steamship had gone far toward replacing older means of travel and communication like the canals, clipper ships, stagecoach, and pony express.
The new means of transportation and distribution laid the foundations for a continental market economy. The new national economy created a pattern of sectional specialization and altered the traditional economic functions of the family. There was growing concern over the class differences spawned by industrialization, especially in the cities. But the general growth of opportunities and the increased standard of living made America a magnetic “land of opportunity” to many people at home and abroad.
developing the chapter: suggested lecture or discussion topics
Focus on the Irish and German immigrants and the nativist reaction to them. Show why nativists thought that immigrant poverty and Catholicism posed a threat to American democracy. Consider the important role that the Catholic Church played in the lives of Irish and German Catholic immigrants, despite the opposition of nativists. references: Kerby Miller, Emigrants and Exiles: Ireland and the Irish Exodus to North America (1985); Jay P. Dolan, The Immigrant Church (1975).
Examine the effects of early industrial development on labor and society. Show how the change from a subsistence to a market economy affected workers, farmers and especially women. references: Herbert Gutman, Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America (1976); Mary Blevitt, Men, Women, and Work (1988).
Consider the various stages of the market and transportation revolutions. Focus on the particular significance of the steamboat and the canal, and their gradual replacement by the railroad. reference: Charles Sellers, The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815–1846 (1992).
Analyze the relation between the growing national economy and the regional economic specialization of the Northeast, South, and Midwest. Point out the paradoxical way in which economic development both united and divided the sections. reference: W. Elliot Brownlee, Dynamics of Ascent (1974).
for further interest: additional class topics
Discuss the roots of Irish immigration to America. Consider the changing historical “image” of Irish-Americans and their culture from the nineteenth century to the present, and the relationship between popular stereotypes (Irish police, St. Patrick’s Day) and the actual experience of Irish-Americans.
Discuss the changing roles of American women—and men—in relation to the “new family” of the early 1800s. Consider whether the growing attention to family life and women’s dominant role in it was a gain for women (compared to earlier patriarchal models), or a kind of “velvet cage” that kept most of them from assuming larger public roles.
Compare the early-nineteenth-century American economy with those of developing Third World countries today. Discuss the absolutely crucial role that developing a basic “infrastructure”—
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