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1817 Era of Good Feeling - History

1817 Era of Good Feeling - History

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The phrase "Era of Good Feeling," first appearing in the Boston "Columbian Centennial," took root during Monroe's tour of New England. This marked the first time since Washington and the last time in American history that the President had the support of the entire country.


The idea of the Era of Good Feeling originated from the deepest political desires of the time. Political theorists believed that parties were bad for democracy and the framers of the Constitution had hoped that there would not be any political parties. The era came about not as result of the achievement of the goal but rather the failure of the Federalist Party and its near disintegration. It was Madison's hope that the one party rule that he enjoyed would evolve into true non-partisanship. That was not to be. The collapse of the Federalist Party resulted in people with diverse political views joining the Republican Party. Within a short period of time the party had lost its cohesion, and instead of partisanship politics, devolved into a period of factionalism.


1817 Era of Good Feeling - History

The U.S. presidential election of 1816 resulted in an easy win for James Monroe and ushered in the “Era of Good Feelings.”

Learning Objectives

Assess the domestic and foreign legacies of the Monroe presidency

Key Takeaways

Key Points

  • James Monroe, former secretary of state under President James Madison, won the presidential election of 1816 against very weak opposition.
  • Monroe’s presidency ushered in what is known as the “Era of Good Feelings,” a time marked by a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans in the aftermath of the War of 1812.
  • Domestic political and economic troubles—such as the question of the balance of free versus slave states and the Panic of 1819 —provided challenges for Monroe’s administration, but he remained popular regardless.
  • Monroe sparked a constitutional controversy in 1817 when he ordered the attack of the Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida, sparking the First Seminole War. Relations with Spain over the purchase of Spanish Florida also proved to be troublesome.
  • Monroe’s administration is probably most well known for his Monroe Doctrine, which warned that the nation would not tolerate Europe interfering in affairs in the Western Hemisphere.

Key Terms

  • The Virginia dynasty: A term sometimes used to describe the fact that four of the first five presidents of the United States were from the same state.
  • Era of Good Feelings: A period in the political history of the United States during President Monroe’s administration that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans in the aftermath of the War of 1812.
  • Panic of 1819: The first major financial crisis in the United States, which occurred during the political calm of the “Era of Good Feelings.”

The Election of 1816

The U.S. presidential election of 1816 came at the end of the two-term presidency of Democratic-Republican, James Madison. With the Federalist Party in collapse, Madison’s secretary of state, James Monroe of Virginia, had an advantage in winning the presidency against very weak opposition. Monroe won the electoral college by the wide margin of 183 to 34.

Monroe was the favorite candidate of both former President Jefferson and retiring President Madison. However, Monroe initially faced stiff competition from Secretary of War William H. Crawford of Georgia. There was also widespread sentiment, especially in New York, that it was time to end the dynasty of Virginian presidents (both Jefferson and Madison also had been from Virginia). Monroe’s long service at home and abroad, however, made him a fitting candidate to succeed Madison. Crawford never formally declared himself a candidate because he believed he had little chance against Monroe and feared such a contest might deny him a place in the new cabinet. Still, Crawford’s supporters posed a significant challenge during the election.


Era of Good Feelings

Following the War of 1812, a strong nationalist sentiment and sense of unity spread throughout the still young country. By this time the Federalist party of Alexander Hamilton and George Washington was all but abandoned and Jefferson’s Democratic Republicans were the dominant single political party in the country. Though inner party conflicts still existed, this single party rule and political unity became known as the Era of Good Feelings and lasted from roughly 1815-1825 and with its end, came the closing of the Virginia Dynasty of Presidents (Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe).

This feel good era came to a close after the election of 1824 between John Q. Adams and Andrew Jackson. This heated political contest ended with no clear Electoral College winner and according to the 12 th Amendment required a House of Representatives vote and a corrupt bargain to decide the winner.

However, there were clear social, economic, and political trends that permeated throughout the country during the Era of Good Feelings.

  • A strong sense of national purpose and unity following the defeat of the British in the War of 1812.
  • The embrace of Henry Clay’s American System that was designed to promote national internal improvements (roads/canals) and economic prosperity (Bank of U.S/protective tariffs).
  • President James Monroe’s (1817-1825) efforts to unite the country by dissolving political factions and unify under a single political party, which he was able to do for a short time as he was the last American President to effectively run unopposed in the Presidential election of 1820.

Contents

Founding, 1789–1796 Edit

In the 1788–89 presidential election, the first such election following the ratification of the United States Constitution in 1788, George Washington won the votes of every member of the Electoral College. [10] His unanimous victory in part reflected the fact that no formal political parties had formed at the national level in the United States prior to 1789, though the country had been broadly polarized between the Federalists, who supported ratification of the Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification. [11] Washington selected Thomas Jefferson as Secretary of State and Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, [12] and he relied on James Madison as a key adviser and ally in Congress. [13]

Hamilton implemented an expansive economic program, establishing the First Bank of the United States, [14] and convincing Congress to assume the debts of state governments. [15] Hamilton pursued his programs in the belief that they would foster a prosperous and stable country. [16] His policies engendered an opposition, chiefly concentrated in the Southern United States, that objected to Hamilton's anglophilia and accused him of unduly favoring well-connected wealthy Northern merchants and speculators. Madison emerged as the leader of the congressional opposition while Jefferson, who declined to publicly criticize Hamilton while both served in Washington's Cabinet, worked behind the scenes to stymie Hamilton's programs. [17] Jefferson and Madison established the National Gazette, a newspaper which recast national politics not as a battle between Federalists and Anti-Federalists, but as a debate between aristocrats and republicans. [18] In the 1792 election, Washington effectively ran unopposed for president, but Jefferson and Madison backed New York Governor George Clinton's unsuccessful attempt to unseat Vice President John Adams. [19]

Political leaders on both sides were reluctant to label their respective faction as a political party, but distinct and consistent voting blocs emerged in Congress by the end of 1793. Ultimately, Jefferson's followers became known as the Republicans (or the Democratic-Republicans) [20] and Hamilton's followers became known as the Federalists. [21] While economic policies were the original motivating factor in the growing partisan split, foreign policy also became a factor as Hamilton's followers soured on the French Revolution and Jefferson's allies continued to favor it. [22] In 1793, after Britain entered the French Revolutionary Wars, several Democratic-Republican Societies were formed in opposition to Hamilton's economic policies and in support of France. [23] Partisan tensions escalated as a result of the Whiskey Rebellion and Washington's subsequent denunciation of the Democratic-Republican Societies, a group of local political societies that favored democracy and generally supported the Democratic-Republican Party. [24] The ratification of the Jay Treaty further inflamed partisan warfare, resulting in a hardening of the divisions between the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. [23]

By 1795–96, election campaigns—federal, state and local—were waged primarily along partisan lines between the two national parties, although local issues continued to affect elections, and party affiliations remained in flux. [25] As Washington declined to seek a third term, the 1796 presidential election became the first contested president election. Having retired from Washington's Cabinet in 1793, Jefferson had left the leadership of the Democratic-Republicans in Madison's hands. Nonetheless, the Democratic-Republican congressional nominating caucus chose Jefferson as the party's presidential nominee on the belief that he would be the party's strongest candidate the caucus chose Senator Aaron Burr of New York as Jefferson's running mate. [26] Meanwhile, an informal caucus of Federalist leaders nominated a ticket of John Adams and Thomas Pinckney. [27] Though the candidates themselves largely stayed out of the fray, supporters of the candidates waged an active campaign Federalists attacked Jefferson as a francophile and atheist, while the Democratic-Republicans accused Adams of being an anglophile and a monarchist. [28] Ultimately, Adams won the presidency by a narrow margin, garnering 71 electoral votes to 68 for Jefferson, who became the vice president. [27] [b]

Adams and the Revolution of 1800 Edit

Shortly after Adams took office, he dispatched a group of envoys to seek peaceful relations with France, which had begun attacking American shipping after the ratification of the Jay Treaty. The failure of talks, and the French demand for bribes in what became known as the XYZ Affair, outraged the American public and led to the Quasi-War, an undeclared naval war between France and the United States. The Federalist-controlled Congress passed measures to expand the army and navy and also pushed through the Alien and Sedition Acts. The Alien and Sedition Acts restricted speech that was critical of the government, while also implementing stricter naturalization requirements. [30] Numerous journalists and other individuals aligned with the Democratic-Republicans were prosecuted under the Sedition Act, sparking a backlash against the Federalists. [31] Meanwhile, Jefferson and Madison drafted the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, which held that state legislatures could determine the constitutionality of federal laws. [32]

In the 1800 presidential election, the Democratic-Republicans once again nominated a ticket of Jefferson and Burr. Shortly after a Federalist caucus re-nominated President Adams on a ticket with Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Adams dismissed two Hamilton allies from his Cabinet, leading to an open break between the two key figures in the Federalist Party. [33] Though the Federalist Party united against Jefferson's candidacy and waged an effective campaign in many states, the Democratic-Republicans won the election by winning most Southern electoral votes and carrying the crucial state of New York. [34] A significant element in the party's success in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other east-coast cities were United Irish exiles, and other Irish immigrants, whom the Federalists regarded with distinct suspicion. [35] [36]

Jefferson and Burr both finished with 73 electoral votes, more than Adams or Pinckney, necessitating a contingent election between Jefferson and Burr in the House of Representatives. [b] Burr declined to take his name out of consideration, and the House deadlocked as most Democratic-Republican congressmen voted for Jefferson and most Federalists voted for Burr. Preferring Jefferson to Burr, Hamilton helped engineer Jefferson's election on the 36th ballot of the contingent election. [37] Jefferson would later describe the 1800 election, which also saw Democratic-Republicans gain control of Congress, as the "Revolution of 1800", writing that it was "as real of a revolution in the principles of our government as that of [1776] was in its form." [38] In the final months of his presidency, Adams reached an agreement with France to end the Quasi-War [39] and appointed several Federalist judges, including Chief Justice John Marshall. [40]

Jefferson's presidency, 1801–1809 Edit

Despite the intensity of the 1800 election, the transition of power from the Federalists to the Democratic-Republicans was peaceful. [41] In his inaugural address, Jefferson indicated that he would seek to reverse many Federalist policies, but he also emphasized reconciliation, noting that "every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle". [42] He appointed a geographically balanced and ideologically moderate Cabinet that included Madison as Secretary of State and Albert Gallatin as Secretary of the Treasury Federalists were excluded from the Cabinet, but Jefferson appointed some prominent Federalists and allowed many other Federalists to keep their positions. [43] Gallatin persuaded Jefferson to retain the First Bank of the United States, a major part of the Hamiltonian program, but other Federalist policies were scrapped. [44] Jefferson and his Democratic-Republican allies eliminated the whiskey excise and other taxes, [45] shrank the army and the navy, [46] repealed the Alien and Sedition Acts, and pardoned all ten individuals who had been prosecuted under the acts. [47]

