Era of Good Feelings Essay Sample
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Era of Good Feelings Essay Sample
During the Era of Good Feelings, the country utilized the driving force of nationalism to unify itself through its time of prospering and developing as a nation. However, territorial and state rights were extremely imperative for the country\’s political agenda. The question of sectionalisms effect has not as often been discussed even though sectionalism was an influential factor in both economics and politics. Both sectionalism and nationalism are not mutually exclusive beliefs but have developed along with each other throughout history. Although they have both affected the United States in different ways during this era, they were both in equally important ways.
Nationalism played a large role in the era, due to the fact that it defined it for the most part. This nationalistic attitude influenced the arts as well as the political and economic ideals brought about by this air of unity within the nation. The results of The War of 1812 influenced this new sense of nationalism. Drake’s poem “The American Flag” is an example of nationalistic poetry and greatly magnifies the nationalistic fervor that is occurring during this time period (Document 2).
The freedom that was won during the Revolution, and maintained during the victory of The War of 1812, was a large factor in the new found nationalistic attitude. Women, who had very little political rights or voice, also displayed a new sense of nationalism. Emma Hart Willard, women’s rights activist, wrote to the New York State Legislature advocating and pushing for women’s rights (Document 3). In her letter to the the legislature, Willard cited American principles such as freedom and equality, which is what gave this text a sense of nationalism. The economic and political ideals of this era were also influenced by nationalism.
Henry Clay, United States Secretary of State, pursued economic improvements in the nation, such as internal improvements to be financed by the government, as well as the levying of a protective tariff to guarantee American industrial strength (Document 4). Politicians such as Clay, wanted to improve the U.S. through internal improvements and protect American businesses by proposing reforms that were backed by nationalistic ideals.
As strong as nationalism was during this time period, sectionalism started to gain attention around the country. Due to a numerous amount of differences, Northern and Southern states began to feel divided from one another. However, Southern states started to gain more of a sectionalist feeling than the Northern states due to slavery. The invention of the Cotton Gin in 1793 by Eli Whitney increased slavery exponentially and made cotton easier to produce. Slavery’s increase during this time period made it become a major issue in the nation, especially in the Louisiana Territory. In 1820, Missouri petitioned for statehood as a slave state. However, admitting another slave state would disrupt the balance of Slave and Free states. A compromise was then reached and this allowed for Missouri to enter the nation as a slave state and for Maine to enter as a Free state.
This compromise made the already sectionalist south, dive deeper into sectionalism. John Quincy Adams, President of the U.S. from 1825-1829, wrote “If the Union must be dissolved, slavery is precisely the question upon which it ought to break” (Document 5). This text written by Adams further underlined the tones of increased sectionalist feelings among the Southern States. Agreeing to this statement made by Adams, Thomas Jefferson that the putting off of the issue and the increased compromising that was occurring would lead to more of an increase to sectionalism (Document 6).
Jefferson\’s letter to Congressman John Holmes of Massachusetts, stated that with every instance of increased compromising, would continuously lead to a deeper hatred between the Northern and Southern states. The introduction of excessive taxation and tariffs did not go well with the Southern states as they viewed this taxation as an attack on their livelihood, instead as viewing these tariffs and taxes as benefiting the whole nation as a whole. This animosity toward excessive taxation and tariffs was shown when the Tariff of 1816 went to vote in the House of Representatives (Document 7). The majority, and responsible for the passing of this tariff, were the Middle and Northern states, while the majority of Southern Representatives voted against the tariff.