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Fall 2018

The Indian Removal Act and its Role in the Second Seminole War

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The Indian Removal Act of 1830 was an example of too much power in the executive branch of the US government. While the act didn't go through congress, President Andrew Jackson would see that it did. Not only was this act forced, but the removal of indians was forced. Many tribes were relocated west of the Mississippi to new land, far away from where they had settled. At times, the land was not suitable for the conditions needed for the tribes to survive. This act lead to what is known as the Trail of Tears, many deaths, and two of the three Seminole Wars.

While many tribes gave in to removal, having no way to fight, the Seminole Tribe of Florida resisted, again and again. The purpose of this exhibit is to show how the Second Seminole War, and subsequently the Third Seminole War, were direct results of the Indian Removal Act. These wars were over land that had already been claimed by the Seminole Indians, and rightfully so. Due to the American idea of Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny, the Seminoles, and other tribes, were stripped of their homelands, and some stripped of their lives. 

The True Common Man: David Crockett's Politics

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Davy Crockett is perhaps one of the most recognizable legends in American history.  When one hears his name they usually picture a man wearing a coon-skin cap fighting off a bear or dying heroically at the Alamo.  However, Crockett was a politician.  He was a rugged frontiersmen with political savvy who knew the interests of his constituents and acted on them even when it isolated him from political allies.  

The Autumnal Fever: The Outbreak of the Yellow Fever in Savannah, Georgia in 1820

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The Yellow Fever outbreak in Savannah, Georgia in Autumn of 1820 took the lives of nearly 700 residents of Savannah. Two physicians lost their lives in the fight against the outbreak, their names are unknown. Characterized by the “ejection of black bile from the stomach” and an inflamed eye first struck Savannah in July of 1820 and lasted until the November months. Savannah had been ravaged by a first outbreak one year earlier, which was less deadly. 

This project attempts to understand how and why the outbreak occurred by looking at it from the perspective of two doctors who treated it, Dr.’s William Waring and W.C. Coffee. Each doctor authored a report that offers contemporary accounts of the outbreak and its effects. This project will also demonstrate the links between religion and medicine as Western medicine was still in its infancy and this helps to mark the period of rapid secularization of medical practices. It will also demonstrate what life was like before the outbreak by offering perspectives from elites, the middle class, as well as the poor and enslaved populations of Savannah. The initial outbreak of 1820 is one that is little studied in the history of medicine and epidemiology, but nonetheless it is important because it characterizes a shift from faith based medicine to the scientific reasoning that would define the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Transcendentalism and A New American Culture (1836-1860)

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This exhibit will focus on the Transcendentalist movement that began in the 1830’s in New England, as well as the shift into a national culture shaped by romanticist ideals with an emphasis on literature and new ways of thinking. What started primarily as not necessarily backlash, but dissatisfaction against ideas that populated the 18th and early 19th centuries such as rationalism and unitarianism. Transcendentalists were idealists, focused on becoming self-reliant and believing in the power of the individual. They believed that social structures prevents individuals from reaching the fullest versions of themselves. They believed that all beings had value and were all created equally, which is why they were fierce opponents of the institution of slavery as well as supporters of many social movements addressing social inequality.

The purpose of this exhibit is to not only showcase the influential people and ideas of the movement, but to explore the ways in which the core ideas of Transcendentalism spread throughout the United States well beyond the movement’s eventual decline in the 1850’s. Transcendentalism is well recognized as the first uniquely American philosophical and intellectual movement in the history of the United States, and previous scholars study in depth the words of key individuals from the movement including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Margaret Fuller. But less frequently discussed are the ways in which America’s first philosophical movement was unlike any other movement before it, and essential in setting the course for a new generation of American writers, romantics, and philosophers.

Andrew Jackson and the $20 Bill

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A discussion of Jackson's presidency, early life, and legacy by analyzing arguments for Jackson's removal from the $20 bill and arguments for upholding his portrait on the bill. Also, a discussion and analysis of other U.S. presidents and figureheads on U.S. currency compared to Jackson. The discussion includes a comparison of Jackson's achievements with his shortcomings or failures. 

