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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersThe Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing, 1815-1850
The Triumph of Nationalism/The House Dividing
Topic: Culture of the Common ManTopic: Cult of DomesticityTopic: ReligionTopic: ExpansionTopic: America in 1850
Topic: Culture of the Common Man
Overview of Triumph of Nationalism
Resource Menu: Culture of the Common Man
Text 1. Andrew Jackson
Text 2. Mark Twain
Text 3. Thomas W. Dorr
» Reading Guide
•  Link

Text 4. Mechanics/Workers
Text 5. Richard Allen and David Walker
Text 6. Nathaniel Hawthorne
Text 7. James Fenimore Cooper
Text 8. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Text 9. John C. Calhoun
Text 10. Walt Whitman


RESOURCE MENU » Reading Guide Link

Reading Guide
3.  Thomas W. Dorr, An Address to the People of Rhode Island, 1834

This piece suggests the unevenness with which the fruits of the American Revolution spread across the country. While democracy took root in some areas, in others it was withdrawn or impeded. Its spread was not an uncontested progress. Fifty-eight years after 1776 the people of Rhode Island had to take up arms to win what the Revolution has promised. Through much of the nineteenth century Rhode Island was governed under its original charter, which limited suffrage and the right to hold office to men who owned $134 worth of property. By 1834 the state had become urban, and a significant portion of its population was made up of nonlandowners. Thomas W. Dorr, a Harvard-educated attorney, rebelled against the charter and eventually led a force against the state government. Here he offers a concise statement of the democratic impulse that was at work not only in Rhode Island but throughout the nation. Could be used with students. 3 pages.


Discussion questions
  ·  What is Dorr's rhetorical strategy?
  ·  What is his argument based on?
  ·  Why was the expansion of rights a national phenomenon, despite the varied political traditions of different sections?
  ·  What implications does the democratic impulse expressed here hold for the relations between the North and the South?


Reading highlights
  ·  Note how Dorr calls upon the past.
  ·  Note how he finesses the issue of giving the vote to women.


» Link


Topic Framing Questions
  •  How did Americans respond to the emergence of a functioning democracy in which the majority of free adult males could vote?
  •  How did Northerners view the purposes of political rights and power?
  •  How did Southerners view them?




Toolbox: The Triumph of Nationalism / The House Dividing
Common Man | Cult of Domesticity | Religion | Expansion | America in 1850

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