HISTORICAL DOCUMENTS: 19th Century
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is probably no need to point out that this page will be added to. Maps
are provided from the
Map Library at the University of Texas and the
Section of the History Department United States Military
to the Danbury Baptist Association
Jefferson's brief missive containing the phrase "...a wall of
separation between church and State."
treaty and two conventions transferred the area between the
Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains from France to the United
States for a price of $15 million. Then President Thomas Jefferson had
originally intended to buy only New Orleans and West Florida. Offered
the entire territory, Robert Livingston and James Madison, Jefferson's
negotiators, exceeded their instructions and agreed. Jefferson backed
them against opposition by the Federalists, the opposition party in
government, and essentially doubled the size of the United States.
Journals of Lewis and Clark
behest of then President Thomas Jefferson, Captain Meriwether Lewis
and William Clark, with a company of 42 men, set out on May 14 from
Camp Dubois on the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers
to seek a water route across the continent to the Pacific. A year and
a half later, on November 15, 1805, they reached the ocean. The
following year, on September 23, they arrived back at St. Louis on the
Mississippi. Their journey represents the first American exploration
of the continent, and the first white exploration over much of their
treaty ended the War of 1812 with Great Britain. The war grew in part
out of Great Britain's conflict with France and its policy of stopping
neutral shipping to the Continent, which seriously jeopardized
American trade. Moreover, Britain's policy of impressing sailors on
neutral ships as "deserters" often American citizens,
not British subjects enraged the American public. Other issues
included Britain's incitement of Indian attacks on American
settlements around the Great Lakes and its continued occupation of
fortifications ceded to the United States in the Revolutionary War.
Christianity: William Ellery Channing
sermon, delivered in Baltimore at the ordination of the Rev. Jared
Sparks, is his rejection of the tenents of Calvinism, which had
dominated Christianity in America since the beginning of English
Compromise represented the first answer to what would become an
intractable conflict between slave and free states over the new
territories in the West. Missouri, the first state carved from the
Louisiana Territory was slated to enter the Union as a slave state, a
fact which would have upset the balance in Congress between the North
and the South. The Compromise balanced Missouri's entry as a slave
state with Maine's entry as a free one. It also set the northern limit
of slavery at 30° 30' (with the exception of Missouri, itself).
The law was effectively repealed in 1854 by the Kansas-Nebraska Act
which made the question of slavery in any new state a matter for the
voters of the state, and was held unconstitutional in 1857 by the Dred
Scott Decision which held that Congress hadn't the power to ban or
deprive a person of their property, i.e. slaves, in the territories.
Hayne-Webster Debate [Outside Link]
Senate debate between Robert Hayne of South Carolina and Daniel
Webster of Masschusetts defined a crucial constitutional conflict
between North and South in the years leading up to the Civil War: the
question of "states' rights" and "nullification".
Hayne, arguing for the South, maintained that the states were
sovereign and equal to the federal government with respect to the
Constitution and therefore had the right to ignore or nullify
laws they considered unconstitutional. For the North, Webster argued
that the Constitution was not an equal contract between the federal
government and the states, but a creation of the American people as a
whole, which made the federal government superior to the states.
Webster argued that the states had no right to judge the
constitutionality of federal laws, but that such power was lodged in
the Supreme Court. Much of the South's anxiety turned on its need to
protect slavery and the interests of an agrarian economy in conflict
with the manufactures of the North. In the debates, this anxiety turns
on issues like the Tariff of 1828 and the disposition of western
lands, but both men took ample opportunity to spell out their
constitutional theories. In the end, the Northern approach to the
Constitution would prevail, but "states' rights" would
remain a rallying cry well into the middle of the twentieth century
focusing on another issue of race: segregation. Moreover, the issue
remains alive today in the form of debates over "federalism"
respecting the relative powers of the state and federal governments.
Indian Removal Act / Jackson's
Second Annual Message
Act mandated the removal of all Native Americans from their lands east
of the Mississippi to Oklahoma and parts of Kansas. The main theater
of removal was the Southeast, affecting the Cherokee, Creeks, Choctaw,
Chickasaw and Seminoles, though tribes living in the Great Lakes
Region were also forced west.
