19th Century America

The 19th was the United States' first full century as a nation. It was full of birthpangs, moments of triumph, and things that made everyone shake their head and wonder what was going on. One of the most interesting of the latter bits was when British ex-pat Joshua Norton crowned himself Emperor of the United States, "reigning" from San Francisco.

Most people remember the 19th century for the Civil War. While it certainly was a significant event, one of the most important events in American history even, there were a number of surrounding factors that were just as important, and without which the War Between the States would never have developed.

Arguably the most significant of these was Western Expansion. The idea that Americans were fulfilling some kind of national destiny by claiming the Western part of the continent was called Manifest Destiny, and its origins can be found in the writings of some of the most prominent Founding Fathers, like Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. Their dedication to the Enlightenment ideal of human progress (that mankind controlled its own destiny, and that that destiny was to move ever forward) translated into a need to expand their country as far as possible.

As with anything else, God used that humanist doctrine to advance His own truth. While politicians and opportunists went West to obtain land, gold, and freedom, Christian missionaries went to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. People like Marcus and Narcissa Whitman and Jason Lee braved the Oregon Trail simply to share their faith with the Native Americans in the Western Territories; the Whitmans even gave their lives, becoming the Pacific Northwest's most famous martyrs.

Meanwhile, back in the East the bigwigs were conspiring to breach the 3,000 mile gap between the East and West coasts with a recently improved invention: the steam engine train. The First Transcontinental Railroad wasn't completed till 1869 (four years after the Civil War had ended), but it's origins reach back to the 1840s when it was first envisioned by Asa Whitney.

In fact, the transcontinental railroad was a significant element of Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign and adminisration. This was the problem: the North wanted the Trans to go through their territory because they had so much industrial product to move, while the South wanted it to run through the bottom half of the States so they could transport cotton, sorghum, and other agricultural goods.

The reality was a bit of a compromise, but the violent debates that stirred Congress had no small part in fomenting the division that would ultimately erupt in full-blown war. Slavery was the main issue, but it affected so many other factors that to reduce the origins of the Civil War to slavery alone is a bit revisionist and narrow-sighted.

For a lot of the 19th century, it seemed that the United States led a charmed existence, that Progress was a sure thing and there was nothing really to fear, certainly no problem that couldn't be overcome. The last two decades were exceedingly prosperous, leading to a sense of smug optimism that only the terror of World War I, the moral chaos of the Jazz Age, and the sudden insecurity of the Great Depression could effectively end.

Not everyone wasman-centered and materialistic, however. The 19th century saw a surge in evangelism unlike anything the fledgling nation had seen, so pervasive and productive that it was called the Second Great Awakening. Unfortunately, a lot of doctrinal dilution came with the new preaching, but there were plenty of genuine conversions, and much good came of them.

It's difficult to reduce a one hundred year span to a few paragraphs, and there are certainly things we could have mentioned. Comprehensive treatments aren't always the best way to study history, though; each era has its own spirit and attitudes (its own zeitgeist, if you want to get all technical and German) that best represent it. We hope you'll bear that in mind in your study of the 19th century in America, and indeed throughout your study of history here and around the globe.

Topics of Interest from the 19th Century:

Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.

