Monday, June 25, 2018

More Early American History.

The time of 1849 to 1865 included some of the bloodiest times of American history. By the 1840’s, the Northeast had a powerful Industrial Revolution. Railroads, canals, textile mills, small industrial cities, and growing commercial centers existed as a network. Cities like Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia grew into new heights of influence and power. Pennsylvania and other places wanted a higher tariff. The tariff system was very low in 1857. Farming dominated the Midwest. Animal production existed there along with railroads and river systems. They send food to slave plantations in the south. Industrial cities in the East and industrial cities in Britain plus Europe received imports from the Midwest. Cotton plantations flourished in the South with a very high price on cotton on the world market. Cotton production can wear out the land. So, cotton crops constantly moved west. With the annexation of Texas by 1845, cotton grew there too. In essence, many supporters of the Texas state in its existence wanted the spread of slavery. Virginia and North Carolina had tobacco. The Upper South had slavery in its final era. Slaves were sent in the cotton plantations of the Southwest like in Texas. Urbanization dominated the Northeast. In the Midwest, there were growing urban centers in places like Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Chicago. Slavery was used to buy new lands and more slaves. Many conservatives say that most Southern whites owned no slaves and operated farms on a subsistence basis, serving small local markets. Yet, most Southern whites benefited from slavery, most Southern whites (and most whites in America in general) back then believed in the lie that black people were inferior, and did nothing to try to end slavery. International trade and transportation spread capital among London, Paris, Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia. Longer railroad system could spread long distance supplies like farm and industrial products including passengers. There were few railroads in the South. Many railroad lines in the South moved cotton to the nearest river or ocean port. Steamboats were a powerful transportation system in inland rivers too. Eli Whitney popularized interchangeable parts and textile factors grew.  16% of Americans lived in cities with 2500 or more people. This was a third of the nation’s income came from manufacturing. Water was used as energy to power industries from rivers. Steam engines came into factors too. By 1860, the railroads had made a transition from use of local wood supplies to coal for their locomotives. Pennsylvania became the center of the coal industry. America was a leader in cotton production and the development of: shoes, woolen clothing, and machinery. Many, if not most, of the factory workers and miners were recent immigrants from Europe, or their children. Throughout the North, and in southern cities, entrepreneurs were setting up factories, mines, mills, banks, stores, and other business operations. In the great majority of cases, these were relatively small, locally owned, and locally operated enterprises.

New immigrants in the 1840’s and the 1850 have filled factory jobs. This old school era of immigration saw 4.2 million people sincerely coming into America for opportunity, and freedom. Some were Irish as many of them escaped the Great Famine from Ireland to go into America. Most settled in the coastal cities of Boston and New York City. Some were not welcome since most were poor and Roman Catholic. They lived in crowded neighborhoods, dilapidated housing, and some were in low wage plus physically demanding jobs. Many early Americans viewed the Roman Catholic Church as a symbol of European autocracy. I am not a Catholic and we have to have freedom of religion along with a separation of church and state (so, no one of any religion is discriminated against while no religion can dominate a nation in a theocratic fashion). German immigrants came into America to avoid a looming financial disaster in their nation. German immigrants sold their possessions like the Irish. German immigrants were both Protestant and Catholic, so they didn’t experience the religious discrimination like the Irish did. Many settled in Midwest communities instead of the coast like in Cincinnati, Ohio, and St. Louis, Missouri. These locations have a high German population back then and today. German immigrants were mostly middle class, educated, and left for political reasons. Other immigrants like Italian people and Jewish people lived in ghettos or ethnic enclaves. There was the Five Points area in New York City. Many immigrants replaced women workers in places like Lowell, Massachusetts. Many industry bosses exploited immigrants to make them work cheap and experience bad working conditions.

More political upheavals came about during this era too. After 1848, Texas, and new territories of Mexico was acquired after the Mexican-American war via the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. Missouri was admitted as a state. There was debate on whether the new territory in the Southwest would have slavery or not. Northern Congressmen wanted to limit slavery and Southern Congressmen wanted to expand it into new territories. Congressman David Wilmot promoted the Wilmot Proviso which banned slavery in the new territory won from Mexico. The proposal failed in Congress. It never became law. It was a rally cry from Southerners who cared more for slavery than human justice. Many Southerners back then used “state’s rights” as an excuse to condone oppression against black people. The truth is that human rights are superior to states’ rights. The Wilmot Proviso failed, so Senator Lewis Cass introduced the idea of popular sovereignty in Congress. Popular sovereignty means that the people decide in various lands on whether to have slavery or not. Cass believed that Congress had no power to deal with slavery explicitly, which is ludicrous. The Democrats were divided. Some Northern Democrats wanted people in states to decide on slavery and Southern Democrats wanted states to have slavery based on state constitutions. After Cass' defeat in 1848, Illinois Senator Douglas assumed a leading role in the party and became closely associated with popular sovereignty with his proposal of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Zachary Taylor was the President after the 1848 election. He was part of the Whig Party. He didn’t seek another term since his health was declining and he felt his objectives were gained. The Free Soil Party was a group of anti-slavery Democrats who supported Wilmot's Proviso. The creation of the Free Soil Party foreshadowed the collapse of the Second party system; the existing parties could not contain the debate over slavery for much longer.

