CHAPTER XXII. THE ERA OF GOOD FEELING

THE PARTY ISSUES. - The issues which divided the Federalists and the Republicans from 1793 to 1815 arose chiefly from our foreign relations. Neutrality, French decrees, British orders in council, search, impressment, the embargo, non-intercourse, the war, were the matters that concerned the people. Soon after 1815 all this changed; Napoleon was a prisoner at St. Helena, Europe was at peace, and domestic issues began to be more important.

THE ERA OF GOOD FEELING. - The election of 1816, however, was decided chiefly on the issues of the war. James Monroe, [1] the Republican candidate for President, was elected by a very large majority over Rufus King. During Monroe's term domestic issues were growing up, but had not become national. They were rather sectional. Party feeling subsided, and this was so noticeable that his term was called "the Era of Good Feeling." In this condition of affairs the Federalist party died out, and when Monroe was renominated in 1820, no competitor appeared. [1] The Federalists presented no candidate.

POLITICAL EVENTS. - The chief political events of Monroe's first term (1817-21), as we have seen, were the admission of several new states, the Compromise of 1820, and the treaties of 1818 and 1819, with Great Britain and Spain. The chief political events of his second term (1821-25) were: a dispute over the disposition of public lands in the new states; [3] a dispute over the power of Congress to aid the building of roads and canals, called "internal improvements"; the recognition of the independence of South American colonies of Spain; the announcement of the Monroe Doctrine; the passage of a new tariff act; and the breaking up of the Republican party.

THE SOUTH AMERICAN REPUBLICS. - In 1808 Napoleon invaded Spain, drove out the king, and placed his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the throne. Thereupon many of the Spanish colonies in America rebelled and organized themselves as republics. When Napoleon was sent to St. Helena, the Spanish king (who was restored in 1814) brought back most of the colonies to their allegiance. La Plata, however, rebelled, and was quickly followed by the others. In 1822 President Monroe recognized the independence of La Plata (Argentina), Chile, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, and Central America.

THE HOLY ALLIANCE. - The king of Spain, unable to conquer the revolted colonies, applied for aid to the Holy Alliance which was formed by Russia, Prussia, Austria, and France for the purpose of maintaining monarchical government in Europe. For a while these powers did nothing, but in 1823 they called a conference to consider the question of restoring to Spain her South American colonies. But the South American republics had won their independence from Spain, and had been recognized by us as sovereign powers; what right had other nations to combine and force them back again to the condition of colonies? In his annual message (December, 1823), the President therefore took occasion to make certain announcements which have ever since been called the Monroe Doctrine. [4]

THE MONROE DOCTRINE. - Referring to the conduct of the Holy Alliance, he said -

1. That the United States would not meddle in the political affairs of Europe.

2. That European governments must not extend their system to any part of North and South America, nor in any way seek to control the destiny of any of the nations of this hemisphere.

As Russia had been attempting to plant a colony on the coast of California, which was then a part of Mexico, the President announced (as another part of the doctrine) -

3. That the American continents were no longer open for colonization by European powers.

THE TARIFF OF 1824. - Failure of the tariff of 1816 to shut out British manufactures, the hard times of 1819, and the general ruin of business led to a demand for another tariff in 1820. To this the cotton states were bitterly opposed. In the South there were no manufacturing centers, no great manufacturing industries of any sort. The planters sold their cotton to the North and (chiefly) to Great Britain, from which they bought almost all kinds of manufactured goods they used. Naturally, they wanted low duties on their imported articles; just enough tax to support the government and no more.

In the North, especially in towns now almost wholly given up to manufactures, as Lynn and Lowell and Fall River and Providence and Cohoes and Paterson and others; in regions where the farmers were raising sheep for wool; in Pennsylvania, where iron was mined; and in Kentucky, where the hemp fields were, people wanted domestic manufactures protected by a high tariff.

The struggle was a long one. At each session of Congress from 1820 to 1824 the question came up. Finally in 1824 a new tariff for protection was enacted despite the efforts of the South and part of New England.

BREAKING UP OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY. - Though the three questions of internal improvements, the tariff, and the use of the public lands led to bitter disputes, they did less to break up the party harmony than the action of the leaders. After the second election of Monroe the question of his successor at once arose. The people of Tennessee nominated Andrew Jackson; South Carolina named the Secretary of War, Calhoun; Kentucky wanted Henry Clay, who had long been speaker of the House of Representatives; the New England states were for John Quincy Adams, the Secretary of State. Finally the usual party caucus of Republican members of Congress nominated Crawford of Georgia, the Secretary of the Treasury.