You may visit similar webpages at

emphasis added




Movement to end the slave trade and emancipate slaves in Western  Europe and the Americas. Antislavery sentiment gradually gained support in England in the 18th cent., but initially had little impact on the centers of slavery--the W. Indies, S. America, and the S U.S. In 1807 British and U.S. abolitionists successfully banned the importation of African slaves, and turned their attention to winning the emancipation of slaves already in captivity. The 11 Southern states of the U.S., however, clung to slavery as a social and economic institution. The Amer. Anti-Slavery Society fueled the abolitionist movement in the North. Major Amer. abolitionist figures included W. L. Garrison, F. Douglass, and H. B. Stowe. The election of A. Lincoln, who opposed the spread of slavery into the West, marked the issue's turning point; the resulting secession of the Southern states led to the Amer. Civil War, which in turn led to the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1865), freeing all slaves in the nation. Slavery was finally abolished in Latin America by 1888.

More on this page

This term is used to describe both the process of contacts between different cultures and also the outcome of such contacts. As the process of contact between cultures, acculturation may involve either direct social interactionor exposure to other cultures by means of the mass media of communication. As the outcome of such contact, acculturation refers to the assimilation by one group of the culture of another which modifies the existing culture and so changes group identity. There may be a tension between old and new cultures which leads to the adaptation of the new as well as the old. See: Accommodation; Assimilation. (


Sea-trade was highly regulated in the British empire in the colonial period. Every effort was made to favor British ships and discourage foreign ships. “British” here does not refer to Great-Britain only, but to all the British Empire: an American ship was a British ship. The regulations controlling navigation are known as the Acts of Navigation. The ship-yards  of New-England were thus prosperous.

Adams (John)

See this link

Affirmative Action

Article (mai 2009) en français: Universités américaines : la politique d'affirmative action passée au crible


A policy designed to redress past discrimination against women and minority groups through measures to improve their economic and educational opportunities (Example: "Affirmative action has been extremely controversial and was challenged in 1978 in the Bakke decision")

Encyclopedia article

Affirmative action commonly refers to taking action to give certain groups "preferential" or "equal" (depending on one's point of view) access to an environment or benefits, such as education, employment, health care or social welfare. ........

Source :

JULY 2, 1964 Civil Rights Act of 1964
 The act established legal recourse against discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This protection covered public accommodations, public transportation, public education, and federally assisted programs.

JUNE 28, 1978
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke In a 5-to-4 vote, the Supreme Court struck down an admissions program that reserved a fixed number of spots for minorities, but allowed that race may be considered as one of a number of factors. The controlling opinion stated that diversity contributes to a richer educational environment.

MARCH 18, 1996
Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit suspended an affirmative action admissions program, outlawing any preferences whatsoever based on race. The decision rejected the Bakke notion of diversity as a compelling state interest.

NOV. 5, 1996
Proposition 209 in California Californians voted to forbid any consideration of race, gender or national origin in hiring or school admissions.

DEC. 3, 1998
Initiative 200 in Washington Washington State voters eliminated all preferential treatment based on race or gender in government hiring and school admissions.

FEB. 22, 2000
“One Florida” Initiative The Florida cabinet enacted the education component of Gov. Jeb Bush’s “One Florida” program, which ended the consideration of race in university admissions and state contracts. It instead called for more aid based on financial need.

JUNE 23, 2003
University of Michigan rulings - The Supreme Court upheld an affirmative action program at the University of Michigan law school, but struck down the undergraduate system that awarded extra points to minority students.
(Source:  The New York Times, June 24, 2003) 

African Americans in the Twentieth Century

See this page on this site


The grain-based civilisations of Europe and Asia were the apogee of human history for agrarianism. The agrarian views ... disfavour both tribal society - where life is believed to be nasty, brutish and short - and industrial society, where humans have wholly succumbed to the pursuit of wealth. [Its] ecological and social ideal is peasant society, where technology is on the human scale and the bonds of community are strong. The political programme of agrarianism, therefore, is to resist the onslaught of commercialism and industrialism where they have not yet made inroads, and where they have, to turn one's back resolutely on modern society and go 'back to the land'. ... the best known American agrarian, Thomas Jefferson, ...
(source: Guha, Ramachandra. "Towards a Cross-Cultural Environmental Ethic." Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South.  Ramachandra Guha and J. Martinez-Alier. Ed. Ramachandra Guha and J. Martinez-alier. London: Earthscan, 1997. 80-81. 
In order to maintain democracy in the American republic, Jefferson devised a doctrine called agrarianism.
He had come to the conclusion that landownership was the best means to protect the freedom and independence of American citizens from the maneuvers of politicians. Land gives economic independence, and, consequently, freedom or independence from all political powers. Landownership is thus the foundation of democracy. Also, living on the land meant living close to nature, the source of virtue in the eyes of the philosophers of the Enlightenment. Jefferson—one of the most influential if not the most influential of all Founding Fathers—accordingly planned the United States to be a republic of small, individual, virtuous, educated, independent farmers. But such a policy depended upon more and more free land for generation after generation of farmers  in the centuries to come. Jefferson accordingly had Louisiana bought from France (See map of territorial expansion)  (Louisiana Purchase).

    Thomas Jefferson obviously pondered over the problem of the survival of a large scale democracy and accordingly developed his agrarian vision of the United States.
The solutions he devised and that, as a leading Founding Father and as third President of the USA, he implemented, were based on three ideas: order, decentralization and land. Thomas Jefferson and his friends, the Democrats, opposed a strong central federal government for the United States. They wanted to vest as many rights as possible on each of the united states. Their opponents, were Hamilton and the Federalists, [link Jefferson vs. Hamilton] who wanted a strong centralized federal government, and who had the Articles of Confederation replaced by the Constitution (1787-90). But the Democrats made sure that the rights of individuals be written in the Constitution, which was not the case. Hence the first ten amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights (1691). As for order, Jefferson agreed with Washington that the settlement of the free lands in the West would lead to chaos and disorder if not organized. All these were just mere principles. Jefferson wanted to make these principles work and he accordingly developed a system—agrarianism—that has shaped the American landscape to this very day. Jefferson came to the conclusion that to oppose a possible return of tyranny, individual American citizens should be given independence from any political power, in other words, the means to survive, that is a farm, hence, land. Now there was plenty of free, public land in the West ( the Northwest Territory, the Ohio Valley to the Great lakes) after the Treaty of Paris (1783). So Thomas Jefferson organized first the distribution of public land to individual farmers (Land Ordinances of 1785) and access of new territories in the West to equal statehood with the former exiting states (Northwest Ordinance, 1787). If the Northwest ordinance did work and avoided a lot of strife and struggles between the original thirteen states and new states, the Land Ordinance, for financial reasons, never worked. It was regularly amended, or even updated (Homestead Act, 1862; Reclamation Act, 1902), but the isolated Jeffersonian yeoman farmer could never compete with land speculators and land companies. At any rate, Jefferson's system of east-west ranges, divided into townships, each township being divided into 36 sections, survived the early days of the republic and the whole American West was surveyed and distributed along Jefferson's directions. And Jefferson had imagined each isolated pioneer could buy a section or two and start a farm. The idea was to make the farmer independent, economically and therefore politically; educated so that he would not become the prey of demagogues and tyrants. In fact, in each township, the benefits of the sale of section 16 were to be used for the building and functioning of a school. Jefferson also wanted to make the American farmer virtuous because it was thought democracies declined and died because of corruption, so that virtue was the best bulwark against corruption and decay. Jefferson thus believed that as long as there was "free" land, the American democracy could grow into an "empire for liberty." Therefore, it would be one essential aim for the American government to find more and more land. Where to find farming lands? In the West, as far as the Pacific, which induced two principles: westward expansion, and continentalism, all in the name of universalism, and under God. Indeed, Jefferson's agrarianism was somehow reminiscent of the Puritan sense of national election.