Did you find this review helpful?
494 Items found Print
Active Filters: 4th grade (Ages 9-10)
Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington
by Cheryl Harness
from National Geographic
Picture Book Biography for 2nd-4th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.76 $5.00 (1 in stock)
Abraham Lincoln
Heroes of History
by Geoff & Janet Benge
from Emerald Books
Biography for 4th-7th grade
in Heroes of History (Location: BIO-BENGE)
$8.49
Abraham Lincoln
by Clara Ingram Judson
from Sterling Publishing Co.
Biography for 3rd-7th grade
1951 Newbery Honor Book
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
Abraham Lincoln
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
75th Anniversary Edition from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
1940 Caldecott Medal winner
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.26
Abraham Lincoln - Coloring Book
Dover Coloring Books
by A. G. Smith
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Dover Coloring Books (Location: COL-DOV)
$2.99
Across the Wide & Lonesome Prairie
Dear America
by Kristiana Gregory
from Scholastic Inc.
Fictional historical journal for 3rd-6th grade
in Dear America Books (Location: SER-DEAR)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Addy Learns a Lesson
by Connie Porter
from American Girl
for 4th-6th grade
in American Girl (Location: SER-AMGIRL)
$2.40 (1 in stock)
Adventures of Munford: Munford Meets Lewis & Clark
by Jamie Aramini
from Geography Matters
for 2nd-4th grade
in Geography Matters products (Location: GEO-GEOM)
$5.00 (2 in stock)
Alexander Graham Bell
by Elizabeth MacLeod
from Kids Can Press
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.76
Alexander Graham Bell
by Elizabeth MacLeod
from Scholastic Inc.
Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad
by Marlene Targ Brill
from First Avenue Editions
for 3rd-5th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
Amazing Impossible Erie Canal
by Cheryl Harness
from Aladdin Paperbacks
Historical Non-Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Western Expansion (1800-1898) (Location: HIS-19CAWE)
$7.99
American History for Young Students II
by Michelle Miller
from TruthQuest History
History Curriculum for 1st-5th grade
Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks
in TruthQuest History (Location: HISCUR-TQ)
$24.95 $17.50 (1 in stock)
American History for Young Students III
by Michelle Miller
from TruthQuest History
History Curriculum for 1st-6th grade
Cathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks
in TruthQuest History (Location: HISCUR-TQ)
$29.95 $20.00 (2 in stock)
American History Stories Volume 3
by Mara L. Pratt
from Yesterday's Classics
for 3rd-6th grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: FIC-YC)
$8.96
American History Stories Volume 4
by Mara L. Pratt
from Yesterday's Classics
for 3rd-6th grade
in Yesterday's Classics (Location: FIC-YC)
$8.96
American Pioneer Family - Paper Dolls
by Tom Tierney
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-5th grade
in Dover Paper Dolls (Location: COL-DOLL)
$8.95
American Plague
by Jim Murphy
from Clarion Books
for 4th-8th grade
2004 Newbery Honor Book
Amistad - Coloring Book
Dover Coloring Books
by Peter F. Copeland
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Dover Coloring Books (Location: COL-DOV)
$3.16
Annie Oakley: Young Marksman
Childhood of Famous Americans
by Ellen Wilson
from Aladdin Paperbacks
for 3rd-6th grade
in Childhood of Famous Americans (Location: BIO-COFA)
$6.79
Antique Locomotives - Coloring Book
Dover Coloring Books
by Tre Tryckare Company
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Dover Coloring Books (Location: COL-DOV)
$3.74
Appomattox
by Burke Davis
from HarperCollins
for 4th-6th grade
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HIS-19CACW)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Aunt Harriet's Underground Railroad in the Sky
by Faith Ringgold
from Dragonfly Books
for 3rd-5th grade
in Slavery & the Underground Railroad (Location: G4D-HIS)
Ballad of Lucy Whipple
by Karen Cushman
from HarperCollins
for 3rd-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.09