Andrew Jackson's Nullification Proclamation
Proclamation was Jackson's response to South Carolina's
Protest penned by John C. Calhoun which rejected
the Tariffs of 1828 (the Tariff of Abominations) and of 1832 as unfair
to the agrarian interest of the South and, more importantly, as
unconstitutional. South Carolina again asserted the right of
individual states to "interpose" or nullify federal laws
deemed unconstitutional. Jackson rejected this, pointing out that to
give each state the power to ignore Congress, and to define for itself
the criteria for doing so, would leave the federal governent an empty
shell and lead ultimately to disunion. Moreover, he argued, there was
absolutely no basis for it in the Constitution a position which
the South had steadfastly argued for, finding justification in both
Madison's and Jefferson's response to the Alien and Sedition Acts (see
above). Jackson finally warned South Carolina that nullification would
be met with force by the federal government. Jackson backed up this
threat with the Force Bill of 1833, which reasserted the President's
right to use state militias, the army and the navy to quell
insurrections. South Carolina withdrew the Protest, and the same year
a compromise bill was passed which gradually lessened the tariffs the
South had opposed.
of Guadelupe Hidalgo
treaty ended the Mexican War. The inciting cause of the war was
America's annexation of the then independent Texas, independence which
Mexico had never recognized. In late April 1846 an American patrol was
attacked by the Mexican Army north of the Rio Grande, American
territory. In May, Gen. Zachary Taylor twice defeated a superior force
of Mexicans, and on May 13 President James Polk asked Congress for a
declaration of war.
Fugitive Slave Act
of the Compromise of 1850 a series of laws which temporarily
settled the simmering conflict between slave and non-slave states over
new territories added after the Mexican War the Fugitive Slave
Act required the Northern states to return escaped slaves to their
southern owners. The law was heavily weighted in favor of slave
owners: accused fugitive slaves could not testify in their own behalf;
northern magistrates and marshals who refused to pursue escaped slaves
could be fined up to $1000, as could anyone who harbored an escaped
slave; bounties were paid to those who arrested escaped slaves; and
the commissioners hearing the cases were paid more to return slaves
than to release them.
Douglass: What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?
July 5 before the Rochester Ladies' Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester,
N.Y., Douglass' speech compares the state of white America and its
celebration of freedom with that of black America, still mired in
slavery. Unlike many of his contemporaries, including the abolitionist
William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass does not indict the Founders or the
Constitution, as both articulated extraordinary ideals. His "business",
as he put it, was not with the past, but with the present. It was for
the present to recognize the hypocracy of their celebration and to
extend the ideals contained in that celebration to all.
Kansas Nebraska Act
act created the Kansas and Nebraska Territories. It represented
another compromise between slave and anti-slave interests by leaving
the issue of whether to allow slavery up to the inhabitants of each
territory on the assumption that the northern territory of Nebraska
would reject it and the southern Kansas would accept it. The Act
effectively overturned the Missouri Compromise [see above] as both
territories were above the 36° 30' latitude at which the
Compromise had set the northern limit of slavery.
CIVIL WAR: 1860 - 1865
First Inaugural Address
date of Lincoln's inauguration, March 4, six states in the deep South
had already voted to secede; a move largely precipitated by his
election the November before. The speech was addressed to them. It is
an extended argument against secession: that there was neither need
nor justification for it; that it was illegitimate; that it was in no
one's interest, including those of the secessionists. It urges
caution, patience, reconsideration as well as trust in the
institutions of democratic government primarily the
Constitution and in the people themselves, to resolve the
issues facing North and South. It is also a firm statement of his
intention to maintain the Union. That was paramount, a fact born out
by the address's original belligerency on that point. It was William
Seward, his Secretray of State, who urged and succeeded in convincing
Lincoln to adopt a more irenic tone, including the theme of the
oft-quoted end. The words, however, are Lincoln's own, and
characteristic of all his writing: plain, pointed and compelling.
Act was meant to fulfill a nearly century-old desire to settle the
vacant lands of the West. Opposed both by northern businessmen who
feared the loss of cheap labor and the Southern states who feared
homesteaders would oppose slavery in the newly settled territories,
the Act was passed after secession on May 20, and took effect January
1, 1863, the same day as the Emancipation Proclamation.
