US History/War, Nationalism, and Division

The War of 1812


Washington, Adams, and Jefferson had attempted to keep the United States neutral in the conflict between Napoleonic France and her allies and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Russia and their allies. France had been an ally of the United States during the revolutionary war, but the United Kingdom was extremely powerful. Britain was at war with France and to impede American trade with France imposed a series of restrictions that the U.S. contested as illegal under international law. The American Congress declared war on Britain on June 18, 1812 for a combination of reasons: outrage at the impressment of thousands of American sailors into the British navy, frustration at British restraints on neutral trade, and anger at British military support for Native Americans defending their tribal lands from encroaching American settlers

Historians such as Robin Reilly have argued that the United States's declaration of war on Great Britain was a victory for French diplomacy, forcing Britain to divert its attention and some resources from continental matters. The British might have seen no reason for a war with the United States. In its war against France, Great Britain depended on American supplies, including beef and oak. Any combat in North America was a distraction from the Duke of Wellington's army in its attempt to contain and defeat the French in Spain.

Politics of the War

1816 Portrait of James Madison, president during the War of 1812.

Both former President Jefferson and current President Madison, Democratic Republicans, supported the war with the aim of ending British aggression and the hope of taking Canada from the British. President Madison and his advisers believed a conquest of Canada would be quick and easy, hoping the British would hand the Americans the land because of their war with Napoleon. (Former President Thomas Jefferson himself stated that "the acquisition of Canada this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching, and will give us the experience for the attack on Halifax, the next and final expulsion of England from the American continent.") New England Federalists opposed the war, which was partially driven by Southern and Western desires for more land. The war was highly unpopular in New England, because the New England economy relied heavily on trade, especially with Great Britain. The Declaration of War was passed by an extremely small margin. The Federalist Party, which had been weakened at the end of the Adams administration, surged in popularity among the citizens of New England states. In Great Britain, meanwhile, Prime Minister Spencer Perceval had been shot and killed by an aggrieved ex-merchant. This put Lord Liverpool in charge of the government. He wanted to improve relations with the United States, and repealed the orders of impressment. But the war had already begun.

Federalists joined renegade Democratic Republicans in supporting New York City mayor Dewitt Clinton for president in the election of 1812. Clinton lost to President Madison by 128 to 89 votes -- a respectable showing against a wartime president -- and the Federalists gained some congressional seats and carried many local elections. But the South and the West who favored the war remained solidly Democratic Republican.

War of 1812

Map of the Principal campaigns during the War of 1812.

The War of 1812 was fought from 1812 to 1815 and involved both land and naval engagements. The combatants were the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The United Kingdom also included its own American colonies, especially Upper Canada (now called Ontario), Lower Canada (Quebec), Nova Scotia, and Bermuda. The British had agreed to recognize all of the American land from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mississippi River, except for Spanish Florida. Yet it still maintained forts in American territory. The British had recruited Indians, such as Tecumseh, to aggravate American settlers and even continued to maintain forts on American soil. The British encouraged Native American tribes to harass American settlers. The British took interest in the Ohio Valley and Kentucky region due to its fur trade.

Neither country was prepared for this struggle. American efforts to lure recruits, with sign-up bonuses and promises of three months pay and rights to purchase 160 acres of western land upon discharge, met with mixed success. This was especially true on the American frontier and on the high seas, where American sailors were pressed into service in the British Royal Navy, as the British were waging war against Napoleonic France. The British had only some 5,000 troops in its North American possessions, and the British war against Napoleon continued in continental Europe, as the British fleet blockaded most of the European coastline. By 1812, the US military Academy at West Point (founded in 1802) had produced only eighty-nine regular officers. Senior army officers were aged Revolutionary War Veterans or political appointees.The American military was still unorganized and undisciplined compared to the British. Militias in New England and New York often refused to fight outside their own states, and often retreated when they did. Desperate for soldiers, New York offered to free any slaves who enlisted, with compensation to their owners, and the U.S Army made the same offer to slaves in the Old Northwest and in Canada. In Philadelphia Black leaders formed a Black brigade to defend the city, but in the Deep South fear of arming slaves kept them out of the military. This fear even kept out a New Orleans-based free Black militia founded during Spanish control of Louisiana. The British were able to recruit slaves by promising freedom in exchange for service. The American lack of discipline and New England distaste for the war made its waging more difficult than President Madison had originally imagined.

The Atlantic Theater


The U.S. Navy was not twenty years old and had a mere twenty-two vessels. However, early in the war, the British could not spare many ships from its anti-Napoleonic fleets. In addition to America's regular Navy, its government commissioned privateers. These were private vessels entitled to attack and destroy British commercial ships, and to take any goods they found on those ships. This was essentially legalized piracy. The British also used privateers. The British planned to protect its shipping in Canada while blockading major American ports. However, there were a series of American naval victories on the Atlantic at this early stage of the war.

The USS constitution tears apart the HMS Guerriere. The battle earned the USS Constitution the nickname Old Ironsides.

On August 19, the USS Constitution engaged HMS Guerriere. The battle held off the coast of Nova Scotia became the first naval encounter. The HMS Guerriere was led by Captain Dacres, who was confident that the British navy could take the USS Constitution, "There is a Yankee frigate at forty-five minutes, she is surely ours. Take her in fifteen minutes and I promise you four months pay." The Constitution didn't fire until it was twenty-five feet away, shooting both cannon and grape shot. In the middle of the battle, a Guerriere cannonball bounced off of the Constitution's side. An American seaman exclaimed, "Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!" The Guerriere, which had been instrumental in enforcing the British blockade, lost decisively. Her crew was brought on board as prisoners. When American Captain Hull realized that the British ship had been too badly damaged to be salvaged, it was set fire and blown up. The news of the victory made all Boston celebrate.

