American History: from Jackson to Lincoln

American History: from Jackson to Lincoln


The “era of good feelings” ended in 1829, when it was replaced by the “reign of Jackson”, so called by the name of A. Jackson, president from 1829 to 1837. Western man, the first typical representative of the ” American America ”to take office in the White House, Jackson definitively democratized the United States, placing the “common man” at the forefront, but under his own strong personal leadership. He had been elected as the representative of the Democrats-Republicans (or more simply Democrats, as they are still called), supporters of a liberal-progressive orientation, as opposed to the conservative address of the Republicans-nationals: an opposition that was concretely articulated around some big problems posed by the development of the United States itself. Thus for the communication routes, roads and even more channels, it was debated whether it was up to the Union or the states to equip them; as regards customs tariffs, the contrast between the North advocating protectionism and the opposite South persisted; as for the National Bank, reconstituted in 1816, J. Calhoun (vice-president with Adams and then with Jackson) in the thesis of the nullity of federal laws that invade the field of “state rights”.

According to usaers, the crisis culminated in 1832: in contrast to the “Nullity Ordinance” issued by South Carolina Jackson threatened the use of force, choosing to protect the cause of the Union rather than that of the freedom of states, he who was also a Democrat. During Jackson’s second presidency, while the question of tariffs alienated the southerners from the president, the conflict for the National Bank (whose “charter” was not renewed) pitted him against the republicans-nationals, now bearers of the interests of the industrial East and financial. These two very different groups, united only by their common aversion to Jackson, since c. 1834. they began to call themselves Whigs, analogous to the English Whigs who opposed George III’s personal rule. If in the elections of 1836 they failed to present a single candidate, so that M. Van Buren (1837-41), Jackson’s heir, was elected, in 1840 the only Whig candidate B. Harrison (who died just a month after took office; he was succeeded by Vice President Tyler, 1841-45). During the 1940s, the thrust to the west resumed vigorously, as far as the Pacific, then on territories that belonged to Mexico. Texas, where the residents of Anglo-Saxon origin were more numerous than those of Spanish origin, had already proclaimed itself independent in 1836, then annexed, in 1845, to the United States. The war between the United States and Mexico (1846-48) ensued, won by the former, who with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (February 2, 1848) obtained the cession of Texas, California and all the intermediate territory, New Mexico. Meanwhile, in 1846, a treaty with Great Britain had resolved the condominium on Oregon, giving the United States the territory up to the 49th parallel. Thus was fulfilled the Manifest Destiny, that “continental” destiny that the United States had pursued since its very foundation.

By 1850, rapidly populated for the “gold rush”, California was already admitted to the Union as a state. In the middle of the century XIX (between 1845 and 1861 James Knox Polk, Zachary Taylor, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan succeeded each other as president) not only territorial expansion marked the development of the United States. The population increased, which in 1850 had exceeded 23 million; economic activities flourished, favored by the construction of railways, by the introduction of steam navigation, by the application of new technical discoveries. In the same 1850 for the first time the annual value of industrial production was higher than that of agricultural production. And with industrialization, democratization progressed, even on the cultural level (popular newspapers, public and free schools, that is, non-denominational). Yet a crisis loomed over the United States, the largest in its history, aggravated by some of the same fundamental aspects of progress. L’ industrialization widened the gap and consequently the contrast between the agricultural South and the industrial North, including that part of the West, around the Lakes region, which was being industrialized. The further expansion to the west, then, acutely posed the problem of whether or not slavery was extended to the new territories and states. Set aside, rather than truly resolved, with the “Missouri compromise” of 1820, postponed with yet another compromise, of 1850, this problem broke out in all its gravity in 1854, when the “Kansas-Nebraska law” was passed, two territories located north of the line marked as the limit of slavery by the “Missouri compromise”. Once the compromise was revoked, the law established the principle of “popular sovereignty”, entrusting the decision of the residents of a territory if it, becoming a state, should he be a free-market or a slaveholder. The law provoked violent reactions from the adversaries of slavery; locally, in Kansas, there was bloody clashes. On the national level, by far the most important consequence was the founding (1854) of the Republican Party (the one that has continued to exist over the centuries), in which theanti- slavery whigs united with some democratic elements and with the followers of the Free-Soil Party. The Democrats still managed to win the presidential elections of 1852 and 1856, but in 1860 they did not agree on a single candidacy and so was elected the Republican A. Lincoln (1861-65).

American History - from Jackson to Lincoln

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