With the repeal of Federalist laws and programs, many Americans had little contact with the federal government in their daily lives, with the exception of the postal service. [48] Partly as a result of these spending cuts, Jefferson lowered the national debt from $83 million to $57 million between 1801 and 1809. [49] Though he was largely able to reverse Federalist policies, Federalists retained a bastion of power on the Supreme Court Marshall Court rulings continued to reflect Federalist ideals until Chief Justice Marshall's death in the 1830s. [50] In the Supreme Court case of Marbury v. Madison, the Marshall Court established the power of judicial review, through which the judicial branch had the final word on the constitutionality of federal laws. [51]

By the time Jefferson took office, Americans had settled as far west as the Mississippi River. [52] Many in the United States, particularly those in the west, favored further territorial expansion, and especially hoped to annex the Spanish province of Louisiana. [53] In early 1803, Jefferson dispatched James Monroe to France to join ambassador Robert Livingston on a diplomatic mission to purchase New Orleans. [54] To the surprise of the American delegation, Napoleon offered to sell the entire territory of Louisiana for $15 million. [55] After Secretary of State James Madison gave his assurances that the purchase was well within even the strictest interpretation of the Constitution, the Senate quickly ratified the treaty, and the House immediately authorized funding. [56] The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States, and Treasury Secretary Gallatin was forced to borrow from foreign banks to finance the payment to France. [57] Though the Louisiana Purchase was widely popular, some Federalists criticized it Congressman Fisher Ames argued that "We are to spend money of which we have too little for land of which we already have too much." [58]

By 1804, Vice President Burr had thoroughly alienated Jefferson, and the Democratic-Republican presidential nominating caucus chose George Clinton as Jefferson's running mate for the 1804 presidential election. That same year, Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel after taking offense to a comment allegedly made by Hamilton Hamilton died in the subsequent duel. Bolstered by a superior party organization, Jefferson won the 1804 election in a landslide over Federalist candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. [59] In 1807, as the Napoleonic Wars continued, the British announced the Orders in Council, which called for a blockade on the French Empire. [60] In response to subsequent British and French attacks on American shipping, the Jefferson administration passed the Embargo Act of 1807, which cut off trade with Europe. [61] The embargo proved unpopular and difficult to enforce, especially in Federalist-leaning New England, and expired at the end of Jefferson's second term. [62] Jefferson declined to seek a third term in the 1808 presidential election, but helped Madison triumph over George Clinton and James Monroe at the party's congressional nominating caucus. Madison won the general election in a landslide over Pinckney. [63]

Madison's presidency, 1809–1817 Edit

As attacks on American shipping continued after Madison took office, both Madison and the broader American public moved towards war. [64] Popular anger towards Britain led to the election of a new generation of Democratic-Republican leaders, including Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, who championed high tariffs, federally funded internal improvements, and a belligerent attitude towards Britain. [65] On June 1, 1812, Madison asked Congress for a declaration of war. [66] The declaration was passed largely along sectional and party lines, with intense opposition coming from the Federalists and some other congressmen from the Northeast. [67] For many who favored war, national honor was at stake John Quincy Adams wrote that the only alternative to war was "the abandonment of our right as an independent nation." [68] George Clinton's nephew, DeWitt Clinton, challenged Madison in the 1812 presidential election. Though Clinton assembled a formidable coalition of Federalists and anti-Madison Democratic-Republicans, Madison won a close election. [69]

Madison initially hoped for a quick end to the War of 1812, but the war got off to a disastrous start. [70] The United States had more military success in 1813, and a force under William Henry Harrison crushed Native American and British resistance in the Old Northwest with a victory in the Battle of the Thames. The British shifted soldiers to North America in 1814 following the abdication of Napoleon, and a British detachment burned Washington in August 1814. [71] In early 1815, Madison learned that his negotiators in Europe had reached the Treaty of Ghent, ending the war without major concessions by either side. [72] Though it had no effect on the treaty, General Andrew Jackson's victory in the January 1815 Battle of New Orleans ended the war on a triumphant note. [73] Napoleon's defeat at the June 1815 Battle of Waterloo brought a final end to the Napoleonic Wars and attacks on American shipping. [74] With Americans celebrating a successful "second war of independence" from Britain, the Federalist Party slid towards national irrelevance. [75] The subsequent period of virtually one-party rule by the Democratic-Republican Party is known as the "Era of Good Feelings." [ citation needed ]

In his first term, Madison and his allies had largely hewed to Jefferson's domestic agenda of low taxes and a reduction of the national debt, and Congress allowed the national bank's charter to expire during Madison's first term. [76] The challenges of the War of 1812 led many Democratic-Republicans to reconsider the role of the federal government. [77] When the 14th Congress convened in December 1815, Madison proposed the re-establishment of the national bank, increased spending on the army and the navy, and a tariff designed to protect American goods from foreign competition. Madison's proposals were strongly criticized by strict constructionists like John Randolph, who argued that Madison's program "out-Hamiltons Alexander Hamilton." [78] Responding to Madison's proposals, the 14th Congress compiled one of the most productive legislative records up to that point in history, enacting the Tariff of 1816 and establishing the Second Bank of the United States. [79] At the party's 1816 congressional nominating caucus, Secretary of State James Monroe defeated Secretary of War William H. Crawford in a 65-to-54 vote. [80] The Federalists offered little opposition in the 1816 presidential election and Monroe won in a landslide election. [81]

Era of Good Feelings, 1817–1825 Edit

Monroe believed that the existence of political parties was harmful to the United States, [82] and he sought to usher in the end of the Federalist Party by avoiding divisive policies and welcoming ex-Federalists into the fold. [83] Monroe favored infrastructure projects to promote economic development and, despite some constitutional concerns, signed bills providing federal funding for the National Road and other projects. [84] Partly due to the mismanagement of national bank president William Jones, the country experienced a prolonged economic recession known as the Panic of 1819. [85] The panic engendered a widespread resentment of the national bank and a distrust of paper money that would influence national politics long after the recession ended. [86] Despite the ongoing economic troubles, the Federalists failed to field a serious challenger to Monroe in the 1820 presidential election, and Monroe won re-election essentially unopposed. [87]

During the proceedings over the admission of Missouri Territory as a state, Congressman James Tallmadge, Jr. of New York "tossed a bombshell into the Era of Good Feelings" by proposing amendments providing for the eventual exclusion of slavery from Missouri. [88] The amendments sparked the first major national slavery debate since the ratification of the Constitution, [89] and instantly exposed the sectional polarization over the issue of slavery. [90] Northern Democratic-Republicans formed a coalition across partisan lines with the remnants of the Federalist Party in support of the amendments, while Southern Democratic-Republicans were almost unanimously against such the restrictions. [91] In February 1820, Congressman Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois proposed a compromise, in which Missouri would be admitted as a slave state, but slavery would be excluded in the remaining territories north of the parallel 36°30′ north. [92] A bill based on Thomas's proposal became law in April 1820. [93]

By 1824, the Federalist Party had largely collapsed as a national party, and the 1824 presidential election was waged by competing members of the Democratic-Republican Party. [94] The party's congressional nominating caucus was largely ignored, and candidates were instead nominated by state legislatures. [95] Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, former Speaker of the House Henry Clay, Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford, and General Andrew Jackson emerged as the major candidates in the election. [96] The regional strength of each candidate played an important role in the election Adams was popular in New England, Clay and Jackson were strong in the West, and Jackson and Crawford competed for the South. [96]

As no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote in the 1824 election, the House of Representatives held a contingent election to determine the president. [97] Clay personally disliked Adams but nonetheless supported him in the contingent election over Crawford, who opposed Clay's nationalist policies, and Jackson, whom Clay viewed as a potential tyrant. [c] With Clay's backing, Adams won the contingent election. [98] After Clay accepted appointment as Secretary of State, Jackson's supporters claimed that Adams and Clay had reached a "Corrupt Bargain" in which Adams promised Clay the appointment in return for Clay's support in the contingent election. [97] Jackson, who was deeply angered by the result of the contingent election, returned to Tennessee, where the state legislature quickly nominated him for president in the 1828 election. [99]

Final years, 1825–1829 Edit

Adams shared Monroe's goal of ending partisan conflict, and his Cabinet included individuals of various ideological and regional backgrounds. [100] In his 1825 annual message to Congress, Adams presented a comprehensive and ambitious agenda, calling for major investments in internal improvements as well as the creation of a national university, a naval academy, and a national astronomical observatory. [101] His requests to Congress galvanized the opposition, spurring the creation of an anti-Adams congressional coalition consisting of supporters of Jackson, Crawford, and Vice President Calhoun. [102] Following the 1826 elections, Calhoun and Martin Van Buren (who brought along many of Crawford's supporters) agreed to throw their support behind Jackson in the 1828 election. [103] In the press, the two major political factions were referred to as "Adams Men" and "Jackson Men". [104]

The Jacksonians formed an effective party apparatus that adopted many modern campaign techniques and emphasized Jackson's popularity and the supposed corruption of Adams and the federal government. [105] Though Jackson did not articulate a detailed political platform in the same way that Adams did, his coalition was united in opposition to Adams's reliance on government planning and tended to favor the opening of Native American lands to white settlement. [106] Ultimately, Jackson won 178 of the 261 electoral votes and just under 56 percent of the popular vote. [107] Jackson won 50.3 percent of the popular vote in the free states and 72.6 percent of the vote in the slave states. [108] The election marked the permanent end of the Era of Good Feelings and the start of the Second Party System. The dream of non-partisan politics, shared by Monroe, Adams, and many earlier leaders, was shattered, replaced with Van Buren's ideal of partisan battles between legitimated political parties. [109]

In the 1790s, political parties were new in the United States and people were not accustomed to having formal names for them. There was no single official name for the Democratic-Republican Party, but party members generally called themselves Republicans and voted for what they called the "Republican party", "republican ticket" or "republican interest". [110] [111] Jefferson and Madison often used the terms "republican" and "Republican party" in their letters. [112] As a general term (not a party name), the word republican had been in widespread usage from the 1770s to describe the type of government the break-away colonies wanted to form: a republic of three separate branches of government derived from some principles and structure from ancient republics especially the emphasis on civic duty and the opposition to corruption, elitism, aristocracy and monarchy. [113]