Agrarianism and Americans as the chosen people of God
Jefferson maintained that agriculture and virtue received divine assent: those who labor in the earth, he said, are the chosen people of God. We cannot fail to notice here that Jefferson simply followed the Puritan tradition of national election and exceptionalism. The origins of agrarianism are similar to those of American Puritanism: the belief in the corruption of Europe. One must bear in mind that Jefferson, like many Founding Fathers, was convinced that urbanization brought about political tensions, inequalities among men, and above all corruption. Away from the city, but away also from the savagery, wildness and barbarism of the wilderness, there was a middle ground: pastoral nature, here the yeoman farmer could cultivate the earth and virtue. Weeks puts it this way: "Beyond the virtues inherent in its institutions, the idea of America also hypothesized the special virtue of the American people. Jefferson gave voice to this sentiment in his Notes on the State of Virginia (1787), when he described American farmers as "the chosen people of God," a special breed of persons in "whose breast he had made his peculiar deposit of substantial and genuine virtue." The fears of Jefferson and others of the founding generation that urbanization, manufacturing, and overindulgence in "luxuries" might corrupt the republican experiment gave way by the 1820s to an emerging sense that America, with its democratic institutions and worship of the ‘common man,’ could never be corrupted—provided it could continue to expand. (William Earl Weeks, Building the Continental Empire: American Expansion From the Revolution to the Civil War (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996 62)" As Weeks rightly points out, virtue demanded more land.

Compare with pastoralism and arcadanianism

More about Jefferson's agrarian ideal

Horatio Alger, Jr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Horatio Alger, Jr. (January 13, 1832 - July 18, 1899) was a 19th-century American author, a leading proponent of social darwinism during the Gilded Age (1865-1900), who wrote over 130 dime novels, describing how down-and-out boys were able to achieve the American dream of wealth and success through hard work, courage, determination, and concern for others.
Poorly written and repetitive, the novels have declined in popularity as Alger's target audience grew more sophisticated. Nevertheless, at the time of their writing they were bestsellers, and Alger's books actually rivaled those of Mark Twain for popularity. As the American dream was taking shape, Alger gave hope for a brighter future to millions of young men who were then living on the brink of society.


The move to New York was a turning point in Alger's career. He was immediately drawn into the work of impoverished young bootblacks, newspaper boys, and peddlers, .... It was this world, coupled with the austere values that Alger received at home, which formed the basis of the first novel in his Ragged Dick series (1867). The book was an immediate success, spurring a vast collection of sequels and similar novels, including Luck and Pluck (1869]]) and Tattered Tom (1871), all with the same theme: the rise from rags to riches. In fact, the theme became synonymous with Alger.

Essentially, all of Alger's novels are the same: a young boy struggles through hard work to escape poverty. Critics, however, are quick to point out that it is not the hard work itself that rescues the boy from his fate, but rather some extraordinary act of bravery or honesty, which brings him into contact with a wealthy elder gentleman, who takes the boy in as a ward. The boy might return a large sum of money that was lost or rescue someone from an overturned carriage, bringing the boy -and his plight- to the attention of some wealthy individual. It has been suggested that this reflects Alger's own patronizing attitude to the boys he tried to help.

Despite his remarkable literary output, Alger never became rich from his writing. He gave most of his money to homeless boys and in some instances was actually conned from his earnings by the boys he tried to help. Nevertheless, by the time he died in 1899, his books could be found in virtually every home and library in America. His books may no longer be as popular today as they once were, but the moral message they relayed were an important factor in the development of the American dream in the 20th century.

External Links
e-texts of some of Horatio Alger's works:

                                                   Ragged Dick
                                                   The Cash Boy
                                                   Cast Upon The Breakers
                                                   The Errand Boy
                                                   Facing the World
                                                   Herbert Carter's Legacy
                                                   Joe The Hotel Boy
                                                   Paul The Peddler, or the Fortunes of a Young Street Merchant
                                                   Phil, the Fiddler
Alien and Sedition Acts (1798)
[source: Encyclopædia Britannica]
(1798), four internal security laws passed by the U.S. Congress, restricting aliens and curtailing the excesses of an unrestrained press, in anticipation of an expected war with France. After the XYZ Affair (1797), war appeared inevitable. Federalists, aware that French military successes in Europe had been greatly facilitated by political dissidents in invaded countries, sought to prevent such subversion in the United States and adopted the Alien and Sedition Acts as part of a series of military preparedness measures.
The three alien laws, passed in June and July, were aimed at French and Irish immigrants, who were mostly pro-French. These laws raised the waiting period for naturalization from 5 to 14 years, permitted the detention of subjects of an enemy nation, and authorized the chief executive to expel any alien he considered dangerous. The Sedition Act (July 14) banned the publishing of false or malicious writings against the government and the inciting of opposition to any act of Congress or the president—practices already forbidden by state statutes and the common law but not by federal law. The federal act reduced the oppressiveness of procedures in prosecuting such offenses but provided for federal enforcement.

The acts were the mildest wartime security measures ever taken in the United States, and they were widely popular. Jeffersonian Republicans vigorously opposed them, however, in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, which the other state legislatures either ignored or denounced as subversive. Only one alien was deported, and only 25 prosecutions, resulting in 10 convictions, were brought under the Sedition Act. With the war threat passing and the Republicans winning control of the federal government in 1800, all the Alien and Sedition Acts expired or were repealed during the next two years.

To cite this page:

                                     "Alien and Sedition Acts" Encyclopædia Britannica
                                     [Accessed September 20, 2002]. Emphasis added.


Most contemporary usage reflects the standard dictionary meanings: a feeling of strangeness or separation from others; a sense of a lack of warm relations with others.

2. Existentialists, however, have made the term a central construct in their psychology and appended a subtle but important meaning to the above. Rather than concentrate solely upon alienation of one human from others, they also stress the alienation of a person from him- or herself. This separation of the individual from the presumed 'real' or 'deeper' self is assumed to result from preoccupation with conformity, the wishes of others, the pressures from social institutions, and other 'outer-directed' motivations. (Xrefer)

Within the context of ethnicity, alienation refers to the feeling of being estranged—of becoming an alien, a stranger— from one's own culture in the process of acculturation and assimilation. (FD)

Amendments to the Constitution

Replica of same as above on this site

The American Dream

See this page to know about the origins of the American Dream.

Basically, the American Dream can be defined as “to raise oneself to the top by hard work and ingenuity,” a definition that best describes the dream as it was in the Gilded Age years, in the 1890s.

Writing about the American Dream in 20th Century Pessimism and the American Dream, Raymond Miller observes the following:

… Our belief in rugged individualism, equality of opportunity, laissez faire capitalism, social classlessness, the gospel of work [hard work], self-reliance, material acquisitiveness, thrift [saving] and ambition is nowhere more clearly illustrated than the classic American success story—the story of the poor boy who raises himself to the prominence through hard work, perseverance and honesty. (qtd. in Tuelin, Ambre. Calvin and Hobbes as an American cultural phenomenon : a critique of the American dream : the intriguing characters' names and more. Diss. Université de la Réunion, 2000.)
    Throughout the world, hundreds of potential immigrants hear of American culture and dream that one day they will be able to go to America and experience the myth they have heard of. The myth suggests that in America, opportunity is for all. It is entirely part of the American ethos, and it is so deeply rooted in the mind that it has become the engine of many people’s lives, a basis on which they shape their identities. Coming a long way from the first Pilgrim Fathers to the premises of the American Revolution and the Founding Fathers, the Dream was shaped through decades of settling in a new country. What makes America so unique, culturally and ideologically, stems from its relatively recent history, shaped on the coming of immigrants to a so-called new continent, bearing with them the hopes and beliefs that they would create a new nation, similar to the Garden of Eden (Benne, qtd. in Tuelin 215).

    Thus, the United States is a society built on a project, it is a society in the making, whose blueprint is the Constitution, as opposed to many nations which are the fruits of history.

… The phrase “American Dream” has  deep meaning in America, and several features can be associated to it. First of all, it comes from the belief that America was seen as the Promised Land for the second wave of Puritan settlers. Fleeing to America because of the persecutions in England, they hoped that America would be the place where they could implement the kind of government that they dreamed of. Although the Puritan theocracy was an oppressive system, their ideals portrayed America as a land of freedom and opportunity (Bercovitch, The American Jeremiad 31). This idea was later reinforced by the Founding Fathers. Following the ideas of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, the American Revolution and the ensuing Bills of Rights, the inhabitants of northern America strove to put forward the ideals of democracy, freedom, and opportunity in the personal, economic and political fields. Jefferson and his peers drafted the Declaration of Independence bearing in mind the idea of John Locke (1632-1704) that men were free to choose their form of government (Curti 71-103).
The American Dream is also closely related to the myth of success and that of the self-made man as it emerged in the Gilded Age (1890s). Since America was seen as the land of opportunity and equality, it meant that everybody could try and make their way in the American society. From rags to riches stories, like the success stories written by Horatio Alger or the real life of Andrew Carnegie, were examples that confirmed the possibilities of success in the New World (Chenoweth 1-3).

