What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe

 

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Weekly Reading Table of Contents

Complete Table of Contents

Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10

What Hath God Wrought Table

Week 1: Introduction and Prologue | Week 3: Chapter 1 | Week 5: Chapter 2 | Week 6: Chapter 3 | Week 7: Chapter 4 | Weel 9: Chapter 5 | Week 10: Chapter 6

American Notes Table

Week 2: Chapter 3 - Boston
Week 8: Chapter 17 - Slavery

Democracy in America Table

Week 4: Chapters 3-4
Week 8: Chapter 10

Current Book Weekly Reading Schedule

  • Week 1 :: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe: Introduction and Prologue

    Thought Questions (keep these in mind as you continue reading)
    - Why does the author begin his work with a focus on the twin revolutions of communication and transportation?
    - What were the elements, time line, consequences and repercussions of the communication and transportation revolutions in the United States during the early Republic?
    - What political statement was being sent by the use of Numbers 23:23 and its reference to Jacob and Israel (transformation)? How does this reflect "post-millennialism" in a deist culture (a "golden age" is coming closer as we overcome our problems)?
    - Morse was a Calvinist (think predestination and manifest destiny) but most of the people he was interacting with were utilitarian "gentry" deists (think secular Conquistador). How did this convergence (not uncommon in the borderlands between New England and the rest of the North) compliment each other? How was this similar to the colonial era Colonizers?
    - Why does the author begin the Prologue with the story of Jackson? How does this relate to the author's thesis in the Introduction?

    Articles
    - Brief Biography: Samuel F. B. Morse
    - The Battle of New Orleans
    - Samuel Morse’s Other Masterpiece

    Primary Sources
    - Index of links to patents related to the telegraph
    - Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress
    - Samuel Morse - Artworks

    Supplemental Reading
    - Begin American Notes by Charles Dickens, Chapters 1 and 2
  • Week 2 :: American Notes by Charles Dickens, Chapter 3: Boston
    Last week we began reading American Notes. This week we focus on the third chapter which gives Dickens' impression of Boston and an amazing story. Next week we will read continue with Chapter 1 of What Hath God Wrought.

    Free Kindle Text of American Notes by Charles DIckens
    Free Online Text of American Notes Chapter 3

    Thought Questions
    - The theme of "transformation" from Chapter 1 of "What Hath God Wrought" will be a consistent companion during our reading. How does Dickens' comments about customs houses and government institutions reflect the economic transformation (the "market revolution") during Jacksonian America?
    - How does the story of The Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind and Laura Bridgman reflect the process of social transformation (reform) taking place in America? How does this relate to Dickens' reform work in England? (this story is a wonderful gift to American History teachers)
    - How does Dickens comments regarding the plurality and form of religion in America reflect social transformation during this period?
    - Who were the "Boylston Boys" and how do they represent an issue that England and America had been facing since before the American colonial era? How does this reflect transformation? What happened to convert a "problem" into an "advantage"? Why was this possible?

    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "Here, as in many institutions, no uniform is worn; and I was very glad of it, for two reasons. Firstly, because I am sure that nothing but senseless custom and want of thought would reconcile us to the liveries and badges we are so fond of at home. Secondly, because the absence of these things presents each child to the visitor in his or her own proper character, with its individuality unimpaired; not lost in a dull, ugly, monotonous repetition of the same unmeaning garb: which is really an important consideration."

    Additional Resources
    - The Story of My Life by Helen Keller (Free on Kindle)
    - Perkins Institutional History: Publications, Clippings, and Manuscripts Finding Aid
    - Laura Bridgman Collection Finding Aid
    - Boylston, Massachusetts Historical Society
  • Week 3 :: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe: Chapter 1

    Thought Questions
    (Please note: In this context America will refer to Canada, the United States and Mexico (including Central America)
    - Why does the author state the history of the United States cannot be understood apart from its continental setting?
    - In what ways was American society transformed between 1815 and 1846?
    - How did communication and transportation effect the transformation of America?
    - Describe the process of transformation along the Southwestern and Pacific Frontier with Mexico?
    - How did colonial expansion effect Native agriculture?
    - What does the phrase “beneficiaries of catastrophe” mean?
    - What was the typical life of an American farmer around 1815? How did this change in the period leading to 1846?
    - In what ways did Aaron Fuller represent the American farm family's expectations and experiences
    - What roles did women usually play on the family farm around 1815?
    - How did the evolution of the fur trade from colonial times effect Americans and Natives?
    - What was the myth of the "noble savage"?
    - How did slavery and the slave trade (both continental and oceanic) evolve in the Northern states?
    - Why did slavery evolve the way it did in the North?
    - How did slavery and the slave trade evolve in the American borderland states (Southern, Western and Middle)?
    - Why did slavery evolve the way it did in the American borderland states (Southern Western and Middle)?
    - In what ways was the Southern plantation class “the great consumers of the American economy”?
    - How did slavery and communalism enable the creation of a non-laboring consumers?
    - How did American capitalism conflict with the values embodied in slavery and communalism?
    - How did the American individualism of yeoman farmers in both the North and South conflict with the values embodied in slavery and communalism?
    - In what ways did American capitalism and individualism in the North and slavery and communism in the South effect regional development?

