American Revolution, Production of Staple Products Grew Term Paper

Pages: 8 (2801 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Native Americans

¶ … American Revolution, production of staple products grew, economic risks decreased, transportation improved and individual merchants and small companies experienced reduced costs through improvement of economies of scale (McCusker & Menard, 22). Contrary to the Colonial Period, with the increasing demand for U.S. agricultural products, American farmers and merchants were no longer in debt to the British traders. Further, growing demand, in part due to Anglo-French wars, led in increased production of American products. As a result, across the country, there was an impetus by the settlers and recent arrivals to take advantage of the economic opportunities in this newly established nation. Depending on the geographical location, this economic push had a different historical impact. The books the Whiskey Rebellion, the Long, Bitter Trail and a Shopkeeper's Millennium provide an overview of three of these more important events of the time.

The Long, Bitter Trail: Andrew Jackson and the Indians by Anthony F.C.

Wallace provides a succinct, yet detailed account of how hundreds of Native Americans from the Eastern United States lost their lands and were removed to Oklahoma and Arkansas. Wallace focuses on both white and Native American societies and the contradictory goals. Many of the white settlers, according to Wallace, were land hungry for both economic and personal reasons. He demonstrates how this desire for land was interrelated to the state and federal governments' need to pay off their debts and confirm control over the U.S. borders and for individuals to improve their economic status.

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The book also closely details the actions of Andrew Jackson, who Wallace believes was influenced by his personal economic interest in Indian removal and used his political office to obtain land for himself and his nephew John Coffee. Wallace described the relationship among Jackson, Coffee, John Eaton and Elbert Herring, who bribed and committed fraud to buy tracks of Native American land near the Ohio River. Much of this land was then opened up to white settlers, many of them officials like Jackson, who made significant personal gain and treaties.

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As noted by Wallace, "The appetite for Indian land in the American south in the 1820s and 1830s was whetted by economic events..." such as the industrial revolution, development of steam engines for more advanced coal mining and urban factories, and increased reliance on iron and steel (6-7). With the end of the War of 1812, the nation entered a period of peace and economic development. The land taken at the time of the Removal Act were surveyed and sold to settlers, and even speculators, to stake claims; the Native Americans only received a few cents per acre (71).

As noted by Gilje (159), this early republic "was a crucial, if not the crucial, period in the development of that trademark characteristic of American society and economy, modern capitalism." At this time it is possible to see the rise of capitalism where it "permeated and affected a large component of American society....Capitalism crept into the consciousness of men and women, be they from merchant, farming, artisan, or laboring families."

The culture of the Native Americans differed considerably. These natives resided and were comfortable in the natural world rather than building an urban civilization of their own. They did not see land and labor as commodities to be purchased and sold in the market nor place an emphasis on monetary accumulation. Rather, native societies were established around communal kinship systems. The clans held common property and handed it down to the upcoming generations. Accumulation of property was not part of the Native American culture as it was with the whites.

In the eighteenth-century, J. Hector St. John de Crevecouer stressed the idealism with which Americans approached private property.

The instant I enter my own land," he wrote, "the bright idea of property, of exclusive rights of independence exalt my mind. Precious soil, I say to myself; by what singular custom of law is it that thou wast made to constitute the riches of the freeholder. What should we American farmers be without the distinct possession of that soil? (Worster 98).

The fervor of Crevecouer's belief developed from his recognition of the uniqueness of the American experiment. As he stated, "no wonder that so many Europeans who have never been able to say that such portion of land was theirs, cross the Atlantic to realize that happiness" (Worster 98).

In the East of the U.S. other economic situations were taking place that were having their unique impact. Paul Johnson describes what took place in Rochester, New York, which has since been named the Second Great Awakening. Economically, this was the separation of workplace and home and the changing type of personal relations between workman and employer. Instead of working closely together, as in the past, workers were expelled physically and morally from the masters' families. This severance put a strain on the employees, employers and society as a whole. Everything has a trade off, and by gaining their privacy, the employers lost the control they had for so many years.

Johnson uses the role of liquor and drinking to demonstrate how communication changed so radically. In previous times, workmen and masters conversed about work and family over a glass. The new class of manufacturers, however, no longer followed this tradtion. Workmen drank alone on the job in backrooms or stopped at neighborhood bars to have a drink, while "masters walked down quiet side streets," and retreated into the "icy sobriety" of houses "increasingly under the governance of pious housewives."

Masters blamed themselves for the resulting confusion and crime in workingclass neighborhoods. The revivals, Johnson says, were the result of anxiety in those who felt responsible for dismantling customary social conditions.

The shift that Johnson describes is from the household economy to something that began to look like market capitalism. Society began to break down because the old societal controls were gone -- only some of the problems coming from alcohol. Johnson stated: "The laborer who stabbed a friend in 1828, the boat carpenter who beat a workmate to death with a calking mallet in 1829, and the man who killed his wife in the middle of North St. Paul Street were all drunk.(60)" However, "in 1833 a constable entered a grocery to quiet a disturbance and was kicked to death.(60)" the new working class was creating its own independence and identity.

As Johnson notes, "By 1830, the household economy had all but passed out of existence, and so had the social order that it sustained. Work family life, the makeup of neighborhoods -- the whole patterns of society -- separated class from class: master and wage earner inhabited distinct social worlds" (55) This separation also brought about other changes in the relationship. "Workmen experienced new kinds of harassment on the job...Masters increased the pace, scale and regularity of production, and they hired young strangers with whom they shared no more than contractual (liquor) pitted a culturally independent working class against entrepreneurs who had dissolved the social relationships...(61).

At this same time Rochester underwent a major religious revival, the reasons of which are still controversial. Was it because the masters felt guilty about their separation, or was it changes in the domestic life? Johnson argues that the revival did not arise due to the lack of moral concern among the entrepreneurs that moved to Rochester. He attests a strengthening of moral connection and pleasure resulting from this religious revival and stresses the primary impetus for the revival was the growth of class tension. It is Johnson's opinion that such revivals brought about societal order and self-restraint, which was needed when other aspects of the society were floundering. It was a way to cope with transitions occurring in the employee/employer relationships. Although earning wages and economic advancement were driving forces for conversion, some participated willingly, while others merely sought economic improvement.

The revivalist Charles Finney, who brought about this major religious awakening, stepped into a situation that was ripe for his influence. His theology seemed to remove the shopkeepers from their traditional responsibilities and to legitimize the new economy that had arisen in Rochester. Johnson concludes his book saying, "In the few years preceding the revivals of 1831, Charles Finney's converts [the shopkeepers] dissolved those arrangements[the household economy]. and...that dissolution posed immense problems of work discipline and social order. When a master broke with home-centered relations of production he gave up his authority as head of a household and as moral governor of society. The revival of 1831 healed the divisions within the middle class and turned businessmen and masters into an active and united missionary army. Behind their actions in the 1830s was the new and encouraging knowledge that authoritarian controls were not necessary. As Finney stated, man is not innately corrupt but only corruptible.(140)" a newly born industrial capitalism became attached to visions of a perfect moral order that was founded on individual freedom and self-government. Old relations of dependence, servility and mutuality were seen as sinful and left behind. "The revival was… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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American Revolution, Production of Staple Products Grew.  (2007, November 10).  Retrieved October 26, 2021, from

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