The creation of the modern United States was characterized by political and cultural enlightenment as views of societal progress, and common humanity permeated the land. The new political era that started with Jefferson’s presidency defined the American union as the strengthening of voluntary bonds of citizens to each other and to the government. The acceptance of non-white races as citizens and the inclusion of ordinary citizens in government marked the birth of a new American nation. The election of a non-elite individual as president and the creation of the Progressive movement are events that dictated America’s ability to embrace modernity and become one of the world’s most powerful nations.
Jefferson’s election as president of the U.S. indicated the end of the past and the beginning of a new age. His election in 1800 signaled the end of political hierarchies as the non-elite white population assumed control of government (Locke & Wright, 2021). The elite had demonstrated open disdain for allowing common citizens to make important political and legislative decisions. They believed that pure democracy would lead to disaster. For instance, Fisher Ames, who was a renowned Massachusetts Federalist, posited that democracy was a danger to America in view of the fact that it was dependent on public opinion, which was highly unstable (Locke & Wright, 2021). Jefferson was keen to prove that a government that answered directly to the people would herald an ear of permanent national unity rather than division. The new president was focused on showing how free people were capable of governing themselves democratically.
Jefferson’s presidency sharply contrasted the past view, which supported extensive state power and the public’s unconditional surrender to the aristocratic elites’ rule. In essence, Jefferson’s presidency was the origin of contemporary American beliefs, which highlight how the nation draws energy and strength from the confidence of lucid and sensible people. It is vital to note during Jefferson’s presidency, women started taking up active roles in political conversations (Locke & Wright, 2021). For instance, Mercy Otis Warren made significant contributions to the public ratification of the Constitution in 1787 (Locke & Wright, 2021). The view that citizenship was defined by masculinity, wealth, and whiteness changed as the country embraced its women, people of color, and non-elite individuals.
The Progressive Movement
The challenges that plagued the United States in the nineteenth century facilitated the growth and development of the progressive movement. The period between 1890 and 1930 is believed to be the time modern America emerged (Locke & Wright, 2021). The movement featured a group of individuals with varied and sometimes conflicting ideas. However, they were determined to address challenges arising as a result of industrialization, rapid immigration, urbanization, and corruption. This period also marked the start of America’s interest in foreign politics and business. One such event is its interest in the Spanish-American War towards the end of the nineteenth century and its collaboration with the Allied forces in the First World War in 1917 (Locke & Wright, 2021). The increased political activity gave rise to the prosperity the nation experienced in the 1920s (Locke & Wright, 2021). However, social tensions were commonplace as women and racial minorities struggled for opportunities.
The election of a non-elite individual as president was a significant milestone in American history. He united the nation despite the presence of divergent views and emphasized the role of the people in governance. The inclusion of women and non-elite individuals in government marked the end of the old ways and the beginning of a new political era. The development of the progressive movement marked the birth of modern America as solutions for challenges occasioned by rapid immigration, industrialization, and urbanization took center stage.
Locke, J. L. & Wright, B. (Eds.). (2021). The American yawp: A massively collaborative open U. S. history textbook, vol. 1. Stanford University Press.