    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "Many white contemporaries, even if compassionate, agreed with Alexis de Tocqueville that the Indians were “doomed” to die out entirely."
    - "Despite all the mutual cultural borrowing between Native and Euro-Americans, neither cultural synthesis nor multicultural harmony achieved acceptance with the white public or government."

    Supplemental Reading
    - Begin Reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, Chapters 1 and 2. These chapters compliment our current reading in What Hath God Wrought. Next week our main focus will be on Chapter 3 and 4 in Democracy in America
  • Week 4 :: Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville - Chapter 3 and 4

    Thought Questions
    - Our main book "What Hath God Wrought" is centered around the theme of transformation. How does Alexis de Tocqueville reflect this theme in Chapter 3-4?

    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "Many important remarks could be made about the social state of the Anglo-Americans, but one stands out above all the rest. The social state of the Americans is eminently democratic. It has had this character since the birth of the colonies; it has it even more today."
    - "In America, however, it is not only fortunes that are equal; equality extends to some degree to intelligence itself. I do not think that there is any other country in the world where, as a proportion of the population, the ignorant are so few and the learned still fewer. Primary education is within the reach of everyone; higher education is within the reach of virtually no one."
    - "The principle of the sovereignty of the people, which to some extent always underlies nearly all human institutions, is ordinarily wrapped in obscurity. People obey it without recognizing it; if light should chance briefly to fall on it, they are quick to relegate it to the darkness of the sanctuary."
    - "Then came the American Revolution. The dogma of popular sovereignty emerged from the towns and took possession of the government. All classes enlisted in its cause. People fought and triumphed in its name. It became the law of laws"
    - "There are other countries in which force is divided, being placed at once inside society and outside it. Nothing of the kind exists in the United States. There, society acts by itself and on itself. No power exists but within its bosom. Virtually no one is to be found who dares to conceive, much less to express, the idea of seeking power from another source."

    Next week we will continue reading "What Hath God Wrought" in Chapter 2
  • Week 5 :: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe
    Chapter 2: From the Jaws of Defeat

    Thought Questions
    - How did issues of transportation and communication effect the War of 1812?
    - What does the author mean by "the people’s prayers had already been answered"?
    - Why was the news of Jackson's success at New Orleans welcome news in Washington and for President Madison?
    - How did black slaves react to the invasion of Washington by the British? How did the British respond to American black slaves?
    - What reason was given by the British for the burning of Washington?
    - How was Dolley Madison the Heroine of the War of 1812?
    - In what ways did the schism between "Old" Republicans and "New" Republicans impact the War of 1812?
    - How did Federalists react to the War of 1812?
    - What was the Hartford Convention and what were its goals?
    - What were the resolutions of the Hartford Convention?
    - What impact did the resolutions of the Hartford convention have on American politics?
    - How did the White House get its name?
    - How did the War of 1812 effect relations between the United States and British Canada?
    - What were the terms of the Treaty of Ghent?
    - What effect did the signing of the Treaty of Ghent have on the United States?
    - What were the consequences of the Treaty of Ghent on Native Americans?
    - What was the Treaty of Fort Jackson and what were its terms?
    - Describe the relationship between President Madison and General Jackson?
    - What were Andrew Jackson's intentions towards Native American groups in 1814?
    - What was the Second Treaty of Greenville and what were its terms?
    - Describe the Barbary states and their history of conflict with the United States?
    - Who were Commodore Stephen Decatur and Commodore William Bainbridge?

    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "Andrew Jackson acknowledged Madison “a great civilian,” but declared “the mind of a philosopher could not dwell on blood and carnage with any composure ,” and judged his talents “not fitted for a stormy sea.”"
    - "The president, patient and fair to a fault, listened to advice and then found it hard to make up his mind. He had allowed himself to be dragged reluctantly into war with Great Britain. In waging it, he showed himself a poor judge of men. No one in politics feared him, and he had never been able to control Congress. He was too nice."
    - "His first State of the Union message after the conclusion of peace gave Madison his best chance to leave a lasting mark as president, and he recognized the opportunity . Madison determined to draw the appropriate lessons from the nation’s narrow escape from disaster. Accordingly, his Seventh Annual Message to Congress , dated December 5, 1815,"
    -"By a series of such treaties in the years immediately after 1814, Jackson obtained vast lands for white settlement. A historian has estimated his acquisitions at three-quarters of Alabama and Florida, one-third of Tennessee, one-fifth of Georgia and Mississippi, and smaller portions of Kentucky and North Carolina."
    - "Madison was an intellectual rather than an executive"

    Primary Sources
    - James Madison: Seventh Annual Message to Congress
    - Proclamation 19—Granting Pardon to Certain Inhabitants of Barrataria Who Acted in the Defense of New Orleans - February 6, 1815
    - The resolutions of the Hartford Convention
    - Treaty of Ghent; 1814
    - Treaty with The Creeks - August 9, 1814 (Treaty of Fort Jackson)
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1785
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1789
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1795
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1805
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1814
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1815
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1817
    - Treaty with the Wyandot etc 1818
    - Treaty with the Wyandot 1818

    Articles and Resources
    -
    - Treaty of Fort Jackson
    - Battle of Horseshoe Bend
    - Native American Indian Agreements and Treaties
    - Brief Biography: Commodore Stephen Decatur
    - Brief Biography: Commodore William Bainbridge, USN, (1774-1833)
    - Brief Biography: Dolley Madison (White House)
    - Brief Biography: Dolley Madison (First Ladies Historical Library)

    Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, Chapters 4 and 5.

