5.1 Contextualizing Period 5

9 min readfebruary 11, 2023

Caleb Lagerwey

Caleb Lagerwey

Jed Quiaoit

Jed Quiaoit

AP US History 🇺🇸

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The Buildup to a Huge Historical Storm...

During Period 5, the westward expansion of the United States continued, spurred on by ideas of Manifest Destiny (see 5.2). 🗽

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was the belief, held by many Americans in the mid-19th century, that it was the God-given mission of the United States to expand its territory and spread its political and cultural values across the entire continent. This belief was used to justify the acquisition of new territory, such as the Mexican-American War (1846-1848) and the annexation of Texas, as well as the forced relocation of Native American tribes during the Indian Removal era.
Manifest Destiny also played a role in the California Gold Rush and the settlement of the western territories during the mid to late 1800s. The term "Manifest Destiny" was coined in 1845 by journalist John O'Sullivan, and the idea behind it had a significant impact on American politics and foreign policy in the decades leading up to the Civil War.

The Market Revolution?

Period 4 also saw the Market Revolution and the Antebellum Reform Movements that profoundly changed the US. The Market Revolution increased the connectedness of the North and West through communication and transportation innovations like the telegraph and railroad. 
The Market Revolution, also known as the Economic Revolution, refers to the significant economic changes that occurred in the United States between the late 1700s and the mid-1800s. This period saw the transition from a primarily agrarian and local economy to a more industrialized and national one. The Market Revolution was driven by a number of factors, including the growth of transportation networks (such as canals, roads and railroads), the development of new technologies (such as the cotton gin and the steam engine), and the rise of a capitalist market economy. 🚆

Source: The American Yawp

The Market Revolution led to the growth of cities and the rise of a new urban working class, as well as increased economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and business owners. However, it also brought about significant social and economic changes, such as the displacement of small farmers, the rise of wage labor, and increased competition among businesses, which caused the widening gap between rich and poor.
In addition, the Market Revolution had a profound impact on the environment and the way Americans lived and worked. The increased demand for land and resources led to the destruction of natural habitats, deforestation, and the pollution of water and air.
All in all, the Market Revolution brought about many significant changes in the United States and laid the foundation for the country's economic development in the 19th century and beyond.

What Were the Antebellum Reform Movements?

The Antebellum Reform Movements changed the US after the Second Great Awakening by urging Americans to change their society for the better through movements like Temperance, Women’s Rights, and, most consequentially for Period 5, abolitionism. 😠
The Antebellum Reform Movements were a series of social, religious, and political movements that emerged in the United States during the period before the Civil War, also known as the antebellum period (approximately 1820-1860). These movements aimed to address a wide range of issues related to society and culture, including poverty, education, slavery, women's rights, and temperance.
Some of the most significant Antebellum Reform Movements include:

The Temperance Movement

The Temperance Movement was a social movement that emerged in the United States in the early 19th century, with the goal of reducing or eliminating the consumption of alcohol. The movement believed that alcohol was the cause of many social problems, such as poverty, crime, and domestic abuse, and that reducing its consumption would lead to a more moral and orderly society.

Source: ThoughtCo

The Temperance Movement was primarily led by women, who were often the victims of the negative consequences of alcohol abuse. They formed groups such as the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) and the Women's Temperance Movement, which aimed to educate the public about the dangers of alcohol and lobby for laws and policies that would restrict its sale and consumption. They also organized campaigns such as "temperance rallies" and "prohibition crusades" to raise awareness about their cause.
The movement's efforts led to the passage of state-level Prohibition laws, which banned the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol in some states, and the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibited the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcohol nationwide from 1920 to 1933.
The Temperance Movement was a significant social movement that sought to address the negative impact of alcohol on society and promote a more moral and healthy lifestyle. While it was successful in achieving its goal of Prohibition, it ultimately failed to solve the problems it sought to address and led to unintended consequences, such as the rise of organized crime, the black market, and a decrease in government revenue.

The Women's Rights Movement

The Women's Rights Movement during 1844 and 1877 saw significant advances for women's rights. One of the most important events during this period was the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848, which was organized by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. At the convention, a Declaration of Sentiments was adopted, which outlined the rights that women were denied and called for their equal treatment under the law.
During the Civil War, many women became active in abolitionist and suffrage movements, and their participation in these causes helped to further the cause of women's rights. After the war, the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution were ratified, which granted citizenship and voting rights to African American men, but not to women. This led to the formation of the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) in 1869, which focused on securing voting rights for women through a federal amendment to the Constitution.