    To what extent then is the idealism of the American Dream of equal opportunity for all achieved in America's pluriethnic, multicultural society today?

    The melting pot supposedly achieved full assimilation of European immigrants into “the” American people. The salad bowlmetaphor suggests that even if ethnic groups belong to the same American society today, they keep much of their cultural features and remain distinct from mainstream WASP America.

American experiment

The Enlightenment had put forward such notions as democracy, progress and natural rights, giving the highest importance to science, knowledge, and above all reason which were making the whole world and natural laws understandable. Natural history accordingly received considerable interest. But the newly independent American republic which was now implementing the ideas developed by the philosophers of the Enlightenment had to prove to a skeptical Europe that democracy could work on a large scale. Agrarianism was Jefferson’s answer to the challenge.

A - The Enlightenment

Reason, nature, science, progress

Some of the origins of the ideological revolution of the Enlightenment were the discoveries of Galileo, Descartes and more importantly Newton who deciphered the laws that rule the moves of celestial orbs. Nature was no longer a hostile wilderness but a world that human reason could decipher. Science acquired new prominence and was to be the agent of social progress thanks to its technological implications. John C. Greene, the author of American Science in the Age of Jefferson, notes that “deists like Jefferson, Franklin and Ethan Allen, Vermont patriot and author of Reason, the Only Oracle of Man, viewed science as a God-given instrument for rationalizing human institutions in behalf of individual liberty and social progress. ‘Reason’ and ‘Nature’ were their slogans.”  Nature proved to be a fascinating field of study for man’s reason. Jefferson and other American empiricists read the works of Carl von Linné, Buffon and Cuvier with enthusiasm.

God seen as the Supreme Economist: The Great Chain of Being

Studying nature revealed a remarkably well organized interacting whole, a universe which could only be the creation of a grand planner, some entity Donald Worster called “the Supreme Economist” in charge of the rational government of life on earth.  The central notion for that remarkably well organized and interacting whole was the “Great Chain of Being”. Each organism carefully fitted into the hierarchy of greater and lesser beings in the God-created whole. Its perfection precluded the possibility of evolution. In such a perfect natural world, Jefferson considered that no species could become extinct, or the perfection of the whole would have been impaired. That is why he expected the Corps of Discovery to find living mammoths in the far recesses of the West on their journey to the Pacific. In short, order prevailed in the world as the works of the Swedish naturalist Linné made clear: “Linnaeus's outline taxonomy of that world — the binomial naming of plants and animals — reified the idea of order and became the scientific basis for surveying the natural world.”  Jefferson accordingly collected the works of Carl von Linné in his library at Monticello—“surely the largest private collection in America by 1815”—, which was to become the nucleus of the Library of Congress.

Christianity says that man’s has dominion over nature - Linneans’ imperialism

It was up to man to take advantage of such a wonderfully organized whole. “[F]or every organism in the system, the naturalist had to discover a utilitarian role.”  Western man was now wielding more and more power over nature thanks to his increased knowledge of its laws, and he could do so remorselessly since the religious tradition he belonged to, Christianity, told him that he had dominion upon the earth. Donald Worster even adds that it was possible for man to alter nature: “Christianity [had been] teaching western man that nature was his domain, to be altered and rearranged more or less as he chose.”  Linneans thus put first and foremost man’s own reason, and the ensuing power for him to improve his own welfare, dominate nature and conquer the earth. This “imperialism”, as Worster calls it,  ushered in the age of modernity and called for an ever increasing knowledge of the natural world, which was exactly the mission Lewis and Clark were assigned.

The western wilderness as a fabulous treasure-trove for the progress of knowledge

Lewis and Clark were thus to explore a continent defined by the prevailing views in the Enlightenment, a world organized to perfection and understandable by man who could apply his reason to the inventory of unknown plants and animals, following the system designed by Carl von Linné. The western unknown was to be a fabulous treasure-trove for the Corps of Discovery who could then contribute to the progress of knowledge. The ultimate goal was to achieve man’s welfare and domination of nature. But the first question to be answered was still to know whether they were going to explore a desert or a garden, or a desert that man’s reason might tame and subjugate and make into a garden.

B - American experiment

Dramatic ideological and political changes brought about by the Enlightenment

The ideological and political implications of the Enlightenment’s new perception of the world had dramatic political consequences. It created modernity. The first nation to be founded on these new ideas and principles was the United States and Jefferson’s central role in the birth of a new nation cannot be overemphasized. The perfection of nature entailed the possibility for man to live happy in this world. He had natural rights, now called human rights, and “among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration of Independence—drafted by Jefferson—created the first large scale democracy of the modern age, the American Republic.

Corruption had always been the demise of republics

However, the Founding Fathers, and especially a francophile Jefferson who stood out as the philosophe among them, were aware that republics in the past had been ruined by rampant corruption and ultimately succumbed to tyranny. Rome provided the classic example of what seemed to be an inescapable evolution.

Against corruption, virtue, to be found in nature

To combat corruption, virtue was extolled, and the theory was that nature was its true source. To save the American Republic from corruption then, the American citizenry should live close to nature, and embrace farming as its main industry. “Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.’” 

Agrarianism: farming creates economic independence which means freedom.

Farming had another advantage: farmers who own their lands do not depend upon the tyranny of landlords or would-be despots: economic independence means political independence, i.e. liberty. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur exulted

[t]he instant I enter on my own land, the bright idea of property, of exclusive right, of independence exalt my mind. Precious soil, I say to myself; by what singular custom of law is it that thou west made to constitute the riches of the freeholder? What should we Americans be without the distinct possession of the soil?

Jefferson thus developed his agrarianism that would make small, independent, virtuous, educated farmers, raising their own food and free of any dependence on others the guardians of the Republic.

Need for ever more lands

The system however would work as long as each American family would have access to land ownership for farming. “But we have an immensity of land courting the industry of the husbandman,” Jefferson proudly told Francois Marbois, the secretary of the French Legation at Philadelphia, in his Notes on the State of Virginia written in 1781-1782. 

C - Implementing agrarianism

Implementing agrarianism

Implementing his agrarianism led Thomas Jefferson to initiate some significant legislation including the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, both designed to organize the settlement of the West in an orderly manner to the benefit of the isolated citizen yeoman farmer.

Land Ordinance of 1785

The Land Ordinance of 1785 was drafted by Thomas Jefferson. It set out the guidelines for the settlement of the Northwest Territory. The land was to be first marked out in great grids, with prime meridians running north south and base lines running east west no matter where the rivers ran or the mountains intervened. The land thus marked out would be divided into ranges of townships. Each township was six miles square. Each township contained 36 smaller squares called sections. These were to be sold at public auction. Section 16 was set aside for schools: it was central. Sections 8, 11, 26, 29 were reserved for future government purposes. This plan was based upon a New England model. It was favored by Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, who preferred it over scattered, dispersed development, which could favor lawlessness. Control and order were their principles. These measures framed the settlement of the West.

Northwest Ordinance of 1787

The Northwest Ordinance or Ordinance of 1787 concerned the lands west of the Alleghenies and northwest of the Ohio river called the Northwest Territory. It was part of the land won from the British. Largely through the efforts of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), the States from Massachusetts to Virginia had agreed to relinquish their claims to this land, leaving the Continental Congress responsible for the newly formed territory. The Ordinance of 1787 was the most important act passed by the Continental Congress under the Articles of Confederation).
In 1784, while serving in the Congress, Jefferson drafted the first Northwest Ordinance, a blue print for the creation of new states north of the Ohio River. In this document, Jefferson reasserted his commitment to republican politics by assuring equality to all states in the Union. He divided this territory into fourteen rectangular districts and gave them, as befitted his admiration of the classics, such names as Metropotamia, Pelisipia, and Cherronesus. Within these states, he advocated the subdivision of lands into rectangular sections and subsections. The Free and the Unfree pp. 136-37.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1784 was never put into effect, but it established important principles that would be applied later. It established the principle that any new state formed in the western territories would enter the Union on an equal basis with the original thirteen. Allocation of land was to be directly to individual settlers which soon proved to be impossible. The ordinance guaranteed the same rights and privileges that citizens of the states enjoyed—Articles 5 & 6. It provided a formula for making new States, and prohibited slavery. Jefferson had written both of these articles into the ordinance he had drafted in 1784, but the article on slavery had been rejected by a single vote.
The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 was passed by Congress on July 13th 1787. The Land Ordinance of 1785 was modified again into the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. It ruled that the formation of a new state in the Northwest Territory required a population of 60,000. It stipulated again that the western lands would move toward full, independent statehood within the union. Every new state would enter the Union on an equal footing with the original thirteen. Article 5 read: "whenever any of the said states shall have 60,000 free inhabitants...such state shall be admitted by its delegates, into the Congress of the United states, on an equal footing with the original states in all respects whatever.........." It also prohibited slavery.
With the exception of Texas and California all the western states were admitted to the Union in accordance with this ordinance.
What must be clearly seen here is the emphasis on the absolute equality of the newly formed states with the 13 original colonies: the new states were not colonies or protectorates, but equal states...

