Chapter 2 - Democracy Expanded, Democracy Teste


Terms for Week 2  

  • Indian Removal
  • Manifest Destiny
  • Monroe Doctrine
  • Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
  • Worcester v. Georgia
  • Female Moral Reform Society
  • Anti-Catholicism
  • Boston Associates
  • “The Machine in the Garden”
  • Lowell, Massachusetts, 1823
  • Lowell Girls
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • Sarah and Angelina Grimke
  • Women's Rights Convention
  • Rev. Charles Finney
  • Horace Mann
  • Democratic Party
  • Portland’s Chinatown
  • Whig Party
  • Andrew Jackson
  • The Spoils System
  • Universal Suffrage


The Monroe Doctrine, proposed in the President's annual message to Congress on December 2, 1823, was the first major assertion of American foreign policy.  Part of the document is presented below:

In the wars of the European powers in matters relating to themselves we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy so to do.  It is only when our rights are invaded or seriously menaced that we resent injuries or make preparation for our defense.  With the movements in this hemisphere we are of necessity more immediately connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened and impartial observers.  The political system of the allied powers is essentially different in this respect from that of America...  We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.  

With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere.  But with the governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.  

Source: President James Monroe's Message to Congress, December 2, 1823. 


The passages below reflect the transformation of the American political system as a consequence of the expansion of voting rights.  In the first vignette James Kent, a conservative delegate to the 1821 New York state constitutional convention which extended voting rights to all white males, argues in vain for preserving property requirements.  The chart shows the dramatic increase in the number and percentages of Americans voting in presidential elections between 1824 and 1844.

By the report before us, we propose to annihilate, at one stroke, all those property distinctions and to bow before the idol of universal suffrage.  That extreme democratic principle, when applied to the legislative and executive departments of the government, has been regarded with terror, by the wise men of every age, because in every European republic, ancient and modern, in which it has been tried, it has terminated disastrously, and been productive of corruption, injustice, violence, and tyranny...

The apprehended danger from the experiment of universal suffrage applied to the whole legislative department, is no dream of the imagination.  It is too mighty an excitement for the moral constitution of men to endure.  The tendency of universal suffrage is to jeopardize the rights of property and the principles of liberty.  There is a constant the poor to covet a share in the plunder of the rich; in the debtor to relax or avoid the obligation of contracts; in the majority to tyrannize over the minority, and trample down their rights; in the indolent and profligate to cast the whole burdens of society upon the industrious and the virtuous; and there is a tendency in ambitious and wicked men to inflame those combustible materials.

Presidential Voting, 1824 - 1844 


Total Voters

% cast ballots








































*There were no political parties in 1824.  Two groups, led respectively by Andrew Jackson and by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay emerged shortly after.  The Jackson partisans become the Democrats.  The antiJackson factions became the Whig party in 1834.

Source: Richard Current, American History: A Survey, (New York: Knopf, 1961), p. 256; Stephan Thernstrom, A History of the American People, Vol. I, (New York, 1989), p. 327.  


The 1840 presidential contest between General William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate, and President Martin Van Buren, the Democratic standard bearer, heralded a new era in American politics with emphasis on symbols rather than substance, political slogans, image manipulation, and "negative campaign" ads.  The following vignette describes the campaign. 

The Whigs cloaked their champion in familiar heroic garb as an Indian fighter and victorious general in the War of 1812... But almost immediately they grafted a new and very different kind of symbol onto the campaign, the Log Cabin.  On December 11, 1839, a newspaper correspondent printed his own facetious answer to a...question about how to "get rid of Harrison."  The reporter (himself a Democrat) printed this answer, "Give him a barrel of hard cider, and settle a pension of two thousand a year on him, and....he will sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin."

This was the opening the Whigs had been waiting for.  The Democrats had won elections by presenting themselves as the party of...the common man, while condemning the Whigs as aristocrats and friends of wealth and privilege.  Now the Whigs could turn the tables.  In early January 1840, the New York Daily Whig replied that only "pampered office-holders" who "sneer at the idea of making a poor man president" would consider "log cabin candidate" a term with which to "reproach" General Harrison.  Within a week, other Whig papers joined in.  The editor of the Whig paper in Galena, Illinois, told his readers that "Gen. Harrison is sneered at by the Eastern office-holders' pimps, as the 'Log cabin' candidate."  But those who live in log cabins "have a way of taking care of themselves when insulted, which has sometimes surprised folks."

On January 20, a Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, rally took the next step in the transformation of the Whig campaign.  The Whig managers openly presented Harrison to the rally as "The Log-Cabin Candidate."  They prepared a huge transparency of what was purportedly [Harrison's] log cabin (his original "cabin" had long since been expanded into an impressive sixteen room house) and placed it next to a barrel of cider and a woodpile.  Borrowing from Davy Crockett, [the Whig Congressman from Tennessee] they pinned a coonskin cap on the wall.

Recasting Harrison as a homespun farmer...also meant recasting Van Buren as the...opposite.  The Whigs ridiculed the president as a foppish, effeminate dandy, given to extravagant, aristocratic tastes.  Davy Crockett portrayed Van Buren as so "laced up in corsets, such as women wear... [that] it would be difficult to say from his personal appearance whether he was a man or woman, but for his large red and gray whiskers."  Pennsylvania Congressman Charles Ogle described the Van Buren White House "as splendid as that of the Caesars, and as richly adorned as the proudest Asiatic mansion."  "The landscaping...was designed to resemble an Amazon's bosom, with a miniature knoll on its apex, to denote the nipple."  Ogle ridiculed the four mirrors Van Buren purchased for the White House as a cost of $2,400.  "What would frugal and honest Hoosiers think of a democratic peacock, in full court costume, strutting by the hour before golden-framed mirrors, nine feet high and four feet wide?

