Shaping The United States

There are countless books and novels about some horrifying things we as a country used to do to minorities, women, people of colored descent, etc. If all of the lifetimes of books and history never happened, we as a country would never be where we are today. A quote from Johnny Cash, that reflects how Americans should look at history is, “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on them.

You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” Everything in history is a lesson, that builds us to where we are now.

In the mid-1790s there were only about 27,000 free blacks in the northern states, in the same states, over 40,000 slaves. By late 1810 these same states had around 75,000 free blacks and about 27,000 slaves. The northern states, making forward progress.

In the 1830s there were well over 122,000 free blacks in these states and down to less than 3,000 slaves. The majority of the slaves reside in New Jersey. After the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. was posed with the question of slavery migrating westward. This did none other than drive political parties farther apart and is now the main reason we are 2-party dominant to this day.. This created a chaotic sectional crisis problem that had no signs of an easy answer.

During the 1840’s the United States property growth expanded exponentially, occurring over four years, gaining an extra 1.

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2 million square miles. A ridiculous gain of more than sixty percent of what the U.S.owned already. Manifest Destiny was the doctrine that officially added all this new land to US territory. This, seeming like a good thing at first, caused a bad snowball effect, because not everyone was in favor of the new land. An example of how bad the snowball effect really was, “Methodist minister Wilson Whitaker reported what happened at a North Carolina auction when John Cotten battled with a man the preacher knew only as ‘Dancy.’ The two first clashed over who would win a cornfield. Then they ran the price of a male slave up to $1,400–New Orleans prices, in North Carolina. Dancy could go no higher. But then he called Cotten ‘a dam’d scoundrel,’ and went for the winner with a whip. So Cotten pulled out his pistol and shot him. ”

A collection of some people who supported Manifest Destiny knew that the chance of causing an inner-nation war existed, but they were still in favor for it. Southern slave owners dreamed of expanding their own personal slave empires, those were the biggest supporters of the land expansion in the west . This is one of the consequences that the U.S. suffered from expanding but nonetheless contributed to where we stand as a country today. The situation was increasingly worse over time and showed no signs of turning around. The slavery commodity was heavily increasing with no signs of stopping. By 1850 almost 90% of the World got their supply of cotton from Southern America. The major reason for southerners in any type of politics came to be the sole reason to enlarge slavery. Their main political objective was to extend the cotton-growing area beyond its current borders, keeping America’s South represented by their mass cotton-slavery system.

On January 24, 1848, the day different people from all around the world left everything they knew to create a new beginning, the day gold was discovered in California. During 1849, people from all over the world were coming to California to strike gold. In the beginning stages of the Gold Rush, California was what we would consider today, isolated. In 1849, Rufus Porter, created a stock company to construct an 800 ft steam-powered train planning to carry 50-100 passengers from New York to California, in 3 days. It wouldn’t have worked, but his proposal shows the spirit of the times: mid-nineteenth-century Americans were people in a hurry, and they sought to move faster using steam, iron, and electricity. Inevitably the mass migration of new gold miners created a drive for fast transportation. Opening up to a new world of train tracks, roads, bridges, and ferries American transportation was blasted into the future. A train near Panama was fully operational by December 1854, where travelers could make it cross country in 3-4 hours for $25 . Between the years 1848 and 1869, over 600,000 travellers had used the Panama train. At its maximum potential the train pulled more than 46,000 traveling peoples in 1859 at its peak.

Planning for long and tedious trips to the goldfields was often underestimated leaving travelers, with either lack of cash, or lack of foresight. The roads used were very poor or what we would consider today, not even a road. Most did not have any means of transport apart from walking. Some carried their possessions in bags on their backs, others pushed wheelbarrows. More fortunate travelers had horses to ride. The cost of a horse just to feed was too much for the average gold miner. Although the trip was excruciating, many people made massive riches in the goldfields, while some others left empty-handed. Also, another use of transportation to jobs out West was the train near Panama where travelers could make it cross country in 3-4 hours for $25.

That year about 80,000 immigrants came to California, hoping to make a living. In May of 1852, the state created a Foreign Miners Tax. The tax, was inflicted on non-Americans in two years after is was created. This tax, charged a fee of $3 per month and was solely directed to charge Chinese miners . By the start of the 1850’s more than 25% of California’s census had been born outside of the U.S. As the discovery was slower to reach the eastern coast, most of the first immigrants to jump on the opportunity were from South America, and Asia . In the span of only five years, the United States had increased its population size by 33% and had expanded into what is now Washington, Arizona, California, Texas, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. The rapid immigration led to prices spiking for everything. “A bottle of molasses or a pint-and-a-half of vinegar sold for a dollar. Pork was $5 a pound. Eggs went for as much as $4 a dozen. Toothpicks were sold for 50 cents apiece. The value of real estate exploded. A lot in San Francisco purchased in 1847 for $16.50 sold for $6,000 in the spring of 1848 and was later resold for $48,000. ”

In the early stages of the 19th century, slavery in the U.S. was a very taboo subject between states. States that had slavery already being established at the time, had different rules and regulations to regulate the activity of slaves trade and all conduct involving slavery, and there were also laws in the northern states that abolished slavery, where the free black population grew rapidly. During the 1850s the United States had become a nation split into two by specific personal beliefs. The South believed in a pro-slavery country that supported the expansion of slavery into the newly founded western territories. The North held strong feelings that opposed slavery in the westward expansion.

