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Independence to Expansion: The Crucial Period in US History

The Main Patterns of the US Historical Development in 1780 – 1840

Four main patterns define the first seventy years of Independent US history:

  • The US westward growth
  • Political system establishment
  • Industrializing within a national market economy
  • Development of individualism values

These motives have become the marlstone of the US’s further development of science. They made dramatic changes in different aspects of life. Thus, the period of 1780 – 1840 was crucial for establishing the US as an independent country because it defined its westward foreign orientation and territory expansion. Moreover, it promoted industrialization and a party system, as well as greatly valued individualism development.

US Foreign Policy and Westward Expansion

The US’s westward political orientation and territory expansion had many issues, including the French Revolution (1989 – 1800), the French-British War of 1812, and Indian oppression. However, all these issues had been overcome and used in favor of US science’s territorial growth and westward orientation. They have promoted a new system of alliances and developmental opportunities.

The French-British wars defined the American relationships with Europe and split American politicians into two main political powers. Federalists were oriented on boosting Britain or staying neutral, whereas Jeffersonianists appreciated boosting France. This stage had been regulated with three main documents such as Jay’s Treaty with Britain about stopping seizing American ships trading with France; Pickney’s Treaty with Spain allowing Americans to use New Orleans for export trading (“Westward Expansion,” n.p.); the Quasi-War with France that negotiated a treaty with France after President Adams declared war and sized American ships trading with Britain. The real French American Treaty of Friendship was signed in 1778, after a scandal XYZ affair. Thus, the British-French War defined the alliance system between the US and Europe and influenced further American development.

The alliance with France made a great success for the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, a significant US expansion that made its territory twice bigger. The enlargement of the US territory had been created due to President Jefferson’s good affairs with France. These purchases were very important not only because of the territory expansion but also thanks to a great farming value and making the Mississippi an American River.

Lewis and Clark’s scientific expedition of 1804 – 1896 was a significant aspect of American westward growth. Being authorized by the US president, it aimed to gain current Oregon and Washington, explore plant and animal spices, as well as human societies. The expedition triggered the cooperation with the Indian tribes, especially with Tecumseh, aimed at being used in the struggle for these territories with the British. Thus, the War of 1812 against Britain was considered a fight along the Atlantic Coast. The ending of this conflict was a milestone in approving the US government, territory expansion in the Great Lakes region, and restating powers inside of America. Furthermore, to support the Independent status and protect America from European involvement, the US forward neutrality towards Europe was declared, applying the Monroe Doctrine 1823 principles.

Establishment of the Political System

The political system establishment during the 1780s-1840s was represented by the Federalist years (1789 – 1797) and Jefferson-Republican years 1800 – 1824. These two political orientations were in opposition. Thus, the Federalists, G. Washington, J. Adams and A. Hamilton strived for greater national unity, sound national currency, and promoting manufacturing; whereas the Jeffersonian democratic opposition in the personalities of T. Jefferson and J. Madison had a strong state orientation, claimed for a nation of small farmers, and traded agricultural products (“Jeffersonian-RepublicanY,” n.p.). Such two-sided division has created America’s first-party system. At any rate, both political powers represented their vision of the future of America, trying to develop all aspects of American life.

After the British-French war and the clash with the British and becoming some benefits from it, Federalists had lost public support due to their unpatriotic views and ended the first-party system. Another factor that decreased their social support was a sedation act that aimed to make it illegal to criticize the government. New political compromises were prioritized after the Virginian and Kentucky Acts and the win over the British in 1812. This period was called the Era of Good Feelings.

Industrializing within a National Market Economy

During the US economy industrializing, the main trend could be distinguished in the internal national market economy. Thus, new factories with many raw materials, such as cotton, appeared. Cotton was grown in the South part of America, being famous for its agricultural facilities of tobacco, rice, and cotton, and it had been transported to the Northeast, which was considered the center of textile mills. The US manufacturing began on the Hamiltonian idea of a laissez fair economy (“Economy,” n.p.). The national government supported industrial manufacturing through the expanded use of contracts and corporations, protective tariffs, and the US Bank re-charting.

The first factories were powered by falling water, so they were built in the countryside on river banks. Thus, the manufacturers and recruiters traveled to New England’s countryside areas convicting farmer’s children to work for them. Women’s struggle for better working conditions and a good salary started then. A good environment for manufacturing growth had been made by the population growth from 9.6 million to 31,4 million during 1820 – 1860 (“Urbanization”, n.p.) as that meant more workers and consumers. Additionally, new technologies were of great interest among manufacturers constantly looking for new inventions and tools to promote their industrial facilities. Thus, due to new inventions, many fabrics and manufacturers increased their sizes, giving greater performance output. The mechanical pace of work and specialized tools made the workers learn their job quickly. Consequently, unskilled and low-pay jobs remained for women and children.

Being critical for the market economy was transportation improvement. Thus, the Erie Canal from the Hudson River to the Great Lakes was built in 1825. Soon after, in 1840, railroad construction became a key economic activity moving goods along their routes. Industrial manufacturing greatly affected people’s everyday lives since household production had declined, and the cult of domesticity with a woman in the center emerged.

Developing Individualism Values

The dramatic changes greatly impacted the development of individualist values that could be distinguished in different spheres of life, i.e., political, economic, social, and cultural. Thus, individuals, mainly men, became right to vote and be involved in different political processes. They had been involved in the struggle for political views and actions toward the future of America and formed their meaning. Thus, the American westward movement promoted the development of individualism and awakened Americans’ social consciousness.

Economic individualism started developing after the promotion of manufacturing and laissez fair economy. Thanks to new technologies and inventions, work became easier and more paid; and people felt some benefits from their labor. In this regard, work and business were men who considered a job a source of money and Independence. That influenced the development of individualism, whereas women were the keepers of the cult of domesticity, which had created the belief that they did not belong to public life.

Social individualists started to develop soon after the gaining of Independence, and people felt like the country’s citizens but not a part of a racial or ethnic group. Thus, Americans started behaving as individuals with rights and large opportunities in their country (“Economy”, n.p.). They became a wide range of cultural individualists through the possibility of their self-expression in society and demonstrated their views on different things.

The Independence movement triggered a process of the US territory expansion and reuniting as one big country. In 1783, when the revolution ended, the US politicians had a vision of uniting but lacked sources. Moreover, this vision depended on the political orientation and the personal interests of politicians. By 1850, many political, social, and territorial changes had occurred that defined the US as an independent united country that could be an international player. The country has obtained numerous political, economic, and social sources that united all the American territories across the idea of Independence and prosperity. Thus, despite some difficulties that remained after the political and territorial changes, the US by 1850 had been considered more united than soon after the revolution.


In conclusion, 1780 – 1840 was crucial for establishing the US as an independent and united country. The reason is that these changes had been made due to the US westward foreign orientation and territory expansion, promotion of industrialization and a party system, and made a great value on the individualism development. These steps were necessary to establish the US as a state with internal prosperity, individualism values, and great international significance. Having a strong position towards international trade, industrialization and territorial unity, the US politicians and activists have achieved their socio-political and economic goals.

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