Early American History from 1790 to 1877

Just 14 years after the founding of our nation in 1790, many changes were already in the works, and America had already been one year under its first President, George Washington, who served as a general against the British in the Revolutionary War. During the second of his eight years in office, the Bill of Rights was drafted (in 1791), adding 10 Amendments to the U.S. Constitution ? which outlined the freedoms enjoyed by citizens, including the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, and the right to bear arms (Nussbaum 2006). Also during this term, the rivaling Federalist and Republican political parties were formed – the former pressing for a strong central government and banking system with good ties to England, with the latter wanting an economy based in agriculture with weakening ties to Great Britain (Ibid.). After the turn of the century, America continued to want to expand its borders, and made the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, paying France $15 million for 800,000 square miles of land from Louisiana to Montana, doubling the nation’s size (Klose and Jones 1994, 130). … This was followed by the Missouri Compromise of 1820, where the existing southern slave states agreed with the northern free states that Missouri would become a slave state if Maine became a free state (Nussbaum 2006). Just three years later, a treaty devised by President James Monroe, known as the Monroe Doctrine, was reached between the U.S. and European nations, where both sides agreed not to interfere with each other’s (including Spain’s) colonizing interests, guaranteeing safety to all (Klose and Jones 1994, 154). However, all conflict was not avoided, as Mexico’s General Santa Anna Stormed the Alamo in Texas and defeated American Colonel William Travis in a two-week battle in 1836, but the long battle gave the U.S. time to eventually defeat Santa Anna’s army in another showdown to make Texas independent and later become the 28th state (Nussbaum 2006). As populations swelled in the eastern U.S., European Americans sought to displace the occupying Indians in Georgia, and 7,000 troops forced 15,000 Cherokees to Oklahoma under grueling conditions in 1838 – an exodus known as the Trail of Tears, where 4,000 Native Americans perished (Ibid.). America was growing, and there was not much that could get in the way. This expansionist frenzy would stop no time soon. A concept known as Manifest Destiny soon became the term used to spread the belief that it was America’s fate to occupy and claim land across the continent, from coast to coast, and many routes ? including the Oregon, California, Mormon, and Santa Fe Trails ? were traveled during this time to inhabit the far west (Baker 2006, 7). This expansion was not uncontested, however, as the Mexican-American War ending in 1848 resulted in a costly victory – in money and casualties – for the U.S., which