The period after the War of 1812 during the presidency of James Monroe is often referred to as the “era of good feelings” because of a feeling of nationalism, a feeling of pride and national unity. The end of the Federalist Party also provided the nation with a feeling of nationalism, for there was no political opposition toward the Republicans. This title, however, may not be the most accurate label for this particular time period, for this time period marked the beginnings of sectionalism, with heated debates over tariffs, the National Bank, and most importantly, over slavery.
After the War of 1812 a Nationalistic spark ran throughout much of the United States. A primary factor in this emergence of Nationalism was due to the Hartford Convention in which the federalists discussed secession from the union. After the war ended, which ended in a draw, caused the Federalist Party to diminish greatly which caused the Republicans to be against no political opposition. Also, Americans gained pride in their military aspect (Doc. C) from their win in the Battle of New Orleans, which established trading rights in the United States in the Mississippi river area. The people’s pride toward their own nation also grew as a part of Monroe’s doctrine, in which he stated that European powers must respect America’s independence and to not intervene with the United States’ affairs.
This boost in Nationalism also created a stimulant which caused the American lifestyle to be enhanced. As John C. Calhoun states it, Americans should “bind the republic together with a perfect system of roads and canals. Despite the many nationalistic views of this time period, there was also a rise in sectionalism, particularly having to do with slavery, and disputes over tariffs and the national bank. Although the republicans did dominate politics for some duration, during the presidential election of 1824, the Republican Party splits into four distinct factions. The national bank was also involved in arguments. In the case of McCulloch v. Maryland, the officials of Maryland wanted to tax the national bank’s printing of paper money.
Those who had moved westward toward the frontier also did not entirely approve of the national bank, for they looked far a way of easy credit, which was in the form of state banks. The westernmost and southernmost states were entirely based on agriculture, while the states toward the north-east coast were based on an industrial economy. The Protective Tariff of 1816 caused disagreements between these two sections of the United States, for the Tariff unfairly benefitted the manufacturers of the North-East.
Most importantly, with regards to sectionalism, were the many disputes involving slavery. As Anna Hayes from South Carolina asserts, in her letter to her cousin, the situation in South Carolina was just as bad “if not superior to the scenes acted in St. Domingo. ” South Carolina was currently experiencing slave revolts at that time. These slave revolts brought up the question of whether or not slavery was correct which caused mush sectionalism between different regions of the United States.
John Randolph, who also apposed the Tariff of 1816, mentioned that a simple geographical line – the Missouri Compromise- was not enough to completely silence the controversy of slavery. The label of “The Era of Good Feelings” is not the most accurate title for this period. Although there was an increase in nationalistic ideals, such as the betterment of the union through internal improvements, sectionalism lied beneath the surface. There were many arguments regarding tariffs, the Bank of the United States, and most significant those regarding slavery. All of which represent “The Era of Good Feeling” as a misnomer.