American politics and American issues are constantly changing; never are they stagnant. From the 1800’s to the 1850’s, we saw some of the most dynamic changes that have shaped America. With things such as the Cotton Gin, the Compromise of 1850 with the Fugitive Slave Act, and the relocation of the Cherokee nation. With a lot of cultural, economic, and political expansion occurring in this time period we can examine how the United States changed over the early 19th century.
The cotton gin was a very useful tool invented by Eli Whitney. It was primarily used in Southern states to speed up the production of cotton. The cotton gin and slavery had a major impact on the economic expansion of America. One of the main effects the cotton gin had on slavery was that it increased the demand for slaves. Before its invention, cotton was very hard to produce. Slaves would spend hours every day picking out seeds by hand. The Cotton Gin made cotton extremely popular within the Southern states because of its efficiency. In a letter wrote to Eli’s father, Eli explains that he, “struck out a plan of a Machine…which required the labor of one man to turn it and with which one man will clean ten times as much cotton as he can in any other way before known and also cleanse it much better than in the usual mode.” At the time, cotton was not nearly as profitable of a resource until the invention of the cotton gin. It was able to produce up to 50lbs per day. Slave owners would have to increase the number of slaves to meet the gins ability. Cotton became extremely valuable due to the economic growth of America. Southern states would produce the cotton and then send it to the North. The North would then create a finished product from the cotton and either sell it in America or export it to foreign countries around the world. Using slaves to produce cotton was very profitable and made America a lot of income and helped expand America’s trade relations with other countries.
Throughout the early 1800s’, a lot of significant events happened that led to conflict and political expansion on the topic of slavery. The Compromise of 1850 was a bill that was presented by Henry Clay. This bill was about determining what new states would be free or slave states. This brought on a lot of tension because the Southern economy was heavily dependent on slaves, and the north being more industrial, they did not need slaves to operate and wanted slavery completely abolished. Having the country culturally divided cause a lot of problems, so the Compromise of 1850 helped America expand into new territories more easily. However, with this new bill there were certain rules that needed to be followed. A large part of the Compromise of 1850 was the Fugitive Slave Act. This Act consisted of capturing African-Americans in the North and bringing them back to the South to work as slaves. However, the North did not really like the terms which the Act consisted of. Fredrick Douglas explains his opinion on the Fugitive Slave Act when he states, “Nowhere has God ordained that this beautiful land shall be cursed with bondage by enslaving men. Slavery has no rightful existence anywhere. The slaveholders not only forfeit their right to liberty, but to life itself” This quote helps us to understand the political ideology of the North and how much different their culture was from Southern states. Before the Fugitive Slave Act, African-Americans would try to escape the South and reach the North. Once they reached the North, they would aim at starting a new life in the free states. Once the Bill was passed, free African-Americans in the North were in danger because they could now be captured and brought back to the South without trial. Although there was a big difference in political ideologies between the Northern and Southern states, the Compromise of 1850 supports us in examining and understanding why the expansion and structure of the new territories in America occurred the way it did.
The relocation of the Cherokee nation was a large expansion for the United States. Starting around 1820′ Americans discovered Gold and other valuable resources in the state of Georgia where the Cherokee nation settled. The Americans wanted to send civilians down to Georgia and colonize. Although the Cherokee lived there for many years, the Americans felt like they could make better uses of the land because it was worth so much money. On May 28, 1830 the Indian removal Act was singed by president Andrew Jackson. The Indian Removal Act authorized the relocation of the Cherokees to uncolonized lands west of the Mississippi river. Although it was very hard for the tribes to leave their home land, some left with ease. Other tribes that didn’t agree were forcefully removed. During their journey, close to 4,000 Cherokees died. The journey they took today is known as the trail of tears. Because of the Indian removal Act, American were able to expand their economy into Georgia. John Ross sates to the U.S House of Representatives that “Valuable gold mines were discovered upon Cherokee lands, within the chartered limits of Georgia” John Ross then continues to talk about how the legislature of the State passed an act that made it illegal for a Native to dig or mine for gold. He also states that “Under this law many Cherokees were arrested, tried, imprisoned, and otherwise abused.” These actions performed by Americans shows their commitment to expand into Georgia. They were so focused on growing economically that they removed natives so they could colonize Georgia and mine for gold and other resources.
During the early 19th century Americans took a lot for risks and made a lot of hard choices in order for the country to expand. Throughout this time period the U.S changed in many unexpected ways. The invention of the Cotton Gin, the compromise of 1850, and the removal of the Cherokee nation all lead to the expansion of America. Even though these certain events took long periods of times to complete, they also helped the expansion of America in their own ways.


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