    Next week we will be reading Chapter 3 in What Hath God Wrought.
  • Week 6 :: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe
    Chapter 3: An Era of Good and Bad Feelings

    This week strongly consider reading Chapter 6 in Democracy in America
    Note: It's not the Battle of "Horse-Shoe" Bend. It's the Battle of "Horse-Hoe" Bend.

    Thought Questions
    - How was the Monroe administration an "era of good feelings"?
    - How was the Monroe administration an "era of bad feelings"?
    - In what ways was the Monroe the end of an era and the beginning of another?
    - Compare and Contrast the ideas of "balanced institutions of government" and the "balance between two or more political parties" to preserve liberty in the post revolutionary generation
    - How did the American system of government evolve to blend ideas regarding "balanced institutions of government" and the "balance between two or more political parties"?
    - What social conditions helped and hindered finding a uniquely American republican balance of power?
    - How did the composition of Monroe's cabinet impact the balance of power in government?
    - In what ways did events in Europe impact the course of events in the United States?
    - In what ways did the plans of Tsar Alexander I effect relations between the United States and European powers?
    - What was the "Holy Alliance" and how did it impact the United States?
    - Describe the American conquest of Florida
    - Who were the Seminoles? How were they distinct among the southwestern tribes and how were they representative of southwestern tribes?
    - Describe the relationship between the Creek Wars and the Seminole Wars
    - Describe the conduct of Andrew Jackson in Florida
    - How did Monroe and Jackson tacitly conspired in the wars against the Seminoles?
    - In what ways were the Red Stick War (Creek) and Florida (Seminole) wars connected with the War of 1812?
    - What were the terms of the Treaty of Fort Jackson? How were they imposed?
    - Describe the effective dissolution of the Federalist Party during the Monroe Administration and the impact it had on government?
    - What was the Rush-Bagot Pact and the Convention of 1818?
    - Describe the international situation regarding the Oregon Territory
    - What was the territorial condition of the Old Southwest and Florida at the end of the Monroe administration? What situations had been resolved and which remained unresolved?
    - Describe the impact of Andrew Jackson's behavior up to the end of the Monroe Administration
    - What were the points of the Monroe Doctrine, why was it declared and what impact did it have?
    - How was the Monroe Doctrine related to the rest of President Monroe's seventh annual message to Congress?
    - Describe the situation in Spanish Latin America during the Madison and Monroe administrations
    - Who was John Marshall and what role did he play in the development of the United States?

    Response / Thought Quotes
    - " the answer to these rhetorical questions was negative. If someone had responded by pointing to 1.5 million persons held in chattel slavery, or to white women firmly deprived of rights of person and property, or to expropriated Native Americans, the president would have been startled, then irritated by the irrelevancy. To him and most of those in his audience, such people did not count. But within the next generation, that assumption would be seriously challenged."
    - “Discord does not belong to our system.”
    - “Beware how you give a fatal sanction, in this infant period of our republic, scarcely yet two score years old, to military insubordination. Remember that Greece had her Alexander, Rome her Caesar, England her Cromwell , France her Bonaparte, and that if we would escape the rock on which they split, we must avoid their errors.”
    - “General Jackson was authorized by the supreme law of nature and nations, the law of self-defense ,... to enter the Spanish territory of Florida in pursuit of, and to destroy, hostile, murdering savages, not bound by any obligation, who were without the practice of any moral principle reciprocally obligatory on nations.”

    Primary Sources
    - James Monroe Papers - UCSB American Presidency Project
    - John Quincy Adams Papers - UCSB American Presidency Project
    - Treaty of Fort Jackson
    - Treaty With the Chickasaw (1805)
    - Treaty With the Chickasaw (1816)
    - Exchange of Notes Relative to Naval Forces on the American Lakes
    - The Monroe Doctrine - Library of Congress
    - Seventh Annual Message to Congress - James Monroe - December 2, 1823
    - Marbury v. Madison 5 U.S. 137 (1803)
    - Martin v. Hunter's Lessee, 14 US 304 - Supreme Court 1816
    - Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville - Chapter 6

    Articles
    - James Monroe - Miller Center
    - John Quincy Adams - Miller Center
    - Timeline: The War of 1812 and Indian Wars: 1812-1821 - The Library of Congress
    - The Holy Alliance
    - The Creek War 1813–1814: Center of Military History, United States Army
    - Battle of Tohopeka (Horsehoe Bend)
    - The Battle of Horsehoe Bend - National Park Service
    - Summer 1814: The Treaty of Ft. Jackson ends the Creek War
    - Rush-Bagot Pact, 1817 and Convention of 1818
    - The Rush-Bagot Agreement - Encyclopedia of Canada
    - The Convention of 1818 - Encyclopedia of Canada
    - Marbury v. Madison (1803) - PBS

    Supplemental Reading
    - Continue Reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, Chapters 5-7 paying special attention to chapter 6.
  • Week 7 :: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe
    Chapter 4: The World That Cotton Made