The term "Democratic-Republican" was used by contemporaries only occasionally, [20] but is used by some modern sources. [114] Some present-day sources describe the party as the "Jeffersonian Republicans". [115] [116] Other sources have labeled the party as the "Democratic Party", [117] [118] [119] though that term was sometimes used pejoratively by Federalist opponents. [120] [121] Some argue that the party is not to be confused with the present-day Democratic Party, however, a direct historical political lineage between them is often affirmed by some historians, political scientists, commentators, and by modern Democrats, reinforcing both names' continued and occasionally interchangeable use. [122] [123] [124]

The Democratic-Republican Party saw itself as a champion of republicanism and denounced the Federalists as supporters of monarchy and aristocracy. [125] [ page needed ] Ralph Brown writes that the party was marked by a "commitment to broad principles of personal liberty, social mobility, and westward expansion." [126] Political scientist James A. Reichley writes that "the issue that most sharply divided the Jeffersonians from the Federalists was not states rights, nor the national debt, nor the national Bank. but the question of social equality." [127] In a world in which few believed in democracy or egalitarianism, Jefferson's belief in political equality for white men stood out from many of the other Founding Fathers of the United States, who held that the rich and powerful should lead society. Jefferson advocated a philosophy that historians would later call Jeffersonian democracy, which was marked by his belief in agrarianism and strict limits on the national government. [128] Influenced by the Jeffersonian belief in equality, by 1824 all but three states had removed property-owning requirements for voting. [129]

Though open to some redistributive measures, Jefferson saw a strong centralized government as a threat to freedom. [130] Thus, the Democratic-Republicans opposed Federalist efforts to build a strong, centralized state, and resisted the establishment of a national bank, the build-up of the army and the navy, and passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts. [131] Jefferson was especially averse to a national debt, which he believed to be inherently dangerous and immoral. [132] After the party took power in 1800, Jefferson became increasingly concerned about foreign intervention and more open to programs of economic development conducted by the federal government. In an effort to promote economic growth and the development of a diversified economy, Jefferson's Democratic-Republican successors would oversee the construction of numerous federally funded infrastructure projects and implement protective tariffs. [133]

While economic policies were the original catalyst to the partisan split between the Democratic-Republicans and the Federalists, foreign policy was also a major factor that divided the parties. Most Americans supported the French Revolution prior to the Execution of Louis XVI in 1793, but Federalists began to fear the radical egalitarianism of the revolution as it became increasingly violent. [22] Jefferson and other Democratic-Republicans defended the French Revolution. [134] until Napoleon ascended to power between 1797 and 1803. [55] Democratic-Republican foreign policy was marked by support for expansionism, as Jefferson championed the concept of an "Empire of Liberty" that centered on the acquisition and settlement of western territories. [135] Under Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe, the United States completed the Louisiana Purchase, acquired Spanish Florida, and reached a treaty with Britain providing for shared sovereignty over Oregon Country. [ citation needed ] In 1823, the Monroe administration promulgated the Monroe Doctrine, which reiterated the traditional U.S. policy of neutrality with regard to European wars and conflicts, but declared that the United States would not accept the recolonization of any country by its former European master. [136]

Slavery Edit

From the foundation of the party, slavery divided the Democratic-Republicans. Many Southern Democratic-Republicans, especially from the Deep South, defended the institution. Jefferson and many other Democratic-Republicans from Virginia held an ambivalent view on slavery Jefferson believed it was an immoral institution, but he opposed the immediate emancipation of all slaves on economic grounds. [137] Meanwhile, Northern Democratic-Republicans often took stronger anti-slavery positions than their Federalist counterparts, supporting measures like the abolition of slavery in Washington. In 1807, with President Jefferson's support, Congress outlawed the international slave trade, doing so at the earliest possible date allowed by the Constitution. [138]

After the War of 1812, Southerners increasingly came to view slavery as a beneficial institution rather than an unfortunate economic necessity, further polarizing the party over the issue. [138] Anti-slavery Northern Democratic-Republicans held that slavery was incompatible with the equality and individual rights promised by the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They further held that slavery had been permitted under the Constitution only as a local and impermanent exception, and thus, slavery should not be allowed to spread outside of the original thirteen states. The anti-slavery positions developed by Northern Democratic-Republicans would influence later anti-slavery parties, including the Free Soil Party and the Republican Party. [139] Some Democratic-Republicans from the border states, including Henry Clay, continued to adhere to the Jeffersonian view of slavery as a necessary evil many of these leaders joined the American Colonization Society, which proposed the voluntary recolonization of Africa as part of a broader plan for the gradual emancipation of slaves. [140]

Madison and Jefferson formed the Democratic-Republican Party from a combination of former Anti-Federalists and supporters of the Constitution who were dissatisfied with the Washington administration's policies. [141] Nationwide, Democratic-Republicans were strongest in the South, and many of party's leaders were wealthy Southern slaveowners. The Democratic-Republicans also attracted middle class Northerners, such as artisans, farmers, and lower-level merchants, who were eager to challenge the power of the local elite. [142] Every state had a distinct political geography that shaped party membership in Pennsylvania, the Republicans were weakest around Philadelphia and strongest in Scots-Irish settlements in the west. [143] The Federalists had broad support in New England, but in other places they relied on wealthy merchants and landowners. [144] After 1800, the Federalists collapsed in the South and West, though the party remained competitive in New England and in some Mid-Atlantic states. [145]

Historian Sean Wilentz writes that, after assuming power in 1801, the Democratic-Republicans began to factionalize into three main groups: moderates, radicals, and Old Republicans. [146] The Old Republicans, led by John Randolph, were a loose group of influential Southern plantation owners who strongly favored states' rights and denounced any form of compromise with the Federalists. The radicals consisted of a wide array of individuals from different sections of the country who were characterized by their support for far-reaching political and economic reforms prominent radicals include William Duane and Michael Leib, who jointly led a powerful political machine in Philadelphia. The moderate faction consisted of many former supporters of the ratification of the Constitution, including James Madison, who were more accepting of Federalist economic programs and sought conciliation with moderate Federalists. [147]

After 1810, a younger group of nationalist Democratic-Republicans, led by Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun, rose to prominence. These nationalists favored federally funded internal improvements and high tariffs, positions that would form the basis for Clay's American System. [148] In addition to its base among the leaders of Clay and Calhoun's generation, nationalist policies also proved attractive to many older Democratic-Republicans, including James Monroe. [149] The Panic of 1819 sparked a backlash against nationalist policies, and many of those opposed to the nationalist policies rallied around William H. Crawford until he had a major stroke in 1823. [150] After the 1824 election, most of Crawford's followers, including Martin Van Buren, gravitated to Andrew Jackson, forming a major part of the coalition that propelled Jackson to victory in the 1828 election. [151]

The Democratic-Republican Party invented campaign and organizational techniques that were later adopted by the Federalists and became standard American practice. It was especially effective in building a network of newspapers in major cities to broadcast its statements and editorialize its policies. [152] Fisher Ames, a leading Federalist, used the term "Jacobin" to link members of Jefferson's party to the radicals of the French Revolution. He blamed the newspapers for electing Jefferson and wrote they were "an overmatch for any Government. The Jacobins owe their triumph to the unceasing use of this engine not so much to skill in use of it as by repetition". [153]

As one historian explained: "It was the good fortune of the Republicans to have within their ranks a number of highly gifted political manipulators and propagandists. Some of them had the ability. to not only see and analyze the problem at hand but to present it in a succinct fashion in short, to fabricate the apt phrase, to coin the compelling slogan and appeal to the electorate on any given issue in language it could understand". Outstanding propagandists included editor William Duane (1760–1835) and party leaders Albert Gallatin, Thomas Cooper and Jefferson himself. [154] Just as important was effective party organization of the sort that John J. Beckley pioneered. In 1796, he managed the Jefferson campaign in Pennsylvania, blanketing the state with agents who passed out 30,000 hand-written tickets, naming all 15 electors (printed tickets were not allowed). Beckley told one agent: "In a few days a select republican friend from the City will call upon you with a parcel of tickets to be distributed in your County. Any assistance and advice you can furnish him with, as to suitable districts & characters, will I am sure be rendered". Beckley was the first American professional campaign manager and his techniques were quickly adopted in other states. [155]

The emergence of the new organizational strategies can be seen in the politics of Connecticut around 1806, which have been well documented by Cunningham. The Federalists dominated Connecticut, so the Republicans had to work harder to win. In 1806, the state leadership sent town leaders instructions for the forthcoming elections. Every town manager was told by state leaders "to appoint a district manager in each district or section of his town, obtaining from each an assurance that he will faithfully do his duty". Then the town manager was instructed to compile lists and total the number of taxpayers and the number of eligible voters, find out how many favored the Republicans and how many the Federalists and to count the number of supporters of each party who were not eligible to vote but who might qualify (by age or taxes) at the next election. These highly detailed returns were to be sent to the county manager and in turn were compiled and sent to the state manager. Using these lists of potential voters, the managers were told to get all eligible people to town meetings and help the young men qualify to vote. The state manager was responsible for supplying party newspapers to each town for distribution by town and district managers. [156] This highly coordinated "get-out-the-vote" drive would be familiar to future political campaigners, but was the first of its kind in world history.