Source: R. Jackson Wilson, The Pursuit of Liberty, (Belmont, California, 1990), pp. 342-345.


During the 1830s and 1840s, a period of rapid territorial expansion, American nationalists spoke of the nation's divinely inspired mission to control most of the North American continent.  Not surprisingly many Americans such as those writing in the Democratic Review, July 1845, embraced the concept with religious zeal.  William Ellery Channing, in an 1837 letter to Henry Clay, however expressed the doubts of many Americans about the inevitability of American expansion.

Democratic Review: Texas has been absorbed into the Union in the inevitable fulfillment of the general law which is rolling our population westward...  It was disintegrated from Mexico in the natural course of events, by a process perfectly legitimate on its own part, blameless on our...  [Its] incorporation into the Union was not only inevitable, but the most natural, right and proper thing in the world...

California will, probably, next fall away from... Mexico... Imbecile and distracted, Mexico never can exert any real governmental authority over such a country.  The AngloSaxon foot is already on its borders.  Already the advance guard of the irresistible army of AngloSaxon emigration has begun to pour down upon it, armed with the plough and the rifle and marking its trail with schools and colleges, courts and representative halls, mills and meeting houses.  A population will soon be in actual occupation of California, over which it will be idle for Mexico to dream of dominion...  All this without agency of our government, without responsibility of our peoplein the natural flow of events, the spontaneous working of principles, and the adaptation of the tendencies and wants of the human race to the elemental circumstances in the midst of which they find themselves placed.

Channing: Did this country know itself, or were it disposed to profit by selfknowledge, it would feel the necessity of laying an immediate curb on its passion for extended territory...  We are a restless people, prone to encroachment, impatient of the ordinary laws of progress...  We boast of our rapid growth, forgetting that, throughout nature, noble growths are slow...

It is full time that we should lay on ourselves serious, resolute restraint.  Possessed of a domain, vast enough for the growth of ages, it is time for us to stop in the career of acquisition and conquest.  Already endangered by our greatness, we cannot advance without imminent peril to our institutions, union, prosperity, virtue, and peace...

It is sometimes said, that nations are swayed by laws, as unfailing as those which govern matter; that they have their destinies; that their character and position carry them forward irresistibly to their goal;... that...the Indians have melted before the white man, and the mixed, disgraced race of Mexico must melt before the AngloSaxon.  Away with this vile sophistry!  There is no necessity to crime.  There is no fate to justify rapacious nations, any more than to justify gamblers and robbers, in plunder.  We boast of the progress of society, and this progress consists in the substitution of reason and moral principle for the sway of brute force... We talk of accomplishing our destiny.  So did the late conqueror of Europe [Napoleon]; and destiny consigned him to a lonely rock in the ocean, the prey of an ambition which destroyed no peace but his own.

Source: John M. Blum, The National Experience, (New York, 1985), p. 255.


The passage below is from the Indian Removal Act of 1830 which authorized President Andrew Jackson to move Indians residing east of the Mississippi to lands in the West.  The Indian Removal Act set the stage for the Trail of Tears.

An Act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians residing in any of the states or territories, and for their removal west of the river Mississippi.  Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled.  That it shall and may be lawful for the President of the United States to cause so much of any territory belonging to the United States, west of the river Mississippi, not included in any state or organized territory, and to which the Indian title has been extinguished, as he may judge necessary, to be divided unto a suitable number of districts, for the reception of such tribes or nations of Indians as may choose to exchange the lands where they now reside, and remover there; and to cause each of said districts to be so described by natural or artificial marks, as to be easily distinguished for every other...  

And be it further enacted, That in the making of any such exchange or exchanges, it shall and may be lawful for the President solemnly to assure the tribe or nation with which the exchange is made, that the United States will forever secure and guaranty to them, and their heirs or successors, the country so exchanged with them; and if they prefer it, that the United States will cause a patent or grant to be made and executed to them for the same: Provided always, That such lands shall revert to the United States, if the Indians become extinct, or abandon the same.

And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful for the President to cause such tribe or nation to be protected, at their new resident, against all interruption or disturbance from any other tribe or nation of Indians, or from any other person or persons whatever...

Source: Theda Perdue and Michael D. Green, eds., The Cherokee Removal: A Brief History with Documents (Boston, 1995), pp. 116-17.


In the brief passage below Speckled Snake, a Cherokee, describes his response to the proposal to remove his people to Indian Territory.

Brothers!  We have heard the talk of our great father; it is very kind.  He says he loves his red children.  

Brothers!  When the white man first came to these shores, the Muscogees gave him land, and kindled him a fire to make him comfortable; and when the pale faces of the south made war on him, their young men drew the tomahawk, and protected his head from the scalping knife. But when the white man had warmed himself before the Indian's fire, and filled himself with the Indian's hominy, he became very large; he stopped not for the mountain tops, and his feet covered the plains and the valleys.  His hands grasped the eastern and the western sea.  Then he became our great father.  He loved his red children; but said, "You must move a little farther, lest I should, by accident, tread on you."  With one foot he pushed the red man over the Oconee, and with the other he trampled down the graves of his fathers.  

