The Early National Period examines the transformation of the fledgling American republic after the conclusion of the Revolutionary War in 1783 into a hearty and rapidly expanding nation by 1828. During these years the United States survived an array of challenges and growing pains, both from forces within the country and from outside forces. The country underwent rapid, significant political change including the ratification of two different constitutions and major changes in the electoral system. It experienced rapid geographic expansion westward, a difficult war with Great Britain, and military conflicts with North African pirates, France, and many different Indian nations. Several cycles of economic boom and bust and a host of significant social changes contributed to the general sense of upheaval. Yet, throughout it all, many people liked to believe the country was destined for greatness.
Each chapter in The Early National Period features a historical narrative that provides an overview, a chronology, and eyewitness testimonies. From George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Meriwether Lewis to the many ordinary men and women—of all ethnic groups—who left their marks on the country, many first-hand accounts from political leaders, inventors, and social commentators have been included in this exceptional Eyewitness History volume. Recent insights about the importance of race and women's history in the new nation, excerpts of primary source documents, and capsule biographies of key figures give readers a comprehensive and inclusive understanding of the period.
Among the many military events covered are the quasi-war with France, the Tripolitan Wars, armed conflict with various Indian groups, the Seminole Wars, and the War of 1812. In addition to these topics, some material on Canada is included, since the fates of Canada and the United States were closely linked during the period; this connection is made particularly clear in the chapter on the War of 1812, which occurred in both countries simultaneously.
Excerpts from documents such as the Treaty of Paris, the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Louisiana Purchase, the Sedition Act, and the Virginia Resolutions are paired with biographies of more than 30 key figures, 7 maps, reference notes, a bibliography, an index, and more than 90 black-and-white photographs.