The Market Revolution, 1800– 1840 54. Complaint of a Lowell Factory Worker (1845)

Source: Factory Tracts Number One. Factory Life As It Is (Lowell, 1845).
The early industrial revolution centered on factories producing cotton
textiles with water- powered spinning and weaving machinery. In the
1820s, a group of merchants created a new factory town near Boston,
incorporated as the city of Lowell in 1836. Here, they built a group of
modern textile factories that brought together all phases of production
from the spinning of thread to the weaving and fi nishing of cloth. By
1850, Lowell’s fi fty- two mills employed more than 10,000 workers.
At Lowell, young unmarried women from Yankee farm families
dominated the workforce that tended the spinning machines.
Competition among the mills led to a deterioration in working conditions
and, beginning in the 1830s, protests among the workers. They engaged
in strikes or “turn outs,” and petitioned the legislature to limit their hours
of labor. Founded in 1845, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association
published a series of Factory Tracts to expose conditions in the mills.
Frequently, as in this account by an unnamed worker, they drew an
analogy between their conditions and those of southern slaves.
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Philanthropists of the nineteenth century!— shall not the
operatives of our country be permitted to speak for themselves?
Shall they be compelled to listen in silence to [those] who speak for
gain, and are the mere echo of the will of the corporations? Shall the
worthy laborer be awed into silence by wealth and power, and for
fear of being deprived of the means of procuring his daily bread?
Shall tyranny and cruel oppression be allowed to rivet the chains of
physical and mental slavery on the millions of our country who are
the real producers of all its improvements and wealth, and they fear
to speak out in noble self- defense? Shall they fear to appeal to the
sympathies of the people, or the justice of this far- famed republican
nation? God forbid!
Much has been written and spoken in woman’s behalf, especially in
America; and yet a large class of females are, and have been, destined
to a state of servitude as degrading as unceasing toil can make it. I
refer to the female operatives of New England— the free states of our
union— the states where no colored slave can breathe the balmy air,
and exist as such;— but yet there are those, a host of them, too, who are
in fact nothing more nor less than slaves in every sense of the word!
Slaves to a system of labor which requires them to toil from fi ve until
seven o’clock, with one hour only to attend to the wants of nature,
allowed— slaves to the will and requirements of the “powers that be,”
however they may infringe on the rights or confl ict with the feelings
of the operative— slaves to ignorance— and how can it be otherwise?
What time has the operative to bestow on moral, religious or intellectual culture? How can our country look for aught but ignorance and
vice, under the existing state of things? When the whole system is
exhausted by unremitting labor during twelve and thirteen hours per
day, can any reasonable being expect that the mind will retain its
vigor and energy? Impossible! Common sense will teach every one the
utter impossibility of improving the mind under these circumstances,
however great the desire may be for knowledge.
Again, we hear much said on the subject of benevolence among
the wealthy and so called, Christian part of community. Have we
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not cause to question the sincerity of those who, while they talk
benevolence in the parlor, compel their help to labor for a mean,
paltry pittance in the kitchen? And while they manifest great concern for the souls of the heathen in distant lands, care nothing for
the bodies and intellects of those within their own precincts? Shall
we esteem men honest in their pretensions to piety and benevolence, who compel their help to labor on the Sabbath day or lose
their situation? . . .
In the strength of our united infl uence we will soon show these
driveling cotton lords, this mushroom aristocracy of New En gland,
who so arrogantly aspire to lord it over God’s heritage, that our
rights cannot be trampled upon with impunity; that we WILL not
longer submit to that arbitrary power which has for the last ten
years been so abundantly exercised over us.
Questions

  1. Why does the female factory worker compare her conditions with those
    of slaves?
  2. Why does she doubt the sincerity of the Christian beliefs of the factory
    own ers?
  3. Joseph Smith, The Wentworth Letter (1842)
    Source: Times and Seasons (March– May 1842).
    Among the most successful of the religions that sprang up in pre– Civil
    War America was the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- day Saints, or Mormons. The Mormons were founded in the 1820s by Joseph Smith, a farmer
    in upstate New York who as a youth began to experience religious visions.
    He claimed to have been led by an angel to a set of golden plates covered
    with strange writing. Smith translated and published them as The Book of
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    Mormon, after a fourth- century prophet. In 1842, at the request of John
    Wentworth, a Chicago editor, Smith wrote an account of his life to that
    point and his religious beliefs, which Wentworth republished in a magazine Smith edited. Not long afterward, Smith was arrested in Nauvoo, Illinois, where the Mormons had settled after being driven out of New York,
    Ohio, and Missouri because of pop u lar outrage at Smith’s insistence that
    The Book of Mormon was as much the word of God as the Bible, and his doctrine of polygamy (that one man may have several wives). While in jail,
    Smith was murdered by a group of intruders. In 1847, his successor as Mormon leader, Brigham Young, led more than 2,000 followers across the
    Great Plains and Rocky Mountains to the shores of the Great Salt Lake in
    present- day Utah.
    My father was a farmer and taught me the art of husbandry.
    When about fourteen years of age I began to refl ect upon the importance of being prepared for a future state, and upon enquiring [of] the
    plan of salvation I found that there was a great clash in religious
    sentiment; if I went to one society they referred me to one plan,
    and another to another, each one pointing to his own par tic u lar
    creed as the summum bonum of perfection: considering that all
    could not be right, and that God could not be the author of so
    much confusion I determined to investigate the subject more
    fully, believing that if God had a church it would not be split up
    into factions, and that if he taught one society to worship one
    way, and administer in one set of ordinances, He would not teach
    another, principles which were diametrically opposed. Believing
    the word of God I had confi dence in the declaration of James; “If
    any man lack wisdom let him ask of God who giveth to all men
    liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.” I retired
    to a secret place in a grove and began to call upon the Lord, while
    fervently engaged in supplication my mind was taken away from
    the objects with which I was surrounded, and I was enwrapped in a
    heavenly vision and saw two glorious personages who exactly
    resembled each other in features and likeness, surrounded with a
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    brilliant light which eclipsed the sun at noon- day. They told me
    that all religious denominations were believing in incorrect doctrines and that none of them was acknowledged of God as His
    Church and kingdom. And I was expressly commanded to “go not
    after them,” at the same time receiving a promise that the fullness
    of the gospel should at some future time be made known unto
    me. . . .
    I was informed that I was chosen to be an instrument in the
    hands of God to bring about some of His purposes in this glorious
    dispensation.
    I was also informed concerning the aboriginal inhabitants of
    this country [America], and shown who they were, and from whence
    they came; a brief sketch of their origin, progress, civilization, laws,
    governments, of their righ teousness and iniquity, and the blessings of God being fi nally withdrawn from them as a people was
    made known unto me: I was also told where there was deposited
    some plates on which were engraven an abridgment of the rec ords
    of the ancient prophets that had existed on this continent. The
    angel appeared to me three times the same night and unfolded the
    same things. After having received many visits from the angels of
    God unfolding the majesty and glory of the events that should
    transpire in the last days, on the morning of the 22d of September, A.D. 1827, the angel of the Lord delivered the rec ords into my
    hands.
    These rec ords were engraven on plates which had the appearance
    of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long and not
    quite so thick as common tin. They were fi lled with engravings, in
    Egyptian characters and bound together in a volume, as the leaves
    of a book with three rings running through the whole. The volume
    was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was
    sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity
    in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the
    rec ords was found a curious instrument which the ancients called
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    “Urim and Thummim,” which consisted of two transparent stones
    set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate. . . .
    As soon as the news of this discovery was made known, false
    reports, misrepre sen ta tion, and slander fl ew as on the wings of the
    wind in every direction, the house was frequently beset by mobs,
    and evil designing people, several times I was shot at, and very narrowly escaped, and every device was made use of to get the plates
    away from me, but the power and blessing of God attended me, and
    several began to believe my testimony. . . .
    In the situation before alluded to we arrived in the state of Illinois
    in 1839, where we found a hospitable people and a friendly home; a
    people who were willing to be governed by the principles of law and
    humanity. We have commenced to build a city called “Nauvoo” in
    Hancock co., we number from six to eight thousand here besides vast
    numbers in the county around and in almost every county of the
    state. We have a city charter granted us and a charter for a legion the
    troops of which now number 1500. We have also a charter for a university, for an agricultural and manufacturing society, have our own
    laws and administrators, and possess all the privileges that other free
    and enlightened citizens enjoy.
