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Lecture

American Society and Culture in the 19th Century


Department
History
Course Code
HIS271Y1
Professor
Dr.Liamvan Beek

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HIS271Y American Society and Culture in the Early 19th CenturyNovember 3rd
2010
Recap
Nullification and Missouri Compromise illuminate the sectional divides in American
society
Figuring out whether US was going to be based on slave vs. wage labour
Idea that the US cant be both, incompatible
Second Party system: Van Buren believed it would help soften the sectionalism in
society
As Americans became more politically active, an urgency emerged to define America
How would you characterize American nationalism in the early 19th century?
What was the legacy of the Era of Good feelings:?
What role did sectionalism play in the major political debates of the early 19th
century?
One of the central currents was a greater attempt on the part of Americans in
determining who they were and what they wanted to become. Three events that
help shape the assumptions about the United States:
1.Massive growth in this period. Population, technology, communications networks
2.Birth of industrialization and urbanization
3.Religious and reform movements.
Growth: Population, Technology, Communication
The population of this time was skyrocketing
1790: 4 million, 1840: 17 million
Rise in birth rate and decline in death rate
Massive influx of immigrants in the 1840s and 50s
This first wave of immigration was predominately Irish and German
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HIS271Y American Society and Culture in the Early 19th CenturyNovember 3rd
2010
These influxes helped reshape the demographic look of the US, many settled in the
port cities that they arrived in
This explosion in population was facilitated by the growth of the market economy
The market economy was made possible by a number of developments, particularly
transportation
Without transportation networks, shipping things throughout the US was extremely
expensive
If they wanted to reap the rewards of the market economy, they needed to develop
transportation
Steamboat
Revolutionized water transport
Could carry both passengers and cargo
Not only made river transportation faster, it made it possible for individuals to sail
against the current
Quicker and easier to cross the Great Lakes
The Erie Canal System
Construction began in 1813
365 miles long
Connected the Hudson River to the Great Lakes
Significant in terms of shipping
Financed primarily in the state
Important consequences in New York
Saw the growth of towns along the canals
Movement of agriculture towards the Northwest along the canal
Turnpikes
Introduced between 1800-30
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HIS271Y American Society and Culture in the Early 19 th Century
November 3rd 2010
Largely funded locally or by the state
Highway of hard-packed stone with toll booths set up to pay for maintenance
1806, Congress created a similar highway becoming the first national highway from
Maryland to Illinois
Really expensive to build and maintain and just werent feasible
Railroad
Boomed at mid-century
Played an important role during the civil war
Eventually became primary source of transportation
Unlike the Turnpikes, railroads were a success
By 1840, over 3,000 miles of track, by 1850 there were 30,000 miles (more than
anywhere else in the world)
The government did help fund them
These new modes of transportation revolutionized the economy and society, giving
them access to places they wouldnt have been able to prior
Samuel Morse and the Telegraph
Morse code
1843, Congress committed $30k to fund a telegraph system
By 1861, the pacific and the atlantic coasts were connected
Prior to the telegraph, Americans shared news by mail (very slow)
Telegraph made it possible for the same information to be passed quickly and
efficiently
Lead to the creation of organizations like the Associated Press
Newspaper publishers from around the country
News could get out faster in large numbers
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