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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: Expansion
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Expansion
Text 1. Charles Sellers
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 2. Hezekiah Niles
Text 3. Elias Boudinot
Text 4. Lewis Cass
Text 5. James Glover Baldwin
Text 6. George Fitzhugh
Text 7. Henry David Thoreau
Text 8. Harriet Beecher Stowe

RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
1.  Charles Sellers, excerpts from "Land and Market," Ch. 1 of The Market Revolution, 1991

One of the few secondary sources in the toolbox, this reading can serve as an introduction to the entire seminar. It describes the America of 1815, on the eve of a postwar boom that would "ignite a generation of conflict over the republic's destiny." Conflict between east and west, rural and urban, Native- and Euro-American, even farmer and wife, that resulted as "history's most revolutionary force, the capitalist market, was wresting the American future from history's most conservative force, the land." In the first part Sellers describes a series of interactions between humans and the land, beginning with the subsistence economy of Native Americans. They were supplanted by Euro-American farmers who, in bringing their own ways to the hinterlands, created an "intermediate subsistence culture." In time that culture fell prey to the market in part because wheat and cotton booms made it profitable for inland farmers to grow and transport surplus crops to market and in part because the subsistence farming culture eventually ran out of the cheap land it needed to replicate itself from one generation to the next. 15 pages.

Discussion questions
  ·  In what way was 1815 a pivotal year for the "fate of the American republic"?
  ·  What were the conflicts between "the cultures of land and market"? How did they structure the "capitalist transformation of America"?
  ·  How did the commercial boom affect Native Americans, farmers, merchants, and the urban working class?
  ·  On two extremes, how would Hezekiah Niles and George Fitzhugh respond to Sellers's analysis of the market economy in American destiny?
  ·  How did economic growth redefine democracy for the new republic?

Reading highlights
  ·  You may wish to read the last page of this text first, on which Sellers lists the "three tightly linked questions" that America faced in 1815 from the clash of land and market economies.

» Link

Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did the various people living in the United States in the first half of the nineteenth century respond to the emergence of a national market economy?

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

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