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Notes: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter 8

Eric Foner: Book Outline Notes for Give Me Liberty! An American History Second Edition

Eric Foner: Book Outline Notes for Give Me Liberty! An American History Second Edition


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Chapter 8: Securing the Republic (1790-1815)

Focus Questions:

  1. Why were the politics of the 1790s so divisive?
  2. In what ways was freedom at issue in the political divisions of the 1790s?
  3. What were the achievements and failures of Jefferson’s presidency?
  4. What was the larger significance of the War of 1812?

Notes Galore :)

  1. George Washington = 1st Pres under new Constitution on 4/30/1789
  1. Said he was chosen by “the freest ppl on the face of the earth”
  2. Washington wasn’t crazy about factions, but he encouraged factions (rule of the minority)
  1. Political parties still arose nonetheless
  2. Washington strove for political harmony, but it was actually quite the opposite

Politics in an Age of Passion (269)

  1. Washington was a much needed symbol of national unity
  1. Was a retired war vet, had republican virtues, and was widely respected
  2. Brought into the mix Thomas Jefferson as Sec of State and Alexander Hamilton to head the Treasury Department, with 6 Supreme Court Judges headed by John Jay of NY

Hamilton’s Program

  1. Wanted financial security and encouraged economic development (believed US could be a Great Power like Great Britain)
  2. 5 parts to his program
  1. Establish the new nation’s credit-worthiness (pay all debts)
  2. Called for the creation of a new national debt
  3. Creation of a National Bank of the US (main financial agent)
  4. Whiskey Tax
  5. Tariff (tax on imported foreign goods) and gov subsidies to encourage the development of factories to make exportable products

The Emergence of Opposition

  1. Hamilton’s plan went well with American financiers, manufacturers, and merchants. Plan hinged on connections w/ Great Britain.
  2. However, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson believed the future laid in westward expansion, NOT connections with Europe
  1. Goal was independent farmers selling crops around the world
  2. Concluded that the greatest threat to AM freedom was centralization of gov

Speculators did well under Hamilton’s plan, whiskey ppl were singled out :( The Jefferson-Hamilton Batgain

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  1. Opposition to Hamilton’s plan arose almost entirely from the South
  2. Hamilton said it was supported by the “general welfare” clause
  3. Southerners became “strict constructionists” - Fed Gov could only exercise powers specifically listed in the Const
  4. Accepted Hamilton’s fiscal program in exchange for the establishment of the permanent national capital Washington, DC.

Impact of the French Revolution

  1. Revolution took radical turn when King Louis XVI was killed.
  2. French conflict reminded AM’s of AM liberty. Liberty caps and liberty poles, etc
  3. Washington issued proclamation of neutrality to not get involved in the war
  4. Edmond Geney - French guy asked AM ships to attack BR ones. Wash said no
  5. Jays Treaty = cancelled the FR alliance and recognized BR economic and naval supremacy as unavoidable facts of life

Political Parties

  1. Federalists
  1. Supporters of Washington and Hamilton’s economic program with lose ties with Britain. These were the more “well-off” people”

Republicans (no connection to today’s party) Whiskey Rebellion of 1794

  1. Federalists were only party to proclaim democracy and freedom dangerous in the hands of ordinary citizens
  2. Washington dispatched 13,000 men to West Penn (and went with them) to collect tax

The Republican Party

  1. Led by James Madison andThomas Jefferson
  1. Supported FR

Arguments btwn two parties became really heated An Expanding Public Sphere

  1. Debates of 1790s: Prodcued enduring expansion of the public sphere
  1. Nearly 1,000 post offices were established, # of newspapers quadrupled

The Democratic-Republican Societies

  1. Supporters of the FR Revolution and critics of the Washington administration.
  1. Nearly 50 societies were created

Believed the gov, not “societies” declared the presidency The Rights of Women

  1. Mary Wollstonecrafy = A Vindication of the Rights of Woman - said that the “rights of humanity” should not be “confined to the male line”
  1. Led to slightly more rights for women, but not much

Judith Sargent Murray (Mass Magazine under pen name “The Gleaner”) Women and the Republic

  1. “Male” wasn’t even in the constitution, so women should have rights...
  1. At least until the Civil War, that’s when they put “male” in the const.