An experiment in politics later called the republican experiment

The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 thus started an experiment in politics which came to be called the republican experiment. The untold goal was to prove to a skeptical Europe that democratic principles could work, not just in small republics but on a large scale. As John C. Greene aptly remarked, it had strong ties with science: “… the successes of science challenged Americans to prove to the world that republican institutions were as favorable to intellectual achievement as they were to liberty.”  Later he adds: “[Jefferson] was keenly interested in all the sciences, highly knowledgeable about developments in most of them, convinced of their importance for the American experiment in republican government and human progress generally….” 

The opportunity to buy Louisiana: a bargain

No wonder also that when Jefferson, as the third President of the United States, had an opportunity to buy Louisiana, he quelled his constitutional qualms and rose up to the occasion to provide land for generations and generations of American farmers. The question was to know if those lands were suitable for farming, so that his instructions to Meriwether Lewis stated: “Other objects worthy of notice will be the soil & face of the country, it's growth & vegetable productions, especially those not of the U.S.” 

Thus the Lewis and Clark Expedition has to be put back into its proper perspective.

The Lewis and Clark Expedition is thus to be put back into the ideological and political context of its time. True, it was meant to be a scientific mission, to help the progress of knowledge and science in the Age of Reason, in keeping with the principles of the Enlightenment. Lewis and Clark were to bring back an inventory of the natural wonders of the West. But they were also to study the soils of lands finally acquired during the preparations of their expedition. It was essential to know how suitable they were for the establishment of Jeffersonian yeoman farmers to create Jefferson’s Empire of Liberty in a garden stretching from coast to coast. At this stage, the central role played by Jefferson in the creation of the United States as a large scale democracy and its westward expansion must be underscored.

 A world view placing humans at the center of all creation—one which is taken for granted by most Westerners. It sees humans as the source of all value (i.e. it is they who bestow value on other parts of nature), since the concept of value itself is a human creation. Hence anthropocentrism opposes ecocentrism and bioethics. (David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1997, 327 passim)


U.S. leaders who opposed the strong central government envisioned in the U.S. Constitution of 1787 and whose agitation led to the addition of a Bill of Rights. While admitting the need for changes in the Articles of Confederation, they feared that a strong federal government would infringe on states' rights. The group's adherents, incl. G. Mason, P. Henry, T. Paine, S. Adams, and G. Clinton, were as numerous as the Federalists, but their influence was weak in urban areas, and only Rhode Island and N. Carolina voted against ratification. Anti-Federalists were later powerful during T. Jefferson's presidency and formed the nucleus of what later became the Democratic Party.


Other links

United States Democratic-Republican Party
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The Democratic-Republican party, or Anti-Federalist party, of the United States was a party that evolved in the early days of the United States. It was formed around opposition to the centralized federal controls proposed by Alexander Hamilton and the Federalist Party. They were against the United States Constitution in its original form, but under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson, were able to pass the Bill of Rights, amending the document to a more acceptable form. Besides Jefferson, James Madison was also a major figure in its founding. Members of the Democratic-Republican Party believed that a strong federal government would weaken and not respect the rights of the states and the people.

For a brief period, the Democratic-Republican Party was the sole dominant party in U.S. politics. At its apex, James Monroe ran virtually unopposed in the 1820 presidential election. This period was known as the Era of Good Feeling. Shortly afterward, the party would split into two factions: the United States Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the United States Whig Party, which was formed from the anti-Jackson coalition.

The following United States Presidents were members of the Democratic-Republican party:
1. Thomas Jefferson (1801 - 1809)
2. James Madison (1809 - 1817)
3. James Monroe (1817-1825)
4. John Quincy Adams (1825-1829)

Modern Claims To Democratic-Republican Heritage
The stature of the Presidents who identified themselves with the Democratic-Republican Party during its heyday makes it an enviable institution for modern political parties to identify themselves with. As a result, both major political parties today identify themselves with the party.

As noted above, the Democratic Party is a direct descendant of the Democratic-Republican Party. The Republican Party also sees itself as a spiritual descendant of the Democratic-Republicans, though it has much looser ties from their broad base of former Whig voters and politicians. Neither the modern-day Democratic nor Republican party has identifiable ties to the Federalist Party, which was the only opposition party to the original Democratic-Republican party.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Reviewed for H-SHEAR by R. B. Bernstein
    David J. Siemers.  _Ratifying the Republic: Antifederalists and
    Federalists in Constitutional Time_.  Stanford: Stanford
    University Press, 2002.  xvii + 292 pp.  $55.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-


A rural-agricultural mountain district of the Peloponnese (Greece)  "which towns-men imagined to be idyllic but which really was full of ancient barbaric horrors." In proverb and myth it was a place of pastoral simplicity and harmony between people and nature—an ideal middle landscape between town and wilderness which held none of the fears or disadvantages of either. (David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1997, 327 passim) A rural-agricultural mountain district of the Peloponnese (Greece)  "which towns-men imagined to be idyllic but which really was full of ancient barbaric horrors." In proverb and myth it was a place of pastoral simplicity and harmony between people and nature—an ideal middle landscape between town and wilderness which held none of the fears or disadvantages of either. (David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1997, 327 passim)

Arcadianism (related topics: agrarianism, pastoralism)

The ideal of a simple rural life in close harmony with nature. The word derives from a mountainous region in ancient Greece called Arcady, whose inhabitants supposedly dwelt in an Eden-like state of innocence, at peace with the earth and its creatures. As an environmental vision in modern times, arcadianism has often been a naive surrender to nostalgia, but it has nonetheless contributed to the growth of an cological ethic of coexistence rather than domination; humility rather than self-assertion; man as a part of, rather than superior to, nature.  SOURCE:  Donald Worster, Nature's Economy : A History of Ecological Ideas (1977; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1994) 471.

THE ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION 1777(March 1, 1781/ March 4,1789)

The first Constitution of the United States was the Articles of Confederation, but right from the start it was obvious that they could not work and keep the new nation united. Why?

1) There was no chief executive, no president of the U.S. There was a "Committee of States" made up of one delegate from each state. (13)
This committee existed only during the intervals  between the sessions of the Congress.
This commitee could in the absence of Congress perform routine governmental functions only.
2) There was no real judicial department.There was no court to handle disputes between the states.
3) A majority of 9 votes was required to pass important laws.
4)Congress could requisition  taxes from the States but could not force the collection of taxes. It goes without saying that the states didn't pay the amount  requisitionned.
5) Congress could not enlist troops.It could not draft men, only requisition them into the armed forces.
6) The members of Congress were paid by the states and a state could recall any delegate at any time.
It's obvious then that the first, essential function of the delegates was to protect and advance the interests of their own states and cooperate for the welfare of the United States when possible and when it coincided with their states' interests.
7) Congress was not given real power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce.
Each state set its own import duties and soon each state tried to protect its own internal trade by levying tariffs against goods from other states.
Trade agreements between the United States and a foreign nation were nearly impossible. As a consequence, inter-state trade—internal trade across state borders—was very low.
8) Congress was not given the exclusive power to issue paper money. The paper money situation soon became chaotic.
10) Amending the Articles of Confederation required the unanimous vote of the 13 states, which was  difficult to  obtain.

The Articles of Confederation would become effective only when ratified by all of the 13 states . All states ratified  them quickly except Maryland who held out  until March 1781. Why? Many large states at the time had claims to western lands, across  the Alleghenies and into the Mississipi River valley. Maryland was a small state and was afraid of union with so many large states....
So Maryland ratified the Articles of Confederation only when the larger states relinquished their claims to western lands.
This attitude had very important consequences in that it induced the states to cede their western lands to the United States.
The acquisition of these lands by the central government set the stage for the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. It opened  the settlement of the West under federal control and avoided later conflicts between the first 13 states.