    Response / Thought Quotes
    - “a wretched cavalcade... marching half naked women, and men loaded with chains, without being charged with any crime but that of being black, from one section of the United States to another, hundreds of miles.”
    - “You have kindled a fire which all the waters of the ocean cannot put out, which seas of blood can only extinguish.”
    - “If a dissolution of the Union must take place, let it be so! If civil war, which gentlemen so much threaten, must come, I can only say, let it come!”
    - “A woman who brings a child every two years [is] more valuable than the best man of the farm.”
    - "This momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror . I considered it at once as the knell of the union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.... I regret that I am now to die in the belief, that the useless sacrifice of themselves by the generation of 1776, to acquire self-government and happiness to their country, is to be thrown away by the unwise and unworthy passions of their sons, and that my only consolation is to be, that I live not to weep over"
    - "If slavery be the destined sword of the hand of the destroying angel which is to sever the ties of this Union, the same sword will cut in sunder the bonds of slavery itself. A dissolution of the Union for the cause of slavery would be followed by a servile war in the slave-holding States, combined with a war between the two severed portions of the Union. It seems to me that its result might be the extirpation of slavery from this whole continent; and, calamitous and desolating as this course of events in its progress must be, so glorious would be its final issue, that , as God shall judge me, I dare not say that it is not to be desired."

    Thought Questions
    - Describe the world "Cotton" made in the United States (north and south) and Europe
    - Explain the expression “The Bank was saved but the people were ruined"
    - Why did the end of the War of 1812 precipitate a great migration?
    - What was the Creek "cession"?
    - How did Jackson’s victory at New Orleans and his subsequent invasion of Florida encourage migration to the Southwest?
    - Compare and Contrast the political incorporation of the Old Northwest and the Old Southwest
    - Compare and Contrast migration to the Old Northwest and the Old Southwest
    - How and why did opinions about slavery evolve over the first 30 years of the Republic?
    - Compare and Contrast the institutions of "Land-Lord" and "Labor-Lord"
    - What circumstances and events led to the crisis over Missouri?
    - Why did Maine become a factor in the poltical struggle over Missouri?
    - What were the elements of the Missouri Compromise?
    - What were some of the common characteristics of the post War of 1812 Native American treaties?
    - Compare and Contrast the treaties with Native Americans in the old Northwest and the old Southwest
    - In 1800 what were the lands inhabited by the Cherokee? How did the change by 1822?
    - In 1800 what were the lands inhabited by the Creeks? How did the change by 1822?
    - In 1800 what were the lands inhabited by the Choctaw? How did the change by 1822?
    - In 1800 what were the lands inhabited by the Chickasaw? How did the change by 1822?
    - What were the characteristics of the Alabama Constitution of 1819?
    - What were the characteristics of the Mississippi Constitution of 1817?
    - Compare and Contrast the Alabama 1819 and Mississippi 1817 Constitutions

    Primary Sources
    - The Treaty of Fort Jackson
    - The Missouri Compromise
    - Treaty with the Cherokee March 22 1816
    - Treaty with the Cherokee March 22 1816
    - Treaty with the Cherokee September 14 1816
    - Treaty with the Cherokee 1817
    - Treaty with the Cherokee 1819
    - Treaty with the Cherokee 1819
    - Treaty with the Chickasaw 1818
    - Secret Journal On Negotiations of The Chickasaw Treaty of 1818
    - Treaty with the Choctaw 1820
    - Treaty with the Creeks 1818
    - Treaty with the Delawares 1818
    - Treaty with the Florida Tribes of Indians 1823
    - Treaty with the Kickapoo July 30 1819
    - Treaty with the Kickapoo August 30 1819
    - Treaty with the Kickapoo 1820
    - Treaty with the Miami 1818
    - Treaty with the Osage 1818
    - Treaty with the Ottawa and Chippewa 1820
    - Treaty with the Ottawa etc 1821
    - Treaty with the Pawnee Marhar 1818
    - Treaty with the Noisy Pawnee 1818
    - Treaty with the Grande Pawnee 1818
    - Treaty with the Pawnee Republic 1818
    - Treaty with the Peoria etc 1818
    - Treaty with the Ponca 1817
    - Treaty with the Potawatomi 1818
    - Treaty with the Quapaw 1818
    - Treaty with the Sioux of The Lakes 1815
    - Treaty with the Sioux 1816
    - Treaty with the Wea 1818
    - Treaty with the Wea 1820
    - Treaty with the Winnebago 1816
    - Treaty with the Wyandot 1818
    - State Constitution of Alabama 1819
    - State Constittuion of Mississippi 1818

    Articles and Resources
    - Summer 1814: The Treaty of Ft. Jackson ends the Creek War
    - Map of the Creek "Cession"
    - The Treaty of Fort Jackson
    - Map: The United States in 1819
    - Cherokee Indians - New Georgia Encyclopedia
    - Creek Indians - New Georgia Encyclopedia
    - Languages of Georgia Indians - New Georgia Encyclopedia

    Next week we will be reading "Some Considerations Concerning The Present State And Probable Future Of The Three Races That Inhabit The Territory Of The United States" and "The Present And Probable Future Condition Of The Indian Tribes That Inhabit The Territory Possessed By The Union" in Democracy in America and "Slavery" in American Notes by Charles Dickens (Chapter 27).
  • Week 8: Chapter 10: "Some Considerations Concerning The Present State And Probable Future Of The Three Races That Inhabit The Territory Of The United States" and "The Present And Probable Future Condition Of The Indian Tribes That Inhabit The Territory Possessed By The Union" in Democracy in America and "Slavery" in American Notes by Charles Dickens (Chapter 17)

