What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (Oxford History of the United States)
Daniel Walker Howe
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The Oxford History of the United States is by far the most respected multi-volume history of our nation. In this Pulitzer prize-winning, critically acclaimed addition to the series, historian Daniel Walker Howe illuminates the period from the battle of New Orleans to the end of the Mexican-American War, an era when the United States expanded to the Pacific and won control over the richest part of the North American continent.
A panoramic narrative, What Hath God Wrought portrays revolutionary improvements in transportation and communications that accelerated the extension of the American empire. Railroads, canals, newspapers, and the telegraph dramatically lowered travel times and spurred the spread of information. These innovations prompted the emergence of mass political parties and stimulated America's economic development from an overwhelmingly rural country to a diversified economy in which commerce and industry took their place alongside agriculture. In his story, the author weaves together political and military events with social, economic, and cultural history. Howe examines the rise of Andrew Jackson and his Democratic party, but contends that John Quincy Adams and other Whigs—advocates of public education and economic integration, defenders of the rights of Indians, women, and African-Americans—were the true prophets of America's future. In addition, Howe reveals the power of religion to shape many aspects of American life during this period, including slavery and antislavery, women's rights and other reform movements, politics, education, and literature. Howe's story of American expansion culminates in the bitterly controversial but brilliantly executed war waged against Mexico to gain California and Texas for the United States.
Winner of the New-York Historical Society American History Book Prize
Finalist, 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction
that Virginia should industrialize and shift away from reliance on enslaved labor. But he carefully phrased his endorsement of colonization in such a way as to make it appealing as well to proslavery whites who simply wanted to get rid of those blacks already free. Back in 1807-8, humanitarians had realized their hope to abolish the importation of slaves from overseas by cooperating with slaveholders who wanted to protect the value of their property against cheap foreign imports. Mercer had been
interest of the Jeffersonians and Jacksonians in international trade. Even John Quincy Adams’s much maligned call for a federal astronomical observatory gained implementation before long. The Jackson administration found money within the Navy Department to construct a small observatory in 1834 as an aid to celestial navigation, and the first Whig Congress passed an appropriation for a larger one in 1842, to Adams’s delight. The U.S. Naval Observatory remains today in Washington, D.C.55 But one
papermaking, and distribution that multiplied newspapers, magazines, and books also had their effects on the substance of what was written. Books became not only more numerous and widely marketed but also longer, facilitating the rise of the novel as a new literary genre. Novels often appeared serialized in newspapers or magazines prior to their publication between hard covers—thus taking advantage of the low postal rates charged periodicals. Serialization especially helped rural people far from
Pennsylvania and understood the mentality of the average northern Democrat well. He argued for Texas annexation primarily on economic grounds. Taking a leaf out of Henry Clay’s book, he pointed out that Texas would enlarge the home market for American products. He also made the old Jeffersonian argument that expansion would “diffuse” the slave population into the West and make emancipation more likely in the Upper South. Looking still farther into the future, Walker predicted that when the
(1996); Alan Taylor, American Colonies (2001); and Richard White, It’s Your Misfortune and None of My Own (1991). I was influenced by the model of Fernan Braudel’s classic, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, trans. Sian Reynolds (1976). On the Hispanic borderlands that became part of the United States during the period here treated, two books of David Weber are invaluable: The Spanish Frontier in North America (1992) and The Mexican Frontier, 1821–1846 (1982).