The question of slavery became all the more urgent with the discovery of gold in California in 1848. The next year, there was a massive influx of prospectors and miners looking to strike it rich. Most migrants to California (so-called 'Forty-Niners') abandoned their jobs, homes, and families looking for gold. It also attracted some of the first Chinese Americans to the West Coast of the United States. Most Forty-Niners never found gold but instead settled in the urban center of San Francisco or in the new municipality of Sacramento. California applied for statehood in 1850. The rush was on to see whether it would recognize slavery or not. This could change the balance of power in Congress.  The imminent admission of Oregon, New Mexico, and Utah also threatened to upset the balance. Many Southerners also realized that the climate of those territories did not lend themselves to the extension of slavery. Debate raged in Congress until a resolution was found in 1850.
The Compromise of 1850 was proposed by "The Great Compromiser," Henry Clay and was passed by Senator Stephen A. Douglas. Through the compromise, California was admitted as a free state, Texas was financially compensated for the loss of its Western territories, the slave trade (not slavery) was abolished in the District of Columbia, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed as a concession to the South, and, most importantly, the New Mexico Territory (including modern day Arizona and the Utah Territory) would determine its status (either free or slave) by popular vote. The Compromise of 1850 attempted to disfuse the divisive issue, but the compromise did nothing to immediate millions of our black Brothers and black Sisters in bondage. This Compromise of 1850 continued the oppression against black people and it was a cruel, despicable measure.

Slavery was debated worldwide not just in America back then. Abolitionists were influenced by the European Enlightenment, the Second Great Awakening, heroic anti-slavery revolts, black people, etc. Many viewed slavery as an affront to God and/or reason. Some abolitionists were supporters of the temperance movement too. The temperance movement was about fighting alcoholism and it was very much anti-alcoholic drinking. During 1852, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s published Uncle Tom’s Cabin galvanized the abolitionist movement greatly. Some debated slavery on constitutional and morality grounds. Free Soilers didn’t have a moral objection to slavery based on racial equality. They wanted slavery gone to maintain white dominated society without it. Slavery was anti-democratic by definition, so the South had an economic oligarchy dominating the majority of the land, property, and capital in the South (to the detriment of both black people and poor whites). Racists exploited the Nat Turner uprising of 1831 to promote more strict pro-slavery laws in Virginia and throughout the South. John Calhoun and others were so racist that they called black people savages and denied their human dignity. According to the 1860 U.S. census, fewer than 385,000 individuals (i.e. 1.4% of whites in the country, or 4.8% of southern whites) owned one or more slaves. 95% of black Americans lived in the South, comprising one-third of the population there as opposed to 1% of the population of the North. In the West Coast, new states were forming. President Millard Fillmore sent Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan to establish Japan trade agreements in 1853. A railroad to the Pacific was planned. Senator Stephen A. Douglas wanted a transcontinental railway to go throughout Chicago. Southerners protested and wanted it to go through Texas, Southern California, and end in New Orleans. Douglas decided to compromise and introduced the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. In exchange for having the railway run through Chicago, he proposed 'organizing' (open for white settlement) the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Douglas anticipated Southern opposition to the act and added in a provision that stated that the status of the new territories would be subject to popular sovereignty. In theory, the new states could become slave states under this condition. Under Southern pressure, Douglas added a clause which explicitly repealed the Missouri Compromise. President Franklin Pierce supported the bill as did the South and a fraction of northern Democrats.

The act split the Whigs. Northern Whigs generally opposed the Kansas–Nebraska Act while Southern Whigs supported it. Most Northern Whigs joined the new Republican Party. Some joined the Know-Nothing Party which refused to take a stance on slavery. The southern Whigs tried different political moves, but could not reverse the regional dominance of the Democratic Party. Kansas was opened to settlers. Settlers came into the land. Both pro and anti-slavery supported rushed to go into the new territory. Violence existed among both sides. Abolitionists from New England settled in Topeka, Lawrence, and Manhattan. Pro-slavery advocates settled in Leavenworth and Lecompton. Many of them came from Missouri. Missouri was a slave state. In 1855, elections were held for the territorial legislature. While there were only 1,500 legal voters, migrants from Missouri swelled the population to over 6,000. The result was that a pro-slavery majority was elected to the legislature. Free-soilers were so outraged that they set up their own delegates in Topeka. A group of anti-slavery Missourians sacked Lawrence on May 21, 1856. Violence continued for two more years until the promulgation of the Lecompton Constitution. The violence, known as "Bleeding Kansas," scandalized the Democratic administration and began a more heated sectional conflict. Charles Sumner of Massachusetts gave a speech in the Senate entitled "The Crime Against Kansas." The speech was a scathing criticism of the South and the "peculiar institution." As an example of rising sectional tensions, days after delivering the speech, South Carolina Representative Preston Brooks approached Sumner during a recess of the Senate and caned him. Tensions among the North and the South would only increase. The new Republican Party started in 1854-1856 in the North. It had very small support in the South. Most of its early members were former Whigs or Free Soil Democrats. The Party was ideological, with a focus on stopping the spread of slavery, and modernizing the economy through tariffs, banks, railroads and free homestead land for farmers.  The Republicans wanted to contain slavery and explain free states so much that the South would ultimately give up slavery legislatively. That wouldn’t work since the South would never give up slavery except by use of force. Sometimes, force (like freeing slaves, fighting injustice, etc.) is necessary to eradicate evil.

By Timothy

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