(Second in a series)

It’s important to remember that in 1800, the United States was still a young, growing country. Transportation consisted mainly of horse (riding, wagons, and carriages) and sail.


In rural areas, grades 1 through 8 were often taught in one-room schoolhouses. These were centralized so children could walk to school. Some of these walks were four to five miles long.

All grades were taught by a single teacher, who could be as young as 16. Older students would help with younger students. Often the teacher would live with the family of a student.

Writing utensils generally consisted of chalk and slate. The blackboard was often simply a slab of wood painted black.

The school year revolved around harvesting time. Often classes were held from 9:00 am (so morning chores could be done) until 2:00 or 4:00 pm, with an hour for lunch (which students brought from home).

Discipline was all at the discretion of the teacher. Punishments could include detention, suspension, or expulsion; a whack across the knuckles or back of the legs with a ruler or pointer; having to wear a “dunce cap;” or repetition of “I will not …” sentences written on the blackboard.

Westward Expansion

Thomas Jefferson, our third President, had a dream to find a way of crossing the country from the Atlantic to the Pacific, preferably by water. We still hadn’t acquired all the land between the two oceans.

Indiana Territory. Image from Wikimedia Commons: CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1229467
Mississippi Territory.

We had the Northwest Territory (acquired in 1787), the Indiana Territory (acquired in 1800), and the Mississippi Territory (1798/1804).

The Industrial Revolution Begins

The Boston Manufacturing Company, an early American factory.

(Source: http://www.ushistory.org/us/25.asp)

Yet, the Industrial Revolution would not have been possible without one further ingredient — people. Canals and railways needed thousands of people to build them. Business schemes required people to execute them. The number of projects and businesses under development was enormous. The demand for labor was satisfied, in part, by millions of immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and elsewhere. As is often the case when there is a mass immigration, there was a great deal of resistance. Old and new political parties took strong positions on the rights of immigrants. Ultimately these positions hardened, leading to major political changes in America.

The Second US Census

The second Federal Census was taken in 1800. For the first time, the District of Columbia (Washington, DC) was included. The US Government did not supply uniform printed schedules, so recorded information varies. Original census data from Georgia, Kentucky, New Jersey, Tennessee, and Virginia have been lost.

There were 5,3308,483 people in the United States, of whom 893,602 were slaves.

An example of an 1800 US Census form.

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