    Persecution has not stopped the progress of truth, but has only
    added fuel to the fl ame, it has spread with increasing rapidity, proud
    of the cause which they have espoused and conscious of our innocence and of the truth of their system amidst calumny and reproach
    have the elders of this Church gone forth, and planted the gospel in
    almost every state in the Union; it has penetrated our cities, it has
    spread over our villages and has caused thousands of our intelligent, noble, and patriotic citizens to obey its divine mandates, and
    be governed by its sacred truths. It has also spread into En gland,
    Ireland, Scotland, and Wales: in the year 1839 where a few of our
    missionaries were sent over fi ve thousand joined the standard of
    truth, there are numbers now joining in every land.
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    Questions
  4. What does the Mormon experience suggest about the extent and limits
    of religious freedom in the pre– Civil War United States?
  5. What in Smith’s letter might offend non- Mormon Americans?
  6. A Woman in the Westward Movement
    (1824)
    Source: Elizabeth F. Ellet, Pioneer Women of the West (New York, 1852),
    pp. 388– 95.
    The westward migration plays a central part in American lore. The image
    of the hardy pioneer triumphing over the wilderness (and Indians) has
    been immortalized in countless works of literature and Hollywood
    movies. Reality on the frontier was often less appealing, especially for pioneer women.
    The end of the War of 1812, which broke the power of Indian tribes in
    the Old Northwest and ended the British presence there, unleashed a wave
    of migration from eastern states. Land was cheap, but travel remained
    extremely diffi cult. In this account, written in 1824, Harriet L. Noble
    describes her family’s migration from New York to Michigan, then a
    sparsely settled territory (it would not become a state until 1837). Her
    vivid description of the hardships her family endured places special
    emphasis on the burdens pioneer life placed on women. Nonetheless, she
    ends by reaffi rming the opportunities offered by westward migration
    and her family’s decision to move West.
    My husband was seized with the mania, and accordingly made
    preparation to start in January with his brother. They took the Ohio
    route, and were nearly a month in getting through; coming by way
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    of Monroe, and thence to Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor. Mr. John Allen
    and Walter Rumsey with his wife and two men had been there some
    four or fi ve weeks, had built a small house, moved into it the day my
    husband and his brother arrived, and were just preparing their fi rst
    meal, which the newcomers had the plea sure of partaking. They
    spent a few days here, located a farm a little above the town on the
    river Huron, and returned through Canada. They had been so much
    pleased with the country, that they immediately commenced preparing to emigrate; and as near as I can recollect, we started about
    the 20th of September, 1824, for Michigan.
    We traveled from our house in Geneva to Buffalo in wagons. The
    roads were bad, and we were obliged to wait in Buffalo four days for
    a boat, as the steamboat “Michigan” was the only one on the lake.
    After waiting so long we found she had put into Erie for repairs, and
    had no prospect of being able to run again for some time. The next
    step was to take passage in a schooner. . . . We were seven days on
    Lake Erie, and so entirely prostrated with seasickness, as scarcely to
    be able to attend to the wants of our little ones. I had a little girl of
    three years, and a babe some months old, and Sister Noble had six
    children, one an infant. It was a tedious voyage; the lake was very
    rough most of the time, and I thought if we were only on land again,
    I should be satisfi ed, it was a wilderness. I could not then realize
    what it would be to live without a comfortable house through the
    winter, but sad experience afterwards taught me a lesson not to be
    forgotten.
    I think it was on the 3d of October we started from Detroit, with
    a pair of oxen and a wagon, a few articles for cooking, and such necessaries as we could not do without. It was necessary that they
    should be few as possible, for our families were a full load for this
    mode of traveling. . . . My sister and myself could assist but little, so
    fatigued were we with walking and carry ing our infants. . . . We
    were all pretty cheerful, until we began to think of lying down for
    the night. The men did not seem to dread it, however, and were
    soon fast asleep, but sleep was not for me in such a wilderness. I
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    could think of nothing but wild beasts, or something as bad; so that I
    had the plea sure of watching while the others slept. It seemed a long,
    long night, and never in my life did I feel more grateful for the blessing of returning day. . . . We met a large number of Indians; and one
    old squaw followed us some distance with her papoose, determined
    to swap babies. At last she gave it up, and for one I felt relieved.
    We passed two log houses between this and Ann Arbor. About
    the middle of the afternoon we found ourselves at our journey’s
    end— but what a prospect? There were some six or seven log huts
    occupied by as many inmates as could be crowded into them. . . . We
    cooked our meals in the open air, there being no fi re in the house
    but a small box- stove. . . . We lived in this way until our husbands
    got a log house raised and the roof on; this took them about six
    weeks, at the end of which time we went into it, without door, fl oor,
    chimney, or anything but logs and roof. . . . We enjoyed uninterrupted health, but in the spring the ague with its accompaniments
    gave us a call, and by the middle of August there were but four out
    of fourteen who could call themselves well. We then fancied we
    were too near the river for health. We sold out and bought again
    ten miles west of Ann Arbor, a place which suited us better. . . . The
    next thing wanted was a chimney; winter was close at hand and
    the stone was not drawn. . . . My husband and myself were four
    days building it. I suppose most of my lady friends would think a
    woman quite out of “her legitimate sphere” in turning mason, but I
    was not at all par tic u lar what kind of labor I performed, so we were
    only comfortable and provided with the necessaries of life.
    I am not of a desponding disposition, nor often low- spirited, and
    having left New York to make Michigan my home, I had no idea of
    going back, or being very unhappy. Yet the want of society, of church
    privileges, and in fact almost every thing that makes life desirable,
    would often make me sad in spite of all effort to the contrary. I had no
    ladies’ society for one year . . . except that of sister Noble and a Mrs.
    Taylor, and was more lonely than either of them, my family being so
    small.
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    When I look back upon my life, and see the ups and downs, the
    hardships and privations I have been called upon to endure, I feel no
    wish to be young again. I was in the prime of life when I came to
    Michigan— only twenty- one, and my husband was thirty- three.
    Neither of us knew the reality of hardship. Could we have known
    what it was to be pioneers in a new country, we should never come,
    but I am satisfi ed that with all the disadvantages of raising a family
    in a new country, there is a consolation in knowing that our children are prepared to brave the ills of life, I believe, far better than
    they would have been had we never left New York.
    Questions
  7. In what ways did the experience of moving West alter traditional
    expectations of women’s roles?
  8. What are Mrs. Noble’s main complaints about her situation on the
    frontier, and why does she still not regret having moved to Michigan?
  9. Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The American
    Scholar” (1837)
    Source: “The American Scholar [1837],” in Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature,
    Addresses, and Lectures (Boston, 1892), pp. 79– 80, 99– 103.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson was perhaps the most prominent member of a
    group of New En gland intellectuals known as the Transcendentalists,
    who insisted on the primacy of individual judgment over existing social
    traditions and institutions. Emerson was a proponent of “individualism,”
    a word that entered the language in the 1820s. The keynote of the times,
    he declared, was “the new importance given to the single person.” In a
    widely reprinted 1837 address, “The American Scholar,” delivered at Harvard College, he called on Americans engaged in writing and thinking to
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    trust their own judgment and “never defer to the pop u lar cry.” In Emerson’s own defi nition, rather than a preexisting set of rights or privileges,
    freedom was an open- ended pro cess of self- realization by which individuals could remake themselves and their own lives. He particularly urged
    young scholars to free themselves from Eu ro pe an literary and artistic
    ideas and create their own intellectual traditions based on American life.
    Mr. President, and Gentlemen,
    I greet you on the re- commencement of our literary year. Our
    anniversary is one of hope, and, perhaps, not enough of labor. We do
    not meet for games of strength or skill, for the recitation of histories,
    tragedies and odes, like the ancient Greeks; for parliaments of love
    and poesy, like the Troubadours; nor for the advancement of science,
    like our contemporaries in the British and Eu ro pe an capitals. Thus
    far, our holiday has been simply a friendly sign of the survival of the
    love of letters amongst a people too busy to give to letters any more.
    As such, it is precious as the sign of an indestructible instinct. Perhaps the time is already come, when it ought to be, and will be something else; when the sluggard intellect of this continent will look
    from under its iron lids and fi ll the postponed expectation of the
    world with something better than the exertions of mechanical skill.
