Louisiana Purchase to America’s westward expansion. How did the United States handle the problem presented by the indigenous people as the population moved westward?
The vast westward territory known as the Louisiana Purchase held a large number of indigenous peoples, such as the Spanish, the French and especially the Native American Indian. Immigration by white Americans into this territory increased by huge numbers following the purchase in 1803, mainly due to the ideology known as “Manifest Destiny.” By far, American settlers were the largest group but many French-speaking refugees, which included whites, freed blacks and slaves, migrated to the territory. As a result of this ethnic diversity, the culture of the Louisiana territory became very mixed and the boundaries were not clearly set.
At the time of the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. government quickly discovered that a sense of stability must be established within the territory. This was done in two distinct ways — first, the cultural question was addressed with the creation of a governmental body and judicial system based on American political ideals which would replace the existing French and Spanish systems. Congress then established a legislative council for the entire territory which President Thomas Jefferson insisted must be made up of a majority of American citizens. Second, President Jefferson devised and initiated the Lewis and Clark Expedition which was to fully explore the territory bound by the Mississippi River on the eastern side and the Pacific Ocean on the west.
As a result of the Lewis and Clark Expedition and the efforts of the U.S.
A government to introduce new governmental policies and systems, a great majority of Louisiana residents, mostly Spanish and French, became very upset with the thought of their old systems being dismantled. President Jefferson’s views on this situation were, to say the least, quite predictable. Stephen Oates mentions that Jefferson was certain that most of the population was American Indian and African-American and that “from the start of the debate (Jefferson) thought only whites could govern the territory.” This was further complicated by the U.S. government’s decision to displace a huge number of the Indian Nations in the Southeast and old Northwest to other portions of the territory which in essence would place these groups in totally foreign environments and set into motion the turmoil which was to follow in later years. This also upset traditional cultural systems and forced the native peoples to unite and defend the common elements associated with their heritage.
On March 26, 1804, the U.S. Congress created the ruling government for the territory of the Louisiana Purchase. President Jefferson expressed his concerns by relating that he wished to have American laws instituted in the territory through introducing a body of American leaders who would control the new government and enact legislation to create specific laws. Yet the indigenous residents of the territory saw this as a failure on the President’s part, mostly due to the embargo placed on the admission of slaves into the new territory and the decision by Congress to fully restrict the creation of laws and statutes by the local peoples.
The geographical boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase also influenced the displacement of many native peoples. The Lewis and Clark Expedition not only opened up the newly-acquired territory but also affected the areas of the Pacific Northwest. This gave white American settlers a free hand in developing and controlling vast areas of land already occupied by Native American Indians. This act of “Manifest Destiny” greatly expanded the American republic and brought about much historical change and economic development through the introduction of railroads, canals, roads and the creation of a national market system via the proliferation of family farming in the newly-opened territories.
QUESTION # 2: What were the important consequences of the early Industrial Revolution in the United States prior to the Civil War?
The consequences of the Industrial Revolution on pre-Civil War America were both widespread and highly influential. In the 1820’s and 1830’s, the United States became the global leader in mechanical and mass production as a result of manufacturers adopting labor-saving techniques that allowed the workers to produce more goods at much lower costs. The most important inventor during this time was Eli Whitney, the originator of the cotton gin which allowed the production of cotton to soar to new heights. Whitney was also greatly responsible for the advanced production techniques for muskets through his machines that allowed musket parts to be made interchangeable.
Other American industries quickly adopted Whitney’s manufacturing techniques, for as early as 1800 clock makers began to use interchangeable parts while makers of sewing machines used mass production techniques as early as 1846. This led to the mass production of many other mechanical devices, especially those designed for farming, such as reapers and automatic balers.
Innovation, however, was not confined to manufacturing, for during the years following the War of 1812, American agriculture was greatly transformed with far-reaching consequences similar to those achieved in manufacturing. During the latter years of the 18th century, a vast majority of farmers were self-sufficient — they raised their own food, made their own clothes and built their own furniture from whatever was at hand. Since most farmers were literally cut off from distant markets, they could only sell or barter a few choice items, such as whiskey, corn and hogs for other necessary items like salt and metal goods. Also, most farm work, except for plowing, was done by hand, due to the lack of mechanized machinery.
But by the beginning of the 19th century, agriculture began to take on a brand-new meaning, for many farmers saw the potential in growing larger crops as surplus or even by specializing in certain cash crops, such as cotton and tobacco, which could be sold at market for high profits. The increasing demand for cotton by the textile mills of Great Britain furthered the need for machinery and brought about a huge demand for new inventions. Eli Whitney’s cotton gin created the ability to harvest and produce great quantities of cotton which inevitably led to the rise of the American South as a major exporter of many other cash crops, such as sugar, rice, linen flax and especially hemp for rope fiber, clothing and numerous other dry goods. In the regions of the Northeast, the explosive growth of cities and towns centered around mills created an enormous demand for hogs, cattle, sheep, corn, wheat, wool, butter, milk, cheese, fruits and vegetables and fodder to feed horses, the primary mode of transportation up until the expansion of the railroads into all areas of the country.
As a result of all this growth, the demand for improved machines led to the development of factories and industrial centers. For the farmers, this meant a shortage of skilled workers which forced them to adopt labor-saving machines. In 1803, prior to the introduction of the cradle scythe, a farmer was only able to harvest about half an acre each day. But with the introduction of the horse rake in 1820, a single farmer could perform the work of an entire group of men. In 1836, the mechanical thresher, a machine designed to separate the wheat from the chaff, aided in cutting man hours in half in order to produce an acre of wheat.
By 1830, the Industrial Revolution had influenced every aspect of American society. Factory production made the manufacture of household items, such as shoes, clothing, textiles and farm implements, by hand obsolete. The massive growth of cities like Chicago, New York City and St. Louis introduced new forms of technology to all Americans. The rapid introduction of railroads which spanned all regions east of the Mississippi River allowed goods and machines to be transported to many distant towns and villages. The railroads were also directly linked to the rise of factories that produced iron and steel which could be used for making a wide variety of products, not to mention the architectural uses in buildings, bridges and train locomotives. Of course, many forms of weaponry could also be produced, such as rifles, cannon and other artillery which would eventually be utilized in the Civil War.
Stephen Oates. Portrait of America. Vol. 1: to 1877. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1999.
Mary Beth Norton. A People and A Nation: A History of the United States. Vol. A: to 1877. 5th ed. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1999.
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