To the Home Page of the National Humanities Center Web Site National Humanities Center Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature  contact us | site guide | search 
Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing, 1815-1850
The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing
Topic: Culture of the Common ManTopic: Cult of DomesticityTopic: ReligionTopic: ExpansionTopic: America in 1850
Topic: Culture of the Common Man
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Culture of the Common Man
Text 1. Andrew Jackson
Text 2. Mark Twain
Text 3. Thomas W. Dorr
Text 4. Mechanics/Workers
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 5. Richard Allen and David Walker
Text 6. Nathaniel Hawthorne
Text 7. James Fenimore Cooper
Text 8. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Text 9. John C. Calhoun
Text 10. Walt Whitman

RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
4.  The Boston Mechanics' and Laborers' Mutual Benefit Association on the formation of its cooperative society, 1845

The Workingman's Committee of Philadelphia on the state of public instruction in Pennsylvania, 1830

The rough and ready trans-Appalachian democracy that Jackson's victory brought to Washington had its counterpart in America's eastern cities. In them workers agitated for equality and for the full enjoyment of the fruits of their labor. These two brief statements provide a flavor of that agitation and a sense of the American urban environment of the period. Raising issues of equality, liberty, power, and class, they offer context for all the texts of this section. Could be used with students. 3 pages.

Discussion questions
  ·  The Boston statement invokes the image of Europe explicitly; the Philadelphia statement does so through its mention of despotism. What is the significance of this rhetorical strategy?
  ·  How would Emerson, Calhoun, Hawthorne, and Whitman have responded to the Philadelphia committee's assertion that "the healthy existence of a free government . . . [is] . . . rooted in the will of the American people"?
  ·  How do the constituents of a democratic education, listed in the Philadelphia statement, compare with those Emerson promotes?
  ·  Compare the idea of equality in the statements with that found in Jackson's veto message.

Reading highlights
  ·  Note how the image of slavery, "the forced sale of the muscles and skill of the toiling many," stands behind the Boston argument.
  ·  Note how the Boston statement's insistence that wealth be kept in local hands echoes Jackson's veto message.
  ·  Note how monopoly of one sort or another is the target of Jackson's veto message and both statements.

» Link

Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did Americans respond to the emergence of a functioning democracy in which the majority of free adult males could vote?
  •  How did Northerners view the purposes of political rights and power?
  •  How did Southerners view them?

Toolbox: The Triumph of Nationalism / The House Dividing
Common Man | Cult of Domesticity | Religion | Expansion | America in 1850

Contact Us | Site Guide | Search

Toolbox Library: Primary Resources in U.S. History and Literature
National Humanities Center
Web site comments and questions, contact:
Copyright © 2002 National Humanities Center. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 2002