    Our day of dependence, our long apprenticeship to the learning of
    other lands, draws to a close. The millions that around us are rushing into life, cannot always be fed on the sere remains of foreign
    harvests. Events, actions arise, that must be sung, that will sing
    themselves. Who can doubt that poetry will revive and lead in a new
    age, as the star in the constellation Harp which now fl ames in our
    zenith, astronomers announce, shall one day be the pole- star for a
    thousand years.
    •••
    In self- trust, all the virtues are comprehended. Free should the
    scholar be,— free and brave. Free even to the defi nition of freedom, “without any hindrance that does not arise out of his own
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    constitution.” Brave; for fear is a thing which a scholar by his very
    function puts behind him. Fear always springs from ignorance. It is
    a shame to him if his tranquility, amid dangerous times, arise from
    the presumption that like children and women, his is a protected
    class; or if he seek a temporary peace by the diversion of his thoughts
    from politics or vexed questions, hiding his head like an ostrich in
    the fl owering bushes, peeping into microscopes, and turning rhymes,
    as a boy whistles to keep his courage up. So is the danger a danger
    still: so is the fear worse. Manlike let him turn and face it. Let him
    look into its eye and search its nature, inspect its origin— see the
    whelping of this lion,— which lies no great way back; he will then
    fi nd in himself a perfect comprehension of its nature and extent; he
    will have made his hands meet on the other side, and can henceforth
    defy it, and pass on superior. The world is his who can see through
    its pretension. What deafness, what stoneblind custom, what overgrown error you behold, is there only by sufferance,— by your sufferance. See it to be a lie, and you have already dealt it its mortal blow.
    Yes, we are the cowed,— we the trustless. It is a mischievous notion
    that we are come late into nature; that the world was fi nished a long
    time ago. As the world was plastic and fl uid in the hands of God, so
    it is ever to so much of his attributes as we bring to it. To ignorance
    and sin, it is fl int. They adapt themselves to it as they may; but in
    proportion as a man has anything in him divine, the fi rmament
    fl ows before him, and takes his signet [seal] and form. Not he is great
    who can alter matter, but he who can alter my state of mind. They
    are the kings of the world who give the color of their present thought
    to all nature and all art, and persuade men by the cheerful serenity
    of their carry ing the matter, that this thing which they do, is the
    apple which the ages have desired to pluck, now at last ripe, and inviting nations to the harvest. The great man makes the great thing. . . .
    The day is always his, who works in it with serenity and great aims.
    The unstable estimates of men crowd to him whose mind is fi lled
    with a truth, as the heaped waves of the Atlantic follow the moon.
    •••
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    Another sign of our times, also marked by an analogous po liti cal
    movement is, the new importance given to the single person. Every
    thing that tends to insulate the individual,— to surround him with
    barriers of natural respect, so that each man shall feel the world is
    his, and man shall treat with man as a sovereign state with a sovereign state:— tends to true union as well as greatness. “I learned,” said
    the melancholy Pestalozzi, [a Swiss educator] “that no man in God’s
    wide earth is either willing or able to help any other man.” Help
    must come from the bosom alone. The scholar is that man who must
    take up into himself all the ability of the time, all the contributions
    of the past, all the hopes of the future. He must be an university of
    knowledges. If there be one lesson more than another which should
    pierce his ear, it is, The world is nothing, the man is all; in yourself is
    the law of all nature, and you know not yet how a globule of sap
    ascends; in yourself slumbers the whole of Reason; it is for you to
    know all, it is for you to dare all. Mr. President and Gentlemen, this
    confi dence in the unsearched might of man, belongs by all motives,
    by all prophecy, by all preparation, to the American Scholar. We
    have listened too long to the courtly muses of Eu rope. The spirit of
    the American freeman is already suspected to be timid, imitative,
    tame. Public and private avarice make the air we breathe thick and
    fat. The scholar is decent, indolent, complaisant. See already the tragic
    consequence. The mind of this country taught to aim at low objects,
    eats upon itself. There is no work for any but the decorous and the
    complaisant. Young men of the fairest promise, who begin life upon
    our shores, infl ated by the mountain winds, shined upon by all the
    stars of God, fi nd the earth below not in unison with these,— but
    are hindered from action by the disgust which the principles on which
    business is managed inspire, and turn drudges, or die of disgust,—
    some of them suicides. What is the remedy? They did not yet see, and
    thousands of young men as hopeful now crowding to the barriers
    for the career, do not yet see, that if the single man plant himself
    indomitably on his instincts, and there abide, the huge world will
    come round to him. Patience— patience;—with the shades of all the
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    good and great for company; and for solace, the perspective of your
    own infi nite life; and for work, the study and the communication
    of principles, the making those instincts prevalent, the conversion of
    the world. It is not the chief disgrace in the world, not to be an unit;—
    not to be reckoned one character;— not to yield that peculiar fruit
    which each man was created to bear, but to be reckoned in the gross,
    in the hundred, or the thousand, of the party, the section, to which
    we belong; and our opinion predicted geo graph i cally, as the north,
    or the south. Not so, brothers and friends,— please God, ours shall
    not be so. We will walk on our own feet; we will work with our own
    hands; we will speak our own minds. Then shall man be no longer a
    name for pity, for doubt, and for sensual indulgence. The dread of
    man and the love of man shall be a wall of defence and a wreath of
    love around all. A nation of men will for the fi rst time exist, because
    each believes himself inspired by the Divine Soul which also inspires
    all men.
    Questions
  10. Why does Emerson feel that American writers and artists are “cowed”
    and need to develop more boldness and originality?
  11. Why does Emerson describe self- reliance as a “manlike” quality?
  12. Henry David Thoreau, Walden (1854)
    Source: Henry David Thoreau, Walden (Boston, 1854), pp. 10– 17.
    Henry David Thoreau, Emerson’s neighbor in Concord, Massachusetts,
    became persuaded that modern society stifl ed individual judgment by
    making men “tools of their tools,” trapped in stultifying jobs by their
    obsession with acquiring wealth. Americans, he believed, were so
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    preoccupied with material things that they had no time to contemplate
    the beauties of nature.
    To escape this fate, Thoreau retreated from 1845 to 1847 to a cabin on
    Walden Pond in Concord, where he could enjoy the freedom of isolation
    from the misplaced values he believed ruled American society. He subsequently wrote Walden (1854), an account of his experiences. Unlike writers who celebrated the market revolution, Thoreau insisted that it was
    degrading both Americans’ values and the natural environment. Americans, he believed, should adopt a pace of life more attuned to the rhythms
    of nature. Genuine freedom, he insisted, lay not in the accumulation of
    material goods, but within. One of the most infl uential works of American literature ever written, Walden would be rediscovered by later generations who criticized social conformity, materialism, and the degradation
    of the natural environment.
    •••
    The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called
    resignation is confi rmed desperation. From the desperate city you
    go into the desperate country, and have to console yourself with
    the bravery of minks and muskrats. A ste reo typed but unconscious
    despair is concealed even under what are called the games and
    amusements of mankind. There is no play in them, for this comes
    after work. But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate
    things.
    The greater part of what my neighbours call good I believe in my
    soul to be bad, and if I repent of anything, it is very likely to be my
    good behaviour. What demon possessed me that I behaved so well?
    You may say the wisest thing you can, old man— you who have
    lived seventy years, not without honour of a kind— I hear an irresistible voice which invites me away from all that. One generation
    abandons the enterprises of another like stranded vessels.
    I think that we may safely trust a good deal more than we do. We
    may waive just so much care of ourselves as we honestly bestow
    elsewhere. Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our
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    strength. . . . Let us consider for a moment what most of the trouble
    and anxiety which I have referred to is about, and how much it is
    necessary that we be troubled, or at least, careful. It would be some
    advantage to live a primitive and frontier life, though in the midst
    of an outwards civilisation, if only to learn what are the gross necessaries of life and what methods have been taken to obtain them; or
    even to look over the old day- books of the merchants, to see what it
    was that the men most commonly bought at the stores, what they
    stored, that is, what are the grossest groceries. For the improvements
    of ages have had but little infl uence on the essential laws of man’s
    existence: as our skeletons, probably, are not to be distinguished from
    those of our ancestors.
    By the words, necessary of life, I mean what ever, of all that man
    obtains by his own exertions, has been from the fi rst, or from long
    use has become, so important to human life that few, if any, whether
    from savageness, or poverty, or philosophy, ever attempt to do without it. . . . Most of the luxuries, and many of the so- called comforts of
    life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the
    elevation of mankind. With respect to luxuries and comforts, the
    wisest have ever lived a more simple and meagre life than the poor.
