The Second Great Awakening

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A Methodist Gathering. By: J. Maze Burbank.

In the 1810s and 1820s, Americans were drinking as much as seven gallons of alcohol per year per person, drinking at every meal. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 167. Even students at school could see their teacher inebriated while teaching, with drunkenness being commonplace throughout society. Id. This came, however, during the Second Great Awakening, a profound increase in religiosity in American society.

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Injury to the Cause of Christ

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Lyman Beecher. By: Mathew Brady.

The role of religion in Americans’ lives began to change not long after the War of 1812. In fact, the state of Connecticut “disestablished religion in 1818.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 165. It should be noted that the First Amendment to the Constitution reads: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” In other words, the First Amendment “restricted the federal government only, not the states.” Id. This would change in the 20th Century when the Supreme Court “incorporated” the freedoms of the Bill of Rights, through the Fourteenth Amendment (not passed until 1868), to the states. Id.

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Vesey’s Almost Rebellion

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Denmark Vesey.

During the controversy surrounding the Missouri Compromise, those who advocated for restricting slavery had been interpreted by southerners as encouraging insurrection. See Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 161.

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The Second Missouri Compromise

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Henry Clay.

With the creation of the Missouri Compromise came a second controversy for Missouri. Some northerners threatened “not to consent to the Missouri constitution when it came back to Congress for final approval.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 156. Henry Clay, then-Speaker of the House of Representatives, led the effort to solving this second controversy.

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Constitution Sunday: Rebuttal to “An Officer of the Late Continental Army”: “Plain Truth”

Rebuttal to “An Officer of the Late Continental Army”: “Plain Truth”

Independent Gazetteer (Philadelphia), November 10, 1787

Following are excerpts from an article with an unknown author, published as a rebuttal to a reply by an officer of the late Continental Army to James Wilson’s speech:

“Congress may ‘provide for calling forth the militia,’ ‘and may provide for organizing, arming and disciplining it.’—But the states respectively can only raise it, Read more

The Missouri Compromise

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James Tallmadge.

By 1819, the area west of the Mississippi River, known as the Missouri Territory, had obtained a population qualifying it to be admitted to the Union. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1819-1848, 147. The only requirement to be admitted was that an enabling act be presented to Congress “authorizing Missouri voters to elect a convention to draft a state constitution.” Id. That bill was proposed, but Representative James Tallmadge proposed an amendment prohibiting further “importation of slavery” and “all children of slaves born after Missouri’s admission to the Union should become free at the age of twenty-five.” Id. This provoked great “consternation in the House of Representatives.” Id. citing Annals of Congress, 15th Cong., 2nd sess., 1170.

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The Panic of 1819

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William Jones. Artist Unknown.

America’s reliance on cotton as an economic staple presented an opportunity for prosperity and an accompanying risk. In late 1818, the value of cotton fell as supply outpaced demand and “London banks decided there was no longer a need to extend more credit.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 142. Then, the Second Bank of the United States, just two years into its life, “responded by shifting suddenly away from its own expansionist policy,” by the direction of William Jones, which only exacerbated the credit problem. See id. at 142-43. The Panic of 1819 erupted.

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The Genesis of King Cotton

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Cotton Pickers. By: William Aiken Walker.

Following the War of 1812, Americans had at their disposal a new 14 million acres that General Andrew Jackson acquired from the Creek tribe in the South. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 125. The expansion of territory, particularly in the South, would have massive ramifications in the coming decades.

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The New Republican Nationalism

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Chief Justice John Marshall of the Supreme Court of the United States. By: Cephas Thompson.

John Marshall would serve as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835 and had a lasting impact on the institution. More broadly, he shaped the development of policy in America.

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