The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 by Daniel William Howe
An outstanding work that makes American history between the wars come alive to the reader. Covering all the events and issues of the period, he includes colorful anecdotes and personal glimpses of the characters! No wonder this won the Pulitzer prize for history and is included in the Oxford History of America series!
This was an important transitional period in the history of our country. The Louisiana Purchase and war with Mexico expanded American territory all the way to the Pacific ocean. Religious and political movements involved most people. Under Andrew Jackson, the forced removal of Native Americans, from the Seminole Wars to the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
I enjoyed reading about the heroes and blackguards who played a part in shaping our country. Zachary Taylor became known as an “Indian fighter” but distinguished himself as a national hero during the Mexican-American war in 1842. He was elected as the 12th president in 1848 but served only 16 months before dying of cholera.
Joseph Smith was another colorful figure who led a large number of people known as Mormons. This group was persecuted and driven out of Ohio, then Missouri, finally settling in Nauvoo in Mississippi for some years. After his violent death, Smith’s followers were led to the Salt Lake area by successor Brigham Young.
Women’s lives were changing during this period. Early on, women were vocal in the abolition movement and it may have been a natural step for them to demand their own freedom and equality. Woman began to ask for property rights and the vote. The first conference on these issues was held in Seneca Falls, New York as the idea of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Quaker women were at he forefront of many of the freedom movements. Many looked to devout Quaker, Lucretia Mott for leadership, though she herself thought it was more important that women gain the right for ordination in the clergy that to gain the vote.
Just as the United States took California from Mexico, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill, north of San Francisco, spurring the “gold rush” from 1849. Many changes were taking place in the country as it expanded. The invention of the telegraph had great import considering the great distances the nation spanned. Railroads rapidly were built and fortunes made during this very exciting age.
Howe’s book makes the era come alive for us and will be an essential work of history read for years to come!