    Response / Thought Quotes
    Democracy In America: "Some Considerations Concerning The Present State And Probable Future Of The Three Races That Inhabit The Territory Of The United States"
    - "America exemplifies something more than an immense and consummate democracy. There is more than one way to look at the peoples that inhabit the New World."
    - "These two unfortunate races have in common neither birth, appearance, language, nor mores; they are alike only in their misfortunes, equal in their inferiority in the land they inhabit. Both suffer the effects of tyranny, and while their miseries are different, both can blame those miseries on the same tyrant."
    - "Plunged into this abyss of woe, the Negro scarcely feels his affliction. Violence made him a slave, but habituation to servitude has given him the thoughts and ambitions of one. He admires his tyrants even more than he hates them and finds his joy and his pride in servile imitation of his oppressors."
    - "European tyranny attenuated the North American Indians’ feeling for their native land, dispersed their families, obscured their traditions, severed the chain of memory, changed their habits, and increased their needs immeasurably, making them less disciplined and civilized than they were before. Meanwhile, the tribes’ moral and physical condition grew steadily worse, and their barbarity kept pace with their wretchedness. Yet Europeans were not able to change the character of the Indians entirely, and though they had the power to destroy them, they were never able to reduce them to order and obedience."
    - "The Negro exists at the ultimate extreme of servitude, the Indian at the outer limits of freedom. The effects of slavery on the former are scarcely more disastrous than those of independence on the latter."
    - "But there was something particularly touching in the scene just described: here a bond of affection united the oppressed to the oppressors, and nature, in striving to bring them together, made the vast distance that prejudices and laws had placed between them even more striking."

    Democracy in America "The Present And Probable Future Condition Of The Indian Tribes That Inhabit The Territory Possessed By The Union"
    - These savages did not simply retreat; they were destroyed.2 As the Indians withdrew and died, a vast and steadily growing people came to take their place. Never has such a prodigious development been seen among the nations of the world, nor such a rapid destruction.
    - "Europeans introduced the natives of North America to firearms, iron, and whiskey."
    - "In the hope of escaping their many enemies, they split up. Each new arrival went off by himself to search stealthily for the means to stay alive, living in the immensity of the wilderness as an outlaw lives in civilized society. The social bond, long since weakened, now broke. Already these migrants had no homeland, and soon they ceased to constitute a people."
    - "Toward the end of 1831, I found myself on the east bank of the Mississippi, at the place the Europeans call Memphis. During the time I was there, a large band of Choctaws arrived (the French of Louisiana call them Choctas). These savages had left their native land and were trying to make their way across to the west bank of the Mississippi, where they hoped to find the refuge promised them by the American government. It was then the heart of winter, and the cold that year was unusually bitter. The snow on the ground had frozen, and enormous chunks of ice floated on the river. The Indians traveled in families. Among them were the wounded and the sick, newborn infants, and dying elders. They had neither tents nor wagons, only scant provisions and some weapons. I watched them embark for the voyage across the great river, and the memory of that solemn spectacle will stay with me forever."
    - "The evils enumerated above are great, and to me they seem irreparable. I believe that the Indian race in North America is doomed, and I cannot help thinking that by the time Europeans have settled the Pacific coast, it will have ceased to exist."
    - "The Indian, in the depths of his sylvan misery, thus nurses the same ideas and the same opinions as the medieval nobleman in his fortified castle, and all he needs to end up resembling him is to become a conqueror. Indeed, it is remarkable that the old prejudices of Europe are found today in the forests of the New World rather than among the Europeans who inhabit its shores."
    - "When I note the resemblance between the political institutions of our ancestors, the Germanic tribes, and those of the roving tribes of North America, between the customs described by Tacitus and those that I was able to witness from time to time, I cannot help thinking that the same cause produced the same effects in both hemispheres and that in the midst of the apparent diversity of human things it is not impossible to find a small number of basic facts from which all others derive. In what we call Germanic institutions, therefore, I am tempted to see nothing other than barbarian habits, just as I am tempted to see the opinions of savages in what we call feudal ideas."
    - "Washington, in one of his messages to Congress, said: “We are more enlightened and more powerful than the Indian nations. It is for us a matter of honor to treat them with kindness and even generosity.” This noble and virtuous policy has not been adhered to."
    - "The Spaniards, despite acts of unparalleled monstrousness that left them indelibly covered with shame, were unable to exterminate the Indian race or even prevent the Indians from sharing their rights. The Americans of the United States achieved both results with marvelous ease, quietly, legally, philanthropically, without bloodshed, without violating a single one of the great principles of morality29 in the eyes of the world. To destroy human beings with greater respect for the laws of humanity would be impossible."