But our great father still loved his red children, and he soon made them another talk.  He said much; but it all meant nothing, but "move a little farther; you are too near me."  I have heard a great many talks from our great father, and they all begun and ended the same.  

Brothers!  When he made us a talk on a former occasion, he said, "Get a little farther; go beyond the Oconee and the Okmulgee; there is a pleasant country." He also said, "It shall be yours forever."  Now he says, "The land you live on is not yours; go beyond the Mississippi; there is game; there you may remain while the grass grows or the water runs."  Brothers!  Will not our great father come there also?  He loves his red children, and his tongue is not forked. 

Source: Wayne Moquin, ed., Great Documents in American Indian History, (New York, 1973), pp. 149-150.


The following vignette appeared as part of a 1992 Oregonian article on the apology of the state of Georgia for its role in Indian Removal 160 years earlier.

More than 160 years after Georgia officials ignored a direct order from the U.S. Supreme Court to stop actions leading up to the infamous Trail of Tears, the state is admitting it made a mistake.  Officials on Wednesday will formally pardon tow missionaries jailed when the fought the state's seizure of Cherokee Indian land.  "This is one of many injustices done, but it's something that we could do something about," said Marsha Bailey, spokeswoman for the state Board of Pardons and Paroles.  "It was a miscarriage of justice."  The pardon says it "acts to remove a stain on the history of criminal justice in Georgia" land acknowledges the state usurped Cherokee sovereignty and ignored the Supreme Court.

A legislator and Cherokee descendant called the pardon a sign that Georgia finally realizes the scope of its mistreatment of the Cherokee.  "If we ever had political prisoners in this state or this nation, these two were the best examples," said state Rep. Bill Dover, chief executive of the Georgia Tribe of Eastern Cherokee.  "It's been a sore place in the side of the Indian people for all these generations that these two wonderful Christian gentlemen were sent to prison because they believe in God and they believed in the Cherokee Nation," Dover said.

Samuel Austin Worcester and Elihu Butler were sentenced to four years in jail in 1831 for residing in the Cherokee Nation without a license.  A law was enacted to try to stop the two from protesting the state's seizure of Cherokee land in northwest Georgia.  Until 1828, the Cherokee Nation was considered a sovereign foreign country, with its land off limits to settlers.  But in 1829, gold was discovered in Dahlonega and Georgia seized much of the land and abolished Cherokee sovereignty.  Worcester and Butler, who lived at the Cherokee capital of New Echota, attracted national attention to the American Indians' cause.  To muzzle them, the state required all white men living on Cherokee land to obtain a state license.  Worcester and Butler refused and were convicted of "high misdemeanor."  The missionaries appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.  In 1832, Chief Justice John Marshall declared Georgia had no constitutional right to extend any state laws over the Cherokee, including seizing their land, and must release the missionaries.  But Georgia ignored the ruling.  The missionaries spend 16 months doing hard labor as part of a chain gang, Dover said.  

They were released in time to join the Trail of Tears, when Georgia forced up to 17,000 Cherokees to move west.  Thousands died of cold and starvation during the march, but the missionaries made it to Oklahoma and continued their work among Cherokee there.

The state repealed its Cherokee laws in 1979, but until now never formally admitted the actions were wrong, said Dover. 

Source: The Portland Oregonian, November 23, 1992.


The passages below, a poem extolling the attractions of frontier Illinois in the 1820s, and a frontier farmer's description of community life at the edge of settlement in 1836, explain the both the lure of the frontier and the impact of the migratory tendencies of Americans on attitudes toward the land and patterns of social organization.   


Come all you good farmers that on your plow depend,

Come listen to a story, come listen to a friend:

Oh, leave your fields of childhood, you enterprising boys:

Come travel west and settle on the plains of Illinois.

Illinois, it is as fine country as ever has been seen,

If old Adam had traveled over that, perhaps he would say the same,

"All in the garden of Eden, when I was but a boy,

There was nothing I could compare with the plains of Illinois."

Perhaps you have a few acres that near your friends' adjoin,

Your family is growing large, for them you must provide,

Come, leave your friends of childhood, you enterprising boys,

Come travel west and settle on the plains of Illinois.

A Farmer’s Letter, 1836

I have spoken of the moveable part of the community, and unfortunately for the western country, it constitutes too great a proportion of the whole community.  Next to hunting, Indian wars, and the wonderful exuberance of Kentucky, the favorite topic is new countries.  They talk of them.  They are attached to the associations connected with such conversations.  They have a fatal effect upon their exertions.  They have not motive, in consonance with these feelings, to build "for posterity and the immortal gods."  They only make such improvements as they can leave without reluctance and without loss.  

I have every where noted the operation of this impediment in the way of those permanent and noble improvements which grow out of a love for that appropriated spot where we are born, and where we expect to die.  Scarcely has a family fixed itself, and enclosed a plantation with the universal fencesplit railsreared a suitable number of log buildings, in short achieved the first rough improvements, that appertain to the most absolute necessity than the assembled family about the winter fire begin to talk about the prevailing events,some country that has become the rage, as a point of immigration.  They offer their farm for sale, and move away.

Source: Stephan Thernstrom, A History of the American People, Vol. I, (New York, 1989), pp. 300, 309.


