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Abstract (Lang: English):
The economic boom following the War of 1812 facilitated rapid settlement westward but the Panic of 1819 exposed the fragility of expansion built upon government credit. American settlers forced by debt to relinquish hundreds of thousands of acres back to the federal government flooded Washington with petitions for relief. The rhetoric of those petitions and the speeches of politicians reveal a people developing a western sectional identity even as they forged ties of dependency on the federal government.