    The ancient phi los o phers, Chinese, Hindoo, Persian, and Greek,
    were a class than which none has been poorer in outward riches,
    none so rich in inward . . .
    •••
    I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to [confront] only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what
    it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not
    lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear, nor did
    I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted
    to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily
    and Spartan- like as to put rout all that was not life, to cut a broad
    swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its
    lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole
    and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world;
    or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a
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    true account of it in my next excursion. For most men, it appears to
    me, are in a strange uncertainty about it, whether it is of the dev il or
    of God, and have somewhat hastily concluded that it is the chief end
    of man here to “glorify God and enjoy him forever.”
    Still we live meanly, like ants; though the fable tells us that we
    were long ago changed into men; like pygmies we fi ght with cranes;
    it is error upon error, and clout upon clout, and our best virtue has
    for its occasion a superfl uous and inevitable wretchedness. Our life
    is frittered away by detail. An honest man has hardly need to count
    more than his ten fi ngers, or in extreme cases he may add his ten
    toes, and lump the rest. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let
    your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand;
    instead of a million, count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on
    your thumb nail. . . . Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day,
    if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, fi ve; and
    reduce other things in proportion. . . .
    The nation itself, with all its so called internal improvements,
    which, by the way, are all external and superfi cial, is just such an
    unwieldy and overgrown establishment, cluttered with furniture
    and tripped up by its own traps, ruined by luxury and heedless
    expense, by want of calculation and a worthy aim, as the million
    house holds in the land; and the only cure for them is in a rigid economy, a stern and more than Spartan simplicity of life and elevation
    of purpose. It lives too fast. Men think that it is essential that the
    Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph,
    and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or
    not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little
    uncertain.
    If we do not get our sleepers, and forge rails, and devote days and
    nights to the work, but go tinkering upon our lives to improve
    them, who will build railroads? And if railroads are not built, how
    shall we get to heaven in season? But if we stay at home and mind
    our business, who will want railroads? We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are
    that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a
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    Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with
    sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and run
    over; so that if some have the plea sure of riding on a rail, others
    have the misfortune to be ridden upon.
    Why should we live with such a hurry and waste of life? We are
    determined to be starved before we are hungry. Men say that a stitch
    in time saves nine, and so they take a thousand stitches today to
    save nine tomorrow.
    •••
    Questions
  13. Thoreau’s statement, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,”
    is one of the most famous lines in American literature. What does he mean,
    and what does he think is the cause?
  14. What does Thoreau mean when he writes, “We do not ride on the railroad;
    it rides upon us”?
  15. Charles G. Finney, “Sinners Bound to
    Change Their Own Hearts” (1836)
    Source: “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts,” in Charles G. Finney,
    Sermons on Important Subjects (3rd ed.: New York, 1836), pp. 3– 42.
    Beginning in the early nineteenth century, a series of religious revivals,
    known as the Second Great Awakening, swept over the United States.
    They reached a crescendo in the 1820s and early 1830s, when the Rev.
    Charles Grandison Finney held months- long revival meetings in upstate
    New York and New York City. His sermons warned of hell in vivid language while offering the promise of salvation to converts who abandoned
    their sinful ways. He rejected the idea that man is a sinful creature with
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    a preordained fate, promoting instead the doctrine of free will and the possibility of salvation. Every person, Finney insisted, was a moral free agent,
    that is, a person free to choose between a Christian life and a life of sin.
    The Second Great Awakening demo cratized American Christianity,
    making it a truly mass enterprise. At the time of in de pen dence, fewer
    than 2,000 Christian ministers preached in the United States. In 1845,
    they numbered 40,000. Americans, wrote Alexis de Tocqueville when he
    visited the United States in the 1830s, “combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds that it is impossible to make
    them conceive the one without the other.”
    Ezek. xviii, 31: Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for why will
    ye die?
    •••
    A change of heart . . . consists in changing the controlling preference of the mind in regard to the end of pursuit. The selfi sh heart
    is a preference of self- interest to the glory of God and the interests of
    his kingdom. A new heart consists in a preference of the glory of God
    and the interests of his kingdom to one’s own happiness. In other
    words, it is a change from selfi shness to benevolence, from having a
    supreme regard to one’s own interest to an absorbing and controlling
    choice of the happiness and glory of God and his kingdom.
    It is a change in the choice of a Supreme Ruler. The conduct of
    impenitent sinners demonstrates that they prefer Satan as the ruler
    of the world, they obey his laws, electioneer for him, and are zealous
    for his interests, even to martyrdom. They carry their attachment to
    him and his government so far as to sacrifi ce both body and soul to
    promote his interest and establish his dominion. A new heart is the
    choice of Jehovah as the supreme ruler; a deep- seated and abiding
    preference of his laws, and government, and character, and person,
    as the supreme Legislator and Governor of the universe.
    Thus the world is divided into two great po liti cal parties; the difference between them is, that one party choose Satan as the god of this
    world, yield obedience to his laws, and are devoted to his interest.
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    Selfi shness is the law of Satan’s empire, and all impenitent sinners
    yield it a willing obedience. The other party choose Jehovah for their
    governor, and consecrate themselves, with all their interests, to his
    ser vice and glory. Nor does this change imply a constitutional alteration of the powers of body or mind, any more than a change of mind
    in regard to the form or administration of a human government. . . .
    God has established a government, and proposed by the exhibition
    of his own character, to produce the greatest practicable amount of
    happiness in the universe. He has enacted laws wisely calculated to
    promote this object, to which he conforms all his own conduct, and
    to which he requires all his subjects perfectly and undeviatingly to
    conform theirs. After a season of obedience, Adam changed his
    heart, and set up for himself. So with every sinner, although he does
    not fi rst obey, as Adam did; yet his wicked heart consists in setting up
    his own interest in opposition to the interest and government of
    God. In aiming to promote his own private happiness, in a way that
    is opposed to the general good. Self- gratifi cation becomes the law to
    which he conforms his conduct. It is that minding of the fl esh,
    which is enmity against God. A change of heart, therefore, is to prefer a different end. To prefer supremely the glory of God and the
    public good, to the promotion of his own interest; and whenever
    this preference is changed, we see of course a corresponding change
    of conduct. If a man change sides in politics, you will see him meeting with those that entertain the same views and feelings with
    himself; devising plans and using his infl uence to elect the candidate which he has now chosen. He has new po liti cal friends on the
    one side, and new po liti cal enemies on the other. So with a sinner; if
    his heart is changed, you will see that Christians become his
    friends— Christ his candidate. He aims at honoring him and promoting his interest in all his ways. Before, the language of his conduct was, “Let Satan govern the world.” Now, the language of his
    heart and of his life is, “Let Christ rule King of nations, as he is King
    of saints.” Before, his conduct said, “O Satan, let thy kingdom come,
    and let thy will be done.” Now, his heart, his life, his lips cry out, “O
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    Jesus, let thy kingdom come, let thy will be done on earth as it is in
    heaven.” . . .
    •••
    As God requires men to make to themselves a new heart, on pain
    of eternal death, it is the strongest possible evidence that they are
    able to do it. To say that he has commanded them to do it, without
    telling them they are able, is consummate trifl ing. Their ability is
    implied as strongly as it can be, in the command itself. . . .
    The strivings of the Spirit of God with men, is not a physical scuffl ing, but a debate; a strife not of body with body, but of mind with
    mind; and that in the action and reaction of vehement argumentation. From these remarks, it is easy to answer the question sometimes
    put by individuals who seem to be entirely in the dark upon this subject, whether in converting the soul the Spirit acts directly on the
    mind, or on the truth. This is the same nonsense as if you should ask,
    whether an earthly advocate who had gained his cause, did it by acting directly and physically on the jury, or on his argument. . . .
    You see from this subject that a sinner, under the infl uence of the Spirit of
    God, is just as free as a jury under the arguments of an advocate. . . .
    •••
    So if a minister goes into a desk to preach to sinners, believing
    that they have no power to obey the truth, and under the impression that a direct physical infl uence must be exerted upon them
    before they can believe, and if his audience be of the same opinion,
    in vain does he preach, and in vain do they hear, “for they are yet in
    their sins;” they sit and quietly wait for some invisible hand to be
    stretched down from heaven, and perform some surgical operation, infuse some new principle, or implant some constitutional
    taste; after which they suppose they shall be able to obey God. Ministers should labor with sinners, as a lawyer does with a jury, and
    upon the same principles of mental philosophy; and the sinner
    should weigh his arguments, and make up his mind as upon oath
    and for his life, and give a verdict upon the spot, according to law and
    evidence. . . .