The various public land laws encouraged settlement of the American frontier and provided the major source of revenue to the United States treasury prior to the Civil War.  Listed below are the most important land laws enacted between 1785 and 1820 which promoted westward expansion.

Ordinance of 1785.  Allowed a minimum purchase of 640 acres and set a minimum price of $ 1 an acre.  Made no provision for credit.

Act of 1796.  Raised the minimum price to $2 an acre but allowed a year's credit on half of the amount due.

Act of 1800. Reduced the minimum purchase from 640 to 320 acres and extended credit to four years, with a down payment of one fourth of the whole amount and three later installments.

Act of 1804 Further reduced the minimum purchase to 160 acres. (Now a man with as little as $80 on hand could obtain a farm from the government, although he would still owe $240 to be paid within four years.)

Act of 1820. Reduced the minimum purchase still further, to 80 acres, and the minimum price to $1.25 an acre, but abolished the credit system.

*Note: Most public lands were sold at auctions and much of it sold for more than the minimum price.


The following table shows the growth of the population of the states between the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi River.  The date of admission to the Union is listed next to the state.

Ohio (1803)
Louisiana (1812)
Indiana (1816)
Mississippi (1817)
Illinois (1818)
Alabama (1819)
Missouri (1821)
Arkansas (1836)
Michigan (1837)

*Part of Mississippi

Sources: Richard Current, American History: A Survey,(New York: Knopf, 1961), p. 219; John M. Blum, The National Experience: A History of the United States, (New York, Harcourt Brace, 1989), p. 189.


This brief description of a frontier farm in southwest Ohio in 1830 by British writer Frances Trollope provides a glimpse into early 19th Century agricultural life and illustrates the independence and self-sufficiency that necessarily comes with settlement in isolated settings.

 “We visited the farm which interested us particularly from its wild and lonely situation, and from the entire dependence of the inhabitants upon their own resources.  It was a partial clearing in the very heart of the forest.  The house was built on the side of a hill, so steep that a high ladder was necessary to enter the front door, while the back one opened against the hill side: at the foot of this sudden eminence ran a clear stream, whose bed had been deepened into a little reservoir, just opposite the house.  A noble field of Indian corn stretched away into the forest on one side, and a few halfcleared acres, with a shed or two upon them, occupied the other, giving accommodation to cows, horses, pigs, and chickens innumerable.  Immediately before the house was a small potatogarden, with a few peach and apple trees.  The house was built of logs, and consisted of two rooms, besides a little shanty or lean-to, that was used as a kitchen.  Both rooms were comfortably furnished with good beds, drawers, etc.  The farmer's wife, and a young woman who looked like her sister, were spinning, and three little children were playing about.  The woman told me that they spun and wove all the cotton and woolen garments of the family, and knit all the stockings; her husband, though not a shoemaker by trade, made all the shoes.  She manufactured all the soap and candies they used, and prepared her sugar from the sugartrees on their farm.  All she wanted with money, she said, was to buy coffee, tea, and whiskey, and she could 'get enough any day by sending a batch of butter and chicken to market.'  They used no wheat, nor sold any of their corn, which, though it appeared a very large quantity, was not more than they required to make their bread and cakes of various kinds, and to feed all their live stock during the winter.  She did not look in health, and said they had all had ague [fever] in 'the fall'; but she seemed contented and proud of her independence; though it was in somewhat mournful accent that she said: 'Tis strange to us to see company. set a hundred times, I expect the sun may rise and before I shall see another human that does not belong to the family.’

Source: Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans reprinted in Pauline Maier, Inventing America: A History of the United States, vol. 1. ( New York, 2003), p. 377.


The Fourth of July in 19th Century America was a time of widespread celebration.  Even as wagon trains traveled west on Overland Trail to Oregon and California, travelers took time off to celebrate.  The following vignette comes from the diary of William Swain, a 27-year-old farmer from western New York who, like thousands of others in 1849, was headed to the California gold fields to strike it rich.

July 4. [At sunrise a salute of thirteen guns was fired.]  We lay in bed late this morning and after a late breakfast set about getting fuel for cooking our celebration dinner.

Our celebration of the day was very good, much better than I anticipated.  We had previously invited Mr. Sexton of the Plymouth deliver an address, and we had appointed Mr. Pratt to read the Declaration of Independence.  We had one of the tents pitched at a short distance from the camp, in which was placed a table with seats for the officers of the day and the orators.  The table was spread with a blanket.

At twelve o'clock we formed a procession and walked to the stand to the tune of 'The Star Spangled Banner.'  The President of the day called the meeting to order. We listened to a prayer by Rev. Mr. Hobart, then remarks and the reading of the Declaration of Independence by Mr. Pratt, and then the address by Mr. Sexton.  We then listened to 'Hail Columbia.'  This celebration was very pleasing, especially the address, which was well delivered and good enough for any assembly at home.

We then marched to the 'hall,' which was formed by running the wagons in two rows close enough together for the wagon covers to reach from one to the other, thus forming a fine hall roofed by the covers and a comfortable place for the dinner table, which was set down the center.

Dinner consisted of ham, beans, boiled and baked, biscuits, john cake, apple pie, sweet cake, rice pudding, pickles, vinegar, pepper sauce and mustard coffee, sugar, and milk. All enjoyed it well.