This concept was first used in American race relations research to describe the processes by which immigrant groups were integrated into the dominant white culture. Thus, in R. Park's (1950) 'race relations cycle', the social interaction between the host society and new immigrants was conceptualized in terms of four stages - contacts, competition, accommodation and assimilation. In its original usage, assimilation was seen as a unidimensional, one-way process by which outsiders relinquished their own culture in favour of that of the dominant society. Recent research regards assimilation as reciprocal, involving mutual adjustments between host and migrant communities. Furthermore, the particular character of the ethnic group in question may enhance, retard or preclude intermarriage, participation in citizenship and social acceptance. Assimilation is often used interchangeably with acculturation. … Xrefer)

Big government

"That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves."  Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826)

Although the saying "That government is best which governs least" is often attributed to Thomas Jefferson, we have not found this particular statement in his writings.
Henry David Thoreau's Civil Disobedience (1849) is often identified as the real source of this quotation, but there may be an even earlier source.
Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations[1] points to The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, whose editor wrote in 1837, "The best government is that which governs least."[2]

Although the ideas expressed in this quotation may be in line with Jefferson's opinions, the exact phrase is almost certainly not Jefferson's.

emphasis added
Throughout most of U.S. history, a majority of Americans were strongly suspicious of big government. That majority began to weaken during the Progressive era--when agencies like the Forest Service and Park Service were established--as people's fear of big business overshadowed their fear of big government. The Progressives set up a civil service system, replacing political appointees with bureaucrats who would "scientifically manage" government programs.

The Great Depression saw suspicions of big government crumble as people turned to the federal government to solve their economic problems. From roughly the 1930s through the 1960s a majority of Americans endorsed a bigger federal government. ...

Support for growth in the federal government faded during the 1960s with controversies over Viet Nam, race, poverty, crime, and other areas. While federal intentions were always good--in Viet Nam as well as in race and other domestic issues--the actions taken always seemed to create more problems than they solved. Significantly, every president elected since Nixon has campaigned against Washington, DC.
Source:  accessed 21 September, 2003

Bill of Rights (1791)
The Bill Of Rights (first ten amendments) was added to the Constitution which was ratified by all states by 1791.
The first ten amendments to the US Constitution, described by Jefferson as "what the people are entitled to against every government on earth." They are (1) freedom of press, speech, and religion; (2) the right to bear arms; (3) prohibition of quartering of troops; (4) protection against unlawful search and seizure; (5) the right of due process of law; (6) the right to a fair and public trial; (7) the right to a trial by jury; (8) prohibition of cruel punishments; (9) protection of nonenumerated rights; and (10) reservation of powers, i.e. powers not reserved for the federal government reside in the states. (The Macmillan Encyclopedia 2001, © Market House Books Ltd 2000 - © 2001 All rights reserved.) Forces at work within the Philadelphia Convention

Bill of Rights
 In the Revolutionary era, a bill of rights was any statement of principles' appended to a [state] constitution, which set apart fundamental liberties that could never be violated by law or executive action. Influenced by the British Parliament's Bill of Rights (1689), George MASON authored America's first such document, Virginia's Declaration of Rights, adopted with that state's constitution on 12 June 1776. By 1784, seven states had attached similar documents to their constitutions, and the rest had written guarantees of basic freedoms into the text of their constitutions. Representative James MADISON narrowed 210 constitutional amendments suggested by the states to twelve, which Congress submitted to the legislatures on 25 September 1789. Ten were ratified by 15 December 1791 and became known as the federal Bill of Rights. ... (Purvis, Thomas L. A Dictionary of American History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1997.)

 Border States

Literary critic Thomas H. Johnson, in his book The Oxford Companion to American History published in 1966, defines the Border States as “the slave states bordering on the North: Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. Though southern by tradition, they were divided on the slavery issue, and their economic ties were with the North” (97). (Special thanks to Caroline Teolis)

Brown, John (raid on Harpers Ferry)

See this link
A Biography of John Caldwell Calhoun (1782-1850)
 source: (many links available on this site)

March 18, 1782 in South Carolina, Calhoun was born, and educated at Yale College. From 1808 to 1810 an economic recession hit the United States and Calhoun realized that British policies were ruining the economy.

He served in South Carolina's legislature and was elected to the United States House of Representatives serving three terms. In 1812, Calhoun and Henry Clay, two famous "warhawks", who preferred war to the "putrescent pool of ignominous peace", convinced the House to declare war on Great Britian.

Calhoun was secretary of war under President James Monroe from 1817 to 1825 and ran for president in the 1824 election along with four others, John Q. Adams, Henry Clay, Crawford, and Andrew Jackson. However, Calhoun withdrew from the race, due to Jackson's support, and ran for vice president unopposed.
Calhoun was vice president of the United States in 1824 under John Quincy Adams and was re-elected in 1828 under Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was for the Tariff of 1828 and caused Calhoun to be opposed to Jackson, which led to Calhoun's resignation in 1832. Because he could not do anything about Jackson's views toward tariffs, which benifitted only industrial North and hurt slaveholding South, John C. Calhoun became the only vice president to resign.

Calhoun wrote an essay about this conflict, "The South Carolina Exposition and Protest", in which he asserted nullification of federal laws, and in 1832 the South Carolina legislature did just that. The next year in the Senate Calhoun and Daniel Webster opposed each other over slavery and states' rights in a famous debate. In 1844 President John Tyler appointed Calhoun secretary of state. In later years he was reelected to the Senate, where he supported the Texas Annexation and defeated the Wilmot Proviso.

John Caldwell Calhoun died in Washington, D.C. on March 31, 1850 and was buried in St. Phillips Churchyard in Charleston. In 1957, United States Senators honored Calhoun as one of the five greatest senators of all time. 

John C. Calhoun

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

John Caldwell Calhoun, sometimes called the 'cast-iron man', served South Carolina in the United States Senate, and as US Vice President and as Secretary of State and Secretary of War. He was born in 1782 and in 1802 attended Yale. In 1810 he was elected to Congress, and allied with the war hawks?, including Henry Clay, agitating for what became the War of 1812. After the war, he proposed a bonus bill? for public works?. In 1817 he was appointed Secretary of War under James Madison. After the odd Election of 1824, Calhoun became Vice President under John Quincy Adams. He soon broke with Adams and the National Republicans, who seemed to favor northern interests. He developed his theory of nullification that states (or minorities) could nullify federal (or majority) actions. He also became Andrew Jackson's running mate in the election of 1828, and again was VP. Jackson opposed the idea of nullification and said in a famous toast Our federal Union--it must and shall be preserved. A rift soon developed between Calhoun and Jackson, exacerbated by the Eaton affair?. In 1832 he resigned as Vice President. The Force Bill was proposed by Congress prohibiting states from nullifying federal laws. The Compromise of 1833? settled the matter for a number of years. Calhoun tried to gag abolitionist press in the south, which became federal law in 1841 as the 21st Rule?. In 1844 he was reappointed Secretary of State by John Tyler. Calhoun returned to the Senate in 1848 and died in 1850. He penned 'Disquisition on Government' and the 'Discourse on the Constitution and Government of the United States.' External Link:

China trade

See an excellent  movie about  merchant capitalism. Boston was one of the leading American seaports involved in the China trade very early in the nineteenth century. Americans exported furs to China and imported all sorts of goods especially porcelains. The fabulous Chinese market has always fascinated the United States (and Europe).

Civil Rights Movement

Movement for racial equality in the U.S. that, through nonviolent protest, broke the pattern of racial segregation in the South and achieved equal-rights legislation for blacks. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), blacks and white supporters attempted to end entrenched segregationist practices. When R. Parks was arrested in 1955 in Montgomery, Ala., a black boycott of the bus system was led by M. L. King and R. Abernathy. In the early 1960s the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee led boycotts and sit-ins to desegregate many public facilities. Using the nonviolent methods of M. Gandhi, the movement spread, forcing the desegregation of department stores, supermarkets, libraries, and movie theaters. The Deep South remained adamant in its opposition to most desegregation measures, often violently; protesters were attacked and occasionally killed. Their efforts culminated in a march on Washington, D.C., in 1963 to support legislation. Following the assassination of J. Kennedy, Pres. L. Johnson persuaded Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act in 1964, a victory that was followed by the Voting Rights Act in 1965. After 1965, militant groups such as the Black Panther Party split off from the movement, and riots in black ghettos and King's assassination caused many supporters to withdraw. In the succeeding decades, leaders sought power through elective office and substantive economic and educational gains through affirmative action.
(Emphasis added - source : The Britannica Concise)


Voir ce lien



Constitution (1787)

The Constitution of the United States  (updated)

The Constitution of the United States (National Archives)

Constitution making and the process of ratification - Same page on this website

The text of the original Constitution
Ratification of the Constitution
Alexander Hamilton and the Federalists

Key words are:
Checks and balances
Interstate trade

The Founding Fathers were determined to create a republican form of government, a political system that would protect property without being a threat to liberty. But they also believed that republican governments were fragile, vulnerable to anarchy and tyranny, especially the tyranny from influential politicians and anarchy from the common people. They still bore in mind Daniel Shays's Rebellion. It was felt therefore that it was necessary to create a system of "checks and balances" (litt. Contrôles et équilibres; équilibre des pouvoirs, séparation des pouvoirs).

