The Election of 1860

1860photo_uscapitol_washingtoncanalvisiblie
The United States Capitol in 1860. Courtesy: Library of Congress

Every presidential election is consequential, but the Election of 1860 would play a significant role in whether the United States would remain one nation. The division of the North and South on the issue of slavery threatened to cause a secession of the South. The result of the election would determine whether that threat would materialize and cause a Second American Revolution. Read more

The Obstinacy of the North and South

enhanced-28733-1444703692-1
Construction on the Capitol in 1859. Courtesy: William England, Getty Images.

By 1859, the northern and southern sections of America had developed different economic systems, cultural norms, and approaches to permitting slavery. Congress and the political parties had been able to overlook those differences for the sake of self-preservation and advancement of the collective agenda. As 1859 concluded and 1860 sprang, Americans understood that the status quo of compromise was not to continue much longer. Read more

The Kansas-Nebraska Act

crockers_workers
Construction of the Transcontinental Railroad.

In 1844, Asa Whitney, a merchant in New York, proposed that a transcontinental railroad be built. While he hoped to lead the construction of the railroad and reap the benefits of the ambitious project, that was not to be. However, three components of his plan captured the spirit of Americans toward the construction of the railroad: “There must be a railroad to the Pacific; it must be financed by grants of public lands along the route; and it must be built by private interests which received these grants.” David Potter, The Impending Crisis: America Before the Civil War, 1848-1861, 146. Read more

The Illinois System

abraham_lincoln_by_nicholas_shepherd2c_1846-crop
Abraham Lincoln in 1846, then Representative from Illinois. By: Nicholas H. Shepherd.

Abraham Lincoln, as a Congressman in the House of Representatives, would be “an ardent supporter of internal improvements.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 596.

Read more

The Railroad Revolution

dewitt_clinton_28locomotive29
A Depiction of the Replica of the Dewitt Clinton, an American-made Locomotive.

Following the Panics of 1837 and 1839, America began rapidly expanding a new innovation: the railroad. While this would seem to have brought the country together, in fact, it increased sectionalism, creating more tension between the North and the South. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 569.

Read more

The Early Federal Government Surplus

henry-clay-orator
Henry Clay Addressing the Senate.

Toward the end of President Andrew Jackson’s second term, the federal government had come to enjoy a substantial surplus, primarily coming as a result of land sales and “proceeds from the Tariff 0f 1833.” Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 499.

Read more

The Maysville Road Veto

Political Cartoon of Andrew Jackson
Political Cartoon Depicting the Maysville Road Veto.

The Maysville Road was a major internal improvement that Congress had captured in a bill, the Maysville Road Bill. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 357. It was meant to be a link in the burgeoning transportation network, “connecting the National Road to the north with the Natchez Trace to the south and the Ohio with the Tennessee river systems.” Id.

Read more

Quincy Adams’ Economic Agenda

john-quincy-adams
John Quincy Adams Shakes Hands with Admiral of the Fleet James Gambier. By: Amedee Forestier.

President John Quincy Adams, in his First Annual Message to Congress delivered on December 6, 1825, set forth his agenda for developing the American economy. Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: Transformation of America, 1815-1848, 251.

Read more