Frederick Jackson Turner

The place of slavery in the westward expansion of the nation was not the only burning question which the American people had to face in the presidency of Monroe. Within a few years after that contest, the problem of the independence of the New World and of the destiny of the United States in the sisterhood of new American republics confronted the administration. Should the political rivalries and wars of Europe to acquire territory be excluded from the western hemisphere?

The transformation by which the slender line of the Indian trail became the trader's trace, and then a road, superseded by the turnpike and canal, and again replaced by the railroad, is typical of the economic development of the United States. As the population of the west increased, its surplus products sought outlets.

As has been shown in the last chapter, the attitude of portions of the south towards strict construction was not inveterate upon measures which promised advantages to that section. But the tariff struggle revealed the spirit which arose when powers were asserted unfavorable to any section. The failure of the tariff bill of 1820 [Footnote: See above, chap. ix.] was followed by other unsuccessful attempts to induce a majority of Congress to revive the subject.

In many previous volumes of the series, the region beyond the Alleghenies has been recognized as an influence and a potentiality in American history.

As we have seen, [Footnote: See above, chap. x.] the dissensions in Monroe's cabinet approached the point of rupture by the spring and summer of 1822, when the spectacle was presented of the friends of the secretary of the treasury making war upon the measures of the secretary of war, and even antagonizing the president himself. Crawford's followers gained the name of the "radicals," and declared as their principles, democracy, economy, and reform. [Footnote: Adams, Memoirs, VI., 56; Mass. Hist.

In the present volume I have kept before myself the importance of regarding American development as the outcome of economic and social as well as political forces. To make plain the attitude and influence of New England, the middle region, the south, and the west, and of the public men who reflected the changing conditions of those sections in the period under consideration, has been my principal purpose.

For eight years President Monroe had administered the executive department of the federal government-years that have been called the "Era of Good Feeling." The reader who has followed the evidences of factional controversy among the rival presidential candidates in the cabinet, and noted the wide-spread distress following the panic of 1819, the growing sectional jealousies, the first skirmishes in the slavery struggle, and the clamor of a democracy eager to assert its control and profoundly distrustful of the reigning political powers, will question the reality of this good feeling.

The history of the United States is the history of a growing nation. Every period of its life is a transitional period, but that from the close of the War of 1812 to the election of Andrew Jackson was peculiarly one of readjustment. It was during this time that the new republic gave clear evidence that it was throwing off the last remnants of colonial dependence. The Revolution had not fully severed the United States from the European state system; but now the United States attained complete independence and asserted its predominance in the western continent.

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