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    Sinner! instead of waiting and praying for God to change your
    heart, you should at once summon up your powers, put forth the
    effort, and change the governing preference of your mind. . . .
    Sinner! your obligation to love God is equal to the excellence of
    his character, and your guilt in not obeying him is of course equal
    to your obligation. You cannot therefore for an hour or a moment
    defer obedience to the commandment in the text, without deserving eternal damnation. . . .
    And now, sinner; while the subject is before you, will you yield?
    To keep yourself away from under the motives of the gospel, by
    neglecting church, and neglecting your Bible, will prove fatal to your
    soul. And to be careless when you do attend, or to hear with attention and refuse to make up your mind and yield, will be equally fatal.
    And now, “I beseech you, by the mercies of God, that you at this time
    render your body and soul, a living sacrifi ce to God, which is your
    reasonable ser vice.” Let the truth take hold upon your conscience—
    throw down your rebellious weapons— give up your refuges of lies—
    fi x your mind steadfastly upon the world of considerations that
    should instantly decide you to close in with the offer of reconciliation while it now lies before you. Another moment’s delay, and it
    may be too late forever. The Spirit of God may depart from you— the
    offer of life may be made no more, and this one more slighted offer
    of mercy may close up your account, and seal you over to all the horrors of eternal death. Hear, then, O sinner, I beseech you, and obey
    the word of the Lord—“Make you a new heart and a new spirit, for
    why will ye die?”
    Questions
  16. What precisely does Finney mean by a “change of heart”?
  17. How does the fact that he is preaching in an era of mass po liti cal democracy affect Finney’s language?
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    187
    CHAPTER 10
    Democracy in America,
    1815 – 1840
  18. The Monroe Doctrine (1823)
    Source: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and
    Papers of the Presidents (10 vols.: Washington, D.C., 1896– 1899), Vol. 2,
    pp. 778, 786– 88.
    Between 1810 and 1822, Spain’s Latin American colonies rose in rebellion
    and established a series of in de pen dent nations, including Mexico,
    Venezuela, Ec ua dor, and Peru. By 1825, Spain’s once vast American
    empire had been reduced to the islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The
    uprisings inspired a wave of sympathy in the United States. In 1822, the
    Monroe administration became the fi rst government to extend diplomatic
    recognition to the new Latin American republics. The following year,
    President James Monroe included in his annual message a passage, written by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, that became known as the
    Monroe Doctrine. It outlined principles that would help to govern the
    country’s relations with the rest of the world for nearly a century— that
    the Western Hemi sphere was no longer open to Eu ro pe an colonization
    and that the United States would remain uninvolved in the wars of
    Eu rope. In effect, Monroe declared the Americas a sphere of infl uence of
    the United States.
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    At the proposal of the Rus sian Imperial government, made
    through the minister of the Emperor residing here, a full power and
    instructions have been transmitted to the minister of the United
    States at St. Petersburg to arrange by amicable negotiation the respective rights and interests of the two nations on the northwest coast of
    this continent. A similar proposal has been made by His Imperial
    Majesty to the government of Great Britain, which has likewise been
    acceded to. The government of the United States has been desirous by
    this friendly proceeding of manifesting the great value which they
    have invariably attached to the friendship of the Emperor and their
    solicitude to cultivate the best understanding with his government.
    In the discussions to which this interest has given rise and in the
    arrangements by which they may terminate the occasion has been
    judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and
    interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and in de pen dent condition which they have
    assumed and maintain, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any Eu ro pe an powers. . . .
    It was stated at the commencement of the last session that a great
    effort was then making in Spain and Portugal to improve the condition of the people of those countries, and that it appeared to be conducted with extraordinary moderation. It need scarcely be remarked
    that the results have been so far very different from what was then
    anticipated. Of events in that quarter of the globe, with which we
    have so much intercourse and from which we derive our origin, we
    have always been anxious and interested spectators. The citizens of
    the United States cherish sentiments the most friendly in favor of the
    liberty and happiness of their fellow- men on that side of the Atlantic.
    In the wars of the Eu ro pe an powers in matters relating to themselves
    we have never taken any part, nor does it comport with our policy to
    do so. 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 hemi sphere we are of necessity more immediately
    connected, and by causes which must be obvious to all enlightened
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    and impartial observers. The po liti cal system of the allied powers [of
    Eu rope] 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 hemi sphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.
    With the existing colonies or dependencies of any Eu ro pe an power
    we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their in de pen dence and maintain it, and
    whose in de pen dence 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 Eu ro pe an power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States. . . .
    It is impossible that the allied powers should extend their po liti cal
    system to any portion of [North or South America] without endangering our peace and happiness; nor can anyone believe that our southern brethren, if left to themselves, would adopt it of their own accord.
    It is equally impossible, therefore, that we should behold such interposition in any form with indifference. If we look to the comparative
    strength and resources of Spain and those new governments, and
    their distance from each other, it must be obvious that she can never
    subdue them. It is still the true policy of the United States to leave the
    parties to themselves, in hope that other powers will pursue the same
    course.
    Questions
  19. Why does Monroe think that the “systems” of Eu rope and the Western
    Hemi sphere are fundamentally different?
  20. Why does Monroe mention Rus sia at the beginning of his address?
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  21. John Quincy Adams on the Role of the
    National Government (1825)
    Source: James D. Richardson, ed., A Compilation of the Messages and Papers
    of the Presidents (10 vols.: Washington, D.C., 1896– 1899), Vol. 2., pp. 878– 82.
    Many Americans in the fi rst half of the nineteenth century saw a powerful
    federal government as a threat to individual liberty. Others, however,
    believed that by promoting economic expansion and encouraging the
    development of the arts and sciences, the government would enhance
    Americans’ freedom. Among the proponents of an activist federal government was John Quincy Adams, who served as president from 1825 to 1829.
    In his fi rst annual message to Congress, in December 1825, he set forth
    a comprehensive program for government action. He called for legislation
    promoting agriculture, commerce, and manufacturing, and “the mechanical and elegant arts.” His plans included government- fi nanced improvements in transportation, scientifi c expeditions, and the establishment of a
    national astronomical observatory. Adams astonished many listeners
    with his bold statement, “liberty is power.” The United States, the freest
    nation on earth, he predicted, would also become the mightiest.
    Adams’s proposals alarmed all believers in strict construction of the
    Constitution. Few of his ambitious ideas received support in Congress.
    Not until the twentieth century would the kind of national economic
    planning and educational and scientifi c involvement envisioned by
    Adams be realized.
    In assuming her station among the civilized nations of the earth
    it would seem that our country had contracted the engagement
    to contribute her share of mind, of labor, and of expense to the
    improvement of those parts of knowledge which lie beyond the
    reach of individual acquisition, and particularly to geo graph i cal
    and astronomical science. Looking back to the history only of the
    half century since the declaration of our in de pen dence, and observing the generous emulation with which the Governments of France,
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    Great Britain, and Rus sia have devoted the genius, the intelligence,
    the trea sures of their respective nations to the common improvement of the species in these branches of science, is it not incumbent
    upon us to inquire whether we are not bound by obligations of a
    high and honorable character to contribute our portion of energy
    and exertion to the common stock? The voyages of discovery prosecuted in the course of that time at the expense of those nations have
    not only redounded to their glory, but to the improvement of human
    knowledge. We have been partakers of that improvement and owe
    for it a sacred debt, not only of gratitude, but of equal or proportional
    exertion in the same common cause. Of the cost of these undertakings, if the mere expenditures of outfi t, equipment, and completion
    of the expeditions were to be considered the only charges, it would
    be unworthy of a great and generous nation to take a second thought.
    One hundred expeditions of circumnavigation . . . would not burden
    the exchequer of the nation fi tting them out so much as the ways and
    means of defraying a single campaign in war. But if we take into the
    account the lives of those benefactors of mankind of which their
    ser vices in the cause of their species were the purchase, how shall
    the cost of those heroic enterprises be estimated, and what compensation can be made to them or to their countries for them? Is it not
    by bearing them in affectionate remembrance? Is it not still more by
    imitating their example by enabling countrymen of our own to
    pursue the same career and to hazard their lives in the same cause?