Yet despite some victories on the Atlantic, the U.S. Navy could not match the powerful British Navy. The British blockaded nearly every American port on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The British had America so blockaded that that U.S. trade declined nearly 90% in 1811. This major loss of funds threatened to bankrupt the American government.

In October 1812, the Constitution, then captained by William Bainbrige, won another victory against HMS Java off the coast of Brazil. This second British ship was also rendered unsalvageable, while the Constitution remained unharmed. The veteran ship had won the nickname "Old Ironsides" in some of the first victories against Great Britain on the high seas. The victory led from General Hull sparked new hope to the Americans. It also redeemed them from the loss at the battle at Fort Dearborn, Ohio on August 15, 1812. This latter engagement left General Hull wounded and forced to surrender.

American Captain Stephen Decatur, who had gained fame during the Barbary War, also enabled early naval victories. On October 25, 1812, Decatur commanded the USS United States to capture the HMS Macedonian. And in January of 1813 Captain David Porter sailed the USS Essex into the Pacific to counter the harassment of British whaling ships on the American whaling industry. Essex inflicted some $3 million in damages to British whaling ships before finally being captured off the coast of Chile on March 28, 1814.

However, on the Atlantic Coast, Sir John Coape Sherbrooke embarked on the Penobscot Expedition in September 1814. He led five hundred British sailors off the coast of Maine (then part of Massachusetts), a main hub for smuggling between the British and Americans. During twenty-six days Sherbrooke raided and looted several cities and destroyed seventeen American vessels, winning the Battle of Hampden and occupying Castine for the remainder of the war.

The Great Lakes/Canadian/Western Theater

The Battle of Lake Erie was a critical battle that allowed Americans to recapture Detroit.

The United States' attempt to invade Canada by land was a miserable failure. The Western theater of the war was mostly fought in the Michigan, Ohio, and the Canadian border area. Geography dictated the military operations that would take place in the West, primarily around Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, the Saint Lawrence River, and Lake Champlain.

Chesapeake Campaign

The British burn Washington DC.

The Chesapeake Bay was a center of trade, commerce and government. The British brought war into the Chesapeake area in 1813 and 1814.[1] On July 4, 1813, Joshua Barney convinced the Navy Department to build twenty barges to protect the Chesapeake Bay. These barges were successful at harassing the Royal Navy, but proved useless to the overall course of the war.

When Napoleon had been defeated in 1814, the British moved more of their ships to the United States. On August 24th of that year, British troops marched on the city of Washington, the Navy ready to lend its support. The British burnt the White House, the Capitol, and the American ships in harbor. The entire Library of Congress was destroyed by fire. More of the city would have burnt if there hadn't been rain that evening. President James Madison's wife, Dolly Madison, had been warned by a letter hours before the onslaught. The President, his wife, and his Cabinet fled, Dolly Madison first seizing a life-size painting of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart. (When former President Thomas Jefferson heard of the destruction of the Library, he offered to replenish it. In May of 1815 the Government bought 6,700 volumes from Jefferson, the whole of his own library, for $23,950.) The buildings burned all night. Yet this British attack was meant for a diversion from its ensuing Battle of Baltimore. Here the British blockaded the harbor and attacked its three forts at the same time by land and sea. Yet despite the overwhelming assault, all the fortresses stood with only light damage, and Fort McHenry flew its flag as usual that morning. The British troops withdrew, and its fleet left to regroup and battle again in New Orleans. An American, Francis Scott Key, had been detained on a British ship overnight as he entreated for the compassionate release of an American national. His heart stirred by the raising of the flag, he wrote a set of verses on the occasion. Set to the tune of an old British drinking song, "The Star-Spangled Banner" later became the American National Anthem.

The Southern Theater

The Battle of Horseshoe Bend.

By 1814 the blockade of American ports had tightened until United States ships found it increasingly difficult to sail without meeting forces of superior strength. In August 1814, American and British negotiators met in Ghent, Belgium to discuss peace. The Treaty of Ghent ended the war in December, but made no substantial changes to policies before the War. With no way to send the news of the Treaty quickly, the US did not hear of it for several weeks.

As part of their policy of supporting local Indians against the Americans, the British had been aiding the Creek Indians in the South. In March 1814, General Andrew Jackson and General John Coffee led a force comprised of about 2,000 Tennessee militiamen, Choctaw, Cherokee, and U.S. regulars in a war against the Creek Indians. Out of 1,000 Creeks, led by Chief Menawa, 800 were killed at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend. Only 49 of Jackson's forces were killed. Jackson pursued the remaining Creeks until they surrendered.

At the end of the year, General Jackson was on the move again. This time he was leading forces to New Orleans, Louisiana, to defend against the invading British. In one of the last and the greatest battles of the war, Jackson decisively routed the British forces. 1,784 British soldiers were killed: the Americans lost only 210. The British left New Orleans, and the battle made General Jackson a hero. The British then secured Mobile bay and were victorious in the Battle of Fort Bowyer, but afterwards had to simply march away.

The End of the War

The Battle of New Orleans

When the war had finished, 1,600 British and 2,260 American troops had died. Slow communication also blocked New England's news of American success in the Battle of New Orleans. Pessimists feared the US's dissolution or defeat. But when news of the Treaty of Ghent reached America in early 1815, fears were allayed. Neither side could claim absolute victory, but the Americans were encouraged that they did not falter against the British.

American diplomacy was triumphant, as it had been in the Revolution and the Louisiana Purchase. If it had not stopped the conflict before the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, the British might have been able mobilize a hundred thousand veterans and the full power of its Navy.

