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United States

The history of the United States is the history of a growing nation. Every period of its life is a transitional period, but that from the close of the War of 1812 to the election of Andrew Jackson was peculiarly one of readjustment. It was during this time that the new republic gave clear evidence that it was throwing off the last remnants of colonial dependence. The Revolution had not fully severed the United States from the European state system; but now the United States attained complete independence and asserted its predominance in the western continent.

From the close of the War of 1812, an increasing reaction was in progress in various states against the ardent nationalism which characterized the country at that time. The assertion of the doctrine of state sovereignty by the Hartford Convention in 1814 [Footnote: Babcock, Am. Nationality (Am. Nation, XIII.), chap. xv.] so aroused the other sections of the country that particularism was for the time discredited.

By geographical position, the land of the Puritans was devoted to provincialism. While other sections merged into one another and even had a west in their own midst, New England was obliged to cross populous states in order to reach the regions into which national life was expanding; and her sons who migrated found themselves under conditions that weakened their old affiliations and linked their fortunes with the section which they entered.

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.

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.

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.

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