What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (Oxford History of the United States)

What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (Oxford History of the United States)

Daniel Walker Howe

Language: English

Pages: 1203

ISBN: 0195392434

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


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

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America, Jedidiah Morse’s American Universal Geography, and Alexander Wilson’s American Ornithology, along with Peale’s museum in Philadelphia, displaying its celebrated mastodon skeleton, brought natural history to a broad public. Only two American women of this period considered themselves professional scientists: Emma Willard, who taught mathematics and natural philosophy at Troy and published on physiology, and Maria Mitchell, who discovered a comet in 1847 and later became professor of

later by train—marking in the arc of this one president’s tenure in office the pervasive impact of the “transportation revolution” that was one of the era’s signature achievements. The railroad and the telegraph were both the principal causes and the most conspicuous emblems of the deep transformations that are Howe’s principal subjects. They catalyzed the phenomenal expansion of the slave South, as planters pushed the “Cotton Kingdom” over the Appalachians and out onto the loamy bottomlands of

years after 1815 as an extremely profitable employment for slave labor, finding a peaceful, acceptable resolution to the problem of emancipation might not have been so difficult. Economic historians, after prodigious research and argument, have come to general agreement that Americans who invested in slave property usually made a competitive return on their investment. A lively commerce in slaves, both local and interstate, sustained the economic efficiency and profitability of the slave system.

labored diligently for years to buy their own freedom, even though their master could legally take their money and break his promise. Slaves resisted their bondage in countless small ways; they malingered, damaged property, ran away, and in general matched wits with whoever supervised them. The master class labored under no illusions of black contentment. Masters insisted on “pass laws” for slaves found wandering and on “slave patrols” to enforce the laws. (White men were obligated to take a turn

Slave Power (Baton Rouge, 2000), 143–48. 105. Diary entry for Dec. 3, 1844, Memoir of John Quincy Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams (Philadelphia, 1874–77), XII, 116. 1. David Brion Davis called attention to the parallel between Channing and Marshall in Challenging the Boundaries of Slavery (Cambridge, Mass., 2003), 49–52. 2. Channing’s address, with many other documents of early Unitarianism, is contained in An American Reformation, ed. Sydney Ahlstrom and Jonathan Carey (Middletown,

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