Across the Fruited Plain

America in 1846 was a nation of some twenty million people, one sixth of them held in bondage as slaves. Iowa, the twenty-ninth state, admitted to the union in December, brought the total of free states to fourteen.

Plantations and farms still predominated, but the fast pace of growth was transforming the landscape. The surge of cities, the stirring of industry, and the rush of transportation and communication marked the times. There was no holding back America in 1846.

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