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Foundations of American Political Thought

Readings and Commentary

Edited By Raymond Polin and Constance Polin

Foundations of American Political Thought: Readings and Commentary explains American historical concepts and key political ideas from 1620 to 1910. In this primer for democracy, all verbatim passages and original documents point to their original intentions and ideological movements. Key terms and basic terminology are incisive and essential for a thorough understanding of democracy. This book represents the setting and trends that produced sound progress in American political growth.


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Section Three: Expansion of the Union and Freedom


cS ecfi(•Jl Cf};l ree Expansion of the Union and Freedom The Nature of the Union Commentary f]he first seven decades of the nineteenth century involved struggle-car-ried on first by force of argument and threat and then by force of arms- that decided basic questions about the character and functioning of the developing American nation, politically, socially. and economically: 1. What were the nature and role of the Union, and what were the mech- anisms of government and representation in government that would decide these questions? 2. What were some of the rights and duties of property owners, and what was the role of property in American capitalist society, especially in the polit- ical arena, as it became increasingly industrialized and made technolog- ical advances? 3. Could slavery be morally justified and permitted to continue in a land whose religious principles, settlement, revolution for independence, and fundamental instruments of government were all devoted, at their core, to freedom of conscience and person, and with the open spaces of the fron- tier and westward movement energizing the widely held and practiced belief in America as a divinely destined sanctuary for freedom and opportunity? 264 J EXPANSION OF THE UNION AND FREEDOM I. Military and Technological Aspects of National Economic Development During the presidential administration of the worldly wise John Adams (1797-1801), Congress terminated the 1778 treaty of permanent alliance with France; the Navy Department was established; and an undeclared naval war with Napoleonic France was carried on, 1798-1800. However,...

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