After the events of the War of 1812, the results ushered a strong sense of nationalism that would appropriate the start to the Era of Good Feeling. Simultaneously, sectionalist attitudes grew through this rise of nationalism and nationalistic developments of expansion, industry, and domestic/foreign policy. Both Sectionalism and Nationalism became equally important in the economics and politics of this period because of their concurring effects on such developments. The initial victory of the War of 1812 induced Nationalism in the United States. This victory was able to strengthen the Democratic/Republican Party and government stability that effectively influenced this notion of Nationalism. This Nationalistic attitude is described during the Era of Good Feeling by poet, Joseph Rodman Drake, in his poem, “The American Flag” (Document 2), where he states his point of view, “free soil beneath our feet, and freedom’s banner streaming o’er us”. Even before the Era of Good Feelings was Nationalism significant due to experiences related to the War of 1812, like after the surprising victory of the battle of New Orleans where there was a bounded unity amongst the American people. Naval Officer, Stephen Decatur gave a toast following the War of 1812 that illustrates the growing nationalistic feelings (Doc 1). The officer exemplifies the point of view that he would still devote his dedication and support to the nation even if America was wrong. It is clear to see through these examples that there was a prevalent sense of Nationalism establishing the Era of Good Feelings. Nationalism through expansion, industry, and domestic/foreign policy, was able to influence the economics and politics of the Era of Good Feeling. Expansion into the western front was a major root for the rise of Nationalism through the United States. Acquisitions such as the Louisiana Purchase and acquired territory from foreign nations created new opportunity that was embraced by the people. Economically, the possession of these new territories was able to expand Northern and Southern industry. Politically, the push of westward expansion produced states that would have more republican representatives which was important to new democracy. Along with expansion, sectionalism simultaneously developed due to the problem of slavery in admitting these territories as free or slave states into the Union. For example, one solution to this problem was the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which omitted Maine as a free state to the union and Missouri as a slave state. Congress also made a imaginary line at 36°,30° issuing that, with the exception of Missouri, all states north of this line will enter as free states that will prohibit slavery. The Missouri Compromise increased already heavy sectional tensions between the North and South to a point, where in the words of John Quincy Adams, “from extreme unwillingness to put the Union at hazard” (Doc 5). Quincy also continues to go on and say, “If the Union must be dissolved, slavery is precisely the question upon which it ought to break” (Doc 5). In contextual support, Thomas Jefferson agreed by saying that avoiding the growing issue of slavery will only lead to more sectionalism and a deeper conflict between the North and the South (Doc 6). Although nationalism spread through western expansion in the Era of Good Feelings, Sectionalism concurrently developed as well. The rise of industry was another significant force of nationalism that brought about sectionalism across the United States. Both the North and the South experienced large economic growth throughout the Era of Good Feelings where for the South it was a growing agrarian economy, and for the North, it was rapid industrialization. Slavery and the production of cotton were the major factors that stimulated southern industry and economy. Furthermore, the invention of the cotton gin created by Eli Whitney, greatly contributed to the Southern ‘cash crop’ economy, with cotton becoming ‘king cotton’ and with an increase of slavery that was still a problem. Northern economy was based on manufacturing goods such as textiles in larger cities, that were made from cotton from the South. These two contrasting economies of Southern agriculture and Northern manufacture created two distinct cultures/societies that further deepened the sectionalism present in the United States. Domestic and Foreign policy also affected the rise of nationalism and sectionalism that followed the Era of Good Feeling. Reforms such as the Tariff of 1816, and the Monroe Doctrine carried nationalistic sentiments as they were aimed toward protecting American industry and future growth. The Monroe Doctrine claimed that foreign powers (Europe) should not intervene in domestic affairs or of other countries in the Western Hemisphere. This doctrine is significant to the rise of nationalism because at the time, expansion was an aspiration of the American people without European Colonization. The Tariff of 1816 was the first protective tariff in American history, and was created to protect New England manufacturers from the excessive import of British goods after the War of 1812. Henry Clay advocated his purpose for “a genuine American system” and this protective tariff as he felt it was a national development that would benefit the whole of the United States, where it would “naturalize the arts in our country” (Doc 4). The Tariff of 1816, despite its nationalistic sentiment, held sectional tensions as well. The South, which was based on an agricultural economy, detested tariffs as many southerners saw this as an act against the South and aimed to benefit the North. The unpopularity of the Tariff from the South is represented in the graph (Doc 7) where the vote on the Tariff of 1816 in the House of Representatives in the South is 34 against 23. In conclusion, after the War of 1812 into the events of the Era of Good Feeling, Nationalism was a strong force that swept across the United States undertaken by 3 representative themes of expansion, industry, and domestic/foreign policy. As nationalism increased because of these factors, sectionalism developed concurrently because each of these factors produced sectionalist attitudes as well. Both beliefs of nationalism and sectionalism played an equal role in the importance of economics and politics of the period based on their immediate effects on one another through these developments.
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