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Frederick Jackson Turner

The middle states formed a zone of transition between the east and the west, the north and the south [Footnote: For earlier discussions of the middle colonies and states, see Tyler, ENGLAND IN AMERICA, chap, xvii.; Andrews, COLONIAL SELF-GOVERNMENT, chaps, v., vii., xviii., xix.; Greene, PROVINCIAL AMERICA, chaps. xvi.-xviii. (AM. NATION, IV., V., VI.)]. Geographically, they lay on the line of the natural routes between the Atlantic on the one side, and the Ohio and the Great Lakes on the other. [Footnote: Gallatin, WRITINGS, III., 49; Clinton, in LAWS OF THE STATE OF N.Y.

While the slavery agitation was inflaming the minds of South Carolina and her sister states of the cotton region, and while Georgia, half a frontier state, was flinging defiance at the general government when it checked her efforts to complete the possession of her territory, the reopening of the tariff question brought the matter of state resistance to a climax.

In the decade which forms the subject of this volume, no section underwent more far-reaching changes than did the group of South Atlantic states made up of Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, with which this chapter will deal under the name of the south. Then it was that the south came to appreciate the effect of the westward spread of the cotton-plant upon slavery and politics. The invention of the cotton-gin by Eli Whitney, [Footnote: Am. Hist. Review, III., 99.] in 1793, made possible the profitable cultivation of the short-staple variety of cotton.

The rise of the new west was the most significant fact in American history in the years immediately following the War of 1812. Ever since the beginnings of colonization on the Atlantic coast a frontier of settlement had advanced, cutting into the forest, pushing back the Indian, and steadily widening the area of civilization in its rear. [Footnote: Three articles by F.J. Turner, viz.: "Significance of the Frontier in American History," in Am. Hist.

Arrived at the nearest point to his destination on the Ohio, the emigrant either cut out a road to his new home or pushed up some tributary of that river in a keel-boat. If he was one of the poorer classes, he became a squatter on the public lands, trusting to find in the profits of his farming the means of paying for his land. Not uncommonly, after clearing the land, he sold his improvements to the actual purchaser, under the customary usage or by pre-emption laws.

By 1820 the west had developed the beginnings of many of the cities which have since ruled over the region. Buffalo and Detroit were hardly more than villages until the close of this period. They waited for the rise of steam navigation on the Great Lakes and for the opening of the prairies. Cleveland, also, was but a hamlet during most of the decade; but by 1830 the construction of the canal connecting the Cuyahoga with the Scioto increased its prosperity, and its harbor began to profit by its natural advantages. [Footnote: Whittlesey, Early Hist. of Cleveland, 456; Kennedy, Hist.

In the decade of which we write, more than two-thirds of the present area of the United States was Indian country - a vast wilderness stretching from the Great Lakes to the Pacific Ocean. East of the Mississippi, the pioneers had taken possession of the hardwoods of the Ohio, but over the prairies between them and the Great Lakes the wild flowers and grasses grew rank and undisturbed.

In 1820 the United States had a population of about nine and one- half millions; in 1830, nearly thirteen millions. It was spread out from east to west like a page in the history of society. On the Atlantic seaboard were the centers of American civilization that had grown up in colonial days in close touch with Europe. From this region of commerce and manufacture, the nation, on its march towards the west, changed through successive types of industrial life until in the Rocky Mountains the frontier fur-trader mingled with the Indians.

In the dark period of the commercial crisis of 1819, while Congress was considering the admission of Missouri, the slavery issue flamed out, and revealed with startling distinctness the political significance of the institution, fateful and ominous for the nation, transcending in importance the temporary financial and industrial ills.

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