1825 to 1860
Challenge of a New Century
The decades following the presidency of Virginian James Monroe (1817–1825) saw populations shift, the economy expand, and attitudes about slavery harden. More and more families migrated from the soil-depleted Tidewater and Piedmont, while new and diverse peoples in the Shenandoah Valley prospered. The beginnings of the Industrial Revolution encouraged the growth of industry, urban centers, and “internal improvements” (transportation by road, rail, and canal). Those “improvements”––funded by taxes––became a subject of political debate. Slavery was as vehemently attacked by abolitionists as it was defended by proponents.