The coalition of Jacksonians, Calhounites, and Crawfordites built by Jackson and Van Buren would become the Democratic Party, which dominated presidential politics in the decades prior to the Civil War. Supporters of Adams and Clay would form the main opposition to Jackson as the National Republican Party. The National Republicans in turn eventually formed part of the Whig Party, which was the second major party in the United States between the 1830s and the early 1850s. [109] The diverse and changing nature of the Democratic-Republican Party allowed both major parties to claim that they stood for Jeffersonian principles. [157] Historian Daniel Walker Howe writes that Democrats traced their heritage to he "Old Republicanism of Macon and Crawford", while the Whigs looked to "the new Republican nationalism of Madison and Gallatin." [158]

The Whig Party fell apart in the 1850s due to divisions over the expansion of slavery into new territories. The modern Republican Party was formed in 1854 to oppose the expansion of slavery, and many former Whig Party leaders joined the newly formed anti-slavery party. [159] The Republican Party sought to combine Jefferson and Jackson's ideals of liberty and equality with Clay's program of using an active government to modernize the economy. [160] The Democratic-Republican Party inspired the name and ideology of the Republican Party, but is not directly connected to that party. [161] [162]

Fear of a large debt is a major legacy of the party. Andrew Jackson believed the national debt was a "national curse" and he took special pride in paying off the entire national debt in 1835. [163] Politicians ever since have used the issue of a high national debt to denounce the other party for profligacy and a threat to fiscal soundness and the nation's future. [164]

Presidential elections Edit

  1. ^ In his first presidential run, Jefferson did not win the presidency, and Burr did not win the vice presidency. However, under the pre-12th Amendment election rules, Jefferson won the vice presidency due to dissension among Federalist electors.
  2. ^ In their second presidential run, Jefferson and Burr received the same number of electoral votes. Jefferson was subsequently chosen as President by the House of Representatives.
  3. ^ While commonly labeled as the Federalist candidate, Clinton technically ran as a Democratic-Republican and was not nominated by the Federalist party itself, the latter simply deciding not to field a candidate. This did not prevent endorsements from state Federalist parties (such as in Pennsylvania), but he received the endorsement from the New York state Democratic-Republicans as well.
  4. ^William H. Crawford and Albert Gallatin were nominated for president and vice-president by a group of 66 Congressmen that called itself the "Democratic members of Congress". [165] Gallatin later withdrew from the contest. Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay ran as Republicans, although they were not nominated by any national body. While Jackson won a plurality in the electoral college and popular vote, he did not win the constitutionally required majority of electoral votes to be elected president. The contest was thrown to the House of Representatives, where Adams won with Clay's support. The electoral college chose John C. Calhoun for vice president.

Congressional representation Edit

The affiliation of many Congressmen in the earliest years is an assignment by later historians. The parties were slowly coalescing groups at first there were many independents. Cunningham noted that only about a quarter of the House of Representatives up until 1794 voted with Madison as much as two-thirds of the time and another quarter against him two-thirds of the time, leaving almost half as fairly independent. [166]


1817 Era of Good Feeling - History

James Monroe and the Era of Good Feelings
Copyright © 2012, Henry J. Sage

James Monroe. A recent biographer of James Monroe calls him the “first national security president.” Well known for his "Monroe Doctrine," crafted largely by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, President Monroe also oversaw the securing of treaties that stabilized America's borders at a time when this disposition of territory in North America was still unsettled. James Monroe was also the last president of the “Virginia Dynasty” and the last candidate to run for president unopposed. He received all electoral votes but one. (The other went to John Quincy Adams, for reasons more or less unknown.) At the time of Monroe's accession to the presidency, the world had changed dramatically because of the American and French Revolutions. After centuries of frequent warfare, the nations stepped back from confrontation as they contemplated the bloody past. The next century has been called the “hundred years' peace.” Perhaps an overstatement, it was nevertheless a time of comparative quiet in the international arena.

The Monroe Administration: Last of the “Virginia Dynasty”

In addition to being the last of the Virginia dynasty, President James Monroe was also the last veteran of the American Revolution to serve in the White House. In 1776 at the age of 18 James Monroe enlisted in the Third Virginia Regiment and served alongside John Marshall. Two years later he was commissioned as an officer in the Continental Army and participated in a number of battles under Washington’s command, including the attack on Trenton in December, 1776. By the end of the war he had risen to the rank of colonel.

As a member of the Confederation Congress from Virginia in the 1780s, delegate James Monroe was one of the leading proponents of the Northwest Ordinance passed in 1787. He also participated in the Virginia ratifying convention, and although he opposed Constitution for reasons similar to those of Patrick Henry and other fellow Virginians, he was elected senator from Virginia in 1790. Monroe subsequently served as minister to France under Presidents Washington and Jefferson and was instrumental in negotiating the Louisiana purchase with Napoleon’s government.

Monroe was appointed secretary of state by President James Madison in 1811, but because of his military background, he also served as secretary of war during the war of 1812. When the British marched on Washington in 1814, Secretary Monroe personally rode out to gauge the British advance and warned President Madison of the impending danger. His leadership in the War Department helped improve America’s military capability.

In 1816 James Monroe was elected president of the United States. Monroe’s own diplomatic experiences, combined with the skillful diplomacy of Monroe’s Secretary of State Richard Rush and later John Quincy Adams, led to important advances in American foreign relations during his two terms in the White House. The Rush-Bagot and Transcontinental treaties firmed up America’s borders and spread its domain to the Pacific Ocean. Despite many involving domestic issues that challenge to his leadership, President Monroe concentrated heavily on America’s security.

As mentioned in the previous section, the Federalist Party had hinted at secession from the Union and called the Hartford Convention to protest what it saw as unfair treatment of the New England states, who had vigorously opposed the War of 1812. The more or less successful conclusion of the conflict, however, had done the party in. Thus James Monroe became the first president to govern without organized opposition. Monroe was still part of the “Virginia dynasty,” however, and his policies did not go unscrutinized. Because some benefits did accrue to the United States from the war, the nation returned to concern with domestic matters, which soon enough began to divide the country along sectional, if not political, lines.

James Monroe, who succeeded his fellow Virginian James Madison as president, was Jefferson’s law student, of whom Jefferson remarked, if you turned Monroe’s soul inside out, it would be “spotless.” He was the last president to dress in the old colonial style. His distinguished cabinet included John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun and William Crawford, all three of whom became candidates for President.

Monroe’s First Inaugural Address showed that the Republicans had adopted many Federalist Nationalist principles—Monroe supported a standing Army, strong Navy, fortifications, and support for manufacturing. It was said at the time that “The Republicans have out-federalized federalism.” But Monroe was still an old Jeffersonian at heart—he vetoed certain bills on Constitutional grounds, the only grounds, it was believed at the time, on which presidents could legitimately veto actions of Congress. (That would change when Andrew Jackson, who had his own views of the Constitution and presidential power, entered the White House.)

Anglo-American Agreements. In the aftermath of the War of 1812, both Americans and Britons were fatigued from decades of struggle. Although America did not fight in the Napoleonic wars, lasting tensions over neutral rights, etc., had kept the country on edge. Thus both parties were disposed to try to secure peace for the future and entered into negotiations to achieve that end. A Commercial Convention of 1815 ended unfavorable trade practices by the British and allowed American access to various markets.

The Rush-Bagot Treaty. In 1817 many armaments (naval forces and forts) remained around the shores of the Great Lakes. Furthermore, Canadians were very apprehensive about American expansionist tendencies. British Minister Charles Bagot and American Secretary of State Richard Rush reached an agreement in 1817 designed to reduce tension along the Canadian boundary and avoid a naval arms race. (Minister Bagot in Washington flattered the Americans, calling Dolley Madison a “queen”.) The Rush-Bagot Treaty provided the basis for an unguarded boundary and demilitarization of the Great Lakes. Each side was allowed to keep one ship on Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario and two ships on the upper Great Lakes, one a revenue cutter. The agreement was ratified by the Senate as a formal treaty, and became a model of disarmament. It created the longest unguarded international boundary in the world.

In another follow up to the Treaty of Ghent, Albert Gallatin and Richard Rush in London signed an the Convention (Boundary Settlement) of 1818. It provided for the U.S.-Canadian boundary to be set along the 49 th Parallel to the Rocky Mountains and provided for joint occupation of the Oregon Territory from there to the Pacific Ocean. The agreement also established the northern Louisiana purchase border at the 49 th parallel. In addition, Americans received perpetual fishing rights off the coast of Canada forever, and a commission was established to adjust territorial disputes.

The Adams-Onis Treaty. In 1819 Secretary of State John Quincy Adams negotiated the Transcontinental Treaty with Spanish Minister in Washington Luis de Onis. The Adams-Onis Treaty fixed the southern boundary of Louisiana to the Pacific Ocean and ceded Florida to the U.S. Adams’s position was aided by Andrew Jackson’s unauthorized foray into Florida, which Spain had difficulty governing. In addition, Mexico was threatening to revolt for independence, and Spain saw much of her colonial empire in America crumbling. The U.S renounced its claims to Texas and agreed to assume $5 million in claims of Americans against the Spanish government. The result of the Adams-Onis Treaty, along with the Rush-Bagot agreement, was that all major border issues west to the Pacific were settled.

The Era of Good Feelings: But with Hard Feelings Beneath

Shortly after James Monroe was sworn in as president in 1817, he made a goodwill trip through New England. A Massachusetts newspaper applauded his visit and declared that the time was now an “Era of Good Feelings.” Historians have picked up that phrase, and it is generally associated with the period following the war of 1812. It is true that with the end of the Napoleonic wars and the ratification of the Treaty of Ghent, the world was a much calmer and safer place. Captain Stephen Decatur had neutralized the Barbary Pirates and American trade was free to go forth with its accustomed vigor.

Symbolic of the general feeling of goodwill in the nation, James Monroe ran unopposed for reelection in 1820 and received every electoral vote but one. Although the Federalist Party had disappeared by 1820, some of their nationalist ideas persisted. For example, although Republicans had opposed the national bank in Jefferson’s time, Madison had found it inconvenient to run a war without a national financial institution at his disposal, so the Bank was rechartered in 1816. Madison also felt that a peacetime standing army and a strong Navy were essential safeguards for the country.

The Embargo of 1807-1809 and the War of 1812 had stimulated manufacturing and industry in the United States, and a system of protective tariffs was felt to be useful. As the export of southern cotton drove the economy of that region to new heights, prosperity seemed well distributed throughout the land. Tariffs and land sales provided all the income that the national government needed to support its operations comfortably. The treaties discussed above improved America’s relations with foreign powers.

In short, it seemed to be a time of peace, prosperity, and liberty the Jeffersonian balance between individual liberty and responsible government had apparently been reached. Yet the Era of Good Feelings could not last in a society of so many contending interests. Although the surface of public affairs appeared calm, significant troubles were roiling not far below the surface.

Substantial population growth, improved transportation links within the various sections, and attacks on the institution of slavery contributed to a growing sense of regionalism in the new nation. Powerful sectional loyalties had already begun to undermine national unity. The trans-Appalachian West—with its rich soil and developing system of water transportation—experienced substantial growth after 1790. Native Americans offered some resistance but were pushed aside by the onrushing settlers. The growth in the West typified the incredible population growth of the whole nation. Areas that had been populated by Indians and fur traders became the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, and by 1819 nine new states had been added to the original thirteen. The mix of people in the West led to the creation of a new regional culture of a rootless, optimistic folk. Their interests soon diverged from their Eastern, urban oriented brethren, and the country did begin to divide along sectional lines.

