Forces Between Nationalism and Sectionalism in the 19th Century

Topics: American Civil War, United States, Abraham Lincoln Pages: 5 (2190 words) Published: June 7, 2012
What events or trends contributed to the relationship between the forces of Nationalism and Sectionalism? During the course of American History, and especially after the War for Independence, Nationalism and Sectionalism contributed and interacted with each other to shape the development of the United States of America. These two ideologies are the inverse of one another. When sectionalism is strong, nationalism is weak. When Nationalism is strong, sectionalism is weak. While sectionalism and nationalism work off of each other, nationalism has always prevailed over sectionalism in history. The inverse relationship and clash between the two forces can be seen through a number of different events or trends in history such as, economical improvements, political endeavors, and wars involving America. Nationalism is known as the loyalty and devotion to a nation. Sectionalism is known as an exaggerated devotion to the interests of a region. (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated n.d.) These two forces seem to oppose one other, yet neither one can survive without the other. A country is always going to have sectionalist ideals, such as two states having separate ideas on a particular topic, but nationalistic policies in the government, and within the people, ultimately control sectionalist principals. “Throughout the world no country has showed such striking outward evidences of national growth and national self-consciousness as did the United States during the first half of the 19th century.” (Manning 2010, 67) If a country is together as a whole, both socially and politically, there must be nationalism, because without nationalism a country would not survive. Nationalistic ideals began to form when the American economy started to take shape in the earth nineteenth century, especially when it came to improvements within transportation. This allowed different regions in the country to have the capability of faster trade and information with other countries. The National Road, in many places known as Route 40, was built between 1811 and 1834 to reach the western settlements. It was the first federally funded road in U.S. history. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson believed that a trans-Appalachian road was necessary for unifying the young country. (Longfellow, Rickie n.d.) While the National Road was being created, The Erie Canal, a major water way, was also taking shape. Proposed in 1808 and completed in 1825, the canal linked the waters of Lake Erie in the west to the Hudson River in the east. (Frank E. Sadowski Jr. n.d.)The canal thereby helped stimulate and unify the economy by bringing Northern and Southern trade together through the country. Both the National road and the Erie Canal were major improvements within American transportation, but travel and trade didn’t start to speed up until railroads and steamboats were invented. The two new inventions further opened the west and connected raw materials to factories and markets. Water travel was generally more comfortable than the train, but railway travel became the most popular form of transportation because it was economical, reliable, and fast. Trains traveled more than twice as fast as a stagecoach and four times as fast as a steamboat. (StudyNotes Organization n.d.)All of these economical improvements strengthened nationalism within America by allowing the regions to come together through travel and uniting American trade and information. American transportation and unity within the country increased even further right after the Industrial Revolution. The revolution took place mainly from 1820 to 1870, and was the change in social and economic organization that resulted from the replacement of hand tools with machines and from the development of large-scale industrial production. (Kelly n.d.) The Industrial Revolution marked a point in history when the nation as a whole was economically growing stronger, and becoming dependent on all of the regions. The North depended...
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