The Early 19th Century

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Feb 4, 2012

Time Line


1793 Cotton gin
1807 First practical steamboat
1815-1819 Great Migration

Election of James Monroe

Era of Good Feelings

1818 Rush-Bagot Agreement
1819 Adams-Onís Treaty
1820 Missouri Compromise
1823 Monroe Doctrine
1824 Election of John Quincy Adams
1828 Election of Andrew Jackson
1830 Indian Removal Act
1838 Trail of Tears


The Early 19th Century

The first quarter of the nineteenth century ushered in sweeping changes in the way Americans lived and worked. The Industrial Revolution, westward migration and expansion, the rise to power of Andrew Jackson, and changes in Indian and foreign policy all affected American society.

The Industrial Revolution in America began in 1793, with the invention of the cotton gin. This machine could process as much cotton in one day as 1,000 slaves; southern planters found that it multiplied their profits tenfold. The invention of the steamboat, which could sail upstream against the cur- rent, made it possible to move huge boatloads of cotton north; this gave rise to the textile industry in New England. The steamboat and the building of the National Road to Illinois also made it easier for settlers to migrate west in record numbers. With the takeover of Florida from Spain and the admission of several new states, the nation was growing rapidly.

The Monroe Doctrine of 1823, conceived by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, effectively stopped Europe from taking any further steps to gain power bases in the Western Hemisphere. First, it stated that the United States would

regard any further attempt at European colonization in the Western Hemisphere, or any European attempt to retake a colony that had declared itself independent, as a threat against the United States itself. Second, it avoided alienating its European allies by stating that the United States would remain neutral in any conflict between a European nation and such colonies as currently existed.

The election of Andrew Jackson in 1828 marked a new era in politics. Jack- son was the first son of recent immigrants and the first “man of the people” elected to the presidency. He was the first to appoint people of similarly humble origins to top posts in his administration. He was the first president to represent the new Democratic Party.

Jackson’s most notable action as president was the forced expulsion of American Indians from the United States. He declared publicly that it was for the tribes’ protection; the true motive was to push the Indians out to make way for American settlers. The southeastern tribes who were the target of the Indian Removal Act resisted, even fighting the Second Seminole War against U.S. troops, but to no avail. In 1838, the last of them were marched under federal guard to Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears.”

Practice questions for these concepts can be found at:

The Early 19th Century Practice Test

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