Unit 5 Assignment Sheet


Assignment 1. 1790s-1820

  • Skim Nash, 222-251.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What were the most important events from 1792 to 1820? Why? List 10 of them and be prepared to talk about them in class.
  2. What was distinctive about the different regions that comprised the new United States? What impact did regionalism have?


Assignment 2. The Causes of Economic Change

  • Nash, 256-266. Read thoroughly, don't skim.
    • Pay particular attention to the chart on page 260 [LINK] -- Are there any factors that might be missing? If so, what are they?

Questions to Consider:

  1. What were the most significant features of the new economy that was emerging during the early 19th century?
  2. What was the transatlantic context of economic growth?
  3. What were the key factors that brought about this economic change?

Assignment 3. The Development of Capitalism

  • Robert Heilbronner & Lester Thurow: “Capitalism: Where Do We Come From?” in Economics Explained (Simon & Schuster, 1998), 11-25. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. Is capitalism innate?
  2. What were the key features pre-capitalist societies shared in common?
  3. What is private property? What is a market system?
  4. Prior to the development of capitalism, was economic life stable or unstable? Why? Provide an example from your study of medieval Europe that supports your position.
  5. Why did Marx and other political economists conceive of capitalism as being de-stabilizing?
  6. How did a market society emerge? What were its chief characteristics?
  7. What are the factors of production under capitalism?
  8. What role did technological innovation play in capitalist development?
  9. What were the key features of the industrial revolution and how did they impact the development of capitalism?
  10. What are the political dimensions of capitalism?

Assignment 4. The Transportation & Market Revolutions

  • Nash, 282-287.
  • Peter Coclanis, "The Transportation Revolution," a video script. [PDF]
  • John Lauritz Larson, "The Market Revolution in Early America: An Introduction," OAH Magazine of History (May 2005), 4-8. [PDF]
  • Optional: A Pedestrian (Nathaniel Hawthorne), "The Canal Boat," The New England Magazine (December 1835), 398-408. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What were the constitutive features of the transportation revolution?
  2. Why was canal building so significant?
  3. What were the major consequences of the market revolution?
  4. How did westward expansion shape the new economy?
  5. Was there a difference between economic change in the North and in the South?
  6. Why was the availability of inexpensive land so central to economic change?

Assignment 5. Becoming a Market Economy

  • Nash, 282-287.
  • James Henretta, “The ‘Market’ in the Early Republic,” Journal of the Early Republic 18 (Spring 1998), 289-304 [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What does Henretta mean by "markets are hot topics these days"?
  2. Which are the major questions guiding Henretta’s essay on the “market” in the early Republic?
  3. What does Henretta mean when he writes: “Both then and now, the ‘market’ is not a fixed economic abstraction but the malleable product of political will"?
  4. What were the two “rival systems” of political economy according to Henretta?
  5. What happened in the land disputes which Henretta discusses? Why?
  6. What were the problems that developed as a result of land allocation policy during the period?
  7. Why does Henretta use the examples of Dexter Whittemore and the Merriam Brothers? What does Whittemore’s and the Merriams’ experience tell us about economic change during the period?
  8. What were the different forms of “money” used during the period? What were the uses? What impact did their varying uses possess?
  9. What was the Jeffersonian response to the tight money problems of the first decades of the 19th century? What was the result?
  10. What were some of the problems inherent in the system of the bank-charter system?
  11. Why was there no national commercial law during the early 19th century? What changed in 1842?
  12. Was there a “market” in the early 19th century?
  13. Was America capitalist during the early 19th century?