    "Slavery" American Notes by Charles Dickens (Chapter 17)
    - "The third, and not the least numerous or influential, is composed of all that delicate gentility which cannot bear a superior, and cannot brook an equal; of that class whose Republicanism means, ‘I will not tolerate a man above me: and of those below, none must approach too near;’ whose pride, in a land where voluntary servitude is shunned as a disgrace, must be ministered to by slaves; and whose inalienable rights can only have their growth in negro wrongs."
    - "Slavery is not a whit the more endurable because some hearts are to be found which can partially resist its hardening influences; nor can the indignant tide of honest wrath stand still, because in its onward course it overwhelms a few who are comparatively innocent, among a host of guilty."
    - "But again: this class, together with that last one I have named, the miserable aristocracy spawned of a false republic, lift up their voices and exclaim ‘Public opinion is all-sufficient to prevent such cruelty as you denounce.’ Public opinion! Why, public opinion in the slave States is slavery, is it not? Public opinion, in the slave States, has delivered the slaves over, to the gentle mercies of their masters. Public opinion has made the laws, and denied the slaves legislative protection. Public opinion has knotted the lash, heated the branding-iron, loaded the rifle, and shielded the murderer. Public opinion threatens the abolitionist with death, if he venture to the South; and drags him with a rope about his middle, in broad unblushing noon, through the first city in the East. Public opinion has, within a few years, burned a slave alive at a slow fire in the city of St. Louis; and public opinion has to this day maintained upon the bench that estimable judge who charged the jury, impanelled there to try his murderers, that their most horrid deed was an act of public opinion, and being so, must not be punished by the laws the public sentiment had made. Public opinion hailed this doctrine with a howl of wild applause, and set the prisoners free, to walk the city, men of mark, and influence, and station, as they had been before."
    - "‘Cash for negroes,’‘cash for negroes,’‘cash for negroes,’ is the heading of advertisements in great capitals down the long columns of the crowded journals. Woodcuts of a runaway negro with manacled hands, crouching beneath a bluff pursuer in top boots, who, having caught him, grasps him by the throat, agreeably diversify the pleasant text. The leading article protests against ‘that abominable and hellish doctrine of abolition, which is repugnant alike to every law of God and nature.’ The delicate mamma, who smiles her acquiescence in this sprightly writing as she reads the paper in her cool piazza, quiets her youngest child who clings about her skirts, by promising the boy ‘a whip to beat the little niggers with.’—But the negroes, little and big, are protected by public opinion."
    - "What! shall we declaim against the ignorant peasantry of Ireland, and mince the matter when these American taskmasters are in question? Shall we cry shame on the brutality of those who hamstring cattle: and spare the lights of Freedom upon earth who notch the ears of men and women, cut pleasant posies in the shrinking flesh, learn to write with pens of red-hot iron on the human face, rack their poetic fancies for liveries of mutilation which their slaves shall wear for life and carry to the grave, breaking living limbs as did the soldiery who mocked and slew the Saviour of the world, and set defenceless creatures up for targets! Shall we whimper over legends of the tortures practised on each other by the Pagan Indians, and smile upon the cruelties of Christian men! Shall we, so long as these things last, exult above the scattered remnants of that race, and triumph in the white enjoyment of their possessions? Rather, for me, restore the forest and the Indian village; in lieu of stars and stripes, let some poor feather flutter in the breeze; replace the streets and squares by wigwams; and though the death-song of a hundred haughty warriors fill the air, it will be music to the shriek of one unhappy slave."

    Next week we will continue reading "What God Hath Wrought" Chapter 5
  • Week 9: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe
    Chapter 5: Awakenings of Religion


    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "It was as dark a day as ever I saw. The injury done to the cause of Christ, as we then supposed, was irreparable. For several days I suffered what no tongue can tell for the best thing that ever happened to the State of Connecticut. It cut the churches loose from dependence on state support. It threw them wholly on their own resources and on God.”
    - "The great aim of the Christian Church in its relation to the present life is not only to renew the individual man, but also to reform human society”
    - "Christians loyal to the theology of the Reformation believed such an appeal left too little role for divine initiative. Some of them reproached Finney for excessive emotionalism, as other revivalists have been reproached before and since."
    - "Both sides wanted to encourage revivals. The Finneyites agreed not to call their colleagues “cold,”“unconverted,” or “dead”; the other side consented not to call the Finneyites “heretics,”“enthusiasts,” or “mad.”"
    - "A Methodist preacher in those days, when he felt that God had called him to preach, instead of hunting up a college or Biblical institute, hunted up a hard pony of a horse, and some traveling apparatus, and with his library always at hand, namely, Bible, Hymn Book, and [Methodist] Discipline, he started, and with a text that never wore out nor grew stale, he cried, “Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.” In this way he went through storms of wind, hail, snow, and rain; climbed hills and mountains, traversed valleys, plunged through swamps, swam swollen streams, lay out all night, wet, weary, and hungry, held his horse by the bridle all night, or tied him to a limb, slept with his saddle blanket for a bed, his saddle or saddle-bags for his pillow, and his old big coat or blanket, if he had any, for a covering.... Under such circumstances, who among us would now say, “Here am I, Lord, send me?”
    - "Our final conclusion regarding all of these social results— good, bad, and questionable —is that in one sense they are only side effects of efforts that were ineffable and beyond mundane measuring, for the missionaries and church founders came above all to minister the consolations of religion— to bring word of amazing grace to wretched souls. In what measure they succeeded in that primary task God only knows."