Differences between different sections of the country were exacerbated by a financial panic which swept across the country in 1819. The lucrative trade that followed the war of 1812 slowed to a near halt, and people lost their jobs in urban areas. Banks failed, mortgages were foreclosed and farm prices took a precipitous drop. The financial problems were not limited to any one area of the country but swept from the eastern cities to the western agricultural regions. Declining cotton prices hurt the South, and many people blamed the problems on the banks.

Sectional Issues, 1815 to 1860

The Tariff. Tariffs are taxes assessed by the national government on imported goods, and they have two basic purposes. Revenue tariffs are relatively low import duties collected on all imports and are used to offset the expense of maintaining the necessary apparatus to control national ports and borders. Monitoring the inflow of people and goods into a nation can be expensive, and tariffs help offset the costs. Modest revenue tariffs are accepted as a necessary means of doing business internationally.

The second kind of tariff is the protective tariff, and it has a quite different purpose. Protective tariffs are duties laid on particular goods designed to help the manufacturers or producers of similar products in the host nation by artificially raising the price of foreign goods. Tariffs can be of a specified amount or ad valorem as a percentage of the product’s value.

Obviously, goods that a nation does not produce in abundance will not be assigned protective duties. Products which foreign competition tends to render unprofitable are supposedly aided by high protective tariffs. The difficulty with protective tariffs is that they raise prices for domestic consumers, and when levied on products that are produced regionally, they tend to favor one part of the country over another. Furthermore, they tend to generate retaliatory measures by other nations.

Under the Constitution Congress has the sole power to levy tariffs, a change from the Articles of Confederation, under which the states had the right to do that on their own. Early tariffs were designed primarily for revenue, although there was some moderate protectionism attached to them.

The Tariff Act of 1816 was enacted to protect American manufacturing against British postwar textile im­ports and promote national economic self-sufficiency. The Panic of 1819 encour­aged high tariffs in order to protect American jobs, a factor which also makes tariffs attractive to consumers. Except for the commercial interests of New England, for whom trade was often reduced by high tariffs, heavier duties were supported in every sec­tion of the country. In time, however, the South and Southwest turned against protective tariffs, concluding that they increased the costs of imports and inhibited the export of southern cotton.

Tariffs continued to rise in the 1820s as duties on manufactures, woolen goods, cotton, iron, and finished products continued to move upward. In 1828 the highest tariff in the pre-Civil War period was passed, and in the South it became known as the Tariff of Abominations, which led to the nullification crisis of 1832 (discussed below.) Following that crisis tariffs were gradually lowered (with intermittent rises) until the time of the Civil War.

Internal Improvements. Internal improvements is the name given to what we today call infrastructure building. The southern and western parts of the United States needed roads, canals and harbor facilities to get their goods to market. Most of the older sections of the country, the east and northeast, had already built those facilities at their own expense. The issue was how much federal money should be put into building projects that did not cross state lines. The states that needed large capital investment to improve transportation facilities often lacked the funds to support them and sought federal assistance. Westerners, for example, were most enthusiastic for federally financed internal improvements such as the National Road, which would connect them with eastern markets.

Those regions which had already invested capital in internal improvements did not want to spend money on what they already had. For most part, during the early 19th century the federal government stayed out of the construction of internal improvements. In 1817 President Madison believed that a Constitu­tional amendment would be needed for the U.S. to get into building of roads or canals. John C. Calhoun supported federal expenditures for transportation under the notion of the “general welfare” clause and for military necessity. (Interestingly, President Eisenhower sold the idea of the interstate highway system in the 1950s on the basis of national security.) Although not a large issue, the question of internal improvements did sharpen regional differences.

Land Policy. The liberal land acts of 1800 and 1804 reduced the price of public land and the minimum size unit available for sale. Sales boomed, then slumped during the War of 1812, then boomed again until 1818. Then agricultural prices fell as foreign markets shrank and the Panic of 1819 destroyed many farms. The West strongly favored a cheap land policy while the North feared it would drain off cheap labor and provide less income for the federal government. The South worried about competition from cotton producers in the virgin lands of the Southwest.

Land was the most valuable asset that the federal government possessed, and selling it created a steady source of revenue. Liberal land sales policies also spurred development in the frontier regions and attracted immigrants. Understandably, people who wanted to go out west and settle favored cheap land that could be purchased on generous terms. Land speculators, who had no intention of settling on or developing the properties they owned, also wanted cheap land for obviously selfish reasons. Established interests, which tended to be concentrated in the East and Northeast, supported higher land prices to maximize profits for the government.

Despite the competing interests land sales boomed through much of the 19th century, and the income from land sales provided a major portion of the income needed to operate the federal government. For much of the 19th century the government operated very comfortably on the revenue from tariffs and land sales. In the later decades land sales and distribution would be used to finance the building of thousands of miles of railroads.

Banks. Most Americans today probably see banks as convenient places to save money, secure loans for automobiles or homes or to start businesses they probably don't think much about the relationship between banking policy and the overall economy. What many Americans do pay attention to, however, is the cost of borrowing money. In other words, they pay attention to the interest rates that banks are charging for loans. The national banking system we have today is the Federal Reserve System, established in 1913. The Federal Reserve System with its twelve member banks controls the vast majority of the banks in the United States and determines basic interest rates. The interest rates that “the Fed” charges to member banks determine the interest rates that banks charge for home loans and so on.

The first Bank of the United States was created by Alexander Hamilton during the first Congress. It was chartered in 1791 for 20 years, but its charter was not renewed in 1811. Some who opposed the bank questioned its constitutionality others opposed its competition with state banks and the fact that most of its stock was foreign owned. Absence of a national bank during War of 1812, however, complicated war financing and lowered value of bank notes. In response, Congress created a Second Bank of the United States in 1816, again chartered for 20 years. The new bank was badly managed at first and was associated with the Panic of 1819. New management and tighter credit policies saved the bank, but at the expense of public favor.

The national bank in the early 1800s did essentially the same thing that the Federal Reserve system does today: it determined the value of money. When there was no national bank, all banking was done by state banks. They issued paper banknotes based on their gold and silver deposits, which circulated as currency, and they made profits by loaning money. Absent strong controls on what the banks were allowed to do, many banks, sometimes known as “wildcat banks,” loaned money more or less indiscriminately in hopes of maximizing profits. They sometimes issued more paper banknotes than they could safely cover with their gold and silver reserves for paper to have any value in that era, it had to be backed by hard money. (During the American Revolution, paper Continental dollars unbacked by specie were all but worthless.)

Speculators and people who wanted to buy land favored loose banking policies because money was easy to get, and since the value of money tended to go down as more and more notes were issued, the condition known as inflation, loans were relatively easy to repay. Furthermore, in an inflationary economy with rising prices, people who were obliged to borrow money in order to do business, such as farmers, favored inflation as it would drive up the prices they could get for their products and therefore their profits. Those competing interests tended to divide along sectional lines, as did the tariff and land policies.

Bankers, on the other hand, resisted inflation, for if they loaned money at 5% interest, but inflation proceeded at a 5% rate, the money they were paid back for loans was worth less than the money they had originally given to borrowers. The Bank of the United States controlled the value of currency by requiring state banks to redeem their own banknotes to the national bank in hard currency or specie when the national bank presented their notes for payment. Thus if speculators on the frontier borrowed money from a state bank, and used that money to pay the federal government for land, and that bank paper wound up in possession of the national bank, the national bank could demand payment in gold or silver.

That relationship between the National Bank and the state banks placed a brake on the propensity of state banks to lend beyond the capacity of their reserves to cover their paper, which in turn tended to hold down inflation, as the value of money was stable. The presence of the national bank was therefore seen as a positive influence that helped maximize the profits of banking interests, while those who used banks for loans saw the national bank as harmful to their interests.

In 1815 President James Madison realized that the country was in a financial muddle the United States had had to return $7 million in gold to England in 1811. Banking policy was confused, and the competing interests of debtors and creditors kept the nation in financial turmoil. Madison said that if state banks could not control currency, a national bank was neces­sary. Treasury Secretary Dallas introduced new bank bill, which passed in 1816.

The Second Bank of the United States lasted until Andrew Jackson vetoed the bill to recharter it in 1832. Although the Second National Bank did well under the leadership of Nicholas Biddle, Jackson was not friendly to banks.

THE DIVISIVE ISSUE OF SLAVERY

While there were squabbles over the tariff, the bank, internal improvements and land policies, the most divisive sectional issue was slavery, although the issue generated surprisingly little controversy from 1789 to 1819. Slave importations increased during the 1790s, but the slave trade was quietly abolished in 1808, when all the states except South Carolina had ceased to import slaves.

Some of the framers of the Constitution had felt, perhaps reasonably and sincerely, that slavery was diminishing in the United States. In fact Virginia had reduced its number of slaves substantially during the 1780s. Virtually all of the founding fathers looked with disfavor on slavery Washington, Jefferson, Madison, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, George Mason, and numerous others were more than a little uneasy about the institution in the country based upon the notion that “all men are created equal.”

A major factor in the evolution of slavery was the invention of the cotton gin, attributed to Eli Whitney, but probably invented by a slave. The cotton gin transformed the cotton industry and made it possible to produce more cotton of different varieties faster and more cheaply, thus allowing Southern cotton interests to make substantial profits. At the same time, the textile industry in England, which was at the forefront of the first industrial revolution, created a great need for supplies of cotton. The demand kept prices up, and merchants and traders in the Northeast profited from the traffic as well. Thus cotton—and slaves—became the engine that drove the Southern economy.

By 1819 free and slave states had entered the Union in equal numbers, and slave-produced cotton became king in the South. Southerners ardently defended slavery while most northerners were indifferent, believing that slavery was a local issue. Many westerners, espe­cially native southerners, also supported slavery. The moral issue of slavery, always lurking in the background, was not prominent in the early 1800s, and the first crisis over slavery since the Constitutional convention occurred when Missouri sought to be admitted in 1819. (The Missouri compromise will be discussed below.)

Around 1830 the abolitionist movement began and opponents of slavery began to challenge the “peculiar institution” on moral, humanitarian, religious, and libertarian grounds. Jefferson's statement that “we have the wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go” lost traction once the moral issue began to be raised. The issue of slavery was not always at the forefront of public debate, but as the years went on and the abolitionist movement grew in strength, the moral issue could no longer be ignored.

