Last Best Hope of Earth

A Blog Covering US History and Politics


American Revolution

The Awakened Giant

A Crowd Gathering in New York City’s Union Square in 1861. Harper’s Weekly (May 4, 1861), at 277.

The news from Fort Sumter spread throughout the country, and its coming awakened a restless energy in the North. That energy ignited patriotism and a new sense of collectivism throughout northern cities and states that would lead to a then-unparalleled war effort directed against the Confederacy. Continue reading “The Awakened Giant”

America in 1848

John Calhoun.

In 1848, when word spread to America that a revolution was breaking out in France, President James Polk wrote: “The great principles of popular sovereignty which were proclaimed in 1776 by the immortal author of our Declaration of Independence, seem now to be in the course of rapid development throughout the world.” James Knox Polk to Richard Rush, April 18, 1848, quoted in Michael Morrison, “American Reactions to European Revolutions, 1848-1852,” Civil War History 49 (June 2003): 117.

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Lincoln the Teetotaler

A Pledge to be Part of the Temperance Movement.

While the Democrats had held up Andrew Jackson as the ideal man, the Whigs began to view Abraham Lincoln in the 1840s as the ideal man, even though his personality was “artificial—that is, self-constructed.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 598.

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The Spread of Enfranchisement

Politics in an Oyster House. By: Richard Caton Woodville.

Following the War of 1812, enfranchisement broadened in American society considerably.

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The Second Great Awakening

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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The Last Founding Father

James Monroe.

James Monroe was the last president who was truly part of the American Revolution generation. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 91. He crossed the Delaware River with George Washington. Id. Obvious to his contemporaries, he dressed the part of the Revolutionary gentleman, wearing knee breeches and buckled shoes, with a powdered wig and three-cornered hat. Id.

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The Lesson of the American Revolution

Washington Crossing the Delaware. By: Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze.

The American Revolution changed political theory and government. At the heart of that change was the empowerment of the people, which continues to present day America.

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The Pivot of American Government

James Sullivan. By: Gilbert Stuart.

In the earliest years of the American Republic, individuals like James Madison, Samuel Williams, Charles Pinckney, and Samuel Langdon concluded that no country had created a better model for representative government than America’s. See Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 596.

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Cap-Stone of the Great American Empire

James Wilson.

The political theory that emerged from the Revolution and the debates surrounding the Constitution was not “a matter of deliberation as it was a matter of necessity.” Gordon Wood, The Creation of the American Republic: 1776-1787, 593.

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