Assignment 6. Banking, Finance & Money

  • Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Once Upon a Dime (New York, 2007). [PDF]
  • John Lauritz, "Interlude:Panic! 1819," The Market Revolution in America (Cambridge UP, 2010), 39-45. [PDF]
  • Craig Thompson Friend, "Liberty is Pioneering," OAH Magazine of History (May 2005), 16-20. [PDF]
  • For more on money, finance, & banking, watch PBS' The Ascent of Money based on Niall Ferguson's book of the same name. Pay particular attention to the section entitled "Trust." [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was the relationship between land and banking in the early Republic?
  2. Why was the Bank of the United States not re-chartered in 1811? Why was it in 1816?
  3. What was the Panic of 1819? Why did it occur? What was its consequences?
  4. What role does banking play in a society?
  5. What is specie?
  6. What is paper money?
  7. What are bank reserves? What function do they play?
  8. What is barter?

Assignment 7. Many Paths to Manufacturing

  • Nash, 266-267, 270-72.
  • Walter Licht, "Paths: The Unevenness of Early Industrial Development" in Industrializing America: The Nineteenth Century (JHU Press, 1995), pp. 21-45. (You can skim the section on industrial slavery.) [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What advantages did American manufacturers possess in competing with Great Britain? What advantages did Great Britain possess?
  2. What strategies did the U.S. entrepreneurs adopt to compete with Great Britain economically?
  3. What does “division of labor” mean? How did it facilitate the industrial revolution in the U.S.?
  4. What role did technological innovation play in facilitating the industrial revolution?
  5. How would you define industrialization? Were machines necessary?
  6. What did a factory look like during the antebellum period? Did it have to be a centralized work place?
  7. List the different types of "industrialized workplaces" that developed during the early 19th century.

Assignment 8. Responses to the New Economy: Workers & Labor

  • Nash, 268-270.
  • Walter Licht, "Reactions: Americans' Responses to Early Industrialization" in Industrializing America: The Nineteenth Century (JHU Press, 1995), pp. 46-78. [PDF]
  • George Evans, “The Working Men’s Declaration of Independence, 1829” [LINK]
  • "Boarding House Rules From the Handbook to Lowell, 1848" [PDF]
  • "Factory Rules from the Handbook to Lowell, 1848" [PDF]
  • Writings by Seth Luther [LINK]
  • Demand for a Ten Hour Day [LINK]

Questions to Consider:

  1. Thinking back to the chapter on the rise of factories, what did the industrial revolution mean for workers?
  2. Why did workers join unions? Which workers were mostly likely to join?
  3. What was the labor theory of value? Which ideas did it draw upon? Who articulated it?
  4. What effect did overproduction have on workers?
  5. What is sweating? In which trades was sweating most prevalent?
  6. In what ways were the clothiers at the forefront of industrialization in NYC?
  7. What routes did some of the small customers masters follow when the production of ready-mades started to become prevalent?
  8. How did the clothing production system operate? What were its effects?
  9. What was a family shop?
  10. What role did immigrants play in the furniture trade?
  11. The historian Sean Wilentz uses the phrase: “bastardization of craft" to describe the process of change for craft workers. What does he mean?
  12. How did workers respond to the economic changes? Can we speak of a monolithic "worker"?
  13. To what extent was industrialization disruptive to Americans lives or was it merely a logical extension of existing forms of work and living?
  14. What was the impact of factories on its employees?
  15. Was factory labor liberating for women? Why or why not?
  16. How important was it in terms of the pervasive belief in the importance of democracy that factories were essentially non-democratic workplaces?
  17. How did these workers respond to the new experience of factory labor? Did workers resist? Did they accommodate to this new regime?
  18. What impact did workers have on the evolving factory system?

