“Era of Good Feeling”
Historians have traditionally labeled the period after the War of 1812 the “Era of Good
Feelings.” This statement, although, is only accurate to an extent. Between the years of 1815 to
1825, only a small portion of America was benefiting greatly during this era. This era consisted of events such as unequal taxation, difficult political decisions, and foreign policies that all lead to a great amount of Americans changing their views from nationalism to sectionalism.
The feeling of sectionalism that arose during the “Era of Good Feeling” started with the
Tariff of 1816. This Tariff was passed by President Monroe in hopes of making the United States more American, meaning that Americans would buy American products instead of exported good. To help aid this process he taxed imports 20%. This affected the Southern greatly. In the south there was more agriculture than industry, unlike the North. They had less manufactured goods and relied on cheap imports from other countries for a good amount of their manufactured goods. Based on John Randolph’s address to congress in 1816, the Southern agriculturalists felt that they “bear[ed] the whole brunt of the war and taxation, and remain poor, while the others run in the ring of pleasure…” (Document A). This helped create sectionalism because the South began to resent the North. They felt the North wasn’t helping them with the debt, and felt that infact they were benefiting from them paying it as well as the Tariff of 1816. The North was
more concerned with making the North rich then making the US as a whole happy. As John C.
Calhoun said in his address to congress on February 4, 1817, as the US expanded, it grew in sections verses as a whole. From, the Density Population 1820 map, it shows that the states from
Maryland to New England are densely populated, while from Maryland to the Southern states appears to get less and less dense (Document B). This shows how only a small portion of the US, area wise, was benefiting and actually feeling good during this time period, while the rest of the
US wasn’t really. During the “Era of Good Feelings” government rulings, such as taxing and the Missouri
Compromise, brought on sectionalism. In 1819, the federal government had already opened banks in the United States. The states were now trying to tax these banks. In the decision of
McCulloch v. Maryland it was said, ‘The powers of the general government, it has been said, are delegated by the states” (Document D). The states were not given the independent power to tax the banks opened by the government in Maryland. Controversy on this matter caused sectionalism. The Missouri Compromise was a result of sectionalism, as well. The Missouri
Compromise was a series of agreements attempting to resolve the crisis of civil arguments over slavery. Thomas Jefferson wrote to John Randolph about the Missouri Compromise, “A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle, moral, and political, once conceived and help up to the angry passion of men, will never be obliterated” (Document F). Jefferson is explaining how the Missouri Compromise was made from the angry passion of men, therefore it will hold strong. It was a result of sectionalism because it was the agreement from both sides. So long as the angry passion and taxing of banks hold strong, sectionalism will hold strong.
The “Era of Good Feeling” contained few attempts to unite the country and result with an overall feeling of nationalism. The last attempt at this was the Monroe Doctrine. This was passed in 1823 by President Monroe, with the aid of John Q. Adams. This told all European nations that there would be no more colonization in North and South America. As stated in John