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Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:7:21
KC‑4.1 (KC)
KC‑4.1.I (KC)
KC‑4.1.II (KC)
KC‑4.1.III (KC)
Unit 4: Learning Objective N

Video transcript

in this video I want to take a look back at the period from 1802 1848 kind of from a bird's eye view this is a huge time in American history in 1800 the United States was just a fledgling nation less than 20 years out from winning its independence political parties were in their infancy infrastructure was practically non-existent and one disastrous war with a world power the likes of Great Britain or France could easily have wiped it out but fast forward to 1848 less than fifty years later and by then the United States had developed a great deal as a unified independent nation it occupied a vast amount of territory in North America trains and steam ships transported goods to distant markets factories turned out textiles and politics saw the rise and fall of not one but two party systems despite all this growth in 1848 the United States was just 12 years away from the onset of an incredibly bloody civil war that pitted southern states against the US government it seems like quite a contradiction over the course the first half of the 19th century was the United States developing a unified national identity or were its geographic sections developing a divided regional identity barely held together by the Constitution what we're doing here really is asking a historical question if you saw this on the AP exam the question might look something like this explain the extent to which politics economics and foreign policy promoted the development of the American identity from 1802 1848 sounds pretty fancy-schmancy but we can translate that to a simpler question what tied the United States together as a country over the course of 1800 to 1848 and what split it apart to answer this let's review what happened in this period in these three areas politics economics and foreign policy and see if we think they contributed to a unified American identity or a divided regional identity and just to remind you this is a big overview of the historical developments from 1802 1848 I'm not going to take a lot of time here to explain everything in depth but if you find that you're unfamiliar with some of the things we discuss make a note of it and then go back to review that concept when you've got some time okay as we said about to answer this question let's just brainstorm some of the major political economic and foreign policy developments in this time period it doesn't have to be an exhaustive list of everything that happened just some key highlights I'll suggest a few but feel free to pause the video and see what you can think of on your own all right what happened in politics well there was the development of political parties first the Federalists and the Democratic Republicans and then later on they were replaced with the Jacksonian Democrats and the Whigs there was the expansion of the right to vote to almost all white men in this era and there were a lot of political controversies too that come to mind or the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis so which of these things contributed to a unified identity and which contributed to a regional identity well I would say that the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis were both examples of regional identity trumping American identity since they concerned the balance of power between free states and slave states and whether states or the federal government should have the final say the expansion of the right to vote seems like a point for unification to me since it celebrated American democracy as the birthright of white men from all states on political parties I might say this is inconclusive they're elements of both unity and division among them since political parties weren't exclusively defined by region in this time period but they were often defined by how much power they believed the federal government should have compared to the states okay on to economics major developments in this time period include the market revolution the controversy over terror and the increasing separation between the economies of the industrial north and the agricultural south of these I would say that separate economic systems definitely promoted or divided regional identity the controversy over tariffs also promoted divisions in that southern plantation owners thought that tariffs gave advantage to northern manufacturers at their expense the market revolution is a bit tricky to categorize it promoted some ties between the sections because it became easier to conduct business over long distances due to innovations and transportation and communication but a lot of the major networks of transportation and communication connected the north and the west to each other not the south lastly foreign policy in this era there was the war of 1812 as well as westward expansion that caused conflict with Native Americans and with Mexico I'd say that the war of 1812 was a force that brought Americans together in a shared sense of patriotism following victories like the Battle of New Orleans the westward expansion was a bit more of a mixed bag in general most white Americans supported the concept of manifest destiny and thought that the removal of Native Americans for that purpose was justified but westward expansion also led to regional conflict because the admission of new states into the Union threatened the balance of power between free and slave states in Congress so based on the evidence we've gathered here let's see if we can formulate a thesis statement to answer this question the prompt is asking us to evaluate the extent to which developments in politics economics and foreign policy promoted the development of an American identity so I think that we want to approach this not as an either/or or a yes/no question but rather a question of degree I would say that the overall evidence here points to a divided regional identity with a few points of view Americans agreed that the United States needed to expand and that democracy was the birthright of all white men but in almost every other aspect of politics economics and foreign policy they were divided along sectional lines would you come to the same conclusion remember this is only one way of answering this question you may have come up with some different examples or you might interpret these examples in a different way than I have and that's okay the next step now that you've evaluated your evidence and composed your thesis statement is to think about how you might arrange the thoughts you've gathered here into an argumentative essay