Ballad of the Civil War
by Mary Stolz
from Scholastic Inc.
for 3rd-6th grade
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HIS-19CACW)
$3.00 (1 in stock)
Ballad of the Civil War
by Mary Stolz
from Scholastic Inc.
for 2nd-4th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$2.00 (1 in stock)
Battle of Seattle
by Douglas Bond
from P&R Publishing
for 4th-9th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$10.19
Bears of Blue River
by Charles Major
from CreateSpace
for 3rd-7th grade
in Adventure Stories (Location: FIC-ADV)
Before the Gold Rush
from McClelland & Stewart Limited
for 4th-6th grade
in Western Expansion (1800-1898) (Location: HIS-19CAWE)
$3.50 (1 in stock)
Behind Rebel Lines
by Seymour Reit
from Graphia
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.10 $4.00 (1 in stock)
Benjamin Bonneville, Soldier-Explorer
from Julian Messner
for 4th-8th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$6.00 (1 in stock)
Big Annie of Calumet
by Jerry Stanley
1st edition
for 4th-7th grade
in Industrialization & Organized Labor (Location: HIS-19CAIND)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Big Annie of Calumet
by Jerry Stanley
from Hampton-Brown
for 4th-8th grade
in Industrialization & Organized Labor (Location: HIS-19CAIND)
$5.00 (1 in stock)
Big Book of Cowboys
by Holling Clancy Holling
from Grosset & Dunlap
for 3rd-8th grade
in Cowboys & Cattlemen (Location: G4C-HIS)
Big Book of the Old West to Color
by Peter F. Copeland, et al.
from Dover Publications
for 2nd-6th grade
in Dover Coloring Books (Location: COL-DOV)
$6.71
Billy Yank - Coloring Book
by Alan Archambault
from Bellerophon Books
Coloring Book for 4th-8th grade
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HIS-19CACW)
$4.95 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Bite of the Gold Bug
by Barthe DeClements
from Puffin Books
for 4th-6th grade
in Gilded Age (1865-1918) (Location: G5E-HIS)
$4.99 $2.50 (3 in stock)
Blizzard!
by Jim Murphy
from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-6th grade
in 19th Century America (Location: HIS-19CA)
$4.50 (1 in stock)
Blizzard!
by Jim Murphy
from Scholastic Press
for 4th-6th grade
in 19th Century America (Location: HIS-19CA)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Bound for Oregon
by Jean Van Leeuwen
from Puffin Books
Historical Fiction for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.94 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Boxcar Children #01
Boxcar Children #1
by Gertrude Chandler Warner
from Albert Whitman & Company
Orphan Stories for 2nd-4th grade
in Boxcar Children (Location: SER-BOX)
$5.94
Boy in the Alamo
by Margaret Cousins
from Corona Publishing Co.
Historical fiction for 4th-6th grade
in Mexican-American War (Location: G4C-HIS)
$9.00 (1 in stock)
Brady
by Jean Fritz
from Puffin Books
for 4th-6th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.94 $3.50 (1 in stock)
Brown Paper School USKids History: Book of the New American Nation
by Howard Egger-Bovet, Marlene Smith-Baranzini
First Edition from Little, Brown & Company
for 3rd-8th grade
in New Nation (1783-1800) (Location: G3E-HIS)
$8.00 (1 in stock)
Buffalo Bill
by Edgar & Ingri D'Aulaire
from Beautiful Feet Books
Picture Book Biography for 3rd-6th grade
in Biographies (Location: BIO)
$15.26
Buffalo Bill: Frontier Daredevil
Childhood of Famous Americans
by Meryl Stevenson
from Aladdin Paperbacks
for 3rd-6th grade
in Childhood of Famous Americans (Location: BIO-COFA)
$6.79 $4.00 (1 in stock)
Buffalo Hunt
by Russell Freedman
from Holiday House
Historical Non-Fiction for 4th-8th grade
in Native Americans (Location: HIS-USNAT)
Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman
from HarperCollins
Historical Fiction for 4th-7th grade
in Historical Fiction (Location: FIC-HIF)
$5.09 $3.50 (3 in stock)
Bull Run
by Paul Fleischman, David Frampton (Woodcuts)
2nd edition from Scholastic Inc.
for 4th-6th grade
in American Civil War (1860-1865) (Location: HIS-19CACW)
$4.00 (5 in stock)
By the Great Horn Spoon!
by Sid Fleischman
from Little, Brown & Company
Realistic Fiction for 3rd-6th grade
in Realistic Fiction (Location: FIC-REA)
$7.64 $5.00 (2 in stock)
12345678910