Era of Good Feelings Essay
After the War of 1812, Historians believe that the United States of America entered a period of time free of major crisis and filled with prosperity, commonly referred to as “the Era of Good feelings”. While this time period did have a rising influence in nationalism, which brought the nation together, it also brought the rise of sectionalism, which emerged as a problem that would further and further divide the country until the outbreak of the Civil war in 1861.This and the economic problems in the country, like the panic of 1819, caused the traditionally referred to peaceful era to actually be a time of financial troubles and political unrest, which would set the stage for the Civil War. Nationalism in the United States of America culminated after the War of 1812. Although some saw this war as a bitter failure at the hands of the British, late victories like the battle of New Orleans, in which Andrew Jackson played a major role, brought out pride in being an American. The dissolution of the Federalist Party after the Hartford Convention also helped to ease the political landscape of nation.In the painting by John Krimmel, it shows the citizens of Philadelphia gathering together and enjoying their nation’s birthday, the Fourth of July (Doc C).
A rivalry against the former mother country of Great Britain also helped to band the nation together. As John Quincy Adams wrote in his diary “President [Monroe] was averse to any course which should have the appearance of taking a position subordinate to that of Great Britain” it showed the desire to outdo their country’s rival, which helped unite the country under patriotic ideas. Doc H) Although nationalism grew throughout the country, the theory of sectionalism, or loyalty to the interests of one’s region or section of the country, had also developed. The North had developed an industrious economy, based on manufacturing and factory working, while the south maintained a strong attachment to the agrarian economy. Cotton, which totaled 2/3rds of the entire U.
S. imports at the time, totaled 200 million, supplied the south with a very prosperous economy.These differences between regions could be seen in the differences in population differences, and the election of 1824. In much of New England, the population density was very thick in number, which contrasts the south, where much of the population was much more spread out. (Doc E) The Election of 1824 showed how sectionalism shaped the political aspect as well. The South mostly voted for Andrew Jackson, while most of New England backed John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. (Doc I) this election showed how a north vs.
south rivalry.Because of these contrasting economies, belief on ways to stimulate the economy varied. John Randolph, a Congressman from Virginia, worried that government action was helping the Northern economy, and not the south. He said “Sir, I am convinced that it would be…unjust, to aggravate the burdens of the people for the purpose of manufactures” (Doc B) in this address to congress, John Randolph stated that he was worried that the congress was putting more priority on the North than the south.
Other Congressman, like John C.Calhoun, Feared that this prioritizing would cause disunion. As he said to congress in 1817 “Let it not be forgotten, let it forever kept in mind, that the extent of the republic exposes us to the greatest of calamities-disunion” (Doc A) Thomas Jefferson also feared that sectionalism would be “at once as knell of the union” and cause the country to be divided by a geographical line(Doc F). The frequently named “Era of Good Feelings”, which was the period after the War of 1812, was actually a time of distress for the country.
Although nationalistic roots began to grow and prosper under a patriotic movement, the division of the country by different regions and their economies took a more prominent role in the country. These sectionalist divisions would cause problems that would be encountered by westward expansion, economic policy, and slavery. This would eventually be the underlying causes of the Civil War to come in the following decades.