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Notes: Give Me Liberty! An American History: Chapter 9

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 9: The Market Revolution (1800-1840)

Focus Questions

  1. What were the min features of the new economy taking shape in the early 19th century?
  2. What were the effects of the market revolution in early 19th century-America?
  3. How did economic and social change recast American freedom in this period?
  4. How did the market revolution affect the lives of women and African-Americans?

The Market Revolution

  1. The Market Revolution
  1. Intro
  1. 1824 - Marquis de Lafayette visited the United States and fought on the US’s sideThe US had grown immensely since 1784
  2. Freedom came standard in the US, liberty was he greatest here
  1. The idea of freedom was constantly changing though

Lafayette was not fond of slavery at ALL though, actually disliked slavery A New Economy

  1. Complete technological innovations in transportation and communication
  2. Transporting goods faced incredible barriers (apart from flatboats floating downstream on major rivers)
  3. American farm families produced what they needed, and colonists were also drawn into Britain’s commercial Empire
  4. Abraham Lincoln grew up in a pre-marker world
  1. Grew up in Kentucky, family was self-sufficient. However, as an adult, Abraham embraced the market revolution

Roads and Steamboats

  1. 1st half of the 19th century
  1. Steamboat, Canal, Railroad, and telegraph all were invented: They all:
  1. Lowered transportation costs, opened new land to settlement, and made it easier to market goods
  2. Robert Fulton experimented with steamboat designs (Clermont in 1807 was the first real awesome one)

The Erie Canal

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  1. Allowed goods to flow btwn the Great Lakes and New York City
  2. This Canal REALLY made NY an excellent place for commerce: it essentially turned it into a commerce crazy was awesome here
  3. Other states tried to match NY’s success: over 3,000 miles of canals were built by 1837.

Railroads and the Telegraph

  1. Railroads opened up the AM interior to settlement
  2. By 1860, the railroad network had grown to 30,000 miles
  3. Telegraph was important too (by Samuel F. B. Morse): Originally for newspapers and businesses, not for individuals.

The Rise of the West

  1. With new technology, the West became a powerful region.
  2. Few people traveled to the West as lone pioneers; many went with groups and cooperated with each other to develop small communities
  3. Some westerners became “squatters”
  4. The West became a home for many different cultures of people
  5. The nation’s borders expanded as ppl went west
  6. Population boom was incredible!

The Cotton Kingdom

  1. The Early Industrial Revolution that started in England spread to N AM, centered on factories producing cotton textiles with water-powered spinning and weaving machinery
  2. Eli Whitney - Invented the Cotton Gin: It revolutionized AM slavery
  1. Huge reason why AF slave trade was opened up btwn 1803 and 1808

With AM sovereignty came the expansion of slavery The Unfree Westward Movement

  1. Historians estimate that around 1 million slaves from older slave states were shifted to the Deep South btwn 1800 and 1860
  2. Slave trade became a well-organized business
  3. Slave coffles = groups chained to one another on forced marches to the Deep South: common sight
  4. Although grain was more desired by Europeans, cotton was much more profitable

Market Society

  1. Intro
  1. Cotton was mostly sold nationally and internationally, and the South was commercially oriented. However, 80% of southerners worked the lands

Commercial Farmers

  1. In the North, the region was transformed into an integrated economy of commercial farms and manufacturing cities
  2. Steel Plow and the reaper (harvests wheat) inventions led to expanded production

The Growth of Cities

  1. Cincinnati and St. Louis = extraordinary growth. Cin = “porkopolis” for slaughtering tons of pigs
  2. Urban areas (as well as rural areas), had change: number of highly populated cities grew more than 10 fold
  3. Work began to change; instead of one very skilled craftsman, you’d have 5 craftsman doing different parts of production

Factory System

  1. The factory super-ceded all traditional craft production altogether
  2. First factory was a re-created design from a BR factory (spinning factories: produced by Slater)
  3. The development of factories really started to happen after the Embargo Act of 1807
  4. Steam power developed by the 1840s...
  5. Overall, the South lacked in factory production

The Industrial Worker

  1. Farm life continued to go with the seasons, but industrial workers worked off the clock (all day every day)
  2. Pay increasingly became n hourly or daily rate, or “wage”, based on “clock time”

The “Mill Girls”

  1. Some factories employed entire families, but the early New England textile mills relied largely on female and child labor
  2. Most only worked a few years until they got married or moved West

The Growth of Immigration

  1. Majority of immigration from Ireland and Germany: 90% headed to Northern states where job opportunities were most abundant
  2. What affected this
  1. Modernization of agriculture and industrialization in Europe disrupted century-old patterns of life
  2. Introduction of the ocean-going steamship and railroad made long-distance travel more practical

Irish and German Newcomers

  1. Largest number of immigrants were refugees from disaster - Irish men and women fleeing the Great Famine 1845-1851 (potato crop fail
  2. Irish didn’t mind working long days b/c they had freedom when it was one
  3. Second largest group = Germans; Lot more skilled craftsman than the Irish
  1. Settled mostly in tightly knit cities, had it’s own culture, etc..

