A School History of the United States eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 417 pages of information about A School History of the United States.

4.  In the course of the struggle for free soil in Kansas the Whig party went to pieces, the Democratic was split into two wings, and the Know-nothing or Native American party and the Republican party arose.

5.  The Republican party was defeated in 1856, but the Dred Scott decision in 1857 and the continued struggle in Kansas forced the question of slavery to the front, and in 1860 Lincoln was elected.

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CHAPTER XXVI

PROGRESS IN THE UNITED STATES BETWEEN 1840 AND 1860

[Illustration:  Chicago in 1832]

%403.  The Movement of Population.%—­The twenty years which elapsed between the election of Harrison, in 1840, and the election of Lincoln, in 1860, had seen a most astonishing change in our country.  In 1840 neither Texas, nor the immense region afterwards acquired from Mexico, belonged to us.  There were then but twenty-six states and five territories, inhabited by 17,000,000 people, of whom but 876,000 lived west of the Mississippi River, mostly close to the river bank in Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  The great Northwest was still a wilderness, and many a city now familiar to us had no existence.  Toledo and Milwaukee and Indianapolis had each less than 3000 inhabitants; Chicago had less than 5000; and Cleveland, Columbus, and Detroit, each less than 10,000.  Yet the rapid growth of cities had been one of the characteristics of the period 1830 to 1840.

The effect of new mechanical appliances on the movement of population was amazing.  The day when emigrants settled along the banks of streams, pushed their boats up the rivers by means of poles, carried their goods on the backs of pack horses, and floated their produce in Kentucky broadhorns down the Ohio and Mississippi to New Orleans, was fast disappearing.  The steamboat, the canal, the railroad, had opened new possibilities.  Land once valueless as too far from market suddenly became valuable.  Men grew loath to live in a wilderness; the rush of emigrants across the Mississippi was checked.  The region between the Alleghanies and the great river began to fill up rapidly.  During the twenty years, 1821 to 1841, but two states, Arkansas (1836) and Michigan (1837), were admitted to the Union, and but three new territories, Florida (1822-23), Wisconsin (1836), and Iowa (1838), were established.

So few people went west from the Atlantic seaboard states that in each one of them except Maine and Georgia population increased more rapidly than it had ever done for forty years.  From the Mississippi valley states, however, numbers of people went to Wisconsin and Iowa.

In consequence of this, Iowa was admitted to the Union in 1846, and Wisconsin in 1848.  Minnesota and Oregon were made territories.  Florida and Texas had been admitted in 1845, and the number of states was thus raised to thirty before 1850.  The population of the country in 1850 was 23,000,000.  Two states in the Mississippi valley now had each of them more than a million of inhabitants.

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A School History of the United States from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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