The Adams Presidency

  1. Washington left office after 8 yrs, warning against political parties
  2. The Election of 1796
  1. Federalists = John Adams with Thomas Pinckney of SC
  2. Republicans = Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr of NY
  3. Outcome = Adams was president and Jefferson was VP
  4. John Adams led a divided nation. Dealt with the XYZ affair
  1. XYZ = FR ships seizing AM ships, AM ships harassing FR navy
  2. Fries Rebellion = local militia man led prisoners, nothing happened though

The “Reign of Witches”

  1. The Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 = Greatest Crisis of the Adams administration
  1. Allowed for the deportation of persons from abroad deemed “dangerous” by federal authorities
  2. Sedition Act = Authorized the prosecution of virtually any public assembly or publication critical of the government (expired 1801)
  1. Main target was the Republican press

The Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions

  1. These two states attacked the above acts as unconstitutional violation of the 1st Amendment
  2. Virginia’s = written by Madison - called to protect free speech
  3. Kentucky’s = written by Jeffersons - said states could nullify laws on Congress that violated the Constitution

The “Revolution of 1800”

  1. “Jefferson and Liberty” were interconnected words at this time
  2. Jefferson won presidency (Aaron Burr = VP)
  3. Soon adopted the 12th Amendment (required electors to cast separate votes for president and vice president
  4. Burr eventually killed Hamilton in a dual (1804)

Slavery and Politics

  1. Jefferson = Received all of the Southern votes (41)
  2. Very first Congress under the new Const received petitions for emancipation (Benjamin Franklin signed it). Long debates followed
  3. 1793, Congress helped provide officials to enforce the fugitive slave law

The Haitian Revolution

  1. Toussant L’Ouverture (educated slave in Haiti) led slave revolt in Haiti to establish it as an independent nation from BR authority
  2. It inspired freedom among slaves in the US

Gabriel’s Rebellion

  1. Plot by the slaves to gain their freedom
  1. Richmond blacksmiths, Gabriel, Martin, and Solomon, killed the inhabitants and held Governor James Monroe hostage until slavery was abolished.

They were soon caught and hanged. (Half of Richmond’s population = blacks, 1/5 of them were free) This rebellion showed that slaves were powerful, and that they possessed “the love of freedom” as fully as any other man Jefferson in Power

  1. Intro
  1. The capital was kept in bad condition: was a symbol of Jefferson’s intention to reduce the importance of nat gov in AM life
  2. Jefferson hoped to dismantle as much of the Federalist system as possible
  1. First was to pardon all those under the Sedition Act

He wanted to minimize federal power and eliminate government oversight of the economy He did not want the US to become a centralized state (like Hamilton wanted) Judicial Review

  1. It was impossible to uproot nat authoriy entirely
  2. Federalist John Marshall headed the Supreme Court for the first few years
  1. Marbury vs. Madison = established judicial review
  1. Basically, pres Adams appointed some ppl for office before leaving presidency (“midnight judges”), but Madison wouldn’t issue the “commissions” to allow their appointments, so one of the ppl about to get office (Marbury) sued. Marshall (the judge) declared his sueing unconstitutional and therefore void.
  2. So, to wrap up, the Sup Ct had assumed the right to decide whether or not an act of Congress violates the Constitution, aka “Judicial Review”

Fletcher vs. Peck = Basically extended Judicial Review to state laws

  1. Georgia Senators and federal judges were paid to get land for Georgia to sell to land speculators, but after it happened, the Sup Ct declared it unconstitutional (land ppl got to keep their land)

The Louisiana Purchase

  1. Greatest Irony and greatest Achievement of Jefferson’s presidency
  2. Napoleon Bonaparte sent to silence slaves in Saint Dominique
  3. Jefferson knew that control of New Orleans was imp to AM commerce
  1. Bought it for 15 million (250 million nowadays)

