Period 4: 1800-1848

Key Concepts

Key Concept 4.1 — The United States began to develop a modern democracy and celebrated a new national culture, while Americans sought to define the nation’s democratic ideals and change their society and institutions to match them.

Key Concept 4.2 — Innovations in technology, agriculture, and commerce powerfully accelerated the American economy, precipitating profound changes to U.S. society and to national and regional identities.

Key Concept 4.3 — The U.S. interest in increasing foreign trade and expanding its national borders shaped the nation’s foreign policy and spurred government and private initiatives.

Primary Sources

More are listed below.

Study Resources

Primary Sources

John C. Calhoun, On Expansion as Better Defense against Great Britain (excerpt)

John C. Calhoun
January 24, 1843

Time is acting for us; and if we shall have the wisdom to trust its operation, it will assert and maintain our rights with restless force, without costing a cent of money or a drop of blood. There is, often, in the affairs of government, more efficiency and wisdom in nonaction than in action. All we want to effect our object in this case is "a wise and masterly inactivity."

James K. Polk, Inaugural Address (Excerpt)

James K. Polk
March 4, 1845

The Republic of Texas has made known her desire to come into our Union, to form a part of our Confederacy and enjoy with us the blessings of liberty secured and guaranteed by our Constitution. Texas was once a part of our country--was unwisely ceded away to a foreign power--is now independent, and possesses an undoubted right to dispose of a part or the whole of her territory and to merge her sovereignty as a separate and independent state in ours.