Many southerners who were opposed to slavery stuck with it because of large amounts of invested capital in land and cotton and slaves. Many Northerners who opposed slavery were also afraid of a flood of cheap labor if the slaves were freed. Southern non-slave owning farmers resented what they saw as unfair competition from slave labor. In 1819 the federal government offered a $50 bounty to informers of illegal slaves being imported into the country. The foreign slave trade was declared to be piracy, and the death penalty was authorized for American citizens engaged in the slave trade. The controversy over slavery would continue until the Civil War broke out in 1861.

Many southerners who were opposed to slavery stuck with it because of large amounts of invested capital in land and cotton and slaves. Many Northerners who opposed slavery were also afraid of a flood of cheap labor if the slaves were freed. Southern non-slave owning farmers resented what they saw as unfair competition from slave labor. In 1819 the federal government offered a $50 bounty to informers of illegal slaves being imported into the country. The foreign slave trade was declared to be piracy, and the death penalty was authorized for American citizens engaged in the slave trade. The controversy over slavery would continue until the Civil War broke out in 1861.

The Monroe Doctrine

Not surprisingly, the Monroe Doctrine, a cornerstone of American foreign policy, was the result of events that began in Europe. Following the Napoleonic Wars, a Quadruple Alliance was created in 1815 among Great Britain, Prussia, Russia and Austria. France was admitted in 1818, making it the Quintuple Alliance. Its purpose was to restore the world to prewar status, which could have included the return of Spanish rule over colonies in Latin America. The British, who remained detached from the Alliance’s continental moves, hoped to keep the former Latin American colonies free from Spanish control in order to advance their commercial interests. British Foreign Secretary George Canning proposed a joint Anglo-American action to prevent intervention of the Alliance nations in the New World. President Monroe's informal advisers, Jefferson and Madison, urged cooperation with the British.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams , however, had other ideas. He was more concerned about Russia’s claims in the Pacific Northwest and about potential French or Spanish intervention in South America. Russia owned Alaska and had ventured down the Pacific coast into California, where they built a fort. Arguing that the United States should not be following “in the wake of a British man ofwar,”Adams recommended that the United States act unilaterally to establish policy with regard to the Western Hemisphere. Secretary Adams drafted language which President Monroe decided to include in his annual message to Congress of 1823.

The final document, which was prepared largely by Adams, included the following points:

      • The American continents were no longer open to colonization by the European powers
      • Political systems in the Americas differed from those of Europe
      • The United States would consider it a danger to America if the European system were extended to the Western Hemisphere
      • The United States would not interfere in European affairs, nor with existing colonies.

      The beginning of the Hundred Years’ Peace left the United States free to pursue its continental destiny essentially undisturbed by European affairs. Although Europe was by no means free from turmoil for the remainder of the century, the great wars which had shaken the entire Western world would not recur until 1914. Americans felt detached enough from Europe subsequent proposals were advanced to abolish the State Department (or at least the diplomatic corps) on the grounds of irrelevance.

      Political Developments

      As the years of international conflict waned, domestic affairs rose to the fore in the American political system. Economic issues, the further growth of democracy, the creation of new states, and the spread of American settlers into the Mississippi Valley were the focus of the political leaders of the 1820s and beyond. American political development was far from complete, and the men who sought to develop and extend the American Republic faced challenges less daunting than those of their predecessors, perhaps, but they were still of great import. The American nation was growing and evolving, far more rapidly than men and women of the first generation had expected.

      The Second Generation of Political Leaders

      The national leaders who followed in the footsteps of the founding generation were by many measures lesser men than the giants who had gone before. Many sought the presidency, but few were chosen, and those elected to the nation’s highest office were not always the best men for the job. Yet this second-generation kept Americandemocracy moving forward, although, like their predecessors, they were not able to solve the nation’s biggest problem, slavery. Here are brief sketches of some of the leaders of the early 19 th century.

      John Quincy Adams : Nationalist

      As Monroe’s secretary of state, John Quincy Adams, was the North’s best known political leader in the 1820s. Originally a Federalist like his father, Adams converted to the Republican party after 1800. Adams was capable, ambitious, and intelligent, but he was inept in personal relationships and was a demanding perfectionist. He was a committed nationalist, open-minded toward tariff policy, and supportive of the bank and internal improvements. He was personally opposed to slavery. Recently he has become better known for his speech to the Supreme Court in the now famous Amistad case, as he was depicted in the Steven Spielberg film by Anthony Hopkins. He is by consensus one of America’s most brilliant diplomats and author of the Monroe Doctrine and various treaties. He served 18 years in the House of Representatives after being president, which he fought courageously against slavery. He died in the halls of Congress.

      Daniel Webster: Lawyer and Orator, the “Divine Daniel”

      Daniel Webster was a powerful congressional leader, a skillful constitutional lawyer and remarkable orator. Webster had a strong mind, but, though a rhetorical nationalist, he was devoted to serving the business interests of New England. He opposed the War of 1812, protective tariffs, the bank, cheap land, internal improvements, and slavery. His most famous orations include his appeal to the Supreme Court the Dartmouth College case, his famous “Union Address” of 1832, and his plea for the Union in the senatorial debates over the Compromise of 1850. He was also co-author of the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842.

      Henry Clay: The Great Compromiser

      Henry Clay of Kentucky was one of the most charming political leaders of his generation. Intellectually inferior to Adams and Calhoun, Clay nevertheless used his charisma and skill at arranging compromises to carry him far in national politics. He authored the American System of protective tariffs and internal improvements, canals, harbors, railroads, post offices and roads, to meld the interests of east and west. He supported the bank, and, a slave owner himself, he disliked but tolerated slavery.

      John C. Calhoun: Nationalist and Spokesman for the South

      John Calhoun of South Carolina possessed a powerful intelligence. He was a staunch nationalist during the era of the War of 1812 and in fact was one of the "war hawks." But to keep his home base in South Carolina solid, he had to move in the direction of states’ rights, which made him the foremost spokesman of the southern cause, but less and less a viable candidate for president. His critics claimed that no human blood ran in his veins, but he could be powerfully persuasive in the Senate and in various offices which he held.

      Note: The careers of Calhoun, Clay and Webster were so intertwined that they became known as the “Great Triumvirate.” All three men had great power and influence though none became president. [See the triple biography, The Great Triumvirate, by Merrill D. Peterson, 1987.]

      The Great Triumvirate
      Webster Clay Calhoun

      DeWitt Clinton: Governor of New York

      Clinton was a builder of the Erie Canal and a political mover and shaker. As Governor of the Empire State, he was an early holder of that powerful position, often seen as a path to the White House. Five New Yorkers have been president, and at least twice that number have been significant players in presidential politics.

      Martin Van Buren: The “Red Fox”—“Little Magician”—“Old Kinderhook”

      Martin Van Buren, the affable leader of New York’s “Albany Regency”—an early political machine—was the most masterful politician in the North. He was one of three United States presidents of Dutch descent, all from New York, the other two being Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt. He seldom took a strong position on any of the key issues of the day to him, issues were merely means of winning elections. When invited by Andrew Jackson to be his secretary of state, he was reluctant to accept as many colleagues warned him from joining the rough and ready “Old Hickory.” He accepted, however, and later wrote that when he first looked into Jackson’s eyes, he knew he had made the right choice.

      Additional figures include William H. Crawford of Georgia, the great manipulator and states righter, whose stroke in 1824 took him out of the presidential race Thomas Hart Benton, a colorful expansionist who supported homestead legislation and internal improvements, but who vehemently opposed all banks—he was the champion of small western farmers William Henry Harrison, winner of the Battle of Tippecanoe elected president in 1840 he served only 30 days as he died from complications from pneumonia, allegedly contracted during his inaugural speech, at two hours, the longest inaugural address ever and John Tyler of Virginia, a one-time Democrat who broke with Jackson over states’ rights and was the first vice president to succeed to the White House (on the death of Harrison.)

      THE MARSHALL COURT and U.S. BUSINESS

      Chief Justice John Marshall was a strong nationalist and held a Hamiltonian view of the Constitution. His decisions constantly favored manufacturing and business interests, advanced economic development, and established the supremacy of national legislation over state laws, both generally and in the economic arena, and affirmed the Constitution as “the Supreme Law of the Land.”

      John Marshall's father, Thomas Marshall, a lawyer for George Washington, had trained his son in the law when John was still in his teens. Educated mostly at home, John Marshall had studied William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, the most famous legal text of its time, and had learned by heart much of the poetry of Alexander Pope as a young man. He served in the Virginia militia early in the Revolution and was later on Washington’s staff during the winter at Valley Forge.

      Following his service in the American Revolution Marshall attended law lectures given by George Wythe at the College of William and Mary, and his license to practice in Virginia was signed by Governor Thomas Jefferson. He developed a successful law practice in Richmond and argued a case before the United States Supreme Court. Offered the position of Attorney General by George Washington, he was obliged to turn it down because of business demands. (At Washington's request he forwarded the letter to the next candidate in line—the process of appointing cabinet members was far less formal in those days.)

      Marshall’s tenure on the court established not only important legal precedents, but the great Chief Justice also instituted practices still followed by the court. For example, the justices all shake hands before entering the chambers to hear a case, and the collegiality instituted by Marshall among the justices has persisted down to the present time. A colleague and friend of Marshall once remarked of the man, “He was more loved than he was respected, and he was very much respected.”

      The Marshall Court established important building blocks os American jurisprudence. The Marshall Court

      • upheld the sanctity of contracts, beginning with Fletcher v. Peck, the Yazoo Land Fraud case in 1810
      • asserted the precedence of federal power over state authority, and in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) the Court affirmed the constitutionality of the Second Bank of the United States, thereby legitimizing the doctrine of implied powers
      • defined Interstate Commerce in Gibbons v. Ogden in 1824 and asserted the right of the Federal Government to exclusive control over that commerce, though later decisions granted the right of states to act where the Federal Government had not done so.
      • nationalized many issues, and can be said to have made the U.S. far more amenable to capitalism
      • established a hierarchy of law: Constitution—Federal—State.

      In 1837, Chief Justice Roger Taney, following Marshall’s lead, ruled in the Charles River Bridge case that public convenience superseded the rights of private the interests, thereby endorsing internal improvements and advancing economic development.

      Marshall’s Leading Decisions

      1803 Marbury v. Madison [see above, p. 6]. Marshall claimed for the Court the right of judicial review—the power of the Supreme Court to nullify federal laws found to be in conflict with the Constitution.