After dinner the toasting commenced.  The boys had raked and scraped together all the brandy they' could, and they toasted, hurrayed, and drank till reason was out and brandy was in.  I stayed till the five regular toasts were drunk; and then, being disgusted with their conduct, I went to our tent in which I enjoyed myself better than those who were drinking, carousing, and hallooing all around the camp.

Source: J. S. Holliday, The World Rushed In: The California Gold Rush Experience (New York, 1981), pp. 167-168.


Country of Origin
1821 - 1830
German States
Great Britain (excluding Ireland)
British Canada


Total Number of Immigrants

Total: 4,908,774


Total Number of Immigrants

Great Britain

France, Switzerland  & Low Countries


Sources: Lewis Todd and Merle Curti,
Rise of the American Nation, (New York, 1982), p. 286; John M. Blum, The National Experience, (New York, 1985), p. 313. 


In the passage below historian Shih-shan Henry Tsai describes the push factors that prompted Chinese emigration to the United States beginning in the 1840s.

Almost all of the Chinese who emigrated to the United States in the nineteenth century were natives of Kwangtung, a southern Chinese province of about eighty thousand square miles, approximately the area of the state of Oregon.  In this hilly province only 16% of the land was cultivated as late as 1955, and, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, much of this cultivated land was used to grow such commercial crops as fruit, sugarcane, indigo, and tobacco instead of rice, the staple food of the Chinese.  Consequently, the common folk suffered from the ever-rising price of rice.  This situation was further aggravated by the increase in population throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.... In 1787 the population of Kwangtung numbered 16 million; by 1850 it had increased to 28 million.  But during the 1850s and 1860s Kwangtung was devastated by the Taipings and the Triad-led rebels.  Fighting also broke out between Punti (Cantonese speaking) and Hakka (Guest Settlers) people in the region southwest of the Pearl River Delta.  These conflicts resulted in political disorder, social chaos, and economic dislocations.  The Hsin-ning hsien-chih (Gazetteer of the Hsin-ning district) graphically described the situation.  "The fields in the four directions were choked with weeds.  Small families found it difficult to make a living and often drowned their girl babies because of the impossibility of looking after them."  Emigration was very much in evidence.

The largest portion of the Chinese in America come from Kwangtung's most populous prefecture, Kwangchou, which contains the city of Canton, and from the colony of Macao.  The Cantonese were more venturesome than most Chinese because of their early contact with foreigners, and because British Hong Kong served as a steppingstone for their adventures.  Emigrant ships that carried Chinese to California seldom sailed directly from any other port in China.  More than nine-tenths of the Chinese emigrants embarked from San Francisco at Hong Kong.  The emigrants traveled in junks, lorchas, or rafts over the waterways of the Pearl River Delta from their native villages to Hong Kong.  The officials at Canton normally did not interfere with their countrymen going to Hong Kong, nor did the British authorities try to detain them.  

Chinese emigrants obtained the money to pay their passage in various ways.  Some had saved money, others sold their property, including land or hogs, to secure passage.  Some borrowed money from friends and relatives.  Some pledged their families as security for the loan.  They came at their own option, and when the arrived in California they were free to go where they pleased and to engage in any occupation they liked.

Source: Shih-shan Henry Tsai, China and the Overseas Chinese in the United States, 1868-1911 (Fayetteville, 1983), pp. 14, 16.


The following is Nelson Chia-chi Ho's description of Portland's Chinese community in the late 19th Century.

The Chinese have been in Portland almost since its beginning and have grown up with the city.  Direct trade between Portland and China began in 1851, when the brig Emma Preston became the first vessel from Oregon to sail to Canton, China...  In the spring of 1857 [additional] Chinese arrived on the steamer Columbia.  They became cooks in restaurants, or private homes, obtained employment in laundries or worked as gardeners and servants for wealthy Portland residents...

By the mid-1870s, the Chinese had become the largest ethnic group in Portland.... In 1890, with a population of 5,184 in a city of 46,385, Portland's Chinatown was a well-established part of the city.  In the late 1880s Chinatown stretched along S.W. Second Avenue from Pine Street to Taylor Street and into some adjacent areas.  The center of the community was at the intersection of Second Avenue and Alder Street.  The buildings people occupied were mainly of solid brick, built by whites initially, but on long leases to the Chinese at enormous rates.  The bottom story of each building usually served as a business of some sort.  Store windows displayed a variety of foods, including dried shark's fins, aged eggs, geese and ducks (live or preserved in oil), fruits and confections.  The drug stores carried an assortment of products; dried reptiles, preserved snakes, elk horn, ginseng, peppermint, licorice, and a large inventory of medicinal herbs.  Others conducted business on the sidewalks with vegetables stalls, fruit stands, and chicken coops.  Laundry vendors with poles and baskets squeezed through the maze of activities.  Here pipes were smoked and the mother tongue was spoken.

The upper floors frequently had wrought-iron balconies with moon-like windows.  These were the crowded living quarters where some 20 persons could sleep in a 12-by-20 foot room in bunks stacked from floor to ceiling... 

The Chinese did not erect temples in Portland's Chinatown, but had a common meeting place known as the Chinese Joss House, which was in the upper floor of a building on Second Avenue.  Many whites...resented the presence of the Chinese....on one occasion a [Chinese man] was once used to demonstrate the power of electricity.  This drew a large crowd, which greatly enjoyed the sight of a Chinese being electrically shocked...  

