In the early 1800’s the North was starting to industrialize and the South would start relying on agriculture and race-based slavery. After the War of 1812 a rising sense of nationalism pulled people together throughout the country. Nationalism was a sense of pride and loyalty to your country. As the two halves of the nation grew separately, the north prospering off trade and the south relying on slavery; tensions between them grew. Sectionalism, kind of the same concept as nationalism, except you have more loyalty and interests in your own region of the country instead of the whole nation. Sectionalism would create a divide between the north since by 1819 there had been an equal number of slave states eleven free states and eleven slave states. As we start to expand west with our manifest destiny, the extension of slavery into these newfound territories became the largest concern for southern politicians. As hard as southerners tried, nationalism remained strong in the congress and the house party as well.
After The War of 1812, President James Madison had supported a House Representative Henry Clay’s plan to strengthen the country and unify the Midwest. Clay believed “Every nation should anxiously endeavor to establish its absolute independence, and consequently be able to feed and clothe and defend itself. If it rely upon a foreign supply that may be cut off… it cannot be independent.” As nationalism spread people started shifting loyalty from sectionalism to nationalism after first, establishing a protective tariff in 1816. This encouraged Americans to buy American-made products by taxing European-made goods, making them more expensive. Next Congress established a national bank that would promote one currency to help trade. In 1816 Congress was able to start the second bank of the United States.
Another way to help improve and expand was improving the nation’s transportation systems. Major roads and canals were built throughout the north extending to Kentucky and even Illinois. Although canals and the use of trains didn’t begin until the 1830’s, a perfect system of roads was declared in 1817. Democratic-Republican James Monroe took presidency in 1816 and during his time in office the Monroe administration took on quite a few historical Supreme Court decisions that were for nationalism by giving power to the federal government. McCulloch v Maryland (1819), where Maryland wanted to tax its branch of the national bank. If the tax were passed the states could claim power over the federal government. The Court upheld the authority with a decision ruling that a state could not tax a national bank.
The growing nationalist spirit made the U.S. leaders want to expand the country as well as define national borders. The biggest challenge was trying to reach agreements with Britain and Spain. Two agreements helped improve relations between the U.S. and Britain, the Rush-Bagot Agreement (1817) which set limits on naval forces in the Great Lakes. The Convention of 1818 allowed the United States and Canada to set the 49th parallel border extending as west as the Rocky Mountains. Although relations were growing between the U.S. and British, tensions between the U.S. and Spain were rising. Both nations were against the boundaries of the Louisiana Purchase and the ownership of Florida. Andrew Jackson claimed the Florida’s for the U.S. but President Monroe gave Spain a choice to place law in Florida or leave. Shortly after in 1819, the Adams-Onis Treaty gave the U.S. both Florida and the North Western Territory of Oregon.
Sectionalism would start to arise with the Missouri Compromise sending the country into a divide. Missouri wanted to claim statehood and residents wanted to allow slavery in their state. Many southerners were enraged in Congress after a proposal was made to ban slavery in Missouri. They feared northerners would try to abolish slavery completely. Luckily, at the time Maine wanted to claim statehood and Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, saw a compromise. Maine would be declared as a free state and Missouri would become a slave state, creating the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Another court case that helped empower the federalists was Gibbons v Ogden (1824). Two steamship captains both wanted the majority of shipping rights on the Hudson River. The court ruled that only federal government can regulate interstate commerce. A stronger federal government portrayed a growing nation.
Not only was the threat of sectionalism arising, there were events elsewhere that had the nation feeling threatened. A few countries in the Spanish territory had fought to gain independence from Spain. Several British monarchs were willing to help Spain regain control of their territory. President James Monroe feared for the safety of the U.S. government, alongside Russian colonies entering Alaska. President Monroe declared a statement known as the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe stated Americas were not available for more colonization. Monroe warned British efforts not to help Spain re-establish colonies as it may “affect peace and safety.” Lastly, Monroe stated that the U.S. would stay out of all European affairs. President Monroe showed the rest of the world that it saw itself as a dominant world power.