The Importance of American Expansion
All of the American expansions were huge steps, whether it was doubling the size of America or just settling a small town. Every expansion and every encounter molded the people living in the New World, both in good and bad ways. The settlement of Jamestown, crossing the Appalachian Mountains, the Westward expansion, and all of the interactions that came out of it influenced the New World in countless ways.
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A couple of times before 1601, the English tried settling in the New World, but Jamestown, Virginia was the only settlement that survived the harsh conditions. If Jamestown hadn’t of survived, Great Britain may have given up on sending people to the New World, at least for a couple of years. When the Colonists created Jamestown, they expected it to be incredibly difficult, but they did not expect so many interactions between the Natives and the Jamestown citizens. With certain tribes, both the new settlers and the Natives got along, they even helped each other in many ways. The settlers would provide the Indians with man-made tools from Great Britain and the Indians would provide the English with foods and furs. Unfortunately, a lot of the times, the two groups did not interact so peacefully; both the English and the Indians stull supplies and raided each other.
The Appalachian Mountains was probably one of the more rebellious American Expansions. Previous to the exploration, the colonist had promised the Native Americans all of the land West of the great mountains, but of course, the colonists were ignorant of how much land actually laid to the West. In addition to that, Great Britain had also told the colonist to avoid hiking through the Appalachian Mountains and exploring the land West of it. Eventually, the colonist were greatly curios about what laid over the Appalachian Mountains, and they also sought to expand their growing settlements. Like most things the English settlers did, crossing the mountains created a large amount of tension between the American Indians and the English settlers.
Before America got control of the Mississippi River (the Louisiana Purchase), many nations and peoples had lived on it. Thomas Jefferson had bought the Louisiana Purchase in 1806 from France, almost doubling the size of the New Nation. Even before the French owned the land, the Spaniards had owned the territory. More impressive than that, despite not owning the land or the Mississippi river, the Native Americans had lived on that land before the Spanish, English, or French came close to the New World. It is common knowledge that Thomas Jefferson sent Louis and Clark to explore the land after it was purchased. During that exploration, the Early Americans had quite a bit of contact with the Indians and the people that lived near the Mississippi river. Thanks to Sacagawea, Louis and Clark’s encounters with the Native Americans were not as violent as they would have been.
None of the expansions could be done without running into the natives, or butting heads with empires. Many different cultures lived in the New World before the Europeans even thought about settling there. When Jamestown Virginia was founded in 1601, the English had to learn how to bargain with the Native Americans. Many times, the “bargaining” didn’t work, so both sides resulted to some much more serous tactics.When the Americans crossed over the Appalachian Mountains, they had to deal with the French that settled there, and many of the Indians that also lived on that land. Great Britain even tried preventing that meeting from happening by creating the Proclamation of 1763, which prohibited the colonists from passing a certain section of land in the New World.The expansion of the Mississippi river had to be one of the most encounter rich expansions in American History. Not only did the Americans have to encounter the Indians, but they also had to deal with the Spaniards and the French. All of whom lived on the land or had previously owned the land.
America did not gain all of the land that it has in a matter of a day, or even a couple of years for that matter. Instead, it took decades for America to gain as much land as it has. The land was not easily won either, instead it took decades of countess documents, signatures, and numerous disagreements between cultures and civilizations.
- Coleman, Aaron N. “Debating the Nature of State Sovereignty: Nationalists, State Sovereigntists, and the Treaty of Paris (1783).” Journal of the Historical Society 12, no. 3 (2012): 309-340.
- Ellis, Edward Sylvester. The Indian Wars of the United States: From the First Settlement at Jamestown, in 1607, to the Close of the Great Uprising of 1890-91. New York: Cassell Publishing Co, 1892.
- Kennedy, Roger G. Mr. Jefferson’s Lost Cause: Land, Farmers, Slavery, and the Louisiana Purchase. New York;Oxford;: Oxford University Press, 2003.
- Waldman, Carl. Who was Who in Native American History: Indians and Non-Indians from Early Contacts through 1900. New York: Facts on File, 1990.
