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Toolbox Library, primary resources thematically organized with notes and discussion questionsOnline Seminars, professional development seminars for history and literature teachersLiving the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Topic: Predicaments of Early Republican LifeTopic: ReligionTopic: PoliticsTopic: ExpansionTopic: Equality

Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
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Timeline: 1800-1860

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Topics for Living the Revolution: America, 1789-1820
Topic: Predicaments of Early Republican Life
Topic Framing Questions
  •  What was the nature of the society that formed in the immediate aftermath of the American Revolution and the ratification of the Constitution?
  •  What did the citizens of the early republic hope for?
  •  What did they fear?
  •  How did they seek to balance freedom and order?

Topic: Religion
Topic Framing Questions
  •  How was religious freedom defined in the new republic?
  •  How did rationalists and evangelicals differ on the place of religion in a republic? How did they agree?
  •  How did diverse religious communities contribute to a shared national identity?
  •  How could church-state separation co-exist with the conviction that religion is critical to a nation's strength?

Topic: Politics
Topic Framing Questions
  •  What core political issues defined themselves in the new republic?
  •  What caused the greatest optimism and anxiety among American leaders?
  •  What do the religious overtones in these political texts express?
  •  What national identity evolved in the three decades from 1789 to 1820?

Topic: Expansion
Topic Framing Questions
  •  What implications did westward migration hold for national unity?
  •  How did the citizens of the early republic think about Native Americans and their place in the developing nation?
  •  How did Native Americans respond to the westward press of the United States?
  •  How did the United States respond to the presence of Native Americans on the western frontier?

Topic: Equality
Topic Framing Questions
  •  What notions of equality were held by early republican leaders? free black men? white women?
  •  How did their notions of equality and rights correspond?
  •  How did each group mold its public voice? How did each use its power?
  •  To what extent did America succeed in "living the revolution" by 1820?

Images: “Washington’s reception by the ladies, on passing the bridge at Trenton, N.Y., April 1789, on his way to New York to be inaugurated first president of the United States.” New York: Currier & Ives, 1876. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

John William Hill, View of the Erie Canal, 1830-1832, watercolor (detail). I. N. Phelps Stokes Collection of American Historical Prints, The New York Public Library.