Before 1906, in the absence of consular representatives, the residents of Portland's Chinatown enjoyed a measure of civil autonomy.  The merchant class soon became the ruling elite.  Because commercial success was so closely tied to social acceptance in America, this elite enjoyed good relations with public officials.  The president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association was popularly deemed as the "Mayor of Chinatown," and was the semi-official representative of the Chinese government.  Finally, on October 2, 1906, in recognition of Portland's large Chinese population and the importance of this city's trade with China, Moy Back Hin, a Chinese millionaire in Portland, was name the consul for...Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, with headquarters in Portland.  The consul was the fourth to be appointed to represent the Chinese government in the United States.  The other three were in San Francisco, Boston, and New York. 

Source: Nelson Chia-chi Ho, Portland's Chinatown: The History of An Urban Ethnic District, (Portland, 1981), pp. 9-17.


Rev. Charles Finney, a New York City Presbyterian minister who moved in the 1830s and later was President of Oberlin College from 1851 to 1866, was one of the nation's leading revivalists.  He was also an advocate of reform and encouraged the Church to lead that effort.  In this 1835 lecture he explains the relationship between revivalism and reform.

There should be great and deep repentings on the part of ministers. We, my brethren, must humble ourselves before God.  It will not do for us to suppose that it is enough to call on the people to repent.  We must repent, we must take the lead in repentance, and then call on the church to follow.

The church must take right ground in regard to politics.  Do not suppose, now, that I am going to preach a political sermon, or that I wish to have you join and get up a Christian party in politics....But the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them.

...And if [every man] will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers.  All parties will be compelled to put up honest men as candidates...As on the subjects of slavery and temperance, so on this subject, the church must act right, or the country will be ruined...

The church must take the right ground on the subject of slavery...  Christians can no more take neutral ground on this subject...than they can take neutral ground on the subject of sanctification of the Sabbath. It is a great national sin...      

There are those in the churches who are standing aloof from the subject of moral reform, and who are as much afraid to have anything said in the pulpit against lewdness, as if a thousand devils had got up into the pulpit.  On this subject, the church need not expect to be permitted to take neutral ground.  In the providence of God, it is up for discussion.  The evils have been exhibited; the call has been made for reform  And what is to reform mankind but the truth?  And who shall present the truth if not the church and the ministry?  Away with the idea, that Christians can remain neutral, and yet enjoy the approbation and blessing of God.

Source: Richard N. Current and John A. Garraty, ed., Words that Made American History, Vol. I, (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1965), pp. 386387, 392.  


Henry David Thoreau wrote "Civil Disobedience" after spending a night in a Massachusetts jail for refusing to pay his taxes in protest of the Mexican War and slavery.  He calls on others to resist governmental policies which they feel are unjust.  Here are excerpts from his influential essay.

I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least," and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.  Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe: "That government is best which governs not at all:" and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.  Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.  The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government.  The standing army is only an arm of the standing government.  The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it.  Witness the present Mexican war, the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure.

This American government--what is it but a tradition, though a recent one, endeavoring to transmit itself unimpaired to posterity, but each instant losing some of its integrity?  It has not the vitality and force of a single living man; for a single man can bend it to his will. It is a sort of wooden gun to the people themselves; and, if ever they should use it in earnest as a real one against each other, it will surely split.  But it is not the less necessary for this; for the people must have some complicated machinery or other, and hear its din, to satisfy that idea of government which they have.  Governments show thus how successfully men can be imposed on, even impose on themselves, for their own advantage.  It is excellent, we must all allow yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.  It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West.  It does not educate.  The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.  For government is an expedient by which men would fain succeed in letting one another alone... 

But, to speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government.  Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it....

Source: Roger Babusci and others, Literature: The American Experience, (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: 1989), p. 290.


Horace Mann, Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education for 12 years beginning in 1837, was the nation's leading proponent of taxpayersupported public schools.  In his 1849 report of the Board of Education to the state legislature, he describes why public education should be supported.

As the child is father to the man, so may the training of the schoolroom expand into the institutions and fortunes of the State...

According to the European theory, men are divided into classes,—some to toil and earn, others to seize and enjoy.  According to the Massachusetts theory, all are to have an equal chance for earning, and equal security in the enjoyment of what they earn. The latter tends to equality of condition; the former to the grossest inequalities.

Now, surely, nothing but Universal Education can counterwork this tendency to the domination of capital and the servility of labor.  If one class possesses all the wealth and the education, while the residue of society is ignorant and poor, it matters not by what name the relation between them may be called; the latter, in fact and in truth, will be the servile dependents and subjects of the former.  But if education be equably diffused, it will draw property after it, by the strongest of all attractions; for such a thing never did happen, and never can happen, as that an intelligent and practical body of men should be permanently poor... 

Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the social machinery...  It gives each man the independence and the means, by which he can resist the selfishness of other men. It does better than to disarm the poor of their hostility towards the rich; it prevents being poor...

But the beneficent power of education would not be exhausted, even though it should peaceably abolish all the miseries that spring from the coexistence, side by side, of enormous wealth and squalid want.  It has a higher function.  Beyond the power of diffusing old wealth, it has the prerogative of creating new.  It is a thousand times more lucrative than fraud; and adds a thousand fold more to a nation's resources than the most successful conquests.  Knaves and robbers can obtain only what was before possessed by others.  But education creates or develops new treasures...never before possessed or dreamed of by any one...

