The beginnings of nationhood were likely to be tough. Freedom also brought social and economic changes, reformist enthusiasm, religious fever, and cultural creativity. ‘1789–1850: The promise and perils of nationhood’ looks at the struggles and triumphs in politics, economics, society, and culture in the new America as it formed its identity over the sixty years following independence. Secure in their independence, Americans exuded confidence as the nineteenth century advanced. In 1850, the U.S. white population had increased five fold since 1790. Population growth, geographic expansion, and a growing transportation infrastructure fueled economic development. However, below the creativity and energy of this nation of freedom and equality lay the reality of slavery.