The American Vision: Modern Times, California Edition

Chapter 2: Growth and Conflict

Chapter Overview

This chapter explores the early days of the new nation and how its growing pains and sectional conflicts led to the Civil War.

2.1 The New Republic

Section 1 traces the development of the new nation and nationalism. Upon becoming president, George Washington created the Departments of State, Treasury, and War, along with the Office of the Attorney General. Congress used Washington's first year as president to create the Bill of Rights. Washington served two terms before stepping down. He was succeeded by John Adams. As president, James Madison faced the young country's first foreign relations crisis with the War of 1812, but after the war, nationalism and industrialism swept through the United States. Urban growth and innovation rose dramatically, though agriculture remained the leading economic activity. As plantations spread, so did the need for labor. Consequently, the number of enslaved African Americans grew.

2.2 Growing Division and Reform

Section 2 examines how growing sectional disputes affected the nation and how reformers sought to improve society. Missouri's request for statehood created disagreement among free and slave states. At the time of the dispute, 11 free states and 11 slave states existed. The Missouri Compromise and the emergence of Maine as a state settled the dispute. However, controversy continued during the 1824 election, when Andrew Jackson won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. The controversy drove a division in the Republican Party. Jackson would win the next election in 1828, after hundreds of thousands of white males gained the right to vote. As president, Jackson faced tariff issues and decisions over Native Americans, while others worked to reform American society. The Second Great Awakening led to a religious revival for Protestants and other religious groups, while social reforms took place in the areas of temperance, women's roles, and slavery.

2.3 Manifest Destiny and Crisis

Section 3 explores how the idea of Manifest Destiny guided the nation during the 1840s and how old tensions between the North and the South resurfaced after the war with Mexico. Driven by the idea of Manifest Destiny, the United States pushed westward. Settlers followed trails to the frontier states of the Midwest, California, and Oregon, seeking a better life and opportunities for land ownership. As the nation expanded its reach, border disputes erupted, and the battle over slavery intensified. On an international level, the United States acquired new lands in the American Southwest through war with Mexico and gained territory in the Pacific Northwest based on a treaty with Great Britain. Despite legislative efforts to contend with the slavery issue, each time a new state was to be admitted to the Union, a new controversy would erupt. Legislative efforts-such as the controversial Wilmot Proviso, the idea of popular sovereignty, Clay's Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act-intended to strike a balance between free states and slave states. Sectional conflicts continued to heighten, however, spelling trouble for the divided nation. Following the election of Republican Abraham Lincoln, seven Southern states responded by voting to secede from the Union, announcing the creation of the Confederate States of America. The Civil War would soon follow.

2.4 The Civil War

Section 4 compares the advantages and disadvantages of the North and the South at the start of the Civil War. The North's large population, transportation systems, naval force, and many resources made the Union well equipped for waging a war. In contrast, the Confederacy's lack of sufficient revenue and worsening financial state made funding the war effort difficult. The South had the advantage of superior military leaders, but it lacked transportation networks and industry. A Southern victory in the first battle convinced Lincoln to utilize all resources to defeat the Confederacy. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation following the defeat of Confederate General Robert E. Lee's at Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle in American history. This opened the door for many African Americans in the North to enlist for military service. The South's failing economy led to food shortages, riots, and poor morale. In contrast, the North's growing industries supplied Union troops, while innovations in agriculture helped maintain crop production. On both sides, women worked in factories, ran farms and businesses, and worked as nurses. Grant's siege on Vicksburg, Mississippi marked the turning point of the war, and his success at Gettysburg put the Confederacy on the defensive for the remainder of the war. In the North, voters reelected the president, and Lincoln took it as a mandate to end slavery permanently. Lee surrendered to Grant's forces at Appomattox Courthouse, ending the Civil War. Lincoln outlined his plan for restoring the Southern states to the Union, but he was assassinated before he could carry out his plans.

2.5 Reconstruction

Section 5 describes the stages of Reconstruction that followed the Civil War. Although the Civil War had ended, the battle over slavery and African American rights dragged on between the president and Congress. President Lincoln's plans for Reconstruction called for leniency toward the South and a quick reconciliation. Radical Republicans in Congress, however, wanted to "revolutionize Southern institutions." Ultimately, Lincoln's successor, President Johnson, would follow Lincoln's plan. For newly freed African Americans and refugees, the Freedman's Bureau offered federal assistance to help them adjust to their new lives. The struggle for equality and representation continued as former Confederate leaders showed up in Congress, and Southern states introduced laws limiting African Americans' rights. The Republican Congress passed a flurry of bills, which divided the former Confederacy into military districts and broadened the rights of freed people. Johnson's interference with Republican policy was answered with impeachment, and he narrowly escaped conviction. In 1868 Republican war hero Ulysses S. Grant was elected president. The Republican-led Congress passed the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed voting rights for African American men. Republican reforms repealed the black codes, expanded public services, and provided funds to rebuild industries. Democrats returned to power in Congress in 1874, after a series of political scandals and a severe economic crisis hurt Republican authority in Congress. After a disputed presidential election, a special commission voted Rutherford B. Hayes into the White House. Hayes pulled federal troops out of the South, ending Reconstruction. While some tried to build a "New South," many African Americans found themselves living once again in a society where they had little political power and few economic opportunities.

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