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Era of Good Feelings Dbq

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The War of 1812 had left many Americans frustrated that the country had invested immense resources into Mr. Madison's war, which many perceived as futile, and pointless. Although a minority group agreed with the war's motives to stop impressment of American soldiers at the hands of the British navy/ end naval trade blockades and Canadian land expansion, the outcome had essentially achieved nothing. Ending the war, the Treaty of Ghent did not address many tensions between the British and the Americans (as it essentially restored boundaries from where they were before the war and did not do much else). However, in the midst of all this frustration ,the accomplishment of defeating the British naval and military forces (although it was a narrow victory and the U.S. was a lesser concern to Britain as they were also dealing with Napoleon's expansion goals - a more prominent threat ), led to a sense of pride throughout the country. The newfound sense of nationalism (although short lasted) stemming from defeating the most elite navy in the world, in combination with the mostly uni-partisan legislative and executive branches of government consisting of James Monroe and a democratic-republican congress, (excluding the federalist midnight appointment federal judges in the judiciary branch) led many historians to label the time period "The Era of Good Feelings." However, the name is quite deceptive; tensions stemming from differing ideologies led to sectionalism and in response, the nationalist movement took steps to counteract the sectionalist; their actions often had little effect and sometimes led to more tension.

Although the federal government had essentially been ridded of all Federalist Party members (except in the judiciary branch) after the Revolution of 1801, and both the North and South had elected Democratic-Republicans to congress, the nation was not consistent in its political ideologies. The northern states, which tended to be more urbane and densely populated (Document E) which was partially due to the establishment of factory towns requiring large labour forces. Thus, the north tended to favour protectionism and laws such as the Tariff of 1816 were implemented to protect the factory-based industries that were common in the North. Similarly, in this way the Democratic - Republican Party had undergone a partial realignment, in that it was originally the party of the southern lower class farmers, who favoured a minimal government. The South, which was less populated (Document E), fought more for a government that did not grant the elite special privileges. As explained in Document A (which as John Randolph criticized manufacturers it can be assumed he is from the South), many felt that the less wealthy Southerners (especially farmers and poor whites) felt that the cost of the war and government was unjustly portioning taxes; they felt they could not afford the tax, while wealthy factory owners could. This resentment towards the north was one of the key reasons that led to sectionalism. Similarly, although the government was mainly democratic republican (and it remained consistently democratic-republican even as late as the election of 1820 when with the exception of one state, the entire vote went to Monroe [Document I] and congress that year was dominated by democratic-republicans), the party itself wad divided between Northern and Southern interests. Another practice causing the divide was slavery. The southern states had grown completely dependent on production of cotton and its exportation to European countries since the invention of the cotton gyn. Slavery in combination with the new invention was what their economy totally depended on, and if slaves were taken away, the entire southern economy would be in ruins. In contrast, the North was not in favour of the practice. This is especially evident in during the slave revolts. Inspired by the successful revolt in Saint-Domingue when group of slaves had successfully against their French oppressors, and took control of a portion of island, thus forming the new state of Haiti, Denmark Vesey (an African-American slave) organized a revolt in Charlestown. Locals feared the slaves taking power for themselves. Officials quickly squelched the rebellion by putting errant slaves to death (Document G). This particular revolt as well as other minor revolts furthered the sectional divide. Northern citizens (although generally not for equal rights for African-Americans) were horrified upon being informed of the slave execution, and many journalists residing in Northern states at the time not only criticized the South for allowing such an awful practice, but expressed their disgust the massacres of "errant slaves." Direct criticisms of opposing ideologies of the other region, as well as of actions taken to support beliefs, do not coincide the label of good feelings.

Tension was so extreme that Thomas Jefferson went so far as to describe the growing sectionalism as the "knell of the union," (Document F). The increasing divide between the North and South led men to fear that the country was breaking apart, and unless the federal government could find a way to appease conflicting interests, it would not survive. The response was to create a nationalistic movement, which nationalists hoped would lead the two regions to put aside their differences and thus save the union from disunion. In order to avoid disunion, President Monroe has declared his mission to not only make sure they were not subordinate to Great Britain, but he wanted to weaken the Holy Alliance ( Prussia, Russia, Austria and France) (Document H). These goals were later expressed in the Monroe Doctrine as well as a proclamation of the government's stance that it wanted no interference from Europe in the new world. Domestically it was applauded because these countries were seen as a threat, especially Russia. There was a Russian trading post in what is now present day Alaska and in California. These posts - especially the one in California, led Americans

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