For the creation of wealth, then, for the existence of a wealthy people, and a wealthy nation, intelligence is the grand condition.  The number of improvers will increase, as the intellectual constituency, if I may so call it, increases.  Let this development precede, and contributions, numberless, and of inestimable value, will be sure to follow.

Source: Massachusetts Board of Education, Twelfth Annual Report. (Boston, 1849), 42-43, 55, 57, 59-60, 67-68, reprinted in Richard W. Leopold, Arthur S. Link and Stanley Corbin, eds., Problems in American History (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1966), p. 307-308.


Rev. William G. Brownlow, a leader of the American (KnowNothing) Party advanced his fears of Roman Catholicism in an 1856 election pamphlet, Americanism Contrasted with Foreignism, Romanism, and Bogus Democracy

Popery is a system of mere human policy; altogether of Foreign origin; Foreign in its support; importing Foreign vassals and paupers by multiplied thousands; and sending into every State and Territory in this Union, a most baneful Foreign and antiRepublican influence.  Its... Pope, his Bishops and Priests, are politicians...  Associated with them for the purpose...of securing the Catholic vote, are the worst class of American politicians, designing demagogues, selfish officeseekers, and bad men...  These politicians know that Popery, as a system is in the hands of a Foreign despotism...  But corrupt and ambitious politicians in this country, are willing to act the part of traitors to our laws and Constitution, for the sake of profitable offices; and they are willing to sacrifice the Protestant Religion, on the ancient and profligate altar of Rome, if they may but rise to distinction on its ruins!...

Every Roman Catholic in the known world is under the absolute control of the Catholic Priesthood...  And it is this faculty of concentration, this political influence, this power of the Priesthood to control the Catholic community, and cause a vast multitude of ignorant foreigners to vote as a unit, and thus control the will of the American people, that had engendered this opposition to the Catholic Church.  It is this aggressive policy and corrupting tendency  of the Romish Church; this organized and concentrated political power of a distinct class of men; foreign by birth; inferior in intelligence and virtue to the American people... which have called forth the opposition... to the Catholic Church.

Source: John M. Blum, The National Experience, (New York, 1985), p. 313. 


Lowell, Massachusetts, was the first planned industrial city in the United States and was the center of the Textile industry.  The first mill employees were primarily girls from the surrounding communities.  Here is a letter from "Susan" published in 1844 in the Lowell Offering which describes one woman's experiences in the mills.

I went into the mill to work a few days after I wrote you.  It looked very pleasant at first, the rooms were so light, spacious, and clear, their girls so pretty and neatly dressed, and the machines so brightly polished or nicely painted.  The plants in the windows, or on the overseer's bench....gave a pleasant aspect to things....

Well, I went into the mill, and was put to learn with a very patient girla clever old maid.  I should be willing to be one myself if I could be as good as she is.... They set me to threading shuttles, and tying weaver's knots, and such things, and now I have improved so that I can take care of one loom.  I could take care of two if I only had eyes in the back part of my head, but I have not got used to "looking two ways of a Sunday" yet.

At first the hours seemed very long, but I was so interested in learning that I endured it very well; and when I went out at night, the sound of the mill was in my ears, as of crickets, frogs, all mingled together in strange discord.  After that it seemed as though cottonwool was in my ears, but now I do not mind at all.  You know that people learn to sleep with the thunder of Niagara in their ears, and a cotton mill is no worse, though you wonder that we do not have to hold our breath in such noise.

It makes my feet ache and swell to stand so much, but I suppose I shall get accustomed to that too.  The girls generally wear old shoes about their work, and you know nothing is easier; but they almost all say that when they have worked here a year or two they have to procure shores a size or tow larger than befog the came.  The right hand, which is the one used in stopping and starting the loom, becomes larger than the left; but in other respects the factory is not detrimental to a young girl's appearance....  Though the number of men is small in proportion there are many marriages here, and a great deal of courting. I will tell you of this last sometime.

We go in at five o'clock; at seven we come out to breakfast; at half past seven we return to our work, and stay until halfpast twelve.  At one, or quarterpast one four months in the year, we return to our work, and stay until seven at night.  Then the evening is all our own, which is more than some laboring girls can say, who think nothing is more tedious than a factory life.

You ask if the girls are contented here: I ask you, if you know of any one who is perfectly contented.... The girls here are not contented; and there is no disadvantage in their situation which they do not perceive as quickly, and lament as loudly, as the sternest opponents of the factory system do.  They would scorn to say they were contented, if asked the question; for it would compromise their Yankee spirit...and love of "freedom and equality."  Yet, withal, they are cheerful.  I never saw a happier set of beings....  If you see one of them with a very long is because she has heard bad news from home, or because her beau has vexed her.

Source: Stanley I. Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 260262.  


Listed below are some of the regulation observed by employees of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, Lowell, Massachusetts.

The overseers are to be always in their rooms at the starting of the mill, and not absent unnecessarily during working hours. They are to see that all those employed in their rooms, are in their places in due season, and keep a correct account of their time and work.  They may grant leave of absence to those employed under them, when they have spare hands to supply their places, and not otherwise, except in cases of absolute necessity.

All persons in the employ of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, are to observe the regulations of the room where they are employed.  They are not to be absent from their work without the consent of the overseer, except in cases of sickness, and then they have to send him word of the cause of their absence.  

