Guiding Questions: Era of Good Feelings The period of Monroe’s presidency is called the “Era of Good Feeling” because throughout the nation a rising spirit of nationalism was spreading, the Republicans faced no serious political threats, and the nation faced no drastic international threats. Overall, it was a prosperous time, where Monroe attempted to use his office to realize the dream of a time where partisan divisions and factional disputes would come to an end. In order to help further this goal, Monroe made a goodwill tour throughout the country, the first President to do so since Washington. This tour helped to create a “Presidential Jubilee”, especially in New England, where the citizens were very discontent with Federalists. Monroe was easily reelected and for all practical purposes, the Federalist Party had ceased to exist.
The Panic of 1819 was caused by high foreign demand for American farm goods, which resulted in very high prices for farmers. The rising prices of farm goods had created a land boom in the West. Then, as a result of speculative investments, land prices soared incredibly. This availability of easy credit to settlers and speculators helped to make to fuel this land boom. As a result, credit was tightened, calling in loans and foreclosing land, creating a failure of state banks, causing a panic, especially in the West. The Panic caused the National Bank’s existence to be the most burning political issue of the time. Six years of depression followed the Panic, and some Americans saw the Panic as a sing that rapid economic growth and territorial expansion would destroy the fragile economy. However, by 1820, all Americans encouraged growth, and the question became how to encourage and control growth.
The Tallmadge Amendment was introduced to the house in order to prevent the further introduction of slaves into Missouri and provide for the slow freeing of the slaves that were already there. This Amendment provoked a controversy that would go on to rage over the next two years.
The major elements of disagreement in the debate over the admission of Missouri into the Union were that it would upset the balance of political power between the slave states and the free slaves. At the time, there were 11 free states and 11 slave states, so the power was equally distributed. If Missouri were added as a slave state, then the slave states would have more power in the government than free slaves. However, the admission of Missouri as a free state would result in a greater power of North over South, so of course, the question of the admission of Missouri became a hot political topic.
The Missouri Compromise was helped because at the same time that Missouri was applying to be a state, Maine applied for admission as a free state. Maine ultimately offered a way out of the political lock, and the Senate agreed to combine the Maine and Missouri proposals into a single bill. Maine would be admitted as a free state while Missouri would be added as a slave state, which would maintain the political balance of slave vs. free and South vs. North. In addition, Senator Jesse B. Thomas of Illinois proposed an amendment preventing slavery in the rest of the Louisiana Purchase territory north of the southern boundary of Missouri. This amendment was adopted, and with the help of Speaker Clay, the Maine-Missouri bill was guided through the House.
The compromise worked short term, but failed to create a long-term solution to the problem of slavery in the Western territories, because it only prevented it above the 36° 30’ parallel, so below the southern border of Missouri, new slave states could still emerge. The compromise revealed how the strong ideal of sectionalism was fighting against the rising wave of nationalism. It created the problem for a north vs. south battle over slavery, later resulting in the civil war, and also the political battle of sectionalism vs. nationalism, that also helped to fuel the civil war.
The net effect of the opinions delivered by the Marshall court helped to shape the Constitution, and to establish the Judiciary branch and make it an equal to the other branches, and to confirm the implied powers of Congress by upholding the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States. These opinions also helped in establishing federal primacy by showing that the federal government had power over the sates in regulating the economy and this opened the way for an increased federal role in economic growth, protecting corporations and other private economic institutions from local government interference. These opinions showed that John Marshall thought that the government should be strongly controlled federally, and the federal government should regulate economics.
By invalidating the Georgia law that attempted to regulate access by US citizens to Cherokee country, Marshall confirmed that Indian tribes would be dealt with the federal government. Marshall established that the federal government had ultimate authority over tribal affairs, even if the authority was limited by the government’s obligation to protect Indian welfare. This showed that Marshall was strongly nationalistic, and believed in a strong federal government which controlled almost all national and foreign affairs.
The US sided with revolutions that fought for their independence from France and Spain because many believed that the success of the revolution would help to further America’s already super strong economic position in the Latin American region. At first, the US remained neutral, but then began to ship supplies and food to the insurgents, showing they truly supported the rebellions. In 1822, Monroe established diplomatic relations with five new nations – La Plata (Argentina), Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Mexico – making the US the first country to recognize these new nations. In 1823, Monroe established a policy that would later be known as the “Monroe Doctrine” (even though it was primarily the work of John Quincy Adams), which sated that “The American continents are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers”. This meant that the US would consider any foreign challenge to eth sovereignty of the newly existing American nations as an unfriendly act. This act came out of the fear of European powers taking over the small emerging nations in America, and the fear that Great Britain would try to take Cuba. It helped to support the growth of nationalism in the US in the 1820s and served to establish the US as the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere.
The caucus system was viewed with such disdain before the election of 1824 because it forced a political rift in the politics of the country, and without the Federalist Party, the Republicans had no opposition with the caucus system. The caucus system limited that could run for President, and therefore drew much disdain from the American public.
The candidates in the 1824 presidential election were William H. Crawford of Georgia (the secretary of the treasury – nominated by caucuses), Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, and Andrew Jackson, who was a military hero. The problem that arose during this time was that Jackson received more popular and electoral votes than any other candidate, but not a majority. The Twelfth Amendment to the Constitution required the House of Representatives to choose among the three candidates with the largest numbers of electoral votes. The House choose Adams, for Crawford was ill and Clay was out of the running, and Adams named Clay his secretary of state, which convinced the House to elect Adams as the new Presidency. The outraged Jacksonians expressed a “corrupt bargain”, which affected Adams throughout his presidency, and this anger ended the “Era of Good Feelings”, and rivaling political parties again arose in America.
John Quincy Adams planned create a nationalist program and to create diplomatic relations with other countries. His nationalist program was reminiscent of Clay’s American system, but Jacksonians in Congress blocked this plan. Adams also experienced diplomatic frustrations, Congress delayed approving the Panama mission so long that the American delegation did not arrive until after the conference was over. Adams also lost a case with the state of Georgia, which wished to remove the remaining Creek and Cherokee Indians from the state to gain additional soil for cotton planters. Adams opposed the treaty, and set up a direct conflict between the President and the State, and the government defied Adams, while Adams found no way to stop him.
New England wool manufacturers wanted a new tariff on imported goods in 1828 because they complained that the British were dumping textiles on the American market at artificially low prices. The South called it the “Tariff of Abomination” because they had to pay for raw materials, and this negatively affected the Southern economy.
The National Republicans were the side that supported John Quincy Adams, and advocated for a stronger national economy with a strong nationalistic program. The National Republicans drew their power from the North. Meanwhile, the Democratic Republicans were the followers of Andrew Jackson, who called for an assault on privilege and a widening of opportunity. Jackson appealed to abroad coalition that opposed the “economic aristocracy.” The Jacksonians were often from the South and the mid-South.
The issues in the 1828 presidential election barely counted for little in the end, as the campaign was mostly a war of personal invective. The Jacksonians charged that Adams had been guilty of gross waste and extravagance and had used public funds ot buy gambling devices (a chess set and a billiard table) for the White House. On the other side, Adam’s supporters called Jackson a murder and a “coffin handbill” which listed coffin-shaped outlines, the names of militiamen whom Jackson was said to have shot in cold blood during the War of 1812. They also called his wife a bigamist (she married Jackson after she thought she divorced her husband, but she never actually finalized the paperwork), and she later died after the election. Jackson blamed this death on his opponents. Overall, the election was the dirtiest in the 19th century because it attacked the person running for president rather than their views.