Gearing up for the War of 1812

In large part, the War of 1812 was brought about by necessity but also by politics. In terms of necessity, the British were executing a policy of impressment where the British would inspect American ships for contraband or material support for the French. America’s foreign policy adopted in reaction to these events was to create […]

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Ubiquitous But Controlled Religion

In the early Republic, religion took on a new role in society. In some segments of American society, religion became fervent. For example, in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801, dozens of ministers of different denominations congregated with approximately 15,000-20,000 in a week-long conversion session. Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty, 596. Amongst the “heat, the noise, and […]

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Unanticipated Consequences

In 1807, Congress passed the Embargo Act at the behest of President Thomas Jefferson. The Embargo Act “prohibited the departure of all American ships in international trade.” Gordon Wood, Empire of Liberty, 649. Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin doubted the effectiveness of the embargo on preventing the oncoming confrontation with the battling European behemoths of […]

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An Educated Society

Charles Willson Peale was an “artist, politician, scientist, tinker, and showman,” who was one of the leaders in enhancing civic society. Namely, he created a museum, which he said was to promote “the interests of religion and morality by the arrangement and display of the works of nature and art.” Lillian B. Miller, Patrons and Patriotism: […]

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The Thirst for Knowledge

Throughout the development of early civil society in America, the familiar infrastructure to contemporary Americans rapidly developed. For example, as a result of new postal roads and turnpikes throughout the country, the postal system was able to achieve remarkable speeds for the time. For example, in 1790, “it had taken more than a month for […]

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The Justifications for Slavery

Early Americans, both pro-slavery and anti-slavery, explored the potential justifications for slavery in the United States. In 1764, James Otis of Massachusetts asked “Can any logical inference in favor of slavery be drawn from a flat nose, a long or short face?” after pondering why only blacks had been enslaved. James Otis, The Rights of the […]

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Decline and Decay

In the late 1790s, Constantin Francois Volney published Ruins; or, Meditations on the Revolution of Empires, one of the most popular publications of its day. This publication not only attacked monarchical tyranny, but it reinforced amongst Americans ideals familiar to Americans then and now: that nations are fragile and seem to inevitably decay and decline. Gordon […]

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