      1810 Fletcher v. Peck

      Fletcher was the first case in which a state statute was held void under the United States Constitution. The case originated in an action of the Georgia legislature, which in 1795 was induced by bribery to grant public lands, comprising much of what is now the states of Alabama and Mississippi, to four groups of purchasers known collectively as the Yazoo Land Companies. Popular indignation forced the legislature in 1796 to rescind the grant, on the ground that it had been secured by fraud. By that time, however, some of the land had been purchased by innocent third parties in New England and other parts of the country. Those buyers contested the validity of the rescinding act, contending that the original grant could not be repealed without violating the Contract Clause in Article I, Section 10: No State shall pass any Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts.

      The decision was important for the protection of the vested rights of private property and extended the purview of the Contract Clause to public as well as private contracts, thereby making it applicable to transactions to which the state itself was a party. Speaking for a for a unanimous Court, Marshall wrote: “Is a clause to be considered as inhibiting the State from impairing the obligation of contracts between two individuals, but as excluding from that inhibition contracts made with itself? The words themselves contain no such distinction. They are general, and are applicable to contracts of every description.” Declaring that a public grant qualified as a contractual obligation and could not be abrogated without fair compensation, he therefore held that the rescinding act was an unconstitutional impairment of the obligations of contract.

      1819 Dartmouth College v. Woodward

      The Dartmouth College case arose from a dispute between the legislature of New Hampshire and the Trustees of Dartmouth College. Dartmouth College was incorporated by a royal charter in 1769, which established a permanent Board of Trustees. In 1816 Republicans gained control of the legislature and changed the Dartmouth charter, increasing the number of trustees and placing the Board of Trustees under the control of the governor. The trustees sued, claiming that the United States Constitution contract clause rendered the state action invalid. When the college lost its case in the New Hampshire state courts, Daniel Webster brought the case to the Supreme Court. Webster’s eloquent plea for the college brought tears even to the eyes of Justice Marshall.

      John Marshall decided the case, however, solely on the issue of the contract clause. He declared that the charter which created a college was a contract that had created a corporation. In so doing he defined a corporation as “an artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” The corporation, he went on, possesses properties of “immortality, and, if the expression may be allowed, individuality properties by which a perpetual succession of many persons are considered as the same, and may act as a single individual.” In other words, a corporation is a permanent legal creation which has essentially the same rights as an individual. Again citing Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution, he claimed that a contract was “beyond legislative control.”

      The significance of the sanctity of contracts and the definition of a corporation for the furtherance of business enterprises cannot be overstated

      1819 McCulloch v. Maryland

      The case of McCulloch v. Maryland involved the 2 nd Bank of the United States and addressed the issues of national supremacy and implied powers in the Constitution. Opponents of the Bank of the United States sought state support to oppose the bank, and the Maryland legislature passed a law placing an annual tax of $15,000 on the bank. James McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the Bank, refused to pay the tax.

      Marshall first attacked the question of whether or not the federal government had the right to create a national bank. Following the same line of argument as that used by Alexander Hamilton when the first bank was created, Marshall affirmed the right of the federal government to create a bank under the doctrine of implied powers. Marshall argued that the national government was “supreme within its sphere of action,” and that the Constitution should not be read as a detailed blueprint, but a matter of general powers. Marshall wrote that although the word “bank” does not appear in the Constitution,

      we find great powers to lay and collect borrow money to regulate commerce to declare and conduct a war and to raise Support armies and navies. … But it may with great reason be contended that government, entrusted with such ample powers, on the due execution of which the happiness and prosperity of the nation vitally depends, must also be entrusted with ample means for their execution. The power being given, it is the interest of the nation to facilitate its execution. It can never be their interest, and cannot be presumed to have been their intention, to clog and embarrass its execution by withholding the most appropriate means.

      Common sense required that necessary had to be understood in the sense of “convenient” or “conducive” to the business of government, rather than absolutely necessary. Once concluding that the federal government had the right to pass a law creating a corporation, namely, the National Bank, Marshall stated what to him was obvious, that the power to tax is the power to destroy. If the state of Maryland could pass a law that could tax the national bank, it could tax it out of existence, and the net effect would be to nullify a federal law. But, said Marshall, federal law overrules state law and thus the Maryland law was unconstitutional. He wrote:

      “That the power to tax involves the power to destroy that the power to destroy may defeat and render useless the power to create that there is a plain repugnance in conferring on one government a power to control the constitutional measures of another, which other, with respect to those very measures, is declared to be supreme over that which exerts the control, are propositions not to be denied. …

      “That the power of taxing [the bank] by the states, may be exercised so as to destroy it is too obvious to be denied.”

      1824 Gibbons v. Ogden

      Gibbons v. Ogden is the steamboat case. New York state had awarded to Aaron Ogden a monopoly right to operate a steamboat ferry between New York and New Jersey. Thomas Gibbons operated a rival steamboat line and claimed the New York did not have the power to give Ogden an exclusive right. Examining the language of the Constitutional commerce clause Marshall argued that steamboats fell under the idea of commerce and that the federal government had the exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce. New York's granting of a monopoly conflicted with federal powers.

      The net result of the aforementioned cases is that Marshall established a hierarchy of law: the Constitution was the supreme law of the land. All federal laws must conform to the Constitution or they shall be declared null and void. Likewise, state laws must conform to the Constitution. And if state laws could nullify federal laws, then federal laws would be form without substance state laws must not conflict with or contradict federal laws. And where the Constitution gives powers over certain enterprises to the federal government, states may not usurp that power.

      In subsequent cases, Sturges v. Crowninshield and Cohens v. Virginia Marshall argued that state laws absolving debtors of their obligations was an impairment of contractual obligations, and that state court decisions were subject to review by the Supreme Court when constitutional issues were involved. In all, John Marshall wrote well over 500 decisions during his tenure, and the great majority were unanimous.

      The Missouri Compromise

      The Panic of 1819 worsened tension between the sections, and growing sectionalism repeatedly influenced the politics of the 1820s. The most sharply divisive event was the Missouri Crisis of 1819-1820. Many of Missouri Territory’s settlers were native southerners who owned slaves, and they petitioned for Missouri’s admission as a slave state. But New York Congressman James Tallmadge’s amendment to the admission bill called for the gradual abolition of slavery in the proposed new state. This was the first attempt to restrict the expansion of slavery since the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. The Tallmadge amendment was fiercely debated—it passed in the House but lost in the Senate.

      The debate generated by the Tallmadge Amendment did not deal with the morality of slavery or the rights of blacks what was at stake was political influence. Neither was it about he existence of slavery in the Southern states, but rather about it being further extended. At the time there were 11 slave states and 11 free states, and Missouri’s admission would give the slave states a majority, thus frightening northerners who already complained of the advantages the South gained from the Three-Fifths Compromise and who also feared having to compete with slave labor. Still, the free states had a 105-81 edge in House of Representatives, as the North’s population was growing more rapidly. Ironically, the North’s more rapid growth was partially attributable to slavery, since immigrants did not want to go where they would have to compete with slave labor.

      The moral issue of slavery was not yet a serious question for open debate—that would come with the advent of the abolitionist movement about a decade later. Nevertheless, the Missouri crisis was serious and a significant harbinger of things to come. Henry Clay, known as the “great compromiser,” stepped in and took advantage of the fact that Maine had applied for admission as the 23 rd state, making it possible to strike a balance. The Missouri Compromise admitted Missouri as a slave state and Maine as a free state, and the Thomas Amendment barred slavery north of the 36x30° latitude in the old Louisiana Purchase Territory. (The line runs along the southern boundary of Missouri.) Southerners accepted the terms since they believed the banned territory was environmentally hostile to slavery anyway, thinking it was part of the “great American desert.” Clay also worked out a second compromise when the Missouri constitution tried to ban free blacks from migrating into the new state. The Missouri Crisis warned of the potential divisiveness of the slavery issue.

      Reaction to the Compromise was mixed: it was seen as a temporary solution at best strong feelings about the slavery would continue to smolder. To Thomas Jefferson, the issue sounded like a “fire bell in the night” he had previously written, as inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial:

      God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever. Commerce between master and slave is despotism. Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people are to be free.

      The final compromise was accepted, but really accomplished by smoke and mirrors—it said that, in effect, “this constitution (Missouri) does not mean what it says.” But in the climate of the times, it was accepted with relief, and the country did not have to confront the slavery issue again until 1850, but by that time the abolitionist movement had thoroughly transformed the dynamics of the debate. It would be much harder next time.


      James Monroe: "The Era of Good Feelings"

      This article is written by Caroline Larson, an Art History and French major from Brigham Young University who is interning at the National Portrait Gallery. She writes about John Vanderlyn’s 1816 portrait of James Monroe, owned by the Portrait Gallery.

      This blogpost originally appeared July 8, 2010

      James Monroe was born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia. He enrolled at the College of William and Mary for two years but left in 1776 to enlist in the Third Virginia Regiment. He served as a lieutenant, major, and aide to General William Alexander before beginning to study law with Thomas Jefferson. In 1782 Monroe was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and served as a delegate to the Confederation Congress from 1783 to 1786. He married Elizabeth Kortright in 1786 and began practicing law in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

      Monroe was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1790 and worked with James Madison to establish the Democratic-Republican Party. Appointed minister to France by George Washington in 1794, Monroe worked to maintain friendship with that country. From 1799 to 1802 he was governor of Virginia. In 1803 Jefferson appointed Monroe to assist in buying a port on the Mississippi. Although unauthorized for the action, Monroe and his colleagues accepted Napoleon’s offer of the Louisiana Territory. Monroe then served as minister to Great Britain from 1803 to 1807. Madison appointed Monroe secretary of state in 1811 and secretary of war in 1814.

      In 1817 Monroe became the fifth president of the United States. This heralded the beginning of what became known as the “Era of Good Feelings” and a temporary end to the two-party system with the death of the Federalist Party. Monroe was the last of the Revolutionary generation to hold the presidency.

      Most of Monroe’s most noteworthy achievements as president were in foreign affairs. On December 2, 1823 he declared that European interference on the American continent would be regarded as an unfriendly act and that the Americas were closed to further colonization. Later known as the Monroe Doctrine, his declaration received little notice at the time but became key in future American foreign policy.

      Monroe also secured Florida for the United States with the Adams-Onis Treaty with Spain, and attempted to solve conflict over free and slave states with the Missouri Compromise. His second term as president ended in 1825 and in 1827 he retired to his estate. After his wife’s death in 1830, Monroe moved to New York City, where he died on July 4, 1831.