Source: Oregon Secretary of State

The Abolitionist Movement

The abolitionist movement was a social and political movement in the United States that aimed to end slavery and the slave trade. The movement began in the late 18th century and gained momentum in the 19th century, leading to the Civil War and the eventual abolition of slavery with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.
Abolitionists were a diverse group of people, including both black and white individuals, who used various strategies to advocate for the end of slavery. Some abolitionists, such as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman, were former slaves who used their personal experiences to educate others about the horrors of slavery. Others, such as William Lloyd Garrison and John Brown, used speeches, writings, and protests to raise awareness and mobilize support for the abolitionist cause.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

The abolitionist movement also had a significant impact on the women's rights movement. Many women, such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth, were active in both the abolitionist and suffrage movements, and their participation helped to further the cause of women's rights.

The Utopian Communities Movement

The Utopian Communities movement refers to a series of communities established in the 19th century in the United States that aimed to create a perfect society based on principles of equality, cooperation, and social harmony. These communities, also known as intentional communities, were founded on various ideologies such as communism, socialism, and religious beliefs, among others.
Examples of these communities include the Oneida Community, the Amana Colonies, and the Shakers. Some of these communities were successful in the short term, but most of them eventually dissolved due to various reasons like internal conflicts, economic failures, and lack of new members.

The Public School Movement

The Public School Movement between 1844 and 1877, saw significant developments in the establishment of publicly-funded schools. The movement began in the mid-19th century, and in 1844, Massachusetts became the first state to pass a law mandating that all children between the ages of 8 and 14 attend school.
Horace Mann, who served as the Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education, played a crucial role in the establishment of the public school system in Massachusetts. He advocated for the use of tax dollars to fund schools, the establishment of teacher training programs, and the use of a standardized curriculum.
The success of the public school system in Massachusetts led other states to adopt similar laws, and by the end of the Civil War, most states had compulsory education laws in place. However, these laws were not always enforced and attendance at public schools was not always mandatory.
During the Civil War and the period of Reconstruction, the public school movement faced a setback as many schools were closed, and funds were diverted to other causes. However, after the war, the movement gained momentum again, and by the end of the 1870s, most northern states had a well-established public school system.

Moving Forward with the Story

Overall, these reform movements aimed to improve the lives of marginalized groups, challenge the status quo, and promote social and political change in the United States. They were often met with resistance from those who opposed their goals, but they also helped to pave the way for significant social and political progress in the decades that followed. ⚔️ These changes were not uniform throughout the US, however, and sectional tensions began to develop between the North and South as they grew increasing apart on a variety of issues: the North was changing far faster than the South thanks to the Market Revolution and Antebellum Reform Movements. The South grew increasingly protective of its more traditional way of life. Tensions mounted as the 1840s continued...

Expansionist Foreign Policies

During the mid-19th century, the United States underwent significant changes, both domestically and internationally. The country became more connected with the world, as it pursued an expansionist foreign policy and emerged as a destination for immigrants from other countries.
The drive for expansion was fueled by a combination of economic and security interests, as well as popular enthusiasm for U.S. growth and expansion. This resulted in the acquisition of new territories, including parts of Mexico and the Caribbean, as well as substantial migration westward. Additionally, the U.S. embarked on new overseas initiatives, such as the acquisition of Hawaii and the acquisition of Puerto Rico from Spain.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, the growth and expansion of the U.S. was not without controversy. During the 1840s and 1850s, Americans continued to debate questions about rights and citizenship for various groups of inhabitants within the country. These debates included questions about the rights of Native Americans, African Americans, and women, as well as the status of territories and newly acquired lands. The questions of rights and citizenship were deeply intertwined with larger issues of slavery, race, and national identity, and would continue to shape American politics and society for decades to come.

North vs. South

The mid-19th century in the United States was marked by intensifying debates over slavery and other economic, cultural, and political issues, as the country continued to expand and regional divisions deepened. These debates were fueled by deeply ingrained ideological and economic differences between Americans in the North and the South, and came to dominate political discourse in the 1850s. 👎
The intensifying debates over slavery produced an array of diverging responses from Americans in the North and the South. In the North, abolitionist sentiment was growing, as people called for the immediate end of slavery and advocated for the rights of African Americans. In contrast, the South saw slavery as a critical component of its economic and cultural identity, and fiercely defended the institution.
These conflicting views on slavery and other issues came to a head in the election of 1860, which was one of the most bitter and divisive in American history. The election of Abraham Lincoln, a Republican who was perceived by many in the South as hostile to slavery, was the final straw for many Southern states, which seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.
The result was the American Civil War, a conflict that would test the strength and resilience of the United States and shape the course of its history for generations to come.

Source: American Battlefield Trust

🎥 Watch: AP US History - Period 5 In Context
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