Women of the Anti-Slavery Movement

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Women have been deeply involved in the Abolitionist movement since the beginning.  Many of these female abolitionists went on to be a part of the growing women's sufferage movement.  While these women were highly active, this does not mean that they were welcomed with open arms into public society.  This exhibit exhamines notable figures, such as Angelina Grimke and Lucretia Mott, women led organizations, conventions, correspondence, and the backlash that they faced.  For many women the fight against slavery was a moral one.  Religion, as well as political beliefs, influenced them to end the enslavement of human beings.  Though many had different agendas and ideas of how things should be done, all female abolitionists risked their status in society by being a part of any abolitionist organization. 

"To plead for the miserable can never be unfeminine"-Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, abolitionist

The Cherokee Nation and the Fight Against Removal

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The narrative of American expansion is closely tied to the decline in the Native American population during the 1830’s. The Native Americans, like many minority groups throughout U.S. history, were at the mercy of the self-interested American people. The United States Government conveniently decided when it would treat Native American tribes as sovereign entities, and when it would limit or deny their rights. When the Indian Removal Act passed in 1830 and gave the federal government the power to relocate the Native American’s westward, there was opposition by many Indian tribes; most notably the Cherokee Indians. Petitions on behalf of the Cherokee people, as well as rulings by the U.S Supreme Court, were ignored by the U.S government. In 1836, the Cherokee Nation along with other Native American tribes, were forcibly removed from their lands.

The Beginning of Feminism at Seneca Falls in 1848

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The first women's convention in 1848, led by women abolitionists, was the true beginning of American feminsim. Although feminists already existed before this convention, their efforts did not truly inspire their fellow American women to take action and fight for their rights like the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 did.

The events that occurred at Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 established the first beginnings of feminism in America and was the stepping stone in granting American women so many freedoms that they had been fighting for, such as the right to vote. Without the bravery of women abolitionists like Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, it's hard to know when, or if, feminism in America would have become the important and massive movement that it is today.

Effects of the Indian Removal Act of 1830

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On May 28, 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act into law, effectively forcing the migration of nearly 50,000 indians. They were seen as a roadblock during Westward expansion by white settlers. Jackson, along with those who were strong supporters of Manifest Destiny, thought that removing them from the area would enocurage more people to move West. 

Jacksonian America, the Nazis, and the dehumanization of minority groups

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When the discussion of modern genocide comes up the first even that comes to mind for many is the Holocaust. Especially in the United Staes where self-awareness has not been our forte, we always think of genocide as happening somewhere else. However, the focus of this exhibit is to showcase one of the first modern, systematic genocides; Jackson's treatment of the Native American people and how it inspired the Holocaust.

This exhibit also explores the subject of human experimentation and the disrespect of autonomy for human beings seen as sub-human or even not human at all through the lens of Doctor Josef Mengele's experiments and experiments done on slaves during this time period. While the subjects may seem unrelated, they are all tied by a common theme of dehumanization. 

The Origin and Lasting Effect of The Transportation Revolution

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From the steam ships of the great lakes to the rails of the west, this Project seeks to explore the Transportation Revolution in the United States and why it is so important to American history. As America pushed west so too did her need for infrastructure and more efficient forms of transportation for goods and people. Railways would become the driving force for the civilizing of these new uncharted lands, bringing with them the might of the American manufacturing of the coats and the spirit of Manifest Destiny. East of the Mississippi large public works projects are begun to build man made rivers known as canals. These engineering marvels would make it possible to travel by ship as far inland as Toledo in some cases changing the game when it came to both domestic and international trade. The steam ship itself would make these systems both efficient and predictable, the days of depending on sails and currents would become a thing of the past. The civilization of the west and the natural resources America would gain accesses to combined with the new ability for the manufactures in the east to move goods through both rail and river would pave the way for America’s ascension as a global superpower for decades if not centuries to come.