      John Vanderlyn’s portrait of Monroe, painted the year before Monroe became president, displays the French neoclassical style the artist favored. Monroe and Vanderlyn had sailed abroad together and remained lifelong friends.


      Era of Good Feeling

      The &ldquoEra of Good Feeling&rdquo refers to a period in U.S. history from about 1815 until about 1825, characterized by a sense of optimism and positivity. The era is closely associated with the presidency of James Monroe, who served two terms from 1817 to 1825.

      Monroe easily won the presidential election of 1816, garnering 183 electoral votes while the opposing Federalist party won just 34. His victory signaled the effective end of the Federalist party and ushered in a period of total dominance by Monroe&rsquos Democratic-Republican party.

      After the election, Monroe went on a prolonged victory tour throughout New England. It was during this tour that one newspaper, the Columbian Centinel, published an article titled &ldquoThe Era of Good Feeling.&rdquo The piece described a festive, upbeat mood which was shared by &ldquoeminent men of all political parties.&rdquo

      The era was marked by America&rsquos victory in the War of 1812. In Europe, the Napoleonic Wars were at an end, which also left Americans free to concentrate on their own affairs. The age is characterized by a growing isolationism.

      Historians say that the era of good feeling was also shored up by economic prosperity. During Monroe&rsquos first term, America put in place its first protective tariffs and established the Second National Bank. Congress, at Monroe&rsquos request, also put an end to property taxes and other federal taxes. The federal government was able to pay off the nation&rsquos extensive war debt using the money from tariffs.

      At the same time, America continued to expand across the continent. In 1819, Andrew Jackson invaded Florida, which eventually led to a treaty with Spain that handed Florida over to the United States. During this period, America also stepped up its western expansion. In 1823, the president also articulated the Monroe Doctrine, which defined the Western Hemisphere as the United States&rsquo sphere of influence and warned Europeans not to interfere in the region.

      The era of good feeling was at an end by 1825. Even during Monroe&rsquos second term, the sense of national goodwill was beginning to fade, and major conflicts over slavery and national expansion were making themselves felt. The period of one-party rule was also coming to an end.

      Since the Federalist party had collapsed, the presidential election of 1824 featured candidates who were all from the Democratic-Republican party. Four candidates vied for the presidency: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Treasury Secretary William Crawford, and House Speaker Henry Clay. None of the candidates was able to win a majority in the electoral college, so that decision went to the House of Representatives. The choice was between Adams and Jackson neither Crawford nor clay had enough votes to compete.

      The House handed the presidency to Adams, although Andrew Jackson had won the most popular votes and the most electoral votes. The election marked a split in the party, leading Americans to re-organize into two new parties: the Democrats, loyal to Jackson, and the Whigs, who were allied to Adams. In 1828, Andrew Jackson ran again and, this time, defeated Adams in his re-election bid.


      James Monroe: An Era Of Good Feelings

      Soon, disagreements over how the infrastructure in the States should be managed, new, protective tariffs to help the industrial northeast, and the position of nullification by the state of South Carolina led the country into disorder, chaos, and deep-rooted sectionalism during the 1820s and 1830s. In the 1820 election, James Monroe was elected into his second term as President bringing about an Era of Good Feelings, in which only one political party dominated national politics. His presidency,&hellip


      New nationalism in an "Era of Good Feelings"

      “Victory” in the War of 1812 unleashed a wave of American patriotism after 1815, ironically emphasizing the triumph of the American Revolution more than the split decision of the “Late War.” The glories of the latter struggle—such as they were—were rendered indistinct as the war was subsumed by Revolutionary memory. The years 1812–1815 seemed to ratify the popular memory of 1776 and 1783, igniting new nationalism, expressed in politics, festive commemorations, architecture, arts, and literature.

      The War of 1812 fared best when annexed to remembrances of the Revolutionary War.

      Memorials, like this one commemorating the Battle of Baltimore, were popular and ubiquitous tributes

      Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library

      Infamously, the British had sacked Washington, DC, in August 1814 and destroyed nearly all its public buildings, including the Capitol and president’s mansion. Famously, Dolley Madison had managed to save Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, which seems fitting, as Washington would remain the nation’s greatest hero. Though the ruined interior would require major renovation, the smoked-stained exterior of the president’s house soon received a bright coat of paint. The Capitol too was restored, and plans laid for a new Rotunda. In 1817, the renowned history painter John Trumbull won a commission for four life-size pictures to adorn it, all focusing on achievements of the Revolution. These paintings, completed between 1817 and 1824 and reproduced as engravings, won a broad, appreciative audience they were ultimately installed in the Capitol in 1826, the nation’s jubilee.

      The War of 1812 fared best when annexed to remembrances of the Revolutionary War. Given its unimpressive history and divisiveness, it made sense to wrap the late war in the sacred, unifying public memory of the Revolution, as President James Monroe did at a massive commemoration at Bunker Hill on July 4, 1817. There he appealed to shared patriotic recollections in the region most estranged during the War of 1812. In Charlestown, the Bunker Hill martyr Joseph Warren proved to be a more plausible and useful hero than, say, the local non-hero General Henry Dearborn, who had ineffectively commanded American forces on the Canadian frontier from 1812 to 1813.

      American public memory was transformed in these years in two significant ways—it was diversified and democratized to include common soldiers and sailors and to emphasize heroic maritime achievements largely absent during the Revolution. Necessity was the mother of invention, as naval heroes were abundant in the 1812–1815 conflict—Isaac Hull, Stephen Decatur, William Bainbridge, James Lawrence, Thomas Macdonough, Oliver Hazard Perry—while military champions (Jackson excepted) were not. The army’s limited successes were attributed to the heroic endurance of regular soldiers and volunteers, occurring despite—not because of—their military leaders.


      James Monroe

      President James Monroe for Kids: "Era of Good Feelings President"
      Summary: James Monroe (1758-1831), nicknamed the "Era of Good Feelings President" , was the 5th American President and served in office from 1817-1825. The Presidency of James Monroe spanned the period in United States history that encompasses the events of the Evolution Era. President James Monroe represented the Democratic-Republican political party which influenced the domestic and foreign policies of his presidency that was known as the "Era of Good Feelings".

      The major accomplishments and the famous, main events that occurred when James Monroe was president included the First Seminole War (1817-1818), the Missouri Compromise, the 49th parallel was set (1818), the Panic of 1819, the Santa Fe Trail was opened, the Rush-Bagot Treaty was signed, the Purchase of Florida was made via the Adams Onis Treaty and the President announced his famous 1823 Monroe Doctrine. James Monroe died from tuberculosis on July 4, 1831, aged 73. The next president was John Quincy Adams.

      Life of James Monroe for kids - James Monroe Fact File
      The summary and fact file of James Monroe provides bitesize facts about his life.

      The Nickname of James Monroe: Era of Good Feelings President
      The nickname of President James Monroe provides an insight into how the man was viewed by the American public during his presidency. The meaning of the nickname "Era of Good Feelings President" refers to the euphoric feeling in the nation following America's performance in the War of 1812, aka the "Second War of independence" and its ability to be viewed as a strong and unified new nation. The meaning of his other nickname, "Last of the Cocked Hats", refers to his taste in clothes. He wore expensive clothing but was not influenced by fashion preferring to wear old-fashioned style hats that dated back years to the 1700's.

      Character and Personality Type of James Monroe
      The character traits of President James Monroe can be described as outgoing, charming, warm, sensitive and courteous. It has been speculated that the Myers-Briggs personality type for James Monroe is an ESTJ (Extraversion, Sensing, Thinking, Judgment). An outgoing, practical, realistic and civic-minded character with a strong belief in rules and procedures, placing a high value on competence and efficiency. James Monroe Personality type: Decisive, hardworking, methodical and orderly.

      Accomplishments of James Monroe and the Famous Events during his Presidency
      The accomplishments of James Monroe and the most famous events during his presidency are provided in an interesting, short summary format detailed below.

      James Monroe for kids - The Era of Good Feelings (1815-1824)
      Summary of the Era of Good Feelings: James Monroe was president during the Era of Good Feelings that began with the jubilant end to the War of 1812. The Era of Good Feelings saw the emergence of National pride as the new nation began cultivating vast regions of the West due to the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.New transport systems were being built and great manufacturing industries were emerging in the East.

      James Monroe for kids - Rush-Bagot Treaty
      Summary of the Rush-Bagot Treaty: James Monroe was president during the signing of the Rush-Bagot Treaty or "Rush-Bagot Disarmament" on April 16, 1818. It was an agreement between the US and Great Britain to substantially reduce their naval vessels to patrol boats on the Great Lakes following the end of the War of 1812.

      James Monroe for kids - The 1818 Convention, setting the 49th parallel
      Summary of the 1818 Convention - 49th parallel: James Monroe was president during the Convention of 1818 when the 49th parallel was set as the border with Canada.

      James Monroe for kids - Panic of 1819
      Summary of the Panic of 1819: James Monroe was president during the Panic of 1819, the first Important financial crisis in the United States. The Second Bank of America extended far too much credit, then quickly restricted it, leading to runs on state banks, bank closures, and bankruptcies.

      James Monroe for kids - The Adams Onis Treaty - the Purchase of Florida
      Summary of the Adams Onis Treaty: The Adams Onis Treaty was signed on ‎February 22, 1819 between the United States and Spain that gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the US and New Spain (now Mexico).

      James Monroe for kids - Santa Fe Trail
      Summary of the Santa Fe Trail: James Monroe was president when the Santa Fe Trail was opened, that covered the 900 mile route from Independence, Missouri, to Santa Fe.

      James Monroe for kids - The Monroe Doctrine, 1823
      Summary of the Monroe Doctrine: The doctrine was delivered to Congress by President Monroe on December 2, 1823. The Monroe doctrine declared against foreign colonization, or intervention in the Americas, and the intention of the US to remain neutral in European wars.

      President James Monroe Video for Kids
      The article on the accomplishments of James Monroe provides an overview and summary of some of the most important events during his presidency. The following James Monroe video will give you additional important history, facts and dates about the foreign and domestic political events of his administration.

      Accomplishments of President James Monroe

      James Monroe - US History - Facts - Biography - Important Events - Accomplishments - President James Monroe - Summary of Presidency - American History - US - USA History - James Monroe - America - Dates - United States History - US History for Kids - Children - Schools - Homework - Important Events - Facts - History - United States History - Important Facts - Events - History - Interesting - President James Monroe - Info - Information - American History - Facts - Historical Events - Important Events - James Monroe


      Watch the video: The Era of Good Feelings (January 2022).