- The Communication, Market, and Transportation Revolutioj
In this lecture, Dr. Totten discusses the massive economic and technological changes that fundamentally altered the young republic in the 19th century.
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- The Lost Cause
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the greatest trick ever played on white southerners was convincing them that disunion and the protection of slavery was a good cause and that the the Confederacy benefited the South.
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- A Fool's Errand: Reconstruction
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues Reconstruction attempted to bring due process, equal protection of the law, and voting rights to African Americans, but was thwarted by white southerners who attempted to recreate slavery in all but name, using economic and political repression as well as white supremacist terroristic violence,
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- The Civil War: The Hard Hand of War
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues both northerners and southerners created false memories of the war that highlighted unity and downplayed the division that griped both home fronts.
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- The Civil War A Very Bloody Affair
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the Civil War was a a devastating conflict that killed 750,000 Americans.
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- The Secession Crisis
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues elite white southerners reacted to the election of Abraham Lincoln by pushing for secession. This was a rash decision, considering Lincoln never threatened slavery where it already existed. In addition, elite white southerners still held considerable congressional power and controlled the Supreme Court. Despite this, elite white southerners embraced secession despite widespread dissatisfaction with it. Seven deep southern states seceded after conventions were held, but these conventions never submitted secession for a popular vote, due to widespread resistance. The border states would never secede and the upper South only seceded after the firing on Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for volunteers to put down the rebellion. Thus, the Confederacy was on shaky foundation, as many southerners rejected its very legitimacy. This dissatisfaction with secession would be largely forgotten, as a Lost Cause emerged after the Civil War and Reconstruction, which portrayed a united South.
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- The Political Crisis of the 1850s
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the debate over the expansion of slavery into the recently conquered territories of the Mexican Cession led to the outbreak of the Secession Crisis and ultimately the American Civil War.
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- The Old South
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the South was a slave society, where every aspect of its economy, politics, and social hierarchy was wrapped around the sinful institution.
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- Manifest Destiny
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues white Americans believed they were destined to conquer and settle the American continent. White Americans systematically ethnically cleansed Native Americans from the American southwest and West in order to make way for white settlement and exploitation. In addition, The United States fought a war with the Republic of Mexico and conquered vast stretches of their territory, known as the Mexican Cession. This led to the revival of the question over slavery's expansion into the territories, which led to the political crisis of the 1850s and eventually, the American Civil War.
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- The Era of Reform
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues many middle-class Americans joined reform societies to deal with the issues created by the Market Revolution. Some Americans embraced anti-slavery, abolitionism, temperance, education, and mental health groups to improve the lives of Americans, though they also did so to wield substantial political power. Some Americans rejected these efforts, especially abolitionism, which was a tiny minority of evangelical northern Christians.
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- The Second Great Awakening
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues a wave of religious revivals spread across the country, which led many Americans to change the way they worshiped. Americans embraced a more enthusiastic, evangelical interpretation of Christianity and the concept of perfectionism, which led many to join reform movements to perfect society and thus bring about the second coming of Christ. New protestant sects were created and many Americans experimented with utopian societies or communitarian communities. While the awakening led to a democratization of American religion, it also led to splits within American churches between proslavery southerners and anti-slavery northerners. This would later help contribute to the coming of the Civil War.
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- The Age of Jackson
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues President Andrew Jackson ushered in a new era of American politics, and his imprint on the presidency lives on to this day.
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- The Corrupt Bargain
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the closely contested election of 1824, led to a widely disparaged administration under John Quincy Adams. Supporters of Andrew Jackson, called Jacksonians and later termed Democrats, viewed the effort of Henry Clay to swing the contest in JQA's favor as outright theft. As a result, JQA's administration suffered from lack of support, even from his own Vice President, John C. Calhoun. While JQA is the greatest Secretary of State in U.S. history, his presidency was largely ineffective in passing his programs. The election of 1828, which was highly rancorous, ushered in a new era of American politics. Due to the removal of property requirements, white males voted in great numbers, which routinely reached 80-90% of the eligible electorate. In addition, a new political party, The Democratic Party, was founded, and its name sake, which bears little resemblance to its 19th century counterpart, lives on to this day. Finally, new methods of electioneering were adopted, which combined policy with revelry to achieve this massive participation.
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- The Era of Good Feelings?
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the "Era of Good Feelings," is misnamed. While the period did have one party rule and a renewed sense of American identity, it also was a period of economic turbulence, political infighting, and most critically, it showcased that any public discussion of slavery's expansion had the potential to rend the nation in twain.
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- The War of 1812
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the War of 1812 was a foolish conflict that the Americans barely escaped intact. The war was caused by continued British impressment of U.S. sailors, as well as their refusal to abandon their forts in the modern Midwest. The war went badly for the U.S. until Andrew Jackson pulled out a victory at New Orleans. The war led to the destruction of the Federalist Party, since they opposed the war and some advocated secession due to the conflict. This would result in one party year for the next decade.