Precursor to War: U.S.-Mexican Foreign Relations during Westward Expansion

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As the power and influence of the United States began to grow in the early 18th century the country began to look towards the west as a way to extend their influence. This idea ran into a road block once the U.S. decided it was going to push closer and closer to the land owned by the newly independent country of Mexico. As the tensions escaleded it eventually led to war between the two nations for supremacy in the region. In this exhibit I want to explore the build-up to this conflict and analyze why the two nations needed to go to war.

Fremont's Third Expedition and the American Conquest of California

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John Charles Fremont played an important, but often confused role in the American conquest of California.  Be it in his unofficial US military support of a rebellion against a govermnet he wasn't aware the US was at war wtih, or his leading of a Battalion in the Navy despite being an officer of the Army, or his controversial tenure as military governor of California, there is very little about his actions in California which is not confused by contradictory or biased information. 

While this episode is perhaps the most controversial of Fremont's life, it was not the start nor the end of his importance to the United States, and it grew his fame and fortune despite what can be seen as a very negative direct outcome for the man.  

The Panic of 1837

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The Panic of 1837 was a crucial time in the financial history of the United States. As the President leading up to the financial crisis, Andrew Jackson took up a battle against the Bank of the United States. Jackson attempted to restore the value of paper currency by making sure that it was backed in gold and silver. Due to land speculation, and the fact that paper currency could not regain it's value, Jackson passed an Executive Order that would be the final straw before the collapse of the American economy. The actions taken by President Jackson closed over 300 banks and rendered the banking system useless, plunging the country into economic catastrophe.

 

Missouri Compromise of 1820

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The Missouri Compromise of 1820 was a crucial moment in a formative era of Young America. The agreement which led to Missouri and Maine statehood prolonged peace at the time, but eventually would set the stage for the tumultuous years ahead and eventually the American Civil War.

Slavery Or State's Rights? Reasoning Behind the Civil War

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A look at the age old question; was the South's reasoning for the Civil War over state's rights, or to preserve slavery.

Common man or con man--was Andrew Jackson a fraud?

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Andrew Jackson is often remembered as a self-made representative of the “common man.” His humble origins are a stark contrast to the posh upbringings of America’s first six presidents. Indeed, everything about Jackson--from his meteoric rise to political relevance in rugged Tennessee, to his platform, and even to the circumstances of his election--spoke to everyday Americans. 

Jackson's first run at the presidency in 1824 only cemented the divide between Jacksonian populism and his elite political rivals. After shady dealings kept Jackson out of the presidency (despite his winning a plurality of the vote) he doubled down and won decisively in 1828. During his two terms as president, he fought the national bank, dealt with the nullification crisis, and removed Native Americans who resided within American states. His campaigns and platforms consistently revolved around the so-called "common man," which, in this case, meant the poor, newly-enfranchised masses rather than the wealthy upper class.

However, it is possible that not everything was as it appeared. While he fought centralized banks and corruption, Andrew Jackson was a staunch supporter of state’s rights, and, as a successful politician, he even became a wealthy slaveowner. In supporting state's rights, he was sometimes directly complicit in propping up institutions that concentrated wealth among society's elite, such as slavery. Furthermore, while he set out to clean corruption out of political positions, his cabinet and appointments were rife with his own friends and supporters. This results in a complicated image--Andrew Jackson may not have really been a pure hero for the lower classes after all.

So, was Andrew Jackson really a champion of the common man, or did he share more with America’s first six presidents than his political persona originally let on? The answer lies in his personal beliefs, his policies, and their effects on the American populace. This project seeks to uncover that answer by analyzing Jackson's presidential campaigns, his Bank War, his views on slavery, and his spoils system.

The California Gold Rush

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The California Gold rush was one of the most exciting time periods in American History. Beginning in 1848 when James Marshall Discovered gold at sutter's mill, the gold rush created a global frenzy for riches and success. Before long hundreds of thousands of people had moved to California from all over the earth, they abondoned their old lives all in the name of hope. The gold rush lasted less than ten years, but created one of the biggest economic upturns ever. With over five-hundred thousand pounds of gold collected, and an influx of nearly three-hundred thousand people, America's economy had reached new hights, and California became the most influential state in America.