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ESSAY ON CONCISE HISTORY OF AMERICA

Essay 1: Early Republic.  Examine three key leaders in Chapters 9 and 10.  How did they address the challenges facing the country?  What do you find that is similar—or different—in their plans for the new nation?

 

Three key American leaders in Chapters 9 and 10 were George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The most urgent task for the new and fragile nation following the 1780s struggles and divisions was securing stability. George Washington was the venerated leader people trusted to entrench stability in this new nation. George Washington was elected president of the new nation in February 1789. John Adams became the vice president because he garnered half the votes Washington got. George Washington chose Thomas Jefferson to preside over the Department of State.

During George Washington’s presidency, the new nation grappled with challenges of economic policy, foreign policy and the balance of power between federal government and states. The new government was expected to pay a public debt amounting to $52 million. This was debt procured during the wartime period. George Washington dealt with the challenge of national debt by working with his Secretary of Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, to come with up with solutions. These solutions included combining federal and state debts, issuing new bonds that would make the country creditworthy, and imposing a tax revenue plan to raise tax revenues. These proposals were controversial and unpopular but they eventually passed. George Washington responded to civil disobedience by unleashing military presence as seen in the countering of the Whiskey Rebellion. Moreover, Washington worked on preserving national independence by deploying the American military to battle Indians’ opposition and issuing a Proclamation of Neutrality during the French Revolution.ESSAY ON CONCISE HISTORY OF AMERICA

The above map shows Western expansion and Indian land cessions to 1810. By 1810, intense Indian wars caused significant cessions of land to the U.S federal government by implementation of treaties.

Furthermore, Washington created a stable political system which legitimized opposition by choosing talented, capable and experienced people to his lean cabinet and working with Congress to get the Bill of Rights passed in the states as an appeasement to the Anti-federalists.

 

John Adams succeeded George Washington after winning the election of 1796 with 71 electoral votes. Adams avoided confrontation in foreign affairs and instead continued the pledge of neutrality adopted by Washington.  Adams encouraged and pursued negotiations as a way of countering French retaliation that included abandoning the 1778 alliance and detaining American ships.  Adams reacted to growing domestic opposition to his presidency by refusing to declare war on the new nation’s former ally France and pursuing a peaceful settlement. Adams appointed new negotiators to negotiate with France and in the end he was able re-establish friendship but at the expense of internal revolt in his party.

ESSAY ON CONCISE HISTORY OF AMERICA

Thomas Jefferson won the 1800 election that was decided by the House of Representatives.

The image shows the election results of 1800 that saw Jefferson and Burr tie in Electoral vote. The winner was decided by the House of Representatives.

Jefferson addressed the challenge of economic policy by adopting austerity measures including reducing size of the army by a third, cutting the number of navy ships to six, supporting agriculture and farmers, implementing federal taxation based on customs duties and sale of land, and running a very learn government. Jefferson pursued American neutrality in foreign affairs such Napoleonic Wars. Furthermore, Jefferson cemented US authority by instating an embargo of European goods as a way of countering Barbary Wars.

Both George Washington and John Adams pursued Hamiltonian economic policies whereas Jefferson pursued austerity. However, the three leaders proclaimed American neutrality in foreign issues.

Essay 2: The Market Economy.  Explain how America changed economically in the early to mid 1800s with new transportation systems, factories, commercial farms, and growing cities.  What problems and opportunities came with change?  (Use Chapters 11 and 12.)

 ESSAY ON CONCISE HISTORY OF AMERICA

            The organization of the economy was revolutionized in the early to mid 1800s. The nation’s transportation systems underwent major improvements through the building of new networks of roads, railroads, canals, and steamboats. The new transportation systems raised the speed of transportation and lowered the costs of travel. This facilitated the movement of people, commodities, and political information. This improvement in transportation across the country enhanced movement of commodities to wider markets, and enabled the young and old to take up economic opportunities in far away cities and towns. However, the expensive public transport created a problem of uneven economic opportunities to the populace.

Routes of transportation by 1840. The image shows the level of expansion in transportation systems brought about by the market economy.

The market economy was also characterized by the emergence of factories and textile mills. Factories and textile mills created many new jobs that helped people and families to earn higher incomes. After 1815, manufacturing was accelerated by the new advances in transportation. This expanded the market for manufactured goods such as shoes and textiles. The opportunities that manufacturing ushered were development of machinery, pulling unemployed young women into wage-earning labor, and production of goods with a high demand in the economy.  Some of the problems factories and textile mills brought were depressed wages and wage disparity between the genders with women earning less.

An image showing a textile mill in 1840

Textile mills and other factories were part of the components of market revolution of between early to mid 1800s.

 

Other innovations that were part of the market economy were in banking and legal practices. The number of state-chartered banks grew during this period from about 90 in 1814 to hundreds more by 1840. Innovations in banking stimulated economic growth by enlarging money supply and giving loans to manufacturers and merchants. Innovation in legal practices enhanced incorporation of businesses resulting in rapid expansion in the number of corporations. The expansion in the number of corporations presented opportunities for jobs to the unemployed majority.

 

 

The market revolution characterized by growth in transportation systems, textile mills and factories, commercial farms and growing cities was susceptible to both booms and busts.  The nation experienced economic boom from 1815 to 1818. This was characterized with a drop in unemployment, increase in productivity, international trade and consumer demand for manufactured goods. The volatility of the economy led to a bust in 1819 with economic collapse of a big magnitude. The economic downturn was worsened by falling commodity prices in Europe which saw prices for American tobacco, cotton and wheat fall by 50 percent. This financial collapse led to widespread bankruptcies among Americans and businesses, loss of property and savings, a loss of over a half-million jobs. The economy recovered in mid-20s following the 1819 bust. Therefore, the market economy created an unstable system that was characterized by alternating booms and busts and which lawyer-politicians of the time did not how to remedy it. ESSAY ON CONCISE HISTORY OF AMERICA