Hartford Convention


New England merchants and shippers had already been upset about the trade policies of the Jefferson administration (the Embargo Act of 1807) and the Madison administration (the Non-Intercourse Act of 1809). They had wholly opposed war with Great Britain, fearing damage to New England industry. With trade illegal and a British blockade, New England states, particularly Massachusetts and Connecticut, felt the brunt of President Madison's war-time policies. President Madison had maintained executive control over the military defense of New England rather than allowing state governors to take control. Many New Englanders saw this as an attack on their states' sovereignty.

On October 10, 1814, the Massachusetts legislature voted for delegates from all five New England states to meet on December 15 in Hartford, Connecticut, to discuss constitutional amendments pertaining to the interests of New England states. Twenty-six delegates gathered in Hartford. The meetings were held in secret and no records were kept. The Hartford Convention concluded with a report stating that states had a duty and responsibility to assert their sovereignty over encroaching and unconstitutional federal policy. In addition, a set of proposed Constitutional amendments was established, including:

  1. Prohibition of trade embargos lasting longer than 60 days;
  2. 2/3rds majority in Congress for declaration of offensive war, admission of new states, and interdiction of foreign commerce;
  3. Rescinding 3/5ths representation of slaves (perceived as an advantage to the South);
  4. One-term limit for the President of the United States; and
  5. A requirement that each succeeding president be from a different state than his predecessor.

While some delegates may have desired secession from the Union, no such proposal was adopted by the Convention.

Three commissioners from Massachusetts were sent to Washington, DC, to negotiate these terms in February 1815, but news that the war had ended and of General Jackson's victory at New Orleans preceded them. The act was perceived by many as disloyal, and the commissioners returned to Massachusetts. The Hartford Convention sealed the decline of the Federalist Party.

Second Barbary War


Following the First Barbary War, the United States focused on the situation developing with Great Britain, giving the pirate states of the Barbary Coast opportunity to not follow the terms of the treaty ending that war. The U.S., not having the military resources to devote to the region, was forced to pay ransoms for the crew. The British expulsion of all U.S. vessels from the Mediterranean during the War of 1812 further emboldened the pirate states, and Umar ben Muhammad, the Dey of Algiers, expelled U.S. Consular Tobias Lear, declaring war on the United States for failing to pay tribute. Again, the situation went unaddressed due to the lack of U.S. military resources in the area.

After the end of the War of 1812, however, the U.S. was able to focus on American interests in North Africa. On March 3, 1815, Congress authorized use of naval force against Algiers, and a force of ten ships was deployed under the commands of Commodores Stephen Decatur, Jr. and William Bainbridge. Decatur's squadron was the first to depart to the Mediterranean on May 20.

Commodore Decatur quickly led the squadron to decisive victories over the Algiers, capturing two Algerian-flagged ships en route to Algiers. By the end of the month of June, Decatur reached Algiers and demanded compensation or threatened the Dey's destruction. The Dey capitulated, and a treaty was signed in which the Algerian ships were returned in exchange for American captors (of which there were approximately ten), several Algerian captors were returned in exchange for several European captors, $10,000 was paid for seized shipping, and guarantees were made to end the tribute payments and grant the United States full shipping rights.

James Monroe Presidency and The Era of Good Feelings

1819 portrait of President James Monroe

After the war a new wave of nationalism spread across the United States. Before this, citizens of the United States tended to view themselves as citizens of their individual states (i.e. New Yorkers or Georgians): now they viewed themselves as Americans. Their new nation had defeated the British empire.

The Federalists' opposition to the War of 1812 and the Hartford Convention terminally damaged the party. Some Anti-Federalists even called them traitors. The last serious Federalist candidate, Rufus King, ran for the presidency in 1816, losing to James Madison's Secretary of State James Monroe. The party disbanded in 1825.

National pride and the lull in partisanship led to what journalist for Boston's Columbian Sentinal Benjamin Russell called an Era of Good Feelings, as the newly elected President Monroe came through on a goodwill tour in 1817.

American System


Riding on the wave of newfound national pride, politicians such as Henry Clay of Kentucky, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, and John Q. Adams of Massachusetts, following in Alexander Hamilton's footsteps, pushed an agenda to strengthen and unify the nation. The system, which came to be known as the American System, called for high tariffs to protect American industry and high land prices to generate additional federal revenue. The plan also called for strengthening the nation's infrastructure, such as roads and canals, which would be financed by tariffs and land revenue. The improvements would make trade easier and faster. Finally, the plan called for maintaining the Second Bank of the United States (chartered in 1816 for 20 years) to stabilize the currency and the banking system, as well as the issuance of sovereign credit. Congress also passed a protective tariff to aid industries that had flourished during the war of 1812 but were now threatened by the resumption of over seas trade. The Tariff of 1816 levied taxes on imported woolens and cottons, as well as on iron,leather,hats, papers,and sugar.

Although portions of the system were adopted (for example, 20-25% taxes on foreign goods, which encouraged consumption of relatively cheaper American goods), others met with roadblocks. Namely, this was true of the infrastructure proposals. The Constitutionality was called into question on whether or not the federal government had such power. Despite this, two major infrastructure achievements were made in the form of the Cumberland Road and the Erie Canal. The Cumberland Road stretched between Baltimore and the Ohio River, facilitating ease of travel and providing a gateway to the West for settlement. The Erie Canal extended from the Hudson River at Albany, New York, to Buffalo, New York, at Lake Erie, thus vastly improving the speed and efficiency of water travel in the northeast.

Opposition to the American System mostly came from the West and the South. Clay argued, however, that the West should support the plan because urban workers in the northeast would be consumers of Western food, and the South should support it because of the market for the manufacture of cotton in northeastern factories. The South, however, strongly opposed tariffs and had a strong market for cotton, anyway.

