America in the 1850s


What was life in the United States like in 1850?

A decade prior to the Civil War, the nation looked much as it had throughout the nineteenth century: a land of sprawling landscape, increasing population, and vast opportunity. Of course the opportunities were more evident if a person was white, male, and Protestant.

In 1850, the majority of white Americans considered themselves especially blessed by Providence. They knew that their nation was more peaceful and prosperous than many. The average white American could end up, at the end of his or her lifetime, with a great deal of land, the most commonly agreed-upon measure of wealth. Of course there were hazards on the way to that status. Many Americans died early deaths from cholera, typhus, smallpox, and yellow fever, but the same could be said of people in other nations. When they compared their lot to that of their neighbors, Americans were especially confident that they lived in the best of all possible worlds. Very few Americans envied the Mexicans to the south, or the British-Canadians to the north.


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Civil War Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App