In the Presidential Election of 1860, held on November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln representing the Republican party defeated Democrat John Breckinridge. In the months after Abe Lincoln’s election, before his inauguration, 7 Southern states, led by South Carolina, seceded and kicked off the American Civil War which lasted from 1861–1865. After the election of 1860, the Democratic and Republican parties became the 2 dominant political parties in a largely two-party system where we stand today, many people believe that is why this is one of the most critical elections. During this time it was a political war against slavery between the North and the South. The North held strong feelings that opposed slavery in the westward expansion, led by Democrat John Breckinridge. The biggest issue that the Democrats found themselves facing was slavery and states’ rights. Before they knew it the party soon split down regional lines , and that was all they had. The South believed in a pro-slavery country that supported the expansion of slavery into the newly founded western territories, led by the winner of the election of 1860, Abraham Lincoln. Following on the Dred Scott decision of 1857, which the U.S. Supreme Court override the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Making slavery legal in all U.S. territories, the election of 1860 was nothing short of lighting the fuse to the Civil War.

The transition out west was a diamond in the ruff for some, but others were left empty-handed and nothing to their name. There were excess varieties of job opportunities in California during the gold rush. Many were gold miners, panners, and things dealing with gold. Others occupied farms, sold clothing items, and opened businesses . But even though there were many opportunities to make money, only some walked away successfully. Mostly, peoples of their own culture tried sticking together, groups like the Chinese, Eastern, and Northern Europe. Most tried keeping a piece of their own culture when moved on to the new land, which created a more diverse population. Others saw it as an escape to move on, clean slate and to create a new beginning.

The new times in California were not easy to adjust to though, the newborn economy couldn’t provide enough supplies for mass population gold seekers. Leading up through the 1850s, most food supplies were imported from foreign areas. A lot of foods came from China, Australia, Eastern parts of the United States. But the majority were all 3-6 months sailing time to California where they needed it. Hawaii was only a 3-5 weeks sail away and was working on developing mass agricultural area. In the fall of 1850, 469 ships sailing from Hawaii, arrive at San Francisco, their trade valued at $380,000 worth of money at the time. But newcomers soon figured out Oregon’s products, not to mention, a much more accessible area then overseas areas, were cheaper and better then being shipped in. Chinese emigrants still continued importing the foods they preferred. Hawaii swung back at the west coast, now importing tropical goods California couldn’t produce (mainly sugar). Immigrants arriving from northern and western Europe used covered wagons, ships, and horseback, to migrate.

Formally known as “forty-niners” , the year they began arriving in California, often claimed plots of land nearing rivers, where they panned gold from silt deposits. Improvements in steamship and railroad technology were what triggered this migration, which dramatically reshaped the heritage of California. As the government of California noticed the booming population, widespread anti-immigrant views led to the creation of taxes and laws that targeted immigrants. California’s first governor, Peter Burnett, openly spoke his hatred for the native population and demanded its immediate complete race extinction. Under Burnett’s leadership, California paid white settlers in exchange for Indian scalps. As a result, California’s native population, by 1890 had been almost completely eliminated . Another conflict we ran across was the Spanish-American War, that ended Spain’s empire. Spain controlled in the Western Hemisphere, after U.S. victory, we secured the position for the United States to hold Pacific power. The U.S. victory compelled a peace treaty that made the Spanish relinquish their claims with Cuba and to release control over Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines and shift the power to the United States. The United States also seized Hawaii for the time being. This on top of the war, gave the United States power to pursue its strategic and economic interests in Asia .

Even though the Gold Rush had some negative effects, it shaped America in a miraculous way. If it had not have been for the Gold Rush, the United States would’ve had to find another source of income to pay off their war debt. The U.S. spent so much money on the Spanish-American War, the profit from the Gold Rush helped bring back money into the government. The money from the gold rush helped finance the Civil War. While the war was still going on. By 1860, the rush for California’s gold was over. Miners had already found more than $350 million worth of gold. “The profit made from California’s gold reached about $130 million. That money also helped expand the U.S. economy in Europe, Asia, and China. ” With this extra spending money, America started trading more with those other countries.

Conflict within the U.S. has progressively shaped the country in so many different ways. All inner U.S. conflict has shaped the U.S. to be the way it is today in some way, but, during this time period, some of the most crucial outcomes of history were set in stone. Everything in history is a lesson, that builds us to where we are now. Arguably, some of the most horrific lessons learned in history were during this time, but who knows what our country would be like if this never happened. Drawing over everything from the War’s, the election, the inner-disagreements in this country, all of that makes us who we are as a country today.

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Shaping The United States. (2021, Dec 09). Retrieved from

Shaping The United States
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