    Thought Questions
    - Who was Lyman Beecher and what influence did he and his family have on American political and religious life?
    - Describe the development of the separation of church and state in the early Republic?
    - Explain and Expand: "Any establishment of religion, even as democratic a religion as Yankee Congregationalism, violated the tenets of Jeffersonian Republicanism."
    - Why and in what ways did the religious divide in the Early Republic manifest in the Federalist - Republican divide?
    - Describe how Lyman Beecher symbolized the transition from New England Puritanism to Yankee Progressivism
    - Describe the emergence of temperance as a social and political issue in the Early Republic
    - Compare and Contrast Charles Finney and Jonathan Edwards
    - What was the "born again" experience as understood by Evangelicals in the Early Republic? How did this "born again" experience differ from the conversion experience of the Puritans and the "Inner Light" experience of Anabaptists and Pietists?
    - Compare and Contrast Evangelicals in the Early Republic with Anabaptists and Pietists. How did English and German backgrounds factor into their differences?
    - What common social themes and issues were common in Beecher's fundamentalists and Finney's evangelicals?
    - How did slavery impact American fundamentalists and evangelicals?
    - How did slavery impact American Catholics generally and Irish immigrants particularly?
    - How did slavery impact "high church" (Eastern Orthodox, Anglican) congregations in America?
    - How did slavery impact "low church" (Primitive Baptists, Quakers, German Brethren, etc) in America?
    - In what ways did fundamentalism and evangelicalism impact denominations?
    - What were "Circuit Riders" and what impact did they have on American frontier communities? What services did they provide the frontier aside from their religious mission? What were "Camp Meetings" and "Brush Arbor Meetings"?
    - Describe the development of American Methodism? How did the name "Methodist" come into use?
    - Compare and Contrast the development, beliefs and practices of Baptists and Methodists in America
    - What role did George Whitfield and John Wesley have in the development of American Christianity?
    - Describe the rise of "free" black churches and denominations in America
    - Describe the "Second Great Awakening". How is the label misleading? How is the label meaningful?
    - What circumstances gave rise to the Second Great Awakening?
    - What role did race and slavery play in the Second Great Awakening?
    - How did the Second Great Awakening highlight the differences between rural and urban America?
    - What were the economic teachings associated with the Second Great Awakening?
    - Compare and Contrast the "First" and "Second" Great Awakenings
    - What were the lasting impacts of the Second Great Awakening?
    - How did gender impact different denominations and sects in America?
    - How did Quakers fit into the religious landscape of the Second Great Awakening?
    - In what ways did American life and circumstances begin to create a distinct "American Catholicism" in the early republic?
    - What role did Catholic Evangelicals play in the Second Great Awakening?
    - How were Jews in America impacted by the Second Great Awakening?

    Articles and References
    - Brief Biography: Lyman Beecher
    - Brief Biography: Henry Ward Beecher
    - People & Ideas: Lyman Beecher
    - Brief Biography: Charles Grandison Finney
    - Brush Arbor Meetings
    - Brief Biography: John Wesley
    - Brief Biography: George Whitfield
    - Second Great Awakening

    Further Reading
    - Baptists in America: A History by Thomas S. Kidd and Barry Hankins
    - The Methodists and Revolutionary America, 1760-1800: The Shaping of an Evangelical Culture by Dee Andrews
    - Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830 by Sylvia R. Frey and Betty Wood
    - George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father by Thomas S. Kidd

    Continue reading American Notes by Charles Dickens, Chapters 9 - 11
  • Week 10: What Hath God Wrought by Daniel Walker Howe
    Chapter 6: Overthrowing the Tyranny of Distance


    Response / Thought Quotes
    - "“He is one of the most unfit men I know of for such a place.”"
    - "Besides, Clay thought a military hero with a record of defying civilian authority a dangerously inappropriate choice for president."
    - "“the only reasonable and responsible one, the only one that could avert a long drawn-out battle leading to constitutional crisis.”"
    - "No sooner was President Monroe reelected in 1820 than campaigning began for the election of 1824."
    - "“The Judas of the West has closed the contract and will receive the thirty pieces of silver. His end will be the same.”"
    - "In the early twentieth century the National Road was extended east to Atlantic City and west to San Francisco and renamed Highway 40; later, portions of it were incorporated into Interstate."
    - "The joke ran that they could float on a heavy dew, and it was literally true that one of them could carry eighty passengers with forty tons of freight in two feet of water."
    - "“We have become the most careless, reckless, headlong people on the face of the earth. ‘Go ahead’ is our maxim and pass-word, and we do go ahead with a vengeance, regardless of consequences and indifferent to the value of human life .”"
    - "On October 26, 1825, Governor DeWitt Clinton boarded the canal boat Seneca Chief in Lake Erie and arrived at Albany a week later, having been cheered in every town along the way . He then floated down the Hudson to New York harbor, where, surrounded by a flotilla of boats and ships of all kinds, he poured a keg of Lake Erie water into the Atlantic."
    - "“Of all the ways of travelling, the canal boat is the most absolutely prosaic.”"
    - "In 1831, the French visitor Alexis de Tocqueville called the American Post Office a “great link between minds”that penetrated into “the heart of the wilderness”; in 1832, the German political theorist Francis Lieber called it “one of the most effective elements of civilization.”"

    Thought Quotes
    - Explain and Expand: "In traditional society, the only items worth transporting long distances had been luxury goods , and information about the outside world had been one of the most precious luxuries of all. The transportation and communications revolutions made both goods and information broadly accessible. In doing so, they laid a foundation not only for widespread economic betterment and wider intellectual horizons but also for political democracy : in newspapers and magazines, in post offices, in nationwide movements to influence public opinion, and in mass political parties."
    - Explain and Expand: "To improve the means of communication, then , is to promote a real, positive, and practical liberty; it is to extend to all the members of the human family the power of traversing and turning to account the globe, which has been given to them as their patrimony; it is to increase the rights and privileges of the greatest number, as truly and as amply as could be done by electoral laws. The effect of the most perfect system of transportation is to reduce the distance not only between different places, but between different classes."