In short, the American System met with mixed results over the 1810s and 1820s due to various obstacles, but in the end, American industry benefited, and growth ensued.



During the early part of the 19th century individual states were finally able to build better infrastructure. The 1790s had seen the construction of two toll roads, Pennsylvania's Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike and New York State's Great Western Turnpike. Now states such as Virginia, North Carolina, and Massachusetts built canals, vast artificial waterways to move vast quantities of goods and people. Unlike the rivers, canals were maintained without shallows or rapids through the use of locks and dams to maintain water height. Whereas steamboats had to fight the current, canal boats were drawn by horses or oxen along their placid way. In 1817 New York State authorized construction of the great Erie Canal. With the aid of roads, steamships and canals, people and goods could be swept from inner towns to the great East Coast markets, and to ships going abroad.

This profit was vital to the United States. People still remembered the British trade laws of colonial days. Magazines and newspapers from abroad brought news of an Industrial Revolution, an organization of work and workers which had produced miracles. In the late 18th century, contemporary with the early American Revolutionary War, an iron bridge had been built in Shropshire, England. The British ceramic industry was growing. Like America, Britain had a cotton-weaving industry, fed by tropical colonies. The United States had had advantages in its infancy, with vast resources, a relatively educated workforce, and the system of interchangeable parts developed in the native rifle industry. Attempting to overtake foreign advances, America would develop its own Industrial Revolution.

Panic of 1819


The end of the War of 1812, the improvement of infrastructure, and the relative absence of political partisanship gave the United States a period of economic growth. However, as partisanship returned to Washington, the U.S. economy experienced its first major financial crisis. Unlike the downturns of the 1780s and 1790s, the Panic originated in the United States. It caused foreclosures, bank failures, unemployment, and reduced output from farm and manufacture.

Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819


Due to the act of purchasing the Louisiana territory in 1803, the Adams-Onis Treaty in 1819 (purchasing Florida territory), and the incorporation of the northern territories of Mexico into the United States in 1847 (Mexican Cession), the number of Catholics in the United States nearly doubled.

Monroe Doctrine and Foreign Affairs


On December 2, 1823, President Monroe introduced the most famous aspect of his foreign policy in his State of the Union Address to Congress. The Monroe Doctrine, as it came to be called, stated that any further attempts by European powers to interfere in the affairs of the nations of the Western hemisphere (namely Latin America) would be seen as an act of aggression against the United States, requiring a U.S. response. The Monroe Doctrine came about as a result of U.S. and British fears the Spain would attempt to restore its power over former colonies in Latin America. President Monroe essentially sent notice that America, both North and South, was no longer open to colonization by European powers.

The fact that the U.S. was still a young nation with very little naval power meant that the warning went largely ignored by the major powers. Despite this, the British approved of the policy and largely enforced it as part of the Pax Britannica, whereby the British Navy secured the neutrality of the high seas. It was mainly through this support, rather than the Monroe Doctrine exclusively, which secured and maintained the sovereignty of Latin American nations.

Even so, the Monroe Doctrine was met with praise by Latin American leaders, despite the fact that they knew that the United States realistically could not enforce it without the backing of the British. In 1826, Latin American revolutionary hero Simón Bolívar called for the first Pan-American conference in Panama, and an era of Pan-American relations commenced.

Seminole War

Chief Neamathla

In Southern Georgia, Chief Neamathla of the Miccosukee tribe at Fowltown was engaged in a land dispute with General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, the commander at Fort Scott. The land had been ceded by the Creek at the Treaty of Fort Jackson. However, the Miccosukee considered itself a different tribe. It held that the Creek did not have right to cede Miccosukee land. In November 1817, a force of 250 men was sent by General Gaines to capture Neamathla, but was driven back. A second attempt in the same month succeeded, and the Miccosukee were driven from Fowltown.

A week after the attack on Fowltown, a military boat transporting supplies, sick soldiers, and the families of soldiers to Fort Scott (it is not clear if children were on board) to Fort Scott was attacked on the Apalachicola River. Most of the passengers on board were killed, with one woman captured and six survivors making it to Fort Scott.

General Gaines had been ordered not to invade Spanish Florida save for small incursions. After word of the Scott massacre reached Washington, DC, Gaines was ordered to invade Spanish-colonized Florida in pursuit of Seminoles, but not to attack Spanish installations. However, Gaines had been ordered to eastern Florida to deal with piracy issues there, so Secretary of War John C. Calhoun ordered General Andrew Jackson to lead the invasion. He had already gained fame as the hero of the War of 1812.

General Jackson gathered his forces at Fort Scott in March 1818. His fighters were 800 regulars, 1,000 Tennessee volunteers, 1,000 Georgia militia, and 1,400 friendly Creek warriors. Jackson's force entered Florida on March 13, following the Apalachicola River and constructing Fort Gadsden. The Indian town of Tallahassee was burned on March 31 and the town of Miccosukee was taken the next day. The American and Creek forces left 300 Indian homes devastated in their wake, reaching and capturing the Spanish fort of St. Marks on April 6.

The American force left St. Marks and continued to attack Indian villages. It captured Alexander George Arbuthnot, a Scottish trader who worked out of the Bahamas and supplied the Indians, and Robert Ambrister, a former Royal Marine and self-appointed British agent, as well as the Indian leaders Josiah Francis and Homathlemico. All four were eventually executed. Jackson's forces also attacked villages occupied by runaway slaves along the Suwannee River.