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- Jeffersonian America
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues Thomas Jefferson dropped his strict constructionist proclivities upon assuming the presidency and embarked on a reign of broad constructionist governance that enabled him to mold the future of the young nation. Jefferson kept many Federalist policies intact when he assumed office, though he rejected the more pompous social affairs of his predecessors. The Federalist, despite their political decline, remained dominant in the Judicial branch, and the new Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, helped establish the concept of judicial review. Under Jefferson, the country doubled in size over night, with the signing of the Louisiana Purchase from France. Though Jefferson thought the measure was unconstitutional, he approved it because it supported his vision of white settler expansion in the West and create the rural nation of farmers he desired. Jefferson's administration, like Adams, was dominated by navigating the complex diplomatic issues involved in the Napoleonic Wars. Jefferson's solution was to cut off all trade with the belligerent nations, though this too flew in the face of his strict constructionist views. The Embargo Act devastated the American economy, but sowed the seeds for industrialization that paved the way for America's future as an industrial power house. Thus, Jefferson's legacy is complex and contradictory, as he created an "Empire of Liberty" for whites at the expense of natives, and helped develop the country further, only by abandoning his principles in favor of fostering the common good.
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- The End of the Federalist Era
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues John Adams' opposition to a war with France saved the young nation but doomed his political career and paved the way for the election of Thomas Jefferson. By stepping down from the presidency after two terms, George Washington ensured the Republic would survive with the precedent of a two term limit that was later enshrined in constitutional law in the 1950s.
Adams administration was dominated by the Quasi-War with France, an undeclared war between French and American ships. American delegates attempted to negotiate with the French foreign minister, Talleyrand, but instead were met with demands for a private bribe and a public loan for France. The resulting XYZ Affair led to the further deterioration of relations between America and her former ally.
With a large French immigrant population in America, the Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act, which criminalized free speech. As a result, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which enunciated the concept of Nullification that later directly led to the Nullification Crisis of 1832 and the Secession Crisis of 1861.
The election of 1800 between Jefferson and Adams was a highly contentious campaign, with numerous slanders and libels cast by supporters of both candidates. While Jefferson defeated Adams in the Electoral College, he tied his running mate Aaron Burr, who refused to concede defeat, as he was highly ambitious and unscrupulous politician. Alexander Hamilton helped throw the election in Jefferson's favor, because while he may disagree with Jefferson's politics, he at least knew he had principles, unlike Burr. Thus, Jefferson became president and stated: "We are all republicans, we are all federalists." While this was meant to unite the country, Jefferson meant it an invitation for everyone to join his party, as the concept of a loyal opposition party was still not yet firmly established in the American political process.
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- Washington's Presidency
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues George Washington's administration set many important precedents that continue in the United States to this day. Washington new he needed experts around him and established the cabinet to help him govern the new nation. Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson enunciated two rival visions for the future of the country, with Hamilton enacting numerous policies to stabilize the nation's economy. The battle between Hamilton and Jefferson led to the creation of the proto-political parties, the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans, also called Jeffersonian Republicans. These parties were further solidified as Americans disagreed over foreign policy, as France and Great Britain were locked in battle over the French Revolution. Washington's administration attempted to negotiate the Jay Treaty with Great Britain, which did not solve the immediate problems of impressment that ultimately led to the War of 1812. While Americans were fearful that the Haitian Revolution might spread to America, Washington illustrated one more weakness of his character, when he attempted to recapture an escaped slave, Ona Judge, who had escaped to freedom. In the end, Washington continued his proclivity for giving up power when he could have been president for life. Thus, Washington is a flawed founder who provided a stable foundation for the Early American Republic.
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- The Ratification Debates
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the ratification debates illustrated the disagreement among Americans regarding the adoption of the new Constitution. Federalists undertook a successful propaganda campaign and wrote numerous "Federalist Papers" that discussed the benefits of the new government for the people. Anti-federalists argued the new government was far to powerful and would merely create an aristocracy in the new nation. The founders also debated the nature of implied versus enumerated powers, which continues to this day. In the end, the Constitution was adopted and the first ten amendments or "Bill of Rights" was added to the Constitution. These amendments protect many of our rights, though they can be interpreted narrowly or broadly in order to subvert these privileges and immunities of U.S. citizens.
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- The Constitutional Convention
In this lecture, Dr. Totten argues the constitutional convention was a conservative victory that put numerous barriers between popular democratic or "mob rule" and the levers of government. James Madison set the tone of the debate with the introduction of his "Virginia Plan," which ensured he got most of what he wanted. The whole process could have been derailed, were it not for Roger Sherman and his Connecticut Compromise that formed the basis of the Senate and House of Representatives. While slavery was briefly debated, it was constitutionally protected in three specific sections of the Constitution, which would set the stage for eighty years of disagreement regarding the sinful institution. Arguments over how to elect the executive branch, led to the creation of the Electoral College, which is hotly debated to this day. In the end, the convention represented a successful coup against the Articles of Confederation that enabled elite control over the government, at least for awhile.
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