Doubled the size of the US and ended FR presence in N America in one swoop...nice Jefferson believed he ensured the agrarian character of the US for many centuries Lewis and Clark

  1. Purpose: to check out how the area could be used economically (and trade w/ Asia)
  2. 50 member “corps of discovery”. Accompanied by 15 yr old Sacajawea
  3. Failed to find a commercial route to Asia, but it helped solidify the AM idea of expansion into the Western territory

Incorporating Louisiana

  1. Only non-Indian area was New Orleans, and incorporating the foreign population into the US was by no means easy
  2. The treaty incorporating Louisiana promised that all the free inhabitants would enjoy “the rights, advantages, and immunities of citizens” (soon laws started popping up about blacks not having any of the rights of whites)

Foreign Entanglements

  1. Am was still heavily dependent on countries across the Atlantic (Euro wars affected Am farmers, merchants, etc..)
  2. Foreign nations wanted Jefferson to expand nat gov, but Jefferson refused
  3. However, Jefferson did increase the Navy (b/c African ships were harassing their merchant ships, so he had to do something about it)

The Embargo

  1. War btwn FR and Britain. They both wanted AM to stop trading with the other
  1. BR continued impressment (took >6,000 soldier)

Jefferson used trade as a weapon: stopped ALL trade w/ foreign ports (great for him b/c he liked limited government)

  1. However, it brought back memories of the Intolerable acts of 1774 :O
  2. FR and BR didn’t care, and AM exports dropped by 80%...not good at all

Madison and Pressure for War

  1. Jefferson left office at the lowest point in his career (after 8 yrs)
  2. James Madison won an easy victory. Madison adopted a new foreign trade policy (no more embargo): trade could resume but if BR or FR annoyed AM any more, then the embargo would just be on that country. BR lost trade
  3. War Hawks (ardent nationalists) led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun
  1. Said that unimpeded access to overseas markets was essential if the agrarian republic were to prosper

The “Second War of Independence”

  1. Intro
  1. Indian relations not too hot in the West, but Jefferson favored getting the Indian tribes out of the West.
  2. Jefferson said that land speculators had to buy land from Indians; he hoped it would make the land ppl go into debt and sell some of their stuff (opening up lands)

Indian Response

  1. By 1800, the AM’s FAR outnumbered the Indians, so assimilation wasn’t really even an idea
  2. 1800-1812 = “Age of Prophecy” among Indians...They started to assimilate into AM culture, started farming and attending school, etc..

Tecumseh’s Vision

  1. Tecumseh was more militant (refused to sign the Treaty of Greenville in 1795)
  2. Called for separation from all whites, and that all whites should abandon goods like alcohol, clothing, food, and manufactured goods
  3. Unfortunately, he, as well as many other tribes, were exterminated

The War of 1812

  1. Reports that the BR were encouraging T’s efforts
  2. Continual assaults on AM ships led to Madison asking Congress for a declaration of war
  3. Thankfully for the US, Great Britain was occupied with European stuff (wars)
  1. AM’s had a few military successes

It was a two-front struggle: Against the BR and against the Indians (who sided w/ the BR)

  1. Destroyed the power of the Creed Indians

Treaty of Ghent ended the war 1814...but the letters didn’t reach New Orleans until after the battle...o wells The War’s Aftermath

  1. Jackson’s victory over New Orleans made him a national hero
  2. BR’s defeat of Napoleon signified a long period of peace in Europe: led to a sense of growing nationalism in Canada

The end of the Federalist party

  1. Jefferson and Madison succeeded in one major political aim - the elimination of the Federalist Party
  2. Madison was re-elected barely
  3. Met at Connecticut for the Hartford Convention to talk about a few things:
  1. Virginia dominance of presidents, policy for new western states entering the Union, eliminating the 3/5ths clause

Federalist Party didn’t exist after a few years

  1. Before they finally left, they raised one issue = Southern domination of the national government - long outlived their political party
  2. The new technology/commercial/economic/social transformations were things that the Federalists welcomed but that Republicans feared


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chasemillis (author) on October 24, 2012:

These aren't supposed to replace the book...just supposed to help with studying..

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