Having declared victory, Jackson sent the Georgia militia and Creek warriors home, sending the remaining army back to St. Marks, where he left a garrison before returning to Fort Gadsden. On May 7, he marched a force of 1,000 to Pensacola where he believed the Indians were gathering and being supplied by the Spanish. The governor of West Florida raised a protest, insisting that the Indians there were mostly women and children. When Jackson reached Pensacola on May 23, the governor and the Spanish garrison retreated to Fort Barrancas. After a day of exchanging cannon fire, the Spanish surrendered, and Colonel William King was named military governor of West Florida. General Jackson went home to Tennessee to prepare for his presidential run in 1824.

The 1824 Election and Presidency of John Q. Adams

Photograph of John Quincy Adams later in life, in the 1840's.

With the dissolution of the Federalist Party, there were no organized political parties for the 1824 presidential election, and four Democratic-Republicans vied for the office. The Tennessee legislature and a convention of Pennsylvania Democratic-Republicans had nominated General-turned-Senator Andrew Jackson for president in 1822 and 1824. The Congressional Democratic-Republican caucus selected Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford for president and Albert Gallatin for vice president. Secretary of State John Q. Adams, son of the former President Adams, and House Speaker Henry Clay also joined the contest. Crawford might have won had he not suffered a debilitating stroke during the course of the election.

When the electoral votes were cast and counted, no candidate had a majority of votes. Jackson had won the most votes, but Constitutionally, a plurality was not good enough, and the vote for the top three candidates went to the House of Representatives. Clay, with the least amount of votes, was ineligible, but still wielded a lot of power as speaker of the house. And since Clay had a personal dislike of Jackson and supported many of Adams' policies, which were similar to his American System, Clay threw his support to Adams, and Adams won the presidency, much to the chagrin of Jackson, who had won the most electoral and popular votes. After Adams appointed Clay as secretary of state, Jackson's supporters protested that a corrupt bargain had been struck. Here is a table from the Wikipedia article on the 1824 election:

Presidential Candidate Party State Popular Vote: Electoral Vote:
John Quincy Adams Democratic-Republican Party Massachusetts 108,740 84
Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican Party Tennessee 153,544 99
William Harris Crawford Democratic-Republican Party Georgia 46,618 41
Henry Clay Democratic-Republican Party Kentucky 47,136 37
Vice Presidential Candidate Party State Popular Vote: Electoral Vote:
John Caldwell Calhoun Democratic-Republican Party South Carolina Unknown 182
Nathan Sanford Democratic-Republican Party New York State Unknown 30
Nathaniel Macon Democratic-Republican Party North Carolina Unknown 24
Andrew Jackson Democratic-Republican Party Tennessee Unknown 13
Martin Van Buren Democratic-Republican Party New York State Unknown 9
Henry Clay Democratic-Republican Party Kentucky Unknown 2

The 1824 election enabled the resurgence of political parties in America. Jackson's followers, members of the Democratic Party, were known as Jacksonians; Adams, Clay, and their supporters established the National Republican Party. Partisan politics was back in style in Washington, DC.

During John Quincy Adams' term as president, he undertook an ambitious domestic agenda, implementing many aspects of the American System. The Cumberland Road was extended, and several canal projects were carried out, including the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the Delaware and Chesapeake Canal, the Portland to Louisville Canal, the connection of the Great Lakes to the Ohio River system, and the enlargement and rebuilding of the Dismal Swamp Canal in North Carolina. Adams worked diligently to upgrade and modernize infrastructure and internal improvements, such as roads, canals, a national university, and an astronomical observatory. These internal improvements would be funded by tariffs, an issue which divided the Adams administration. While Secretary Clay most certainly supported tariffs, Vice President John C. Calhoun was opposed.

Unfortunately for President Adams, his agenda met with many setbacks. Adams' ideas were not very popular, even from within his own party. Yet the major reason Adams had a tough time enacting his agenda was the anger of the Jacksonians after the 1824 elections. In 1827, the Jacksonians won control of Congress, making continued implementation even more difficult. But Adams believed that administration officials could only be removed from office because of their incompetence, even when those officials were political opponents. Many administration officials were in fact supporters of Andrew Jackson. Adams' generous policy towards Indians further angered the population, as when the federal government sought to assert authority on behalf of the Cherokee, and Georgia became inflamed. The final nail in the coffin of the Adams administration was when President Adams signed the Tariff of 1828 into law. This law was intended to protect Northern industry, but the South reviled it. The "Tariff of Abominations," as it was called, virtually crippled the administration in its final year.

The campaign was brutal, bitter, and personal, with even Jackson's wife attacked, accused of bigamy. In the end, Adams lost, only gaining 83 votes in electoral college to Jackson's 178. Adams refused to attend Andrew Jackson's inauguration, much as Adams's father had not attended that of Thomas Jefferson. However, Adams's presidency was not his final role. In 1830, he became the first former president elected to Congress after serving as president.

The People's President -- The Era of Andrew Jackson

Portrait of President Andrew Jackson

Jacksonian Democracy spread from 1828 to 1840, characterized by a movement toward universal white male suffrage and the rise of "the common man." It was dominated by the controversial presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837). The first modern American political party, the Democratic party, was formed during the latter Jackson administration. During this time the American frontier opened. The franchise was extended to almost all white males, not simply a well-educated, property-owning minority. (It was also during this time that the number of wage-earners increased: there was an option other than farming, a land-intensive industry.) Women and ethnic minorities were educated in greater numbers than ever before. Yet official oppression also increased. The Trail of Tears was directed from Washington. A congressional ban on speech about slavery signaled a hardening of attitudes toward slavery.

Election and Inauguration


Andrew Jackson's three week journey from Nashville, Tennessee, to Washington, DC, was filled with jubilation, as crowds swarmed to catch a glimpse of the new president-elect. The inauguration ceremonies of previous presidents were all indoor affairs, invite only. However, on March 29, 1829, Jackson's swearing-in ceremony was held on the East Portico of the U.S. Capitol, where 21,000 people eventually gathered to view the event.