    •••
    In inviting the attention of Congress to the subject of internal
    improvements upon a view thus enlarged it is not my design to recommend the equipment of an expedition for circumnavigating the
    globe for purposes of scientifi c research and inquiry. We have objects
    of useful investigation nearer home, and to which our cares may be
    more benefi cially applied. The interior of our own territories has yet
    been very imperfectly explored. Our coasts along many degrees of
    latitude upon the shores of the Pacifi c Ocean, though much frequented by our spirited commercial navigators, have been barely
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    visited by our public ships. The River of the West, fi rst fully discovered and navigated by a countryman of our own, still bears the name
    of the ship in which he ascended its waters, and claims the protection
    of our armed national fl ag at its mouth. With the establishment of a
    military post there or at some other point of that coast, recommended
    by my pre de ces sor and already matured in the deliberations of the
    last Congress, I would suggest the expediency of connecting the
    equipment of a public ship for the exploration of the whole northwest coast of this continent. . . .
    •••
    Connected with the establishment of an university, or separate
    from it, might be undertaken the erection of an astronomical observatory, with provision for the support of an astronomer, to be in
    constant attendance of observation upon the phenomena of the
    heavens, and for the periodical publication of his observations. It is
    with no feeling of pride as an American that the remark may be
    made that on the comparatively small territorial surface of Eu rope
    there are existing upward of 130 of these light- houses of the skies,
    while throughout the whole American hemi sphere there is not one.
    If we refl ect a moment upon the discoveries which in the last four
    centuries have been made in the physical constitution of the universe by the means of these buildings and of observers stationed in
    them, shall we doubt of their usefulness to every nation? And while
    scarcely a year passes over our heads without bringing some new
    astronomical discovery to light, which we must fain receive at second hand from Eu rope, are we not cutting ourselves off from the
    means of returning light for light while we have neither observatory nor observer upon our half of the globe and the earth revolves
    in perpetual darkness to our unsearching eyes?
    The Constitution under which you are assembled is a charter of
    limited powers. After full and solemn deliberation upon all or any of
    the objects which, urged by an irresistible sense of my own duty, I
    have recommended to your attention should you come to the conclusion that, however desirable in themselves, the enactment of laws for
    effecting them would transcend the powers committed to you by
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    that venerable instrument which we are all bound to support, let no
    consideration induce you to assume the exercise of powers not
    granted to you by the people. But if the power to exercise exclusive
    legislation in all cases whatsoever over the District of Columbia; if
    the power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay
    the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare
    of the United States; if the power to regulate commerce with foreign
    nations and among the several States and with the Indian tribes, to
    fi x the standard of weights and mea sures, to establish post- offi ces
    and post- roads, to declare war, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy, to dispose of and make all needful rules
    and regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging
    to the United States, and to make all laws which shall be necessary
    and proper for carry ing these powers into execution— if these powers and others enumerated in the Constitution may be effectually
    brought into action by laws promoting the improvement of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, the cultivation and encouragement of the mechanic and of the elegant arts, the advancement of
    literature, and the progress of the sciences, ornamental and profound,
    to refrain from exercising them for the benefi t of the people themselves would be to hide in the earth the talent committed to our
    charge— would be treachery to the most sacred of trusts.
    The spirit of improvement is abroad upon the earth. It stimulates
    the hearts and sharpens the faculties not of our fellow- citizens alone,
    but of the nations of Eu rope and of their rulers. While dwelling with
    pleasing satisfaction upon the superior excellence of our po liti cal
    institutions, let us not be unmindful that liberty is power; that the
    nation blessed with the largest portion of liberty must in proportion
    to its numbers be the most powerful nation upon earth, and that the
    tenure of power by man is, in the moral purposes of his Creator,
    upon condition that it shall be exercised to ends of benefi cence, to
    improve the condition of himself and his fellowmen. While foreign
    nations less blessed with that freedom which is power than ourselves are advancing with gigantic strides in the career of public
    improvement, were we to slumber in indolence or fold up our arms
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    and proclaim to the world that we are palsied by the will of our constituents, would it not be to cast away the bounties of Providence and
    doom ourselves to perpetual inferiority? In the course of the year
    now drawing to its close we have beheld, under the auspices and at
    the expense of one State of this Union, a new university unfolding
    its portals to the sons of science and holding up the torch of human
    improvement to eyes that seek the light. We have seen under the
    persevering and enlightened enterprise of another State the waters
    of our Western lakes mingle with those of the ocean. If undertakings
    like these have been accomplished in the compass of a few years by
    the authority of single members of our Confederation, can we, the
    representative authorities of the whole Union, fall behind our fellowservants in the exercise of the trust committed to us for the benefi t of
    our common sovereign by the accomplishment of works important
    to the whole and to which neither the authority nor the resources of
    any one State can be adequate?
    Questions
  22. Why does President Adams believe that the federal government should
    promote the sciences and arts?
  23. What does he mean by the remark, “liberty is power”?
  24. John C. Calhoun, The Concurrent Majority
    (ca. 1845)
    Source: “A Disquisition on Government,” in Richard K. Crallé, ed., The
    Works of John C. Calhoun (New York, 1854– 1857), Vol. 1, pp. 28– 29.
    The Nullifi cation Crisis of the early 1830s pitted South Carolina, which
    claimed the right to nullify a national tariff law of which it disapproved,
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    against President Andrew Jackson. John C. Calhoun, once a strong nationalist, emerged as the leading theorist of nullifi cation. The national government, he insisted, had been created by an agreement between sovereign
    states, each of which retained the right to prevent the enforcement within
    its borders of acts of Congress that exceeded the powers spelled out in the
    Constitution.
    In the aftermath of the crisis, Calhoun began thinking about other constitutional mechanisms that could preserve both the Union and the
    South’s rights, especially as Southerners were becoming a distinct minority.
    He developed the theory of the “concurrent majority.” Rather than relying
    on a simple numerical majority to ascertain the pop u lar will, Calhoun
    argued, the only way to ensure the stability of a large, diverse nation was
    for each major interest (including slaveowners) to have the right to veto
    all mea sures that affected it. Calhoun began writing his Disquisition on
    Government, from which the excerpt below is taken, during the 1840s, but
    it was not published until after his death in 1850.
    There are two different modes in which the sense of the community may be taken; one, simply by the right of suffrage, unaided; the
    other, by the right through a proper organism. Each collects the sense
    of the majority. But one regards numbers only, and considers the
    whole community as a unit, having but one common interest throughout; and collects the sense of the greater number of the whole, as
    that of the community. The other, on the contrary, regards interests
    as well as numbers;— considering the community as made up of different and confl icting interests, as far as the action of the government is concerned; and takes the sense of each, through its majority
    or appropriate organ, and the united sense of all, as the sense of the
    entire community. The former of these I shall call the numerical, or
    absolute majority; and the latter, the concurrent, or constitutional
    majority. I call it the constitutional majority, because it is an essential element in every constitutional government,— be its form what
    it may. So great is the difference, po liti cally speaking, between the
    two majorities, that they cannot be confounded, without leading to
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    great and fatal errors; and yet the distinction between them has
    been so entirely overlooked, that when the term majority is used
    in po liti cal discussions, it is applied exclusively to designate the
    numerical,— as if there were no other. Until this distinction is recognized, the better understood, there will continue to be great liability to error in properly constructing constitutional governments,
    especially of the pop u lar form, and of preserving them when properly constructed. Until then, the latter will have a strong tendency
    to slide, fi rst, into the government of the numerical majority, and
    fi nally, into absolute government of some other form. To show that
    such must be the case, and at the same time to mark more strongly
    the difference between the two, in order to guard against the danger
    of overlooking it, I propose to consider the subject more at length.
    The fi rst and leading error which naturally arises from overlooking the distinction referred to, is, to confound the numerical majority
    with the people; and this so completely as to regard them as identical. This is a consequence that necessarily results from considering
    the numerical as the only majority. All admit, that a pop u lar government, or democracy, is the government of the people; for the terms
    imply this. A perfect government of the kind would be one which
    would embrace the consent of every citizen or member of the community; but as this is impracticable, in the opinion of those who
    regard the numerical as the only majority, and who can perceive no
    other way by which the sense of the people can be taken,— they are
    compelled to adopt this as the only true basis of pop u lar government,
    in contradistinction to governments of the aristocratical or monarchical form. Being thus constrained, they are, in the next place, forced
    to regard the numerical majority, as, in effect, the entire people. . . .