Pacific Railway Act
Act created the legal and financial framework on which the
Transcontinental Railroad, the first to cross the western two thirds
of America, from the Mississippi to the Pacific, was created.
amended, the original Act incorporated the Union Pacific
Railroad and authorized it to build westward from Omaha, Nebraska, and
authorized the Central Pacific to build eastward from San Francisco.
The two met at Promontory Point, Utah on May 10, 1869.
Proclamation, delivered January 1, culminated a process by which
Northern Republicans like Lincoln deprived the Confederacy of one of
its major assets, its slaves. While Lincoln abhorred slavery, he did
not think the Constitution allowed his interference with it. Moreover,
ending it would have alienated Northern Democrats and slave-holding
border states which supported the Union. But the war also gave him a
weapon against it: slaves could be taken as contraband of war, and
that was the theoretical foundation of the Proclamation. This,
however, only justified the freeing of slaves in states in rebellion,
and only so long as they were in rebellion, which is what the
proclamation did. Lincoln was concerned that slavery would continue in
loyal states, and might even be restored in the South after the war.
To avoid this, Republicans passed the
13th Amendment to the
Constitution, ratified December 18, 1865, which ended slavery
address is a simple but powerful evocation of sacrifice, and the
profound humility of the living before it. Lincoln found meaning for
that sacrifice in the ideas of the Declaration
of Independence, its equality of rights and popular soverignty.
By doing so, Lincoln both set the war firmly within America's
tradition of equality and freedom, and gave that tradition new life
for the future.
1865 - 1877
Second Innaugural Address
the Gettysburg address, which began and ended with the nation and the
nation's meaning, Lincoln's Second Innaugural is a reminder of God, of
slavery as an "offense" to God, and that the war, for both
North and South, may very well be the price God exacted for that
offense. With judgment falling on all, Lincoln concluded that neither
side is fit to judge the other, and with the passing of God's wrath at
the end of the conflict, there will be no room for man's. This message
"with malice toward none, with charity for all"
was Lincoln's intended program for the reconstruction of the nation.
The speech was delivered March 4. A little over a month later, on
April 9, Lee surrendered at Appomattox, and six days after that,
Lincoln was dead. Reconstruction would be left in other hands.
Civil Rights Act of 1866
April 6th, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 granted citizens "of
every race and color" a wide range of specific civil rights,
including those "...to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be
parties, and give evidence, to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold,
and convey real and personal property, and to full and equal benefit
of all laws and proceedings for the security of person and property..."
The Act also included both broad federal excutive and judicial
authority to guarantee those rights. The act was passed by a Congress
dominated by Republicans and wholly in the hands of northerners as
Congress had, at the end of 1865, refused to seat any southern
Act to set apart a certain Tract of Land lying near the Head-waters of
the Yellowstone River as a public Park.
March, 1, Congress created America's first national park. Even at what
might seem an early date in the exploitation of the West, the Interior
Department's report to Congress stressed the need for haste: "Persons
are now waiting for the spring to open to enter in and take possession
of these remarkable curiosities, to make merchandise of these
beautiful specimens, to fence in these rare wonders so as to charge
visitors a fee, as is now done at Niagara Falls, for the sight of that
which ought to be as free as the air or water." adding, "If
this bill fails to become a law this session, the vandals who are now
waiting to enter into this wonderland will, in a single season
despoil, beyond recovery, these remarkable curiosities which have
required all the cunning skill of nature thousands of years to
prepare." Congress voted approval within the week, establishing
the principle that the wonders of the American wilderness were the
common property of all Americans for all time.
Civil Rights Act of 1875
Civil Rights Act of 1875 stated that blacks were "...entitled to
the full and equal and enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages,
facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or
water, theaters, and other places of public amusement; subject only to
the conditions and limitations established by law, and applicable
alike to citizens of every race and color..." The Act was passed
at the closing of the period of Reconstruction in the final days of
the last Republican Congress before the Democratic take-over in March
of that year. The Act also represented in part the work of black
legislators who had served during Reconstruction.