They are to board in one of the houses of the company and give information at the counting room, where they board, when they begin, or, whenever the change their boarding place; and are to observe the regulations of their boarding house.

Those intending to leave the employment of the company, are to give at least two weeks' notice thereof to their overseer.

All persons entering into the employment of the company, are considered engaged for twelve months, and those who leave sooner, or do not comply with all these regulations, will not be entitled to a regular discharge.

The company will not employ anyone who is habitually absent from public worship on the Sabbath, or known to be guilty of immorality.

A physician will attend once in every month at the countingroom, to vaccinate all who may need it, free of expense.

Any one who shall take from the mills or yard, any yarn, cloth or other article belonging to the company, will be considered guilty of stealing and be liable to prosecution.

Payment will be made monthly, including board and wages.  The accounts will be made up to the last Saturday but one in every month, and paid in the course of the following week.

These regulations are considered part of the contract, with which all persons entering into the employment of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company engage to comply.

Source: Stanley I. Kutler, Looking for America: The People's History, Vol. I, (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979), pp. 265266.


20 Largest Cities: 1840
20 Largest Cities: 1860
1. New York, NY
1. New York, NY
2. Philadelphia, PA
2. Philadelphia, PA
3. Baltimore, MD
3. Brooklyn, NY

4. New Orleans, LA

4. Baltimore, MD
5. Boston, MA
5. Boston, MA
6. Cincinnati, OH
6. New Orleans, LA
7. Brooklyn, NY
7. Cincinnati, OH
8. Albany, NY
8. St. Louis, MO
9. Charleston, S.C.
9. Chicago, IL
10. Washington, D.C.
10. Buffalo, NY
11. Providence, RI
11. Newark, NJ
12. Louisville, KY
12. Louisville, KY
13. Pittsburgh, PA
13. Albany, NY
14. Lowell, MA
14. Washington, D.C.
15. Rochester, NY
15. San Francisco,
CA 56,802
16. Richmond, VA
16. Providence, RI
17. Troy, NY
17. Troy, NY
18. Buffalo, NY
18. Rochester, NY

19. Newark, NJ

19. Detroit, MI
20. Portland, ME
20. Milwaukee, WI


Cities not on the 1840 list are highlighted.


Sarah and Angelina Grimke, two prominent Pennsylvania abolitionists, began in the 1830s to compare the political disabilities of the slaves with the discrimination directed against women.  In the two passages below each sisters discuss the problem of discrimination and what activists must do.

Sarah Grimke: In contemplating the great moral reformations of the day, and the part which they [women] are bound to take in them, instead of puzzling themselves with the harassing, because unnecessary inquiry, how far they may go without overstepping the bounds of propriety, which separate male and female duties, they will only inquire, "Lord what wilt thou have me do?"  They will be enabled to see the simple truth, that God has made no distinction between men and women as moral beings....  To me it is perfectly clear that whatsoever it is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do.

It is said, woman has a mighty weapon in secret prayer; she has, I acknowledge, in common with man:  but the woman who prays in sincerity for the regeneration of this guilty world, will accompany her prayers by her labors. A friend of mine remarked:  "I was sitting in my chamber, weeping over the miseries of the slave, and putting up my prayers for his deliverance from bondage, when in the midst of my meditations it occurred to me that my tears, unaided by effort, could never melt the chain of the slave.  I must be up and doing."  She is now an active abolitionisther prayers and her works go hand in hand.

Angelina Grimke:  We cannot push Abolitionism forward with all our might until we take up the stumbling block out of the road....  You may depend upon it, tho' to meet this question may appear to be turning out of our road, that it is not.  IT IS NOT:  we must meet it and meet it now.... Why, my dear brothers can you not see the deep laid scheme of the clergy against us lecturers?  ...If we surrender the right  to speak in public this year, we must surrender the right to petition next year, and the right to write the year after, and so on.  What then can woman do for the slave, when she herself is under the feet of man and shamed into silence?

Source: Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, (New York, 1970), p. 48.


Reprinted below is the Declaration of Principles which emerged from the first Women's Rights Convention at Seneca Falls, New York, in 1848.

 When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one portion of the family of man to assume among the people of the earth a position different from that they have hitherto occupied...

We hold these truths to be selfevident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights:  that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness...

The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.  To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable rights to the elective franchise.

He has compelled her to submit to laws, in the formation of which she had no voice...

He has made her, if married, in the eyes of the law civilly dead.

He has taken from her all right in property, even to the wages she earns...

He has monopolized nearly all the profitable employment, and from those she is permitted to follow, she receives but a scanty remuneration.

He closes against her all the avenues to wealth and distinction, which he considers most honorable to himself...

He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough educationall colleges being closed against her...

He has created a false public sentiment, by giving to the world different code of morals for men and women, by which moral delinquencies which exclude women from society, are not only tolerated but deemed of little account in man...

He has endeavored, in every way that he could, to destroy her confidence in her own power, to lessen her selfrespect, and to make her willing to lead a dependent and abject life.

In entering upon the great work before us, we anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation and ridicule; but we shall use every instrumentality within our power to effect our object.  We shall employ agents, circulate tracts, petition the State and national legislatures, and endeavor to enlist the pulpit and the press on our behalf.  We hope this Convention will be followed by a series of Conventions embracing every part of the country.

Sources: Eleanor Flexner, Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States, (New York, 1970), p. 75; John M. Blum, The National Experience, (New York, 1985), 260.



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