The Constitution vs The Articles of Confederation
Everyone makes mistakes in life, it’s only human nature. In the end, one can only hope to fix what was done, much like our Founding Fathers had the opportunity to do. When the American government was being formed, a lot of it was trial and error. Early on, the government caught many errors and sought to fix them before it was too late. The Articles of Confederation and the American Constitution have countless differences, and most of the differences are just mistakes caught early on.
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Believe it or not, the system of government that America runs on currently is not the same government that America was started on. Before there was the American Constitution, there was a document called The Articles of Confederation.1 This style of government only lasted 10 years, and there were some great reasons for that. It is common knowledge that America once belonged to Britain, and the reason that America left was due to Great Britain not allowing America their independence. When the Founding Fathers were creating the first version of the American government, they were trying to stay as far away from Monarchy as possible. 2 Most people during that time wished to have complete independence, in other words, they wanted the exact opposite government that Britain had. The government made the mistake of being to lax with their system of ruling, which in turn, caused control issues.
It did not take long for the American Citizens to realize that the Articles of Confederation needed some amendments. Luckily, there were plenty of people that were willing to put in the hard work. In fact, the Constitutional Convention was formed to do just that and much more.3 After countless arguments, long hours, and dozens of revisions, The Constitution of the United States was formed. Unlike the original system of government, The Constitution gave power to the government, while simultaneously keeping it in line. The Constitution was a compromise in many ways; the citizens got the freedom that they wanted to maintain, and the government had their control, which they were in desperate need of.
There are countless differences between The Constitution and The Articles of Confederation, some being more important than others. Though, the majority people agree that the most drastic change between the two styles would have to be the voting system.4 The original American voting system was an incredibly simple concept, yet they did not manage to get any laws passed in 10 years.5 Unlike the Constitution, The Articles of Confederation only allowed each state one vote, despite the population differences. The thing that made matters even worse was that they needed all 13 states to agree in order for a law to pass. The Constitution on the other hand is much more complicated but has passed countless laws and has been standing for over 200 years. When the Founding Fathers redid the way that laws are passed, they made sure to use the electoral voting method and a majority vote instead of a unanimous voting method.6 Unsurprisingly, the latter method of voting runs much smoother than the first does.
Like stated before, The Articles of Confederation did not allow the Congress much power over the citizens. The Constitution, for the most part, fixed the balance between the people and Congress. The original government did not allow Congress to collect taxes, it did not allow them to have a strong army, and it did not allow them control over trade.7 As one could imagine, America was not unified during the 10-short year of The Articles of Confederation. There was a lot of disagreements when Congress wanted to give themselves more power, but it needed to be done in order for America to thrive.8 In the Constitution the government is allowed to tax citizens, draft soldiers in times of crisis, and control foreign and domestic trade.9
It is incredibly difficult to form a country, let alone get everything right on the first attempt. The American government made a system of law off of the context and background that they were familiar with. Once America matured, they caught their previous mistakes and became all the stronger from them.
- “Articles of Confederation.” Ushistory.org. Accessed October 20, 2018. http://www.ushistory.org/documents/confederation.htm.
- Blackburn, Robert. “Laying the Foundations of The Modern Voting System: The Representation of The People Act 1918: Laying The Foundations of The Modern Voting System.” Parliamentary History 30, No. 1 (2011): 33-52.
- Gronke, Paul. “Early Voting Reforms and American Elections.” The William and Mary Bill of Rights Journal 17, No. 2 (2008): 423.
- Jameson, John Alexander. The Constitutional Convention: Its History, Powers, and Modes of Proceeding. New York; Chicago; C. Scribner and company, 1867.
- Jensen, Merrill. The Articles Of Confederation: An Interpretation of The Social-Constitutional History of The American Revolution, 1774-1781. Madison: University Of Wisconsin Press, 1959.
- Levy, Leonard W. Origins of the Bill of Rights. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999; 2001; 2005; 2008.
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