The new president left through the west front of the capital and rode on a white horse to the executive mansion for the reception. By the time he arrived, the White House had already been invaded by supporters, as the festivities had been opened to the public. Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story noted, "I never saw such a mixture. The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant." The new president was forced to sneak out of the White House before heading to Alexandria, Virginia. The crowd remained, however, until the liquor was moved to the front lawn. The White House was left a mess, with thousands of dollars in broken china.

Petticoat Affair and the Kitchen Cabinet


The Petticoat Affair is also known as the Eaton Affair. Happening in the U.S. between 1830-1831. It was a U.S. scandal involving President Andrew Jackson's cabinet and their wives. Even though this was a private matter, it still troubled several men in their political careers.[2] The Petticoat affair involved Peggy Eaton who was accused of having an affair with a man by the name of John Eaton during the time she was married to purser John Timberlake. Daughter of William O Neal, Peggy remained close to politics her father owned the Washington D.C Boarding House for politicians where Peggy worked. Peggy frequented the boarding house which later gave spectators more discrepancies in Peggy's character as she looses popularity. Peggy husband died while on sea and many believed it was a suicide after being revealed to of his wife Peggy's affair with John Eaton who was a good friend of couple. Although Timberlake's death was said to be a result of pneumonia. Peggy married John Eaton less than a year after her husbands death. Many surrounding women felt like the marriage of Peggy and John Eaton was not the correct thing to do. The alleged affair controversy ultimately assisted many men in Andrew Jackson's cabinet to resign from their position, including John Eaton himself. People begin to judge Jackson on the his position on the marriage. Andrew Jackson recommended that John Eaton and Peggy should get married, Jackson views resulted on from his personal experience he had with his first wife.A group of women emerged claimed to be Anti-Peggy who was led by Floride Calhoun. The women who emerged proclaimed rights and guidelines that women have to follow after death of husband including that they mourn and wear black for a year following their death.

Nullification Crisis


One of the early crises faced by the Jackson administration was the issue of nullification. In 1828, Congress decided to raise an already high tariff on imports from Europe. It was meant to help the industrialized North compete with Europe, but the agricultural South detested it, as it traded heavily with Europe. The South called it the "Tariff of Abominations."

The concept of nullification, that states had the right to nullify any federal law which it deemed went against its interests, had first appeared in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions in 1798. In response to the tariff, South Carolina declared it null and void. Vice President John C. Calhoun agreed with this notion of states’ rights and encouraged South Carolina to take a stand on the tariff issue.

Up until that point, no one was sure where Jackson stood on the issue of states' rights. Then, in April, 1830, he announced that he opposed states rights in this instance. While President Jackson sympathized with the South's position on the tariff, he believed in a strong union with central power. As a result, a deep rivalry developed between Jackson and Calhoun. The rivalry can be epitomized in an incident at the Jefferson Day dinner, April 13, 1830, in which South Carolina Senator Robert Hayne made a toast to "The Union of the States, and the Sovereignty of the States." President Jackson added (and clearly directed towards the vice president), "Our federal Union: It must be preserved!" To this, Vice President Calhoun responded: "The Union: Next to our Liberty, the most dear!" In 1831, the first ever Democratic National Convention was held, and former Secretary of State Martin Van Buren (who was still playing a vital role in the President's "kitchen cabinet") was selected to replace Calhoun as the nominee for vice president in the 1832 election. The vice president resigned in December 1832 to run for the South Carolina U.S. Senate seat.

The South would not compromise on this lower tax, and South Carolina passed the Nullification Act which proclaimed that the state would no longer pay the "illegal" tariffs. South Carolina threatened to secede from the Union if the federal government tried to interfere.

President Jackson continued to oppose nullification, stating that "The Constitution... forms a government not a league... To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union is to say that the United States is not a nation." In 1832 he asked Congress to pass a "force bill," authorizing the use of military force to enforce the tariff law. The bill was held up in Congress until the great compromiser Henry Clay and the protectionists agreed to a Compromise Tariff bill. The Compromise Tariff contained a lower but still fairly high tariff. Both bills passed on March 1, 1833, and the president signed both.

In the face of the threat of military force, South Carolina quickly agreed to the lower compromise tariff and abolished the Nullification Act. The crisis was averted for another day.

Indian Removal and Massacre

A photograph of a trail of tears survivor.

The United States, as it expanded to the west, forcibly removed or killed many Native Americans from their lands as it violated the treaties and Indian rights which both parties had agreed upon. In this way, the concerns of white landowners were considered above the interests of the Indians. In Georgia, for instance, the governor ordered the Cherokee to vacate their lands so the territory would be able to be redistributed to poor Georgians. The Cherokee refused, as they contended that a treaty with the United States that had been signed earlier guaranteed their right to the land. Through a friend of the tribe, they brought their case all the way to the Supreme Court.

In 1832, when Andrew Jackson was President, the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia had acted unconstitutionally. However, Jackson refused to enforce the Court's ruling. Meanwhile, Congress had passed the Indian Removal Act, which granted refuge to Native Americans who relocated to territory west of the Mississippi.The Native Americans could have stayed and became citizens of their home states. The removal was supposed to be peaceful and by their own will, but Jackson forced them to go west.

