the seeds of the Civil War.
From New England, where the soil was incapable of producing high yields of grain, came a steady stream of men and women who left their coastal farms and villages to take advantage of the rich interior land of the continent. In the backcountry settlements of the Carolinas and Virginia, people handicapped by the lack of roads and canals giving access to coastal markets and resentful of the political dominance of the Tidewater planters also moved westward.
As new states were admitted in the early 19th Century, the political map stabilized east of the Mississippi River. From 1816 to 1821, six states were created — Indiana, Illinois, and Maine (which were free states), and Mississippi, Alabama, and Missouri (slave states).
Many of the early settlers were farmers or hunters. Farms were easy to acquire. Government land after 1820 could be bought for $1.25 for about half a hectare, and after the 1862 Homestead Act, could be claimed by merely occupying and improving it.
Except for a migration into Mexican-owned Texas, the westward march of the agricultural frontier did not pass Missouri into the vast Western territory acquired in the Louisiana Purchase until after 1840. (Missouri compromise of 1819)
In 1819, in return for assuming the claims of American citizens to the amount of $5 million, the United States obtained from Spain both Florida and Spain’s rights to the Oregon country in the Far West.
Population grew from 7.25 million to more than 23 million from 1812 to 1852, and the land available for settlement increased by almost the size of Western Europe — from 4.4 million to 7.8 million square kilometers.
This westward expansion brought settlers into conflict with the original inhabitants of the land: the Native Americans.
By 1850 the national territory stretched over forest, plain, and mountain. Within its far-flung limits dwelt 23 million people in a Union comprising 31 states. In the East, industry boomed. In the Midwest and the South, agriculture flourished.
After 1849 the gold mines of California poured their precious ore into the channels of trade.
New England and the Middle Atlantic states were the main centers of manufacturing, commerce, and finance.
The South, from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River and beyond, featured an economy centered on agriculture. By 1850 the American South grew more than 80 percent of the world’s cotton. Slaves cultivated all these crops.
An important stimulus to the country’s prosperity was the great improvement in transportation facilities; from 1850 to 1857 the Appalachian Mountain barrier was pierced by five railway trunk lines linking the Midwest and the Northeast.
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