Yet optimism was in the air too. This was the age of the Enlightenment, and it was believed that a virtuous people would naturally select wise and good leaders. The Enlightenment believed in the natural capacity of individuals to understand public affairs and to use that knowledge to act reasonably as good citizens.

There were mainly two forces at work in the Constitutional Convention. The delegates from the larger states favored a system based on population, and therefore advocated a strong legislature directly responsible to the citizens. The delegates from smaller states wanted a system based on the equality of states regardless of population or wealth. They did not want a national government to have power over the people.


A compromise was then the solution. It was called the Great Compromise. Accordingly the legislative power was divided into two houses. The House of Representatives would be based on population; the Senate would represent the states.

Another compromise settled the question of the representation of slaves. It was the three fifths compromise: five slaves equaled 3 free persons for representation and taxation. As for the slave trade, Congress was not to change anything until 1808, when Senate prohibited further importation of slaves. As for the Native Americans they were simply referred to as "the foreign nations."

Therefore, because of their own interests, very different sections of the American population supported the Constitution, which appears as a great national compromise: the citizens of the Southern states supported it because it perpetuated the slave trade, and prohibited export duties. The merchants of the northern states supported it because it made interstate commerce easier.

Did "the people" support the constitution? The Constitution begins with these words, "We, the people…", but who were "the people"? In fact in the eyes of the Founding Fathers, the American was a white Anglo-Saxon protestant male, excluding women, Africans, Native Americans and unassimilated Europeans like the Germans of Pennsylvania. Moreover, there was not any clear protection of the individual citizen. Hence the Bill of Rights of 1791.
Visit this site:

More about the Constitution

Understanding the Constitution


See this link


The doctrine that white America was to spread to the Pacific. It began with Jefferson's design to establish the Northern american continent as the "Empire of Liberty". Manifest Destiny gave continentalism a new strength.


[In a given culture] [t]he system of ideas, or world view, by which the universe is ordered and understood. (David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1997, 327 passim)


Creationism accepts literally the account of the creation of the Earth given in Genesis [first section of the Old Testament in the Bible]. … Bishop Ussher considered that the Earth and all in it were created in 4004 BC. Creationism also holds that all living species have separate origins and were created simultaneously, rather than having evolved from common roots according to Darwinism. (David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism: An Introduction (London: Routledge, 1997, 327 passim)


Douglas' theory of culture
Culture (a site):


Dawes Severalty Act (1877)

The Democratic Party

Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party. In 1798, the "party of the common man" was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party and in 1800 elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States.

More about this item: link

The Desert Land Act of 1877 (courtesy CLAIN Christelle, INTEGRATING BLACK IMMIGRANTS IN THE HISTORY OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST (1865 - 1900) - Diss., U. of La Reunion, June 2003)

The Desert Land Act of 1877 was an extension of the Homestead Act up to a certain extent. This act was important in the settlement of southern Idaho by black immigrants. There was a noticeable population of blacks at the time in the “Beehive state.”   Black Mormons living in Utah took advantage of this measure and moved to Southern Idaho.
The Act permitted filing on up to 640 acres of non-timbered, non-mineral land not producing grass. Claimants paid $.25 cents an acre on filing and, within three years, if they could prove they had irrigated the land, they could secure title by paying another $1.00 an acre. In time 159,704 claimants filed on 38.2 million acres under the law; the General Land Office issued deeds to 8.6 million acres under the law in Oregon and the other ten western states where it applied (Boyer, Paul S. ed The Oxford companion to United States history. Oxford, New York : Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 184).


Unfavorable treatment based on prejudice, esp. regarding race, color, age, or sex. (Xrefer)

Douglass, Frederick Augustus

Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey and sired by his own master , he escaped from slavery in Baltimore in 1838 and took the name Douglass in New Bedford, Mass. He emerged as the best-known black abolitionist after writing a brief account of his slavery years in 1845, and edited the Rochester, N. Y., North Star (1847-63). He used his influence to recruit negro troops in the Civil War.  (Thomas L. Purvis, A Dictionary of American History (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers, 1997) 111.)

Dred Scott Decision



Dubois on education




Economics (neo-classical)

Human beings everywhere, says the neo-classical (i. e. orthodox) economist, are irremediably selfish, each working to maximise his own welfare. It is only the invisible hand of the market which, somehow, transforms a welter of competitive individual actions into the best of all possible worlds. This buoyant view of the human prospect rests on two complementary assumptions: an infinitely expanding technological frontier (which assumes that any resource shortage or crisis  shall be overcome by the discovery of new substitutes), and the rejection of  any physical limits to economic growth (which assumes that the rest of the  world will come to enjoy the lifestyle characteristic of a middle- or upper-  class American). Guha, Ramachandra. "Towards a Cross-Cultural Environmental Ethic."  Varieties of Environmentalism: Essays North and South.  Ramachandra Guha and J.  Martinez-Alier. Ed. Ramachandra Guha and J. Martinez-Alier. London: Earthscan,  1997. p. 79.

Rostow's (1960) influential model of 'stages of economic growth'


E pluribus unum

E Pluribus Unum: Out of Many, One. The motto carried by the eagle on the U.S. Great Seal.
"E pluribus unum" was chosen by the first Great Seal committee in 1776. Consultant and artist Pierre Du Simitière recommended this Latin motto, and his design is essentially an expression of this theme.
The phrase's English translation—Out of many, one—is a clear reference to the thirteen colonies united into one nation, and symbolized by the shield on the eagle's breast.
This definition may be enlarged to mean that out of millions of individual Americans there emerges one American people.

El Dorado

After the rediscovery of America by Christopher Columbus, the Spaniards were amazed at discovering so many utensils made of gold in the Caribbean and the Americas. A legend developed that said that somewhere in the hinterland of the southern American continent there existed a kingdom where streets were paved with gold and whose king was named El Dorado.
Within 50 years of their landing, the Spaniards had conquered the Aztecs of Mexico, the Incas of Peru and many other less well known tribes. Thousands died in combat, in slavery and from European diseases. Cultures that had developed over thousands of years succumbed to the conquistadors' voracious quest for gold.

… Many [among the conquistadors] believed that there was a Muisca kingdom with a city of gold hidden in the nearly impenetrable mountains of the northern Andes. Rumors flew about streets paved with gold bricks and houses with golden roofs. Many Europeans searched for this "El Dorado," including Sir Walter Raleigh, but all of these searches failed to unearth any evidence of the mythical city and rumors mellowed with age into legend. (

El Dorado was thus the name of a fictitious country (or city) abounding in gold, believed to exist somewhere in the region of the Orinoco and Amazon rivers. The belief, which led Spanish conquistadors to converge on the area in search of treasure and Sir Walter Raleigh to lead his second expedition up the Orinoco, appears to have originated in rumours of an Indian ruler who ritually coated his body with gold dust and then plunged into a sacred lake while his subjects threw in gold and jewels. [Sp., = the gilded]

The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, © Oxford University Press 1996

1 any imaginary country or city abounding in gold.

2 a place of great abundance.[El Dorado]

The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, © Oxford University Press 1996

Elections (presidential)

Elections 2004 (special thanks to Michael A. Riccioli)

Every presidential election in the United States gives rise to greater legions of so-called "spin doctors," and a number of pundits offering their opinions on the chances of each candidate who has thrown their hat in the ring. Fortunately, the University of Michigan Documents Center has developed this helpful and informative website that culls together hundreds of useful websites about the upcoming presidential election of 2004. From the homepage visitors can look through a number of helpful sections devoted to listing sites dedicated to such topics as Policy Issues, Candidates, and Campaign. Within each of these broad thematic areas are contained more specific areas dedicated to links on important subtopics such as campaign finances, media coverage, terrorism, economics, and many others. Scholars will want to take a look at the Academic Research section, which contains links to online periodical databases and some links to sites with recent working papers on the subject.

