The American Promise, Ch 9 Outline

The American Promise Value Edition, Combined Version (Volumes I & II): A History of the United States

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I. The Search for Stability A. Washington Inaugurates the Government 1. The election of George Washington in February 1789 was quick work, the tallying of the unanimous votes by the electoral college a mere formality. 2. Once in office, Washington carefully calculated his moves, knowing that with every step he was setting a precedent and a misstep could be dangerous for the fragile new government. 3. Washington's genius in establishing the presidency lay in his capacity for implanting his own reputation for integrity into the office itself. 4. Washington chose talented and experienced men, regardless of their deep philosophical differences, to preside over the newly created departments of war, treasury, and state. 5. Washington chose General Henry Knox for the Department of War, Alexander Hamilton for the Treasury, Thomas Jefferson for the Department of State, Edmund Randolph for attorney general, and John Jay for chief justice of the Supreme Court. 6. Washington began meeting regularly with these men, thereby establishing the precedent of a presidential cabinet. B. The Bill of Rights 1. An early order of business in the First Congress was the passage of a Bill of Rights, which seven states had specified as a condition for their ratification of the Constitution. 2. James Madison pulled much of the wording of the rights directly from the language of various state constitutions with bills of rights. 3. In September 1789, Congress approved a set of twelve amendments and sent them to the states for approval; ten were eventually ratified. 4. The process of state ratification took another two years, but there was no serious doubt about the outcome. 5. Significantly, no one complained about the one striking omission in the Bill of Rights: the right to vote. Only much later was voting seen as a fundamental liberty requiring protection by constitutional amendment. C. The Republican Wife and Mother 1. Women's exclusion from political activity did not mean they had no civic role or responsibility. 2. Essayists of the 1790s promoted the idea that chaste, virtuous women could promote good morals more than any social institution could. 3. Republican ideals also cast motherhood in a new light by stressing significant maternal influence on the future male citizenry; advocates for female education, still a controversial proposition, argued that education produced better mothers, who in turn would produce better citizens. 4. Although women's obligations as wives and mothers were now infused with political meaning, traditional gender roles remained unaltered.
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II. Hamilton's Economic Policies A. Agriculture, Transportation, and Banking 1. Dramatic increases in the international price of grain in the 1790s motivated American farmers to boost agricultural production for the export trade, which, in turn, generated new jobs for millers, coopers, dockworkers, and ship- and wagon-builders.
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