    •••
    The necessary consequence of taking the sense of the community
    by the concurrent majority is, as has been explained, to give to each
    interest or portion of the community a negative on the others. It is
    this mutual negative among its various confl icting interests, which
    invests each with the power of protecting itself;— and places the
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    rights and safety of each, where only they can be securely placed,
    under its own guardianship. Without this there can be no systematic, peaceful, or effective re sis tance to the natural tendency of each
    to come into confl ict with the others: and without this there can be
    no constitution. It is this negative power,— the power of preventing
    or arresting the action of the government,— be it called by what
    term it may,— veto, interposition, nullifi cation, check, or balance of
    power,— which, in fact, forms the constitution. They are all but different names for the negative power.
    Questions
  25. How does Calhoun distinguish between the “numerical” and “concurrent” majorities?
  26. Which Americans would be most likely to object to Calhoun’s proposed
    constitutional system?
  27. Virginia Petition for the Right to Vote (1829)
    Source: Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention
    of 1829–1830 (Richmond, 1830), pp. 25–31.
    The challenge to property qualifi cations for voting, which began during
    the American Revolution, reached its culmination in the fi rst part of the
    nineteenth century. No state that entered the Union after the original
    thirteen required owner ship of property to vote. In the older states, constitutional conventions during the 1820s and 1830s debated once again who
    should be able to participate in American democracy.
    By the 1820s, only North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Virginia still
    retained property qualifi cations for voting. One of the fi rst actions of
    Virginia’s constitutional convention of 1829–1830 was to consider a memorial from “non- freeholders” of Richmond— men who did not possess enough
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    land to enable them to vote. Those who owned property, declared their
    statement, did not necessarily possess “moral or intellectual endowments”
    superior to those of the poor. “They alone deserve to be called free,” they
    added, “who participate in the formation of their po liti cal institutions.” The
    large slaveholders who dominated Virginia politics successfully resisted
    demands for changes in voting qualifi cations in 1829, but a subsequent constitutional convention, in 1850, eliminated the property requirement.
    Your memorialists, as their designation imports, belong to
    that class of citizens, who, not having the good fortune to possess a
    certain portion of land, are, for that cause only, debarred from the
    enjoyment of the right of suffrage. Experience has but too clearly
    evinced, what, indeed, reason had always foretold, by how frail a
    tenure they hold every other right, who are denied this, the highest
    prerogative of freemen. The want of it has afforded both the pretext
    and the means of excluding the entire class, to which your memorialists belong, from all participation in the recent election of the
    body, they now respectfully address. Comprising a very large part,
    prob ably a majority of male citizens of mature age, they have been
    passed by, like aliens or slaves, as if destitute of interest, or unworthy
    of a voice, in mea sures involving their future po liti cal destiny: whilst
    the freeholders, sole possessors, under the existing Constitution, of
    the elective franchise, have, upon the strength of that possession
    alone, asserted and maintained in themselves, the exclusive power
    of new- modelling the fundamental laws of the State: in other words,
    have seized upon the sovereign authority.
    It cannot be necessary, in addressing the Convention now
    assembled, to expatiate on the momentous importance of the right
    of suffrage, or to enumerate the evils consequent upon its unjust
    limitation. Were there no other than that your memorialists have
    brought to your attention, and which has made them feel with full
    force their degraded condition, well might it justify their best efforts
    to obtain the great privilege they now seek, as the only effectual
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    method of preventing its recurrence. To that privilege, they respectfully contend, they are entitled equally with its pres ent possessors.
    Many are bold enough to deny their title. None can show a better. It
    rests upon no subtle or abstruse reasoning; but upon grounds simple
    in their character, intelligible to the plainest capacity, and such as
    appeal to the heart, as well as the understanding, of all who comprehend and duly appreciate the princi ples of free Government. . . .
    How do the princi ples thus proclaimed, accord with the existing
    regulation of suffrage? A regulation, which, instead of the equality
    nature ordains, creates an odious distinction between members of
    the same community; robs of all share, in the enactment of the laws,
    a large portion of the citizens, bound by them, and whose blood and
    trea sure are pledged to maintain them, and vests in a favoured class,
    not in consideration of their public ser vices, but of their private possessions, the highest of all privileges. . . .
    Surely it were much to be desired that, every citizen should be
    qualifi ed for the proper exercise of all his rights, and the due per formance of all his duties. But the same qualifi cations that entitle him
    to assume the management of his private affairs, and to claim all
    other privileges of citizenship, equally entitle him, in the judgment
    of your memorialists, to be entrusted with this, the dearest of all his
    privileges, the most impor tant of all his concerns. But if other wise,
    still they cannot discern in the possession of land any evidence of
    peculiar merit, or superior title. To ascribe to a landed possession,
    moral or intellectual endowments, would truly be regarded as
    ludicrous, were it not for the gravity with which the proposition is
    maintained, and still more for the grave consequences fl owing from
    it. Such possession no more proves him who has it, wiser or better,
    than it proves him taller or stronger, than him who has it not. That
    cannot be a fi t criterion for the exercise of any right, the possession
    of which does not indicate the existence, nor the want of it the
    absence, of any essential qualifi cation. . . .
    Your memorialists do not design to institute a comparison; they
    fear none that can be fairly made between the privileged and the
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    proscribed classes. They may be permitted, however, without disrespect, to remark, that of the latter, not a few possess land: many,
    though not proprietors, are yet cultivators of the soil: others are
    engaged in avocations of a dif fer ent nature, often as useful, presupposing no less integrity, requiring as much intelligence, and as fi xed
    a residence, as agricultural pursuits. Virtue, intelligence, are not
    among the products of the soil. Attachment to property, often a sordid sentiment, is not to be confounded with the sacred fl ame of
    patriotism. The love of country, like that of parents and offspring, is
    engrafted in our nature. It exists in all climates, among all classes,
    under every pos si ble form of Government, Riches oftener impair it
    than poverty. Who has it not is a monster. . . .
    Let us concede that the right of suffrage is a social right; that it
    must of necessity be regulated by society. Still the question recurs,
    is the existing limitation proper? For obvious reasons, by almost universal consent, women and children, aliens and slaves, are excluded.
    It were useless to discuss the propriety of a rule that scarcely admits
    of diversity of opinion. What is concurred in by those who constitute the society, the body politic, must be taken to be right. But the
    exclusion of these classes for reasons peculiarly applicable to them,
    is no argument for excluding others to whom no one of those reasons
    applies.
    It is said to be expedient, however, to exclude non- freeholders also.
    Who shall judge of this expediency? The society: and does that
    embrace the proprietors of certain portions of land only? Expedient,
    for whom? for the freeholders. A harsh appellation would he deserve,
    who, on the plea of expediency, should take from another his property: what, then, should be said of him who, on that plea, takes from
    another his rights, upon which the security, not of his property only,
    but of his life and liberty depends? . . .
    They alone deserve to be called free, or have a guarantee for
    their rights, who participate in the formation of their po liti cal
    institutions, and in the control of those who make and administer
    the laws.
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    Questions
  28. What “obvious reasons” exclude women, children, noncitizens, and slaves
    from the right to vote, and why do the non- freeholders not question them?
  29. How do the writers defi ne po liti cal freedom?
  30. Appeal of the Cherokee Nation (1830)
    Source: E. C. Tracy, Memoir of the Life of Jeremiah Evarts (Boston, 1845),
    pp. 149– 58.
    One of the early laws of Andrew Jackson’s administration, the Indian
    Removal Act of 1830, provided for uprooting the Cherokee and four other
    tribes, with a total population of around 60,000 living in the Southeast.
    The Cherokee had made great efforts to become citizens, establishing
    schools, adopting a constitution modeled on that of the United States, and
    becoming successful farmers, many of whom owned slaves. But in his
    messages to Congress, Jackson referred to them as “savages” and supported
    Georgia’s effort to seize Cherokee land and nullify the tribe’s laws.
    Cherokee leaders petitioned Congress, proclaiming their desire to
    “remain on the land of our fathers,” as guaranteed in treaties with the federal government. They also went to court to protect their rights. Chief Justice John Marshall held that Georgia’s action in extending its jurisdiction
    over the Cherokee violated the tribe’s treaties with Washington. But presidents Jackson and Van Buren refused to recognize the ruling’s validity.
    Eventually, nearly all the Cherokee, along with the other “civilized tribes,”
    were forced to leave their homes. More than 4,000 Indians perished
    during the winter of 1838– 1839 on the Trail of Tears, as the removal route
    to present- day Oklahoma came to be called.