The Rise of Nativism

  1. Immigrants were also from England (easily accepted into AM community)
  2. The Irish were heavily discriminated against. (“anti-popery ran deep”)
  3. Idea of the US as a refuge for those seeking economic opportunity or escape from oppression has always coexisted with suspicion of and hostility to foreign newcomers.
  4. Large amt of Irish immigrants alarmed the Native-born Americans
  5. Nativists = Those who feared the impact of immigration on American political and social life
  1. They said that the Irish were bad ppl b/c they undercut skilled laborers for starvation wages, and that they were just a threat to liberty
  2. Nativism would not become a national political movement until the 1850s

The Transformation of Law

  1. The corporate form of business organization became central to the new market economy. Basically, corporations started entering the mix to keep the owners from suffering incredible losses if the business tanked
  2. Many Americans distrusted corporate charters though
  3. Sup Ct Case = Dartmouth College vs Woodward (1819) - John Marshall’s Supreme Court defined corporate charters issued by state legislatures as contracts, which future lawmakers could not alter or rescind. Then the
  4. Gibbons vs Ogden case happened = Steamboat monopoly struck down
  5. Commonwealth vs. Hunt = said that workers can organize a strike or a union

The Free Individual

  1. Intro
  1. By the 1830s, European visitors were very amazed at the market revoltution
  1. It was energetic, materialistic, and seemingly in constant motion

People were always buying and selling land/property The West and Freedom

  1. Westward expansion was for a long time linked with American freedom “the Manifest Destiny”, meaning that the US had a divinely appointed mission to occupy all of N AM
  2. Idea that liberty and expansion was an American obligation

The Transcendentalists

  1. Individuals seeking economic advancement and personal development
  2. Emerson was an imp man who said that freedom was an open-ended process of self-realization by which individuals could remake themselves and their own lives. It was the “American idea”
  1. Emerson most imp member of transcendentalists


  1. The idea that Americans should depend on no one but themselves
  2. It helped inspire the expansion of democracy: Ownership of one’s self rather than ownership of property made a person capable of voting
  3. Thoreau: guy who loved nature, agreed with Emerson, that is all.

Voices of Freedom

  1. Ralph Waldo Emerson “The American Scholar”
  1. ‘the scholar should be free and brave’, individuals are the more important thing to a person, and that only people can help themselves

Orestes Brownson’s “The Laboring Class”

  1. ‘said that ppl work much more and much harder than what they deserve to get paid for
  2. The ‘social arrangements’ are the evil that needs to be ‘cured’. The present system of trade needs to be changed’

The Second Great Awakening

  1. Popular religious revivals that swept over the country
  2. Long revival meetings in NY by Charles Finney
  3. Finney warned of hell in vivid language while offering salvation to converts
  4. The Second Great Awakening democratized American Christianity, making it a truly mass enterprise: Preachers grew from 2,000 to 45,000 in 60 yrs~
  5. Methodism was the largest denomination
  6. Herman Melville’s phrase “to gospelize the world anew.”

The Awakening’s impact

  1. It stressed the right of private judgement in spiritual matters and the possibility of salvation through faith and good works
  2. Described ppl as a “moral free agent”: allowed to choose btwn Christian life and sin
  3. The preachers were very against strong individualistic behavior b/c it signified selfishness, or in other words, sin.
  4. Preachers stressed the importance of industry, sobriety, and self-discipline as qualities necessary for success in a market culture.

The Limits of Prosperity

  1. Liberty and Prosperity
  1. The right to compete for economic advancement became a touchstone of American freedom
  2. Many ppl chose to enrich themselves through AM freedom: John Jacob Astor was one. He died the richest man in America, leaving behind the nation’s most famous hotel
  1. He, along with others, proved that their own intelligence and hard work could make them a fortune

Race and Opportunity Most blacks were slaves for the market revolution; experienced downward mobility Barred from schools and other public facilities Children of slaves usually had to work before being freed, and when they were free, they only had remedial/crap jobs The Cult of Domesticity

  1. Women: some worked at factories, even though her “place” was at home.
  2. The idea of “republican motherhood”: allowed women a kind of public role as mothers of future citizens,eventually evolved into the “cult of domesticity”
  1. “Virtue” for women meant servitude to men and sexual innocence
  2. The “Cult of D” assumed that men were rational, aggressive, and domineering, while women were nurturing, selfless, ruled by the emotions, and thus less fitted for public life

Women and Work

  1. Women had severe disadvantages,; they could not compete freely for employment, since low paying jobs were available to them
  2. Some went to factories, domestic servants, and seamstresses
  3. Domestic Servants was the largest category for women in the 19th century AM
  4. The freedom of middle-class women rested on the employment of other women w/in the household

The Early Labor movement

  1. Many ppl felt threatened by the consequences of the market revolution
  2. Many Am’s viewed the market revolution as a loss of freedom b/c employment was irregular and numerous businesses failed, with a slight depression in 1837.
  3. The social wealth gap widened greatly btwn wealthy merchants and unskilled workers
  4. The Early Labor movement called for free homesteads for settlers on public land and an end to the imprisonment of union leaders for conspiracy

The “Liberty of Living”

  1. Labor Spokesmen spoke of wage labor as “the very essence of slavery” since it essentially took away a person’s freedom (time, low wage, etc..)
  2. Labor classes were at war...”we are free...but not free enough”
  3. As the 19th and 20 centuries came along, Economic Security (a standards of life below which no person would fall) formed an essential part of AM freedom
  4. Thus, the market revolution had good and bad things; it encouraged individualism among white men, but severely limited the options for women and AF-AM’s

Review Questions

  1. What were the major social effects of the market revolution?
  2. How did ideas of American freedom change in this period?
  3. What revolutionary changed did AM slavery undergo in this period?
  4. What role did immigration play in the market revolution?
  5. The 2nd Great Awakening both took advantage of the market revolution and criticizes excesses. Explain this statement.


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