Nationalism v. Sectionalism “Era of Good Feelings”

The years following the War of 1812 became known as the “era of good feelings” - Nationalism v. Sectionalism “Era of Good Feelings” introduction. During this time you see the expansion of nationalism within the United States. It started mainly in the 1816 shortly before Monroe took office, and lasted until the end of his Presidency in the year of 1824. Before the “era of good feelings” there were certain events taking place that will lead up to this era. The first of these is the acquired land of the Louisiana Purchase from the French. Through this the United States was able to double its land.

The gained independence from this purchase was able to keep other countries father away from the US’s boundaries and was able to separate the United States even more. Another event that led up to the Era of Good Feelings was the Embargo Act of 1807. The Embargo Act cut off trade with Britain to try to prove that the U. S. could be interdependent amongst them. Although this proving to be a huge mistake for the U. S. it gave many of the citizens the spirit of nationalism. One of the greatest events however, that led up to the era was the War of 1812.

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The Americans were upset with the British amidst their interception of American ships and declared war on the British. It was after this war ended that the true spirit of nationalism was expressed in the nation. This was the second time that the United States had faced Britain and had not loss. Nationalism began to take off which sparked the innovations of new things within the country. At the start of the Era of Good Feelings you see that nationalism begins to spread among the country. However, there was a contrasting viewpoint that was present as well, sectionalism.

Nationalism was just the start of the era, but it was from its viewpoints and beliefs that new developments were processed. Each of these new developments became closer and closer comparable with sectionalism. It was sectionalism however, that had the greatest impact on the economic s and politics of the time period. Certain factors such as the issue of slavery and the Missouri Compromise, Monroe Doctrine, foreign policy, Panic of 1819, development of nation banks, and tariff, are the sectionalistic views that eventually shape the economy and politics of the time period.

Although sectionalism was one of the greatest impacts on the U. S, nationalism cannot be overlooked during the time period. The War of 1812 caused instability for the Federalist Party who strongly opposed the war. From here you see a large growth in the Democratic-Republican Party, which was able to dispose of the Federalist Party and become the only single party during the Era of Good Feelings. The Democratic – Republican Party looked more towards the rights of the people, and was able to produce a stronger unity of the nation.

A direct example of this leads to the sudden push for more women equality. Women such as Emma Hart Willard looked to use this new opportunity to try and push for more women’s rights. They believed that at this time they should have the same rights as men and be able to defend their rights accordingly. (Document c) The colonist act as if they seem to have too much confidence in their country and that the United States no matter the situation would always is right in the circumstance (Document A). Nationalism began to spark the minds of many citizens.

Nationalistic poetry is one accordance you can see of the patriotism that is beginning to be developed. Many authors even writing about the flag of our country and what it stands for (Document B). As strong as nationalism was growing throughout the nation, you start to see the rise of sectionalism throughout the nation. The North and South regions of the U. S. began to see the distinct differences within their economy and structure. With the edition of the Missouri Compromise you start to see these distinct regions and boundaries being observed and made obvious (pointed out by Jefferson). Document G) This shows a great start towards sectionalism. The south experienced the greatest concentration of sectionalism, especially in the regards of slavery. The south began to rely on agriculture as their basis of economic growth. For this to be success, slavery was an almost a natural need for the people of the south. Cotton began to grow as a cash crop for the South. Cotton was dependent on many workers needed for it to exist, thus the need for such a large amount of work force.

Slavery in the late 1700’s was beginning to die down and cotton was paying the biggest price for it. Not until Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin did the issue of slavery spark up again and cotton begins to thrive. In 1820 Missouri wished to be part of the Union as a slave state. With there already being an equality of Slave states and Free states it caused tension and sectionalism within the country; because of the edition of Missouri would cause an unbalance of free and slave states. In hopes to resolve this conflict a compromise was reached known as the Missouri Compromise.

Through the Missouri Compromise Missouri was able to enter as a slave state, while Maine was able to enter as a free state. However, as pointed out, it created a line between slave states and Free states. Any state below Missouri was able to practice slavery, and any state above was to be a Free State. Even John Quincy Adams led to the sectionalism, with his supportive views of the Compromise. (Document F) He expressed views in the emancipation of slavery as a whole, and although a subject to be morally correct it put a bigger wall in between the North and South.

He believed that instead of admitting Missouri that amendments should be placed on eliminating slavery. Even though he saw that other states would be upset, that the answer to it all would be succession. This was just the start of Sectionalism in politics. Another important separation represented to the North and South was more economically. The south being mostly focused on agriculture was weary of taxation and tariffs. With the tariffs put into effect under Henry Clay’s American System, its goal was to promote self manufacturing within the country and increase economic growth. Document E) The South was upset with the tariffs put in place, because they were growing economically with their cotton productions and it would only cause them to have to pay additional taxes to ship it. The South was strongly opposed to the tariff because they believe as a nation that it was more of an attack of their way of life rather than benefiting the entire nation. This is the reasoning for it mostly being supported by the middle and northern states rather than the South. (Document H) In the American System a new national bank emerged because the charter for the previous one was overdue.

One goal of the new nation bank was to eliminate some of the debt caused by the Louisiana Purchase. In decisions made by Marshall’s Court (credited with decisions that would later guide the way for future cases) in the case of Maryland v. McCulloch, the national bank lost a lot of credit and popularity. The economy began to decrease by the year of 1818, and it panic was starting to arise. The bank aware of this began to raise their interest rates and tighten the amount of many that was available. As a result the U. S. urrency began to see a deflation, and by 1819 it cause another great panic known as the Panic of 1819. The National Bank was to be blamed for the action causing farther sectionalism for the country. With the new tariffs in place there was a need for self improvement within the country dealing with aspects such as transportation. The North saw these internal improvements as beneficial to their manufacturing that was slowly springing up. The American system would provide revenues that that would be focused towards the building up of these internal improvements.

However, Sectionalism grew on this subject as the argument over who should fund for these new improvements. Some believed it was the responsibility of the states to achieve this funding, (Document D) while others believed that it was too large of a job for the states and was more of national job for the national government. Although from the past events, Sectionalism was beginning to have a huge affect on both the economy and politics of the Era of Good Feelings, there were still signs of nationalistic feelings during the time period; especially in the subject of foreign policy.

In the year of 1823 shortly before the end of the Era of Good Feelings, James Monroe issued the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine was simply issued to let European nations know that the U. S. was through dealing with their affairs and that they were not allowed anymore attempts of colonization in America. In return the United States would stay out of any other European affairs. This created a sense of nationalism through the country as they began to see themselves as a one of the strongest nations in the western hemisphere.

As the election of 1824 slowly approached the sectionalism in America was starting to take its toll. After James Monroe’s Presidency you start to see the flaws that were previously created. The new party system was put into effect and for the first time 4 candidates ran for office. When no majority vote could be found, it fell to the House of Representatives to make a decision. Henry Clay, Speaker of the House, pushed towards Adams presidency which upset Jackson and many followers. As Adams take presidency in 1824, issues that were skimmed through in the Era of Good Feelings were starting to take their toll.

Although Nationalism was a huge impact in the society of the time period and contributed too many things such as the elimination of the Federalist Party, the spark of many nationalistic arts and concepts, and the Monroe Doctrine on the basis of foreign policy. It did not fully explain the economy and politics of the time period. Each of these were highly affected by sectionalism, and the effects it had upon certain examples as the Missouri Compromise, slavery, the invention of the cotton gin, and the tariffs put into effect. It will be the result of these sectionalist views and actions that will eventually lead America to turn on herself

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