    American Literature
    - Tales of a Traveller by Washington Irving
    - The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U. S. A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West by Washington Irving and Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville
    - The Sketch-Book of Geoffrey Crayon by Washington Irving
    - Astoria, or, anecdotes of an enterprise beyond the Rocky Mountains by Washington Irving
    - Knickerbocker's History of New York by Washington Irving
    - The Leatherstocking Tales (2 vols) by James Fenimore Cooper

    Primary Sources
    - The diary of Philip Hone, 1828-1851
    - Democracy In America - Chapter VIII: The Federal Constitution
    - Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

    Further Reading
    - The Great Railroad Revolution: The History of Trains in America by Christian Wolmar
    - The Transportation Revolution 1815-1860 by George Rogers Taylor
    - How the Post Office Created America: A History by Winifred Gallagher
    - Steamboats and the Rise of the Cotton Kingdom: Race and Class in Modern Society by Robert H. Gudmestad
    - The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt by T.J. Stiles
    - Andrew Carnegie by David Nasaw

We will be reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and American Notes by Charles Dickens while reading this book. This will provide a valuable insight into how the European gentry, intellectual and property classes viewed the United States "experiment". Regardless of bias, individuals such as this were significant because their views filtered into and effected European society - including soon to be immigrants and the young European leaders that in time would make decisions that effected the United States during the Civil War.

Ideas and migrants evolve and move in interesting ways.

Reading Discussion

The surveys below blend political, economic, social and military aspects of the American Early Republic era.

American Early Republic Group Reading List

  1. Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815 by Gordon S. Wood
  2. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel Walker Howe
    (We will also be reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and American Notes by Charles Dickens while reading this book)
  3. The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846 by Charles Sellers (We will also be reading The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist while reading this book)
  4. The Dawn of Innovation: The First American Industrial Revolution by Charles R. Morris
    (We'll be listening to The Great Courses lectures on the Industrial Revolution by Professor Patrick N. Allitt while reading this book)
  5. A Wicked War: Polk, Clay, Lincoln, and the 1846 U.S. Invasion of Mexico by Amy S. Greenberg
    (We will be reading A Glorious Defeat: Mexico and Its War with the United States by Timothy J. Henderson while reading this book)
  6. The Civil War of 1812: American Citizens, British Subjects, Irish Rebels, & Indian Allies by Alan Taylor
    (We will be reading Ships of Oak, Guns of Iron: The War of 1812 and the Forging of the American Navy by Ronald Utt while we read this book)
  7. American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America by Colin Woodard
    (We will be reading Mapping the Nation: History and Cartography in Nineteenth-Century America by Susan Schulten while reading this book)
  8. The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government by Fergus M. Bordewich
    (We will be reading Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans by Joyce Appleby while reading this book)
  9. Trans-Appalachian Frontier, Third Edition: People, Societies, and Institutions, 1775-1850 by Malcolm J. Rohrbough
    (We will be reading The Ohio Frontier: Crucible of the Old Northwest, 1720–1830 by R. Douglas Hurt while we read this book)
  10. Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow
    (We will be reading Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow while we read this book)
  11. The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition by Manisha Sinha
    (We will also be reading Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South by Adam Rothman while reading this book)
  12. The Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828 by Lynn Hudson Parsons
    (We will be reading America 1844: Religious Fervor, Westward Expansion, and the Presidential Election That Transformed the Nation by John Bicknell while we read this book)
  13. Kentucke's Frontiers by Craig Thompson Friend
    (We will be reading Tennessee Frontiers: Three Regions in Transition by John R. Finger while reading this book)
  14. John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan
    (We will be reading Lincoln and the Abolitionists: John Quincy Adams, Slavery, and the Civil War by Fred Kaplan while we read this book)
  15. The Wisconsin Frontier by Mark Wyman
    (We will be reading Creating an Old South: Middle Florida's Plantation Frontier before the Civil War by Edward E. Baptist while reading this book)
  16. Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times by H.W. Brands
    (We will be reading America's First Great Depression: Economic Crisis and Political Disorder after the Panic of 1837 by Alasdair Roberts while we read this book)
  17. Lone Star Nation: The Epic Story of the Battle for Texas Independence by H.W. Brands
    (We will be reading The Age of Gold: The California Gold Rush and the New American Dream by H. W. Brands while reading this book)
  18. The Great Divide: The Conflict between Washington and Jefferson that Defined a Nation by Thomas Fleming
    (We will be reading John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court by R. Kent Newmyer while reading this book)
  19. Empires, Nations, and Families: A History of the North American West, 1800-1860 by Anne F. Hyde (We will also be reading Contested Territories: Native Americans and Non-Natives in the Lower Great Lakes, 1700-1850 by Charles Beatty-Medina and Melissa Rinehart while reading this book)
  20. Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson by Gordon S. Wood
    (We will be reading Madison and Jefferson by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg while reading this book)

After the first books listed above we will select the next books we read from the list here.

Provide us feedback and suggestions for our next book by clicking here.