Assignment 9. New Social Relations or Jumping the Chasm of Capitalism

  • Skim Nash, 272-282.
  • Paul Johnson, “‘Art’ and the Language of Progress in Early-Industrial Paterson: Sam Patch at Clinton Bridge,” American Quarterly 40:4 (December 1988), pp. 433-449. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. How did industrialization, by creating a class-divided society, pose a challenge to American republican ideals?
  2. What did class structure in the United States look like after the advent of industrialization? How did this differ from pre-industrial class structure in America?
  3. What were the characteristics of the new middle class that developed during the period of industrialization?
  4. Who was Timothy Crane? What sector of society did Patch represent?
  5. Who was Sam Patch? What sector of society did Patch represent?
  6. What happened at Clinton Bridge?
  7. What is Paul Johnson’s interpretation of what happened at Clinton Bridge? Is he convincing?
  8. Why would the inhabitants of Paterson care so much what happened in a recreational area? Can you think of any other examples, historical or contemporary, where conflicts over recreational space arise?
  9. What is “Art” in the context of Johnson’s article? How is used differently by Patch and by Crane?
  10. What sources did Johnson use to reconstruct his story of Sam Patch and Timothy Crane?
  11. How does the telling of this episode help us understand better the consequences of the great economic transformation that was taking place at the time?

Assignment 10. Democratic Expansion & Retraction

  • Nash, 251-252, 326-327.
  • Alexander Keyssar, “‘Democracy Ascendant,” in The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (Basic Books: New York, 2000), 26-52. [PDF]
  • "Misc. Voting Changes" [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. How did the physical act of voting change in many places?
  2. How did voting requirements change?
  3. Why does Keyssar write "the demise of property requirements was not identical to the eradication of economic qualifications"?
  4. How did the new voting laws affect immigrants?
  5. Why was the franchise broadened for white males?
  6. Why were property requirements jettisoned?
  7. Why were men who were not even citizens sometimes allowed to vote?
  8. What does the "Memorial of the Non-Freeholders of the City of Richmond" tell us?
  9. How did the change in political ideas and values affect voting requirements?
  10. What do you think happened to woman and blacks at this time in terms of the right to vote??

Assignment 11. Political Realignments

  • John Mayfield, "Political Realignments" in The New Nation, 1800-1845 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1982), pp. 87-106. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was the "era of good feelings"?
  2. What happened to the deferential system of politics that had characterized the Early Republic? Why?
  3. Where did party development begin?
  4. Why did a new Democratic party emerge? Who was responsible?
  5. What happened in the election of 1824?
  6. What were its consequences?
  7. What happened in the election of 1828?

Assignment 12. The Second Party System: Democrats & Whigs

  • Nash, 336-338. (Pay particular attention to the chart on p. 368.)
  • Daniel Walker Howe, "Introduction" in The American Whigs: An Anthology (New York: Wiley, 1973), 1-7. [PDF]
  • Henry Clay, "Whig Principles" from The Meaning of Jacksonian Democracy (DC Heath). [PDF]
  • Interview with Sean Wilentz about Martin Van Buren. [LINK]
  • Salt River Cartoon [JPG] [TEXT]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What was the second party system?
  2. What did the Whigs believe?
  3. Why does Howe believe that we have overestimated the importance of Jacksonian Democracy and underestimated the importance of the Whig Party?
  4. What was their base of support?
  5. What did the Democrats believe?
  6. What was their base of support?
  7. Why wasn't slavery an important issue dividing the parties?
  8. What were some of the facets of the election of 1840 that made it a particularly important election?
  9. Why were political cartoons used?
  10. What was the significance of the "Salt River" cartoon?
  11. Would you have been a Democrat or a Whig during the 1840s?

Assignment 13. The Debate over Jackson

  • Jackson Presentation Resources Page [LINK]
  • One person from each group should email me regarding who is taking responsibility for which part of the presentation. The order of presentation will be:
    • Spoils System/Electoral College
    • Nullication
    • Bank Wars
    • Indian Removal
    • Internal Improvements
    • Executive Power
    • Eaton Affair
    • Jacksonian Democracy
    • Legacy

Assignment 14. Jackson's Legacy

  • Sean Wilentz, "Jackson's Legacy," in Andrew Jackson (New York: Times Books , 2005), Chapter 9. [PDF]

Questions to Consider:

  1. What arguments do critics of Jackson give when assessing his legacy?
  2. What arguments do those who praise Jackson give?