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A contented, successful and united nation. How far is this an accurate comment on the United States of America between 1820 and 1850?

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Jessica Ellis ?A contented, successful and united nation?. How far is this an accurate comment on the United States of America between 1820 and 1850? On the surface America appears to be extremely contented and successful as its economy was booming and many American?s shared in the growing prosperity. The North?s transportation and communication aided its industrial growth and the profitability of the South?s agrarian economy was constantly growing with the invention of the cotton gin and ever increasing exports. However it is obvious that not everyone participated and gained from the apparent success of the nation and although united by a shared language, history and internal trade, there was deep resentment between the North and South, particularly in relation to their opposing stances on slavery. There are many reasons for the growth of the very successful antebellum economy in northern America, including the Market Revolution, technological developments and the ?American System?. The huge internal improvements ? the creation of roads, canals and extensive railways helped with the production and transport of coal, iron and steel, allowing for American produce to be sent throughout not only the continent but the world. Tariffs on imports protected the domestic industry and funds were raised for further investment in the infrastructure. ...read more.


Some historians, such as Fogel and Engerman, advocated the efficiency of slavery in the South, arguing that slavery was benign as slaves were treated well as the owners wanted to create a highly disciplined, specialised and well co-ordinated work force. They also felt that slavery was beneficial to black people as it ?pushes them to the outer limits of their capability? and due to the training they received they often obtained a skill or status that they would not have had if they were free. Unfortunately this was not the case in many instances as there are a number of records of slaves being treated harshly, such as the diary of Fredrick Douglas which illustrated how horrific life was for a slave with a cruel master. The argument put forward by Fogel and Engerman works on the presumption that black people were inferior to whites and that they work as well as they can. In fact many slaves specifically attempted to slow down their work to spite their masters and a large number were unfit to work due to illness or old age. They fail to take into account Adam Smith?s idea that free labourers are incentivised to work with money whereas all the slaves had was relative security, shelter and food ? although some were treated so terribly they did not even have these basic human rights. ...read more.


It was also unified under one government which could only exist with the consent of the people and as the government was separated into three equal branches and in the Senate each state had equal representation and each state had rights that the government could not take away it would appear that the nation was both contented and united. However there appears to be little else holding the country together. There were deep divisions over the slave trade in particular, and the abolisionist movement, supported mainly by middle-class women, became highly vocal from the 1830s onwards as the anti-slavery newspaper The Liberator was founded and within five years it had over 250,000 supporters. There were also controversies between the North and South over tariffs such as the Nullification crisis of 1832 when the North were in favour of high tariffs which the South objected to, calling it the ?Tariff of Abominations? and threatening to secede from the union. This shows that America was not a united country and this was a main reason for the outbreak of the Civil War in the 1860s. Overall both the North and South were very successful economically, but the different means they used to achieve this success caused discontent within the country. The vast differences between their societies could not be overcome and this ultimately led to disunity and frustration which spiralled into the Civil War. ...read more.

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