Empire of Liberty

See Jefferson, agrarianism, continentalism, Louisiana Purchase, Manifest Destiny


Yahoo! Reference: Columbia Encyclopedia

inclosure or enclosure

in British history, the process of inclosing (with fences, ditches, hedges, or other barriers) land formerly subject to common rights. Such land included fields cultivated by the open-field or strip system, wasteland, and the common pasture land. Inclosure accompanied and accelerated the breakdown of the manorial system. In England the practice, dating from the 12th cent., received legal sanction through statutes (1235, 1285) permitting landlords to inclose wastelands on condition they left sufficient land for their free tenants. Its great development, however, came with the rapid expansion of the Flemish wool trade after the 14th cent. The monetary advantages resulting from intensive cultivation of large, fenced fields and particularly from the conversion of land into fenced sheep pastures moved landlords to make agreements with tenants or to expel them, illegally or for the slightest default, in order to inclose large areas. Under the Tudors, the hardship of dispossessed tenants, increasing vagrancy, and social unrest resulted in statutes designed to limit the practice. However, the process continued virtually unchecked, reaching its peak in the late 17th cent. In the early 18th cent. there was very little inclosure, but from 1750 to 1800 inclosure by private act of Parliament increased dramatically. The General Enclosure Act (1801) standardized much of the process, and an act of 1845 provided for the incorporation of all inclosures in a single act each year. By this time, however, the movement toward general inclosure was largely completed. Although the process remained harsh for the small farmer, the period of parliamentary inclosures paralleled a period of increasing industrial use of labor. Inclosed land did promote more efficient farming and was able to produce an ever-increasing agricultural output during the early 19th cent., when the population was growing rapidly.

See E. C. K. Gonner, Common Land and Inclosure (2d ed. 1912, repr. 1966); W. E. Tate, The English Village Community and the Enclosure Movements (1967).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Prior to the 18th century, agriculture was much the same across Europe, and had been since before the Middle Ages. The system in operation was essentially post-feudal, with each villager subsistence farming their own strips of land in one of three large open fields.

From as early as the 12th century, some open fields in Britain were being enclosed into individually owned fields, with the process taking off rapidly in the 15th and 16th centuries as sheep farming grew more profitable. This led to villagers losing their land and grazing rights, and left many unemployed. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the practice of enclosure was denounced by the Church, and legislation was drawn up against it, but the developments in agriculture during the 18th century required large, enclosed fields in order to be workable. This led to a series of government acts, culminating finally in the General Enclosure Act of 1801.

While the villagers received compensation for their strips, it was minimal, and the loss of rights for the rural populace led to an increased dependency on the Poor Law. Only a few found work in the (increasingly mechanised) enclosed farms. Most were forced to relocate to the cities and find work in the emerging factories, opening the way for the Industrial Revolution.

By the end of the 19th century the process of enclosure was largely complete.


A European philosophical and social movement of the eighteenth century, often referred to as 'the Age of Reason'. Enlightenment philosophers developed a variety of progressive ideas: freedom of thought and expression, the criticism of religion, the value of reason and science, a commitment to social progress and the significance of individualism. These critical, secular ideas played a crucial role in the emergence of modern societies. The principal adherents of the Enlightenment included M. Condorcet (1734-94), D. Diderot (1713-84), D. Hume (1711-76), I. Kant (1724-1804), J. H. J. Rousseau (1712-78) and Voltaire (1694-1778). Source:

'Enlightenment', and its equivalents in other European languages, denotes an intellectual movement which began in England in the seventeenth century (Locke and the deists), and developed in France in the eighteenth century (Bayle, Voltaire, Diderot, and other Encyclopaedists) and also (especially under the impetus of the rationalist philosophy of Christian Wolff) in Germany (Mendelssohn, Lessing). But virtually every European country, and every sphere of life and thought, was affected by it. The age in which the movement predominated is known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason.

Thus the leading doctrines of the Enlightenment, shared by many, if not all, of its spokesmen, are these:

1. Reason is man's central capacity, and it enables him not only to think, but to act, correctly.

2. Man is by nature rational and good. (Kant endorsed the Christian view of a 'radical evil' in human nature, but held that it must be possible to overcome it.)

3. Both an individual and humanity as a whole can progress to perfection.

4. All men (including, on the view of many, women) are equal in respect of their rationality, and should thus be granted equality before the law and individual liberty.

5. Tolerance is to be extended to other creeds and ways of life. (Lessing conveyed this message in his play Nathan the Wise (1779).)

The ideas of the Enlightenment and its criticism of government and Church fuelled revolutionary thinking in France and the US and were influential on writers and politicians such as Jefferson and Paine. (The Oxford English Reference Dictionary, © Oxford University Press 1996) (

A European and North American movement flourishing in the eighteenth century which stressed tolerance, reasonableness, common sense and the encouragement of science and technology. Technological optimism underlay the central belief that by understanding (through observation and experiment and rationality) and applying nature's laws the material position of all humankind could be indefinitely improved, as part of progress and evolution. (David Pepper, Modern Environmentalism An Introduction (London Routledge, 1997, 327 passim)

SEE modernism too.


A theory which held that a human's environment - climate and geography, especially - shaped human appearance, culture, and political organization. accessed 27 Dec. 2002


See this link

Exclusion (social exclusion)

One may consider social exclusion as a barrier to absorbing social and public goods such as e.g. the education, sanitary system etc. the lack of which leads to poverty and pauperization. Consequently social exclusion in every sector of social life is a result of the existence of specific dominance structures. … [description provided by: Miltos Pavlou ( / 25 January 2000]


Louis Farrakhan


Federalist papers

formally The Federalist  series of 85 essays on the proposed new Constitution of the United States and on the nature of republican government, published between 1787 and 1788 by Alexander Hamilton , James Madison , and John Jay in an effort to persuade New York state voters to support ratification. Seventy-seven of the essays first appeared serially in New York newspapers, were reprinted in most other states, and were published in book form as The Federalist on May 28, 1788; the remaining eight papers appeared in New York newspapers between June 14 and August 16.
The authors of the Federalist papers presented a masterly defense of the new federal system and of the major departments in the proposed central government. They also argued that the existing government under the Articles of Confederation, the country's first constitution, was defective and that the proposed Constitution would remedy its weaknesses without endangering the liberties of the people.
To cite this page:
"Federalist papers" Encyclopædia Britannica
[Accessed September 20, 2002]

The Federalist Party

disappeared after the War of 1812 (1812-14) as New England, where most Federalists were, had not supported the war effort and even refused to go to war with England.

Founding Fathers

See this link

Force Bill

See this link

Free-Soil party

The Free-soil movement appeared in the mid to late 1840s (Knupfer 167).
In August 1848 at Buffalo, New York, a meeting of anti-slavery members of the Whig Party and the Liberty Party established the Free-Soil Party. The new party opposed the extension of slavery into the western territories. The main slogan of the party was "free soil, free speech, free labor, and free men". In the 1848 presidential election, Martin Van Buren, the party's candidate, polled 10 per cent of the vote. He split the traditional Democratic support and enabled the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor, to win.
    By 1852 the Free-Soil Party had 12 congressmen but in presidential election, John P. Hale won over 5 per cent of the vote. Two years later, remaining members joined the Republican Party.

Friedman (Milton)

U.S. conservative economist. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he studied at Rutgers and Columbia before joining the faculty of the Univ. of Chicago in 1946. There he became the leading U.S. advocate of monetarism. He oversaw the economic transition in Chile after the overthrow of S. Allende. In the 1980s his ideas were taken up by Pres. R. Reagan and Britain's M. Thatcher. His many books include A Theory of the Consumption Function (1957) and Capitalism and Freedom (1962), both with Rose Friedman, and A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960 (1963) and Monetary Trends of the United States and the United Kingdom (1981), with Anna Schwartz. He received the Nobel Prize in 1976.

The frontier and westward expansion

The frontier (1600s-1890) shaped the American character

Definition of the frontier
What was the frontier ? The frontier was not a line but an area, more exactly that part of the American territory between civilization in the East and the wilderness in the West. The frontier existed and was being settled right from the beginning of British settlement (1607) until 1890. In other words, the frontier lay between those areas that had already been settled in the East and the so-called empty territories in the West also called the wilderness where pioneers arrived and started their homesteads (farms). The frontier moved west year after year, but not along one north-south line. There were scattered pockets of settlement, and the settled areas appeared like a huge hand with fingers pointing west.

