The Year Was 1820

1820 Map of the United States, from Historical Map CollectionThe year was 1820 and in the U.S. James Monroe was president. He would be re-elected later that year, winning 231 electoral votes, to James Quincy Adams one electoral vote.

The country was growing; the previous year, Missouri Territory had sought to become a state. With eleven free states and eleven slave states, the prospect drew heated debate. The Missouri Compromise was reached and as part of the agreement, Maine, previously part of Massachusetts would become the 23rd state on 15 March 1820, and Missouri would be admitted as a slave state (21 August 1821), thereby maintaining the balance. In addition a line was drawn through the Louisiana Territory which would make future states north of the line in that territory free states, and future states in the territory south of the line, slave states.

As evidenced by the need for a balance of free and slave states, abolition was already a hot-button issue. In New York, eighty-six free black emigrants set sail from New York City on the ship “Elizabeth” to Freetown in the British colony of Sierra Leone. The British had abolished the slave trade in 1807.

With the ascension of George IV to the British throne in 1820, the period known as the English Regency came to an end. During the period between 1811-1820 Prince George IV ruled as regent through his father’s period of mental illness. It was the romantic period of Byron, Shelley, and Jane Austen.

1820 was a time of unrest in Scotland. That year laborers struck and violence broke out in what is often referred to as the Radical War. An economic depression, crowded urban conditions, and soldiers returning from the Napoleonic wars to unemployment set the stage for demonstrations and turmoil that would last for several years.

For more insights into 1820, see the following websites:

Women in America, 1820-42
United States Free/Slave Soil Map, 1820

Click on the map above to enlarge it. For a printer-friendly version of this article, click here.

4 thoughts on “The Year Was 1820

  1. I really enjoy the “year it was” articles.

    Couldn’t get my computer to print the area I wanted. (1).Michigan Territory

  2. You should have warned people that when you pull up the Free/Slave Soil map that there is gunfire (if you have your sound on). I darn near had a heart attack it startled me so bad.

  3. I just went on the Free/Slave Soil Map website and heard the guns. I’m glad you warned us Pam! I would have thought the computer was blowing up!

  4. Not James Quincy Adams, but John Quincy Adams. I’m surprised no one else commented on this mistake.

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