The Cherokee were forced out of Georgia and had to endure a brutal and deadly trip to the area comprising present-day Oklahoma, a journey which they called the "Trail of Tears". Between 2,000 and 4,000 of the 16,000 migrating Cherokees died during the journey, including women, children, and elderly members of the tribe. The conditions were horrible. They were exposed to disease and starvation on their way to the makeshift forts that they would live in. The Cherokees weren't the only tribe that was forced to leave their homelands. The Choctaws, Creeks, Seminoles, and Chickasaws were also forced to migrate west. The Choctaws were forced to move first in the winter of 1831 and 1832 and many would die on the forced march. The Creek nation would resist the government in Alabama until 1836 but the army eventually pushed them towards Oklahoma. In the end the Natives forced to move traded about 100 million acres for about 32 million acres and about 65 million dollars total for all Native tribes forced to move. This forced relocation of the American Indians was only a chapter in the cruelty given to the Natives by the American government. These forced migrations would have a terrible effect on the Natives as many were victim to disease, starvation, and death.

Seminole Wars


The Seminole Nation in Florida resisted forced migration. Oscela who was the leader of the Seminoles waged a fierce guerrilla war against federal troops in 1835. The Seminole forces included Creeks, Seminoles, and even African Americans. Oscela would be captured by the US Army under a white flag truce and he would die in a POW camp in 1838. However the Seminoles continued to fight under Chief Coacoochee and other leaders. Finally in 1842 the US would cease the removal efforts. the Seminoles would remain in Florida to this day near the Everglades.

Toledo War


From 1835 to 1836 the State of Ohio fought a deathless war against the then territory of Michigan over disputed territory. The Toledo War was ended by federal action, which brokered a compromise where Ohio gained the disputed territory, and Michigan gained the upper peninsula. This highlighted the conflict of states and territories at the time, and also foreshadowed the internal conflict at the time. Notably, while the federal intervention succeeded in quelling this conflict, the government would soon find themselves unable to stop many bloody internal conflicts in the following years.

Gag Rule


As the Abolition movement became stronger in America, it was expressed in public debate and in petition. During one year, 1830, an anti-slavery petition drive delivered 130,000 petitions to Congress.[3] The response of various pro-slavery interests was to create rules against even the discussion of slavery by Congress, the first being The Gag Rule of 1836.[4] The Gag Rules also opposed the reception of public petitions, a response which went against the First Amendment right for people to peaceably petition their government. Former president John Quincy Adams was a leader in opposition to the Gag Rules, the last of which was only repealed by the House in 1844.

The Second National Bank and the Panic of 1837


The Second Bank of the United States began about five years after the First Bank of the United States fell, and in the same place as the first, Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia. The First Bank had fallen when the men who ran it refused to renew its charter. Many of the same men who had been in the First Bank ran the Second Bank. It arose because of the War of 1812, when the United States suffered horrible inflation and needed to finance military operations. It had branches in many parts of the US.

Andrew Jackson hated the National Bank. Proud of being a self-made "common" man, he argued that the bank favored the wealthy. A Westerner, he feared the expansion of Eastern business interests and the draining of specie from the West: he portrayed the bank as a "hydra-headed" monster. A nationalist, he distrusted foreign members of the bank board and argued the bank could not be trusted in time of war. Two Senators, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, disliked Jackson and wished to see him lose the presidential election of 1832. They convinced Nicholas Biddle, the president of the Bank, to apply early for a new charter for the bank, even though its charter would not expire until 1836. They believed many Americans supported the bank, and they thought a Jackson veto for the renewal of the bank's charter would cost him the election. Jackson did veto the charter, but public opinion did not drop enough for him to lose the election.

President Jackson issued the Specie Circular, which required payment for government land to be in gold and silver. He ordered the Secretary of the Treasury to take the money out of the National Bank and put it in "pet banks," state banks that were owned by friends of Jackson. These pet banks lent out money to poor farmers, who could not pay the money back. The result of this process was a severe economic depression, the Panic of 1837. Business took a nosedive and unemployment soared. Prices of commodities rose so high that families could not afford many basic necessities. The depression lasted six years, as Martin Van Buren, the President elected after Jackson, did almost nothing to ease its effect. The Panic ensured that Van Buren lost the next election.

Caroline Affair

Painting depicting the Caroline aflame, as it teters towards Niagara Falls.

Beginning in 1837, the events known as the Caroline Affair, also known as the Caroline case, strained relations between the United States and Britain. A group of Canadian rebels led by William Lyon Mackenzie had fomented an uprising in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario). They had been agitating for a republic. After the Upper Canada Rebellion had failed, the rebels had been forced to flee to the United States. They fled as far as the Niagara River, which separates America (and New York State) from Canada. They took refuge on Navy Island on the Canadian side of the Niagara River. American sympathizers, who considered the rebellion a belated continuation of the American Revolutionary War, supplied them with money, provisions, and arms via the steamboat S.S. Caroline.

On December 29, Canadian loyalist Colonel Sir Allan MacNab ordered a party of militia to cross the river and set the Caroline ablaze. Finding the ship docked at Fort Schlosser, New York, they seized it, towed it into the current, set it afire, and cast it adrift over Niagara Falls. The American Amos Durfree, a Black, was killed during the incident. Although the ship had been abandoned before being set adrift, American newspapers falsely reported that dozens of citizens had been killed as they were trapped on board. President Martin Van Buren entered an official protest of the loss of life. In retaliation, on May 29, 1838, an American river pirate and his men burned British steamer Sir Robert Peel while it was in the United States. After the burning of the Caroline, the Macknenzie party had no means of gaining supplies, and eventually folded.

President Martin Van Buren

The Caroline Affair was settled by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty, which helped to define the borders of both nations. President Van Buren sent General Winfield Scott, who had seen action in the War of 1812, to prevent further American incursions into Canada. In helping to formulate the Treaty, Daniel Webster wrote that the burning of the Caroline had not been justified by self-defense. The letter to the British Ambassador helped to establish the principle of "anticipatory self-defense," that military action may be justified by the mere proportionate threat of armed attack. The Caroline Test has since become an essential doctrine of international politics, affirmed in many later judgments, including the Nuremberg Tribunal.