    We are aware that some persons suppose it will be for our advantage to remove beyond the Mississippi. We think otherwise. Our
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    people universally think otherwise. Thinking that it would be fatal
    to their interests, they have almost to a man sent their memorial to
    Congress, deprecating the necessity of a removal. This question was
    distinctly before their minds when they signed their memorial. Not
    an adult person can be found, who has not an opinion on the subject; and if the people were to understand distinctly, that they could
    be protected against the laws of the neighboring States, there is
    probably not an adult person in the nation, who would think it best
    to remove; though possibly a few might emigrate individually. There
    are doubtless many who would fl ee to an unknown country, however beset with dangers, privations and sufferings, rather than be
    sentenced to spend six years in a Georgia prison for advising one of
    their neighbors not to betray his country. And there are others who
    could not think of living as outlaws in their native land, exposed to
    numberless vexations, and excluded from being parties or witnesses
    in a court of justice. It is incredible that Georgia should ever have
    enacted the oppressive laws to which reference is here made, unless
    she had supposed that something extremely terrifi c in its character
    was necessary, in order to make the Cherokees willing to remove.
    We are not willing to remove; and if we could be brought to this
    extremity, it would be, not by argument; not because our judgment
    was satisfi ed; not because our condition will be improved— but only
    because we cannot endure to be deprived of our national and individual rights, and subjected to a pro cess of intolerable oppression.
    We wish to remain on the land of our fathers. We have a perfect
    and original right to claim this, without interruption or molestation. The treaties with us, and laws of the United States made in
    pursuance of treaties, guaranty our residence, and our privileges,
    and secure us against intruders. Our only request is, that these treaties may be fulfi lled, and these laws executed.
    But if we are compelled to leave our country, we see nothing
    but ruin before us. The country west of the Arkansas territory is
    unknown to us. From what we can learn of it, we have no prepossessions in its favor. All the inviting parts of it, as we believe, are preoc007-65853_ch01_vol1_6P.indd 202 10/14/16 9:03 AM
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    cupied by various Indian nations, to which it has been assigned.
    They would regard us as intruders, and look upon us with an evil
    eye. The far greater part of that region is, beyond all controversy,
    badly supplied with wood and water; and no Indian tribe can live
    as agriculturists without these articles. All our neighbors, in case of
    our removal, though crowded into our near vicinity, would speak
    a language totally different from ours, and practice different customs. The original possessors of that region are now wandering savages, lurking for prey in the neighborhood. They have always been
    at war, and would be easily tempted to turn their arms against peaceful emigrants. Were the country to which we are urged much better
    than it is represented to be, and were it free from the objections which
    we have made to it, still it is not the land of our birth, nor of our affections. It contains neither the scenes of our childhood, nor the graves
    of our fathers.
    Questions
  31. What reasons do the Cherokee give for rejecting the idea of moving
    beyond the Mississippi River?
  32. How do the Cherokee understand their “national and individual rights”?
  33. Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens (1838)
    Source: Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens Threatened with
    Disfranchisement, to the People of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1838),
    pp. 3– 11.
    The expansion of po liti cal democracy for white men went hand in hand
    with the elimination of demo cratic participation for blacks. Every state
    that entered the Union between 1800 and 1860, with the single exception
    of Maine, limited the right to vote to whites. And several states that had
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    allowed black men to vote, including Connecticut, New York, and Tennessee, either eliminated the right entirely or added such high property qualifi cations that few could qualify. In 1837, a constitutional convention in
    Pennsylvania, home to the largest free black community in the North,
    stripped blacks of the right to vote. (Thaddeus Stevens, later a leading
    advocate of emancipation and black suffrage in Congress, refused to sign
    the document because of this provision.) In response, a large gathering in
    Philadelphia issued a protest to “fellow citizens” of Pennsylvania.
    Fellow Citizens:— We appeal to you from the decision of the
    “Reform Convention,” which has stripped us of a right peaceably
    enjoyed during forty- seven years under the Constitution of this commonwealth. We honor Pennsylvania and her noble institutions too
    much to part with our birthright as her free citizens without a struggle. To all her citizens the right of suffrage is valuable in proportion
    as she is free; but surely there are none who can so ill afford to spare
    it as ourselves.
    Was it the intention of the people of this commonwealth that the
    convention to which the Constitution was committed for revision
    and amendment, should tear up and cast away its fi rst principles?
    Was it made the business of the Convention to deny “that all men
    are born equally free,” by making po liti cal rights depend upon the
    skin in which a man is born? Or to divide what our fathers bled to
    unite, to wit, TAXATION and REPRE SEN TA TION? We will not allow
    ourselves for one moment to suppose, that the majority of the people of Pennsylvania are not too respectful of the rights and too liberal towards the feelings of others as well as too much enlightened
    to their own interests, to deprive of the right of suffrage a single
    individual who may safely be trusted with it. And we cannot believe
    that you have found among those who bear the burdens of taxation
    any who have proved, by their abuse of the right, that it is not safe in
    their hands. This is a question, fellow- citizens, in which we plead
    your cause as well as our own. It is the safeguard of the strongest that
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    he lives under a government which is obliged to respect the voice of
    the weakest. When you have taken from an individual his right to
    vote, you have made the government, in regard to him, a mere despotism; and you have taken a step towards making it a despotism to
    all.— To your women and children, their inability to vote at the polls
    may be no evil, because they are united by the consanguinity and
    affection with those who can do it. To foreigners and paupers the
    want of the right may be tolerable because a little time or labor will
    make it theirs. They are candidates for the privilege, and hence substantially enjoy its benefi ts. But when a distinct class of the community, already suffi ciently the objects of prejudice, are wholly, and for
    ever, disfranchised and excluded, to the remotest posterity, from
    the possibility of a voice in regard to the laws under which they are
    to live— it is the same thing as if their abode were transferred to the
    dominions of the Rus sian Autocrat, or of the Grand Turk. They have
    lost their check upon oppression, their wherewith to but friends,
    their panoply of manhood; in short, they are thrown upon the mercy
    of a despotic majority. Like every other despot, this despot majority,
    will believe in the mildness of its own sway; but who will the more
    willingly submit to it for that? . . .
    By the careful inquiry of a committee appointed by the “Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery,” it has been
    ascertained that the colored population of Philadelphia and its suburbs, numbering 18,768 souls, possess at the present time, of real and
    personal estate, not less than $1,350,000. They have paid for taxes
    during the last year $3,232.83, for house, water, and ground rent,
    $166,963.50. This committee estimate the income of the holders of
    real estate occupied by the colored people, to be 71⁄2 per cent on a
    capital of about $2,000,000. Here is an addition to the wealth of their
    white brethren. But the rents and taxes are not all; to pay them, the
    colored people must be employed in labor, and here is another profi t
    to the whites, for no man employs another unless he can make his
    labor profi table to himself. For a similar reason, a profi t is made by
    all the whites who sell to colored people the necessaries or luxuries
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    of life. Though the aggregate amount of the wealth derived by the
    whites from our people can only be conjectured, its importance is
    worthy of consideration by those who would make it less by lessening our motive to accumulate for ourselves. . . .
    That we are not neglectful of our religious interests, nor of the
    education of our children, is shown by the fact that there are among
    us in Philadelphia, Pittsburg, York, West Chester, and Columbia, 22
    churches, 48 clergymen, 26 day schools, 20 Sabbath schools, 125 Sabbath school teachers, 4 literary societies, 2 public libraries, consisting
    of about 800 volumes, besides 8,333 volumes in private libraries, 2
    tract societies, 2 Bible societies, and 7 temperance societies.
    In other parts of the State we are confi dent our condition will
    compare very favorably with that in Philadelphia, although we are
    not furnished with accurate statistics.
    Our fathers shared with yours the trials and perils of the wilderness. Among the facts which illustrate this, it is well known that
    the found er of your capital, from whom it bears the name of Harrisburg, was rescued by a colored man, from a party of Indians, who had
    captured, and bound him to the stake for execution. In gratitude for
    this act, he invited colored persons to settle in his town, and offered
    them land on favorable terms. When our common country has been
    invaded by a foreign foe, colored men have hazarded their lives in
    its defence. Our fathers fought by the side of yours in the struggle
    which made us an in de pen dent republic.
    Questions
  34. What evidence do the free blacks present to establish that they are worthy of the right to vote?
  35. How do the protesters link their claims to the legacy of the American
    Revolution.