Tag Archives: citizenship

The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

Laws which assured slave owners that runaway slaves would be returned had been in force since the ratification of the Constitution. Indeed, the Constitution required such laws. Decades later, however, many of these laws were unenforced in northern states and abolitionists actively helped runaway slaves flee ever northward to freedom. Slave owners, as part of the Compromise of 1850, pushed for the adoption of stronger fugitive slave laws. One section of the law is below.
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Women’s Rights: The Seneca Falls Declaration

The Seneca Falls Conference of 1848, held in New York, is often considered the launching point for the women’s movement in the United States. Women–despite legal and economic restrictions and oppression–were a driving force in many of the social reform movements of the time such as the abolition and temperance movements. Their drive for greater political, legal, and economic freedom, including the right to vote has been arduous.
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A Nationalist Foreign Policy: The Monroe Doctrine

Part of President  James Monroe’s State of the Union message to Congress on December 2, 1823, the “Monroe Doctrine” was the brainchild of Secretary of State John Quincy Adams. It was a response to the continued European intervention and interference in the affairs of newly independent nations in Central and South America. The Monroe Doctrine, with its stated desire of the United States to stay out of the affairs of Europe, and for Europe to stay out of the affairs of the Western Hemisphere, would be one of the driving forces of US foreign policy until the early 20th century.

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The New Constitution Tested: Creating the Bank of the United States

Despite pro-Constitution writers’ arguments that the new government’s powers were limited, those limits were tested very quickly. George Washington, the first President under the new Constitution, inherited a financial disaster of debt. His treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton, proposed a central banking system–the Bank of the United States–to manage the national debt and issue currency. Nowhere did the new Constitution define “creating a bank” as one of the federal governments powers.

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The New Constitution: For and Against

The 1787 convention in Philadelphia created a document (the Constitution) which would radically reshape the United States. Establishing a “federal” system in which the central government held a great deal more authority than under the Articles of Confederation. Divided into executive (embodied in the President), legislative (Congress), and judicial (the federal courts), the new system gave what its authors asserted were clearly defined and limited powers to the federal government.

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