Showing posts from 2013

The Second Great Awakening and the Burned Over District

Happy holidays everyone! Sorry I have been gone for so long, I've been busy with school and working at a new job, but now that I have some time off from school before the spring semester begins, I can update this blog more often.

Throughout the 1800s, religious fervor roiled in Western and Central New York. Shakers, Mormons, Spiritualists, and others found solace in a land of free thinkers. This region was called the "Burned Over District", a phrase coined by Charles Grandison Finney because it was repeatedly "burned over" by religious revivals during the Second Great Awakening.

The Second Great Awakening was a Christian revival movement, started in the 1790s, which expressed Arminian theology (the belief that faith or non-faith of a man in God is what saves or condemns someone on the day of judgment, not the common Puritan belief of predestination where one was either born elected or damned). Through "fire and brimstone" evangelical sermons, million…

The Whiskey Rebellion

My dad and I like to stay up late together and watch TV to help unwind after our long days of work and school. One of the shows we love to watch together is "Moonshiners" on the Discovery Channel. Over the course of the two seasons, all of the cast members have said at least once each that alcohol is a major part of America's history, and they're right. In fact, we nearly had a full-blown war over alcohol.

Following the ratification of the Constitution, a new federal government began operating in 1789. Under the previous government whose laws were based on the Articles of Confederation, the government did not have the right to levy taxes and thus had to resort to borrowing money to meet expenses, accumulating over $54 million in debt with the individual states accumulating another $25 million (today, that would be $1,450,000,000 and $672,000,000 respectively). Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury, wanted to use this debt to create a financial syst…

The Three-Fifths Compromise

With the drafting of the Constitution, Congress (comprised of the Senate and the House of Representatives) was created. However, in the 1780s, there was a bit of a dilemma--how would the number of Representatives be chosen? There are two Senators per state, but the number of Representatives varies. For the answer, those in charge of deciding how many members there should be looked to the census.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise reached between the Southern and Northers states during the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. The Three-Fifths Compromise is named such because it entailed that three-fifths of the enumerated slave population would be counted for representation regarding both the distribution of taxes and and approportionment of the members of the House of Representatives.

The Compromise was controversial because those who opposed slavery wished to count only the free inhabitants of each state while those who supported slavery wanted to count the slaves towards thei…

The Road to the Constitution: Shays' Rebellion

For those who subscribe to the cyclical philosophy of history, history has a way of repeating itself, and that was true in the events leading up the Shays' Rebellion.

After the American Revolution, the states found themselves in an economic depression (much like Great Britain after the French and Indian War) and the states began to aggressively tax and collect the debts of those living in the states. After fighting a war to end the tyrannical rule of Britain and to end their aggressive taxes, the new nation found themselves in need of money to pay off their war debts, and needed to tax the citizens. However, there was a lack of hard currency in the new nation, which proved to be very problematic, especially in Massachusetts.

In the new nation, especially in non-coastal merchant-run towns, many of the citizens were farmers and suffered from debt as they tried to start new farms after the wake of the Revolution. Unlike many other state legislatures, Massachusetts did not respond to…

The Road to the Constitution: The Articles of Confederation

After the American Revolution, the new nation was in need of a form of government. Fearful that a strong central government would become as tyrannical as Great Britain had been, the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation on November 15, 1777 (but it is important to note that the ratification of the Articles by all 13 states did not occur until March 1, 1781).

The Articles of Confederation created strong state governments with the states having numerous powers and a weak central government with limited powers.

The need for a strong federal government was made apparent after a series of events, which will later be described, and eventually led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787. On March 4, 1789, the present United States Constitution replaced the failed Articles of Confederation.

How Revolutionary was the American Revolution and for Whom?

Before I begin with the topic at hand, I just want to write about something that has been on my mind for the past few days. As someone who has spent countless hours pouring over history books, going to numerous history classes, traveling to historic places all over the state and even some places out of state, and who has made the conscious decision to teach others about the history of New York State and the United States as a whole, it gets on my nerves a bit when someone says they don't like when immigrants come to the U.S. (whether legally or illegally) and want to change how things are here and try to change the American way of life so it suits them. Let's think about that for a moment. And yes, this does tie in to the topic for this blog post.

Regardless of what country's history you are studying (in case you haven't figured it out by now, this blog focuses on United States history), there is a central theme and that theme can be described in a single word: change…

The American Revolution in New York

Being a New York native, I thought I would make this blog post about the influence New York State had on the American Revolutionary War.

With the taxation of the colonies, the colonists were up in arms. They felt as though their rights as citizens of the British Empire were being encroached upon and they cried “No taxation without representation!” The introduction of a series of acts to tax the colonies (such as the Sugar Act, Currency Act, Stamp Act, Quartering Act of 1765, Tea Act, Townsend Revenue Act, Boston Non-Importation Agreement, and the Intolerable Acts) led to the events of the Boston Massacre, which left five men, including the African-American sailor Crispus Attucks, dead; as well as the Boston Tea Party, where members of the Sons of Liberty, such as Samuel Adams, disguised themselves as Native Americans and dumped tea into Boston Harbor to protest the tea tax. Despite these actions being the most famous, New York had its own pre-Revolution events that we did not learn…

After the French and Indian War

The French and Indian War

The French and Indian War was the name of the North American Theater of the Seven Years War, which took place from 1754 to 1763. In 1748, British legislators and elites in the Virginia territory vied for land speculation and settlement of the Ohio River Valley. The French liked the climate and began building forts in the area, such as Fort Duquesne and Fort Frontenac. However, the Native Americans had the Ohio River Valley by right of conquest, and so tensions between the French, British, and Native Americans competing for land and trading claims in the Ohio River Valley grew between 1752 and 1753 as each group wanted control of the land. Minor skirmishes, mostly occurring in rural areas, ensued. From November to December of 1753, a 21-year-old George Washington surveyed the land in the Ohio River Valley and carried Virginia’s ultimatum over French encroachment to Captain Legardeur de Saint-Pierre at Riviere aux Boefs, where the ultimatum is rejected.

After a series of battles in what…