Chinese Exclusion Act
Act halted the flow of Chinese immigrant labor into the United States
that had begun in earnest in 1848, spurred by civil wars in China, the
California Gold Rush, and the sudden availability of transportation
occasioned by the opening of Chinese ports to British, and later
American, shipping after China's defeat in the Opium Wars. Chinese
labor, at first welcomed, especially in the 1860s for the building of
the Transcontinental Railroad, garnered growing opposition after its
completion, especially among western labor leaders, who feared
competition from cheap Chinese labor a fear justified in part
by the frequent use by business owners of Chinese laborers to replace
or intimidate striking or disgruntled native laborers. Added to this
was an anti-Asian racism which treated the Chinese and later
Japanese and Koreans as a threat to public health and morality.
The Act also barred those Chinese in the United States from becoming
citizens. The Act the first immigration legislation based on a
racial classification was to last for ten years.
Civil Service Act (Pendleton Act)
for its sponsor, Senator John Hunt Pendleton, the Act ended the "spoils
system" of government appointments, substituting an impartial,
merit-based examination system, and prohibited the solicitation of
campaign contributions of either money or advocacy from among government
Prior to the Act, even minor government jobs were handed out by the President and members of Congress as rewards for political support. This spoils system became entrenched under President Andrew Jackson in 1830 who justified it as a proper perquisite of political victory. As the 19th century wore on, however, the low competency of many employees, their constant churning as the two parties rotated in and out of office a party change often meant mass-firings and rehirings and their tendency to place more importance among civil servants on keeping their jobs by serving their political patrons than by serving the public, became more and more irrational with the growth and increasing complexity of government. The assassination of President Garfield by a disappointed office-seeker provided the catalyst for its passage; and it was signed by his Vice-President and successor, Chester Arthur, in January, 1883. Originally, the Act covered only customs and postal employees, about 10% of the civil service. Subsequent legislation, particularly the Hatch Act of 1939, expanded its coverage to over 90%.
it scarcely makes for inspiring reading, the Interstate Commerce Act
was the federal government's first foray into economic regulation; and
the Interstate Commerce Commission, which the Act created, the first
federal regulatory agency. The legislation was aimed squarely at the
railroads of the era, and was intended to allay widespread
dissatisfaction with what was considered their predatory pricing
practices. State attempts at regulation, particularly in the South and
Midwest, where farmers were especially distressed with rail rates, had
largely failed. Then, in 1886, the Supreme Courrt in Wabash, St.
Louis & Pacific Railroad Company v. Illinois overturned an
Illinois regulatory law on the grounds that, under
Article 1, sec. 8 of the
Constitution, only Congress had the power to regulate interstate
commerce. Congress was forced to act, and the legislation passed with
the support of both parties.
essay, by one of America's richest, self-made, men, is Carnegie's idea
of how wealth must and should be created, and how it should eventually
be used. Carnegie thoroughly believed in the free market capitalism
the "laws of accumulation" and "distribution"
should be left free and that, despite what he admitted were its
costs, it was the foundation of civilization. But he also believed
that acquired wealth came from society, and to society it should be
returned. Ideally this would be in the form of philanthropy practiced
during the life of the philanthropist. He didn't much respect men who
left their millions upon their death, writing, "Men
who leave vast sums in this way may fairly be thought men who would
not have left it at all had they been able to take it with them."
Less did he respect those who left great wealth to their heirs, which
he called "vanity". As an antidote, he advocated a
progressive, and some might say rather confiscatory, inheritance tax.
for Senator John Sherman, the Act grew out of widespread concern
among both the public and sectors of the business community
over the activities of the "trusts": large corporations
holding monopolies in their respective industries, often gained
through unethical and uncompetitive practices. Their positions gave
them unprecedented control over both costs and prices beyond or
despite what the market value may have been. The model of these trusts
was John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company.
Significance of the Frontier in American History
Jackson Turner's valedictory analysis describes the American
frontier's genesis, development and significance in one cogent essay.
Read at a meeting of the American Historical Association in Chicago on
July 12, its broad strokes paint a portrait of the frontier as a
defining source of American character, culture and politics. In doing
so, it rejected the then-prevailing view that America was solely a
product of its Western European heritage the pioneer was as
important as the Puritan. Turner's interpretation remains influential,
though no longer definitive. It and related essays were published in
book-form in 1920. Our link is to the text provided by the American
Studies Department of the University of Virginia.