The frontier as freedom and  equality of opportunity
The frontier supposedly represented freedom and equality of opportunity for anybody willing to devote all his time and energy to sharing in a risky and dangerous adventure. Accepting the ordeal meant employing physical strength an moral firmness, generally a lifetime of courage and hardihood. It allegedly developed self-reliance and the love of independence in the pioneer and the settler. As nature reduced the importance of wealth, the frontier worked as great leveller, thus reinforcing the nascent democratic tendencies.

The spirit of the frontier shaped the national character
The frontier reportedly endowed the Americans with some traits which are still found in today's national character: an indefatigable energy, hostility to any excessive control by authorities, confidence in one's resources, a practical turn of mind. …
Optimism was also born or reinforced on the frontier. Indeed the frontier allegedly provided each and everyone with an infinite series of second chances: if one failed in one place, it was always possible to move on west, settle somewhere, and start it all over again, and finally succeed. This infinite series of opportunities made it possible for pioneers to feel self-confident and optimistic. Until recently, most American movies had a happy ending. Even today, Americans are predominantly optimistic people.

Turner and his frontier hypothesis

Fugitive slave laws accessed 6 August 2003
The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition.  2001.

  fugitive slave laws

  in U.S. history, the federal acts of 1793 and 1850 providing for the return between states of escaped black slaves. Similar laws existing in both North and South in colonial days applied also to white indentured servants and to Native American slaves. As slavery was abolished in the Northern states, the 1793 law was loosely enforced, to the great irritation of the South, and as abolitionist sentiment developed, organized efforts to circumvent the law took form in the Underground Railroad. Many Northern states also passed personal-liberty laws that allowed fugitives a jury trial, and others passed laws forbidding state officials to help capture alleged fugitive slaves or to lodge them in state jails. As a concession to the South a second and more rigorous fugitive slave law was passed as part of the Compromise of 1850. By it “all good citizens” were “commanded to aid and assist [federal marshals and their deputies] in the prompt and efficient execution of this law,” and heavy penalties were imposed upon anyone who assisted slaves to escape from bondage. When apprehended, an alleged fugitive was taken before a federal court or commissioner. He was denied a jury trial and his testimony was not admitted, while the statement of the master claiming ownership, even though absent, was taken as the main evidence. The law was so weighted against the fugitives that many Northerners, formerly unconcerned, were now aroused to opposition. New personal-liberty laws contradicting the legislation of 1850 (and described, with some reason, by Southerners as equivalent to South Carolina’s notorious ordinance of nullification) were passed in most of the Northern states. Abolitionists fearlessly defied the 1850 act, often mobbing federal officials in attempts to rescue fugitives. In Boston, for instance, the “good citizens,” including some of the foremost Brahmins, stormed the federal courthouse, but failed to free the escaped Virginia slave Anthony Burns; moreover, it was thought expedient to have 1,100 soldiers guard him when he was marched aboard ship for his return to bondage. In Lancaster co., Pa., a riot broke out when a federal official ordered Quaker bystanders to help catch a runaway; the Quakers were prosecuted, but not convicted. Other notable fugitive-slave cases arose in Northern courts, and the trials further stirred up public opinion both North and South. The whole dispute, combined with the question of the extension of slavery into the territories, served to set the two sections at each other’s throats. The actions of Northern states in nullifying the fugitive slave laws or rendering “useless any attempt to execute them” were cited (Dec. 24, 1860) by South Carolina as one cause for secession. Both acts were finally repealed by Congress on June 28, 1864. 

                         The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. Copyright © 2002 Columbia University Press

Fur trade
See this link.


Gag Rule

The so-called Gag Rule was enforced on 26 May 1836: the House of Representatives resolved (117-68) to table [ignore] all petitions concerning abolitionism without entering them in its journal or referring them to any committee. It also resolved that Congress had no power to interfere with slavery where it was lawful (182-9) and that it would be inappropriate to interfere with slavery in the District of Columbia (132-45). (The Senate simultaneously adopted this practice, but without a formal vote.) Despite its infringement of first amendment rights [freedom of press, speech], the Gag Rule was re-newed at every session until rescinded on 3 December 1844. (Purvis)

Garden of the World

America was early perceived as the land of innocence recaptured after the Fall. America was truly the new Garden of Eden.
The myth was then applied to the whole West as the garden of the world.

Gadsden Purchase
Saturday 5 October 2002

                        In May 1853 Pierce instructed James Gadsden, U.S. diplomatic representative to Mexico, to make a treaty settling boundary disputes and securing additional territory. The treaty that Gadsden presented to the Senate provided for the purchase of what is now southern Arizona and part of southern New Mexico [...]. The purchase aroused bitter opposition from Northern congressmen, who feared that the area would become slave territory. However, Pierce managed to bring his party leaders into line, and in the spring of 1854 the treaty was proclaimed.


Harlem Renaissance  (The) and the Garvey Movement

                               Blacks became disillusioned following World War I. The jobs that they had acquired during the war all but evaporated in the postwar recession, which hit blacks first and hardest. The Ku Klux Klan, which had been revived during the war, unleashed a new wave of terror against blacks. Mounting competition for jobs and housing often erupted into bloody race riots such as those that spread over the nation in the “red summer” of 1919. In the face of such difficulties, a “new Negro” developed during the 1920s—the proud, creative product of the American city. The growth of race pride among blacks was greatly stimulated by the black nationalist ideas of Marcus Garvey. Born in Jamaica, he had founded the Universal Negro Improvement Association there in 1914. He came to the United States in 1917 and established a branch of the association in the Harlem district of New York City. By 1919, the association had become the largest mass movement of American blacks in the nation's history, with a membership of several hundred thousand.
The Garvey movement was characterized by colorful pageantry and appeals for the rediscovery of the black African heritage. Its goal was to establish an independent Africa through the return of a revolutionary vanguard of black Americans. Garvey's great attraction among poor blacks was not matched, however, among the black middle class, which resented his flamboyance and his scorn of their leadership. Indeed, one of Garvey's sharpest critics was Du Bois, who shared Garvey's basic goals and organized a series of small but largely ineffectual Pan-African conferences during the 1920s. The Garvey movement declined after Garvey was jailed for mail fraud in 1925 and was deported to Jamaica in 1927.

 The flowering of African American creative talent in literature, music, and the arts in the 1920s was centered in New York and became known as the Harlem Renaissance. Like the Garvey movement, it was based on a rise in race consciousness among blacks. The principal contributors to the Harlem Renaissance included not only well-established literary figures such as Du Bois and the poet James Weldon Johnson, but also new young writers such as Claude McKay, whose militant poem ‘If We Must Die' is perhaps the most-quoted black literary work of this period. Other outstanding writers of the Harlem Renaissance were the novelist Jean Toomer and the poets Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes. During the 1920s the artists Henry Ossawa Tanner and Aaron Douglas and the performers Paul Robeson, Florence Mills, Ethel Waters, and Roland Hayes were also becoming prominent. The black cultural movement of the 1920s was greatly stimulated by black journals, which published short pieces by promising writers. These journals included the NAACP's
Crisis and the National Urban League's Opportunity. The movement was popularized by black philosopher Alain Locke in
"The New Negro", published in 1925, and by the black historian Carter G. Woodson, founder of the Association for the Study of Negro (now Afro-American) Life and History and editor of the
Journal of Negro History.

                              To cite this page:
                              "BLACK AMERICANS, or AFRICAN AMERICANS." Britannica Student
                              [Accessed July 21, 2002].
More info in connection with the Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance Chronology

Black Migration to the North; World War I
Blues Aesthetic.html
Harlem R.&Civil rightsPBS
Harlem Renaissance.intell.html
Modernism and Modernity

Harpers Ferry

See this link


See this link for "historicism".

Homestead Act (1862)

The Homestead Act, which somehow revived Jefferson’s agrarianism, was meant to make it possible for isolated pioneers to settle a plot of land on the Frontier. Any citizen over 21 could settle and cultivate up to 160 acres of public domain for five years before he became the owner of his plot. The Reclamation Act of 1902 provided for irrigation projects which would deliver to each farmer ample water for 160 acres, a quarter section of land. In fact, most of the land meant to go to isolated pioneers fraudulently went to railroad, mining and lumbering companies.

The Homestead Act of 1862 unleashed long pent-up Yankee ambition to colonize western territories with midwestern-style family farms. Southern members of Congress had  resisted the scheme because they preferred a Great Plains open to slavery. So when southerners withdrew to their own, Confederate, congress, Yankee ambition was finall realized. (

"The Homestead Act, passed in 1862, which allowed for transference of a quarter section of land to a homesteader who had worked the property for five years, also initiated a public land system which allowed unprecedented land speculation." See this link