The 19th century can be defined by crisis and expansion in the United States. In particular, the country faced the territorial expansion, industrial development, activism, and resistance. Therefore, the aim of this paper is to analyze the following issues and their impact on the American history.
To begin with, the main influence on the American territorial expansion was made by the philosophy of Manifest Destiny. This philosophy emphasized the idea that American settlers and their values were valuable enough to spread throughout the Northern America. The examples of territorial expansion influenced by Manifest Destiny include the Louisiana and Alaska purchase, the Mexican-American War, further expansion to the Southwest, the annexation of Hawaii, and the acquisition of the Pacific Northwest. Such policy of the U.S. government led to the wars and conflicts. Thus, the attempts to remove aboriginal people from their homes to the country west of the Mississippi river caused displaying of aggression by Indians. However, American authorities stated that it was a right measure because they failed to civilize the aboriginal population on their previous territories. Moreover, removal was beneficial for Indians as well. For instance, they got a physical comfort and opportunities for moral improvement. Government provided items of clothing, food, some indispensable articles, etc. (Jackson 1835). However, not all Americans agreed with such policy of American authorities. In particular, in 1836, chief of the Cherokee in Georgia John Ross composed a letter addressing it to the Senate and House of Representatives where he protested against moving Cherokee out from Georgia. For instance, he stated that such measure abolished the human rights for liberty (Ross 1836). Another peculiarity of territorial expansion of the United States is that all new members of American society lost their previous habits due to the process of Americanization. It also included people who emigrated from European countries and England. Besides, there are theories that west played more important role in forming of American society than the east of the country (Turner 1893).
Therefore, the territorial expansion had both advantages and disadvantages for the new Republic. As for benefits, the country obtained an outstanding amount of the new territories in the 19th century. However, expanding of the Republic led to war and conflicts. Moreover, the country had strained relations not only with other countries but also with aboriginal population. In particular, Indians tried to fight against their removal from the homes to reservations. Besides, territorial expansion led to increasing the variety of society members. The process of uniting all people in one society required some time.
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Another issue of the New Republic was industrial development. In the beginning, factories brought very high profits to their owners. However, increasing of the number of manufacturing eventually led to overproduction and strikes of workers. One of such examples was described by Harriet Hanson Robinson (1836). In particular, he wrote about a group of Boston businessmen that found a major textile manufacturing center in Lowell, Massachusetts. This happened in the second quarter of the nineteenth century. The first factories hired women from rural areas of New England. These young female workers lived in poor conditions. For instance, they lived far from their homes in boarding houses close to mills. Textile that these women produced gave high profits, therefore, the number of factories was increasing in Lowell. However, this success did not last for a long period of time, because the growing of production caused overproduction. Overproduction in its turn resulted in reducing prices and profits. Finally, factories owners had to decrease wages of workers, whereas the pace of work was increased. This led to two protests in 1834 and 1836 (Robinson 1836). However, the protest of female labor force was not the only issue that industrial development provoked because despite the entire negative factors, the number of factories continued to expand. As a result, overproduction was getting bigger. In addition, manufactures could use not only women as a cheap labor force but also African Americans which also led to dissatisfaction of the last ones. (Roediger 2007)
Therefore, the industrial development had not only positive effects to economy of the New Republic but also brought negative consequences. One of the biggest disadvantages is reducing of value of labor force and deteriorating of working conditions. This included the growing in number of working hours. In addition, there was difference between wages of people of various races. In particular, black Americans earned less than white Americans. This led to increasing tension between people of different races and gender. Besides, cheap labor force was one of the reasons of overproduction, which also led to a crisis, because owners of factories could not receive high profits. Nevertheless, the number of manufacturing centers continued to expand.
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Activism and Resistance
Industrial development and territorial expansion were also followed by activism and resistance among the population of the New Republic. In particular, protests of women who worked in the factories of New England caused the desire and strength of female population to fight for their human rights (Robinson 1836). In particular, they wanted to have more freedom because earlier their male relatives controlled their lives completely. For example, according to Nancy F. Cott (1997), all women’s possessions and earnings belonged to their husbands or nearest relatives of male gender. In addition, choice of a workplace depended on the needs of the family. In addition, female work was seasonally determined. However, unmarried girls had some amount of flexibility. They could teach or work in textile mills.
Another source of increasing activism and resistance in the society was from the external source. In particular, Native Americans mounted resistance against the territorial expansion of the new Republic and their attempts to destroy or modify the habits of aboriginal population.
However, Indian people failed and were moved to other territories away from their homes. This started their isolation from other ethical groups of the country (Ross 1836). On the other hand, even tribes that adopted the settled way of living and habits of white population did not avoid removal. For instance, in 1838, the last of the Cherokee were moved out from Georgia despite the civilized character of their tribe (Ross 1836).
However, the most significant example of resistance was Civil war. One of its causes was desire of certain states to stop slavery in the country. People who fought for that succeeded. As a result, a period of fighting for freedom for all inhabitants was ended.
Besides, some of people with European origin resisted Americanization, because it made them reject their old habits and learn new behavior patterns (Turner 1893).
To sum up, the new Republic faced crisis and expansion in the 19th century. These aspects appeared due to such factors as territorial expansion, industrial development, activism, and resistance. All they had both positive and negative impacts on the development of the country. In particular, territorial expansion resulted in the increasing of American influence in the world. However, this also led to deteriorating of relations with other countries. Moreover, Manifest Destiny was developed. It stated that American civilization is so valuable that it should be spread across the territory of the whole Northern America.
On the other hand, some of Americans did not agree with this manifest. For instance, there were protests against removal of Indian people from their homes. Nevertheless, American Government did not pay attention to these complaints. As a result, resistance from the side of aboriginal people appeared.
Another example of resistance is women’s fight for their equal right with male citizens. This movement was provoked by protests on factories organized by female workers in the first half of the 19 the century. These protests were not very successful for workers, but they stimulated women to resist the unjust attitude to their needs. In particular, women understood that absolute dependence upon the needs of their families is not right.
Besides, economic development revealed the problem of race discrimination, because white people could earn higher wages than people of the black races. On the other hand, the nineteenth century is defined by cancellation of slavery.
Therefore, despite all the difficulties and issues, the 19th century had many positive effects. One of the biggest advantages is expanding the human rights for woman and people of different races. In other words, this century played a significant role in forming democratic American society that we have nowadays.