Unit 4 focuses on the time period from the election of 1800 to the end of the Mexican-American War in 1848. Period 4 is primarily a period of gradual change that lays the foundation for later periods.
By this point in American history, the U.S. Constitution was firmly the law of the land. However, the new country needed to figure out the limits of the Constitution and work to shape itself into a modern democracy. One of the first steps was to establish the idea of judicial review as a way for the judicial branch to check the power of the legislative and executive branches. The American democracy also expanded its democratic participation to gradually include all [free] men.
Beginning in the early 1900s, Americans also began to think of themselves as Americans—not British, or colonists, or settlers in different communities. As part of this movement, artists began to use distinctively American styles to paint landscapes. Likewise, a distinctive American religious identity started to emerge in the Second Great Awakening.
Economically, the United States began to change from an agricultural economy to a manufacturing economy. There were several important inventions during this time that helped the transition, including the invention of the telegraph and textile machinery. Henry Clay’s American System ensured that goods and services could move quickly around the country. The North gradually became a major industrial center. The South maintained its agricultural character with large plantations fueled by slave labor. While the division between North and South started with these economic differences, the two areas gradually came to develop distinct cultural identities and worldviews.
Americans continued to expand westward. As a result of this, Native Americans were continually displaced and treated unfairly by the federal government. Many were forcibly relocated onto reservation lands in Oklahoma and the American southwest. The federal government purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 and doubled the size of the country overnight.
The United States 1800-1848
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