Aroostook War


The Aroostook War (1838–1839) was an undeclared and bloodless war occasioned by the failure of the United States and Great Britain to determine the northeast boundary between New Brunswick and what is now Maine. After Maine became a state in 1820, the Maine legislature, jointly with Massachusetts, made grants to settlers along both branches of the Aroostook River, ignoring British claims to area in Aroostook County. In 1831, the United States and Great Britain tried to compromise on the boundary by submitting the issue to the king of the Netherlands for arbitration. An agreement was reached, but the U.S. Senate rejected the plan in 1832. In January 1839, a posse of Americans entered the disputed area to oust Canadian lumberjacks working there. The Canadians arrested the posse's leader, and within two months 10,000 Maine troops were either encamped along the Aroostook River or were on their way there. At the insistence of Maine congressmen, the federal government voted to provide a force of 50,000 men and $10 million in the event of war. To prevent a clash, General Winfield Scott was dispatched to negotiate a truce with the lieutenant governor of New Brunswick. Great Britain, convinced of the seriousness of the situation, agreed to a boundary commission, whose findings were incorporated in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (1842), which also addressed a number of other disputed boundary issues.

Reform and American Society



Horace Mann in 1850.

Public education was common in New England, though it was class-based, with the working class receiving minimum benefits. Schools taught religious values and also taught Calvinist philosophies of discipline, including corporal punishment and public humiliation. Horace Mann was considered “The Father of American Education.” He wanted to develop a school that would help to get rid of the differences between boys and girls when it came to education. He also felt that this could help keep the crime rate down. He was the first Secretary for the Board of Education in Massachusetts in 1837-1848. He also helped to establish the first school for the education of teachers in America in 1839.[5]]

In 1833 Oberlin college had in attendance 29 men and 15 women. Oberlin college came to be known the first college that allowed women attend.[6] Within five years, thirty-two boarding schools enrolled Indian students. They substituted English for American Indian languages and taught Agriculture alongside the Christian Gospel.[7]

Asylum Movement

The Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of Their Reason, the first private asylum in the United States built in 1817 near Frankfort, Pennsylvania, still operates as a hospital to this day.

The Asylum Movement in the early 19th century helped raise the awareness of mental illness and its treatment.[8]] Many of the first leaders in the movement were Quakers. In America, people were free to work and worship as they pleased, but this was not true in all of Europe. In some countries religious "enthusiasts" were seen as insane and confined to madhouses. Quakers knew the awful conditions in those places.

The first American asylum was founded by Quakers in 1817 near Frankfort, Pennsylvania. It did not primarily see itself as a place of confinement, but (as the name suggests) a place of refuge for the mentally ill. Here chains and straight-jackets were not the first means of treatment. The organizers used isolation to deal with individual violence, and "moral treatment" to try to pull people out of mental illness. Later in 1817 another asylum came into existence in Hartford, Connecticut. These were both private institutions, meant for people of means. But the asylums grew in popularity and influenced other states. Before 1840 there was no means of treatment for the poor. Many mentally-ill people without means were confined to jails and almshouses. There they were often beaten, bound, and derided.

The Second Great Awakening

A 1839 Methodist Camp during the The Second Great Awakening.

The Second Great Awakening extended the effect of the previous religious upheaval. Starting in the 1790s, it extended the phenomenon of the religious revival across Protestant Christian denomination. "The revival is a drama of contrasts [. . .] wallowing in one's sense of oneself as a sinner and then a reveling in God's love and acceptance of the sinner."[9] The phenomenon occurred among Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians. A few Quaker churches had a similar experience, and there was even an evangelistic group among Unitarians.[10] The groundwork had been laid a few decades before, by Jonathan Edwards, the Wesleys, and Whitfield. The first had believed in Predestination, the idea that only God knows who can be saved, and had been saved beforehand. Individual conversion uncovered God's design. The latter three preachers were increasingly moved by what Edwards called Arminianism, the idea that individuals could choose their own salvation. To quote a popular hymn: "If ye linger till you're fitter, ye may never come at all." The predominant tinge of the Second Great Awakening would be the urgency of the Arminian and a reaching out to the unchurched.

In the East and North revivals took place in churches and in the public square of the new mill towns. In the South and West it spread through Methodist circuit riders and other itinerant preachers. Continuing the innovations of the Wesleys, the circuit riders were often lay preachers, from social strata like that of the intended audience. It also spread through the notorious Camp Meeting, a mass meeting of preachers and audience which could take place over several days. Critics such as "Sut Lovingood" (George Washington Harris) called the preachers illiterate scoundrels who cheated the people while singing hymns with lyrics like, "Thar will be mournin, mournin yere, an' mournin thar, On that dredful day tu cum."[11]

Sometimes a revival was succeeded by a new church building. Many Baptist and Methodist churches in the frontier were built in this period. It was also followed by "women's societies" within the churches, who saw an opportunity in a group who could not then vote, and whom society expected to keep silent. (Indeed, the Awakening was sometimes spread by female and African-American preachers.) The Awakening was the source of many 19th century political movements, some of which are discussed below. The Arminian sway ignited belief in Millennialism, the belief in a coming Utopia, God's rule on Earth. This helped drive several new American religions, including Seventh-Day Advantists and the Church of Latter-Day Saints. The Second Great Awakening was a vast movement, which was furthered, but not defined, by such ordained ministers as Lyman Beecher, Charles Grandison Finney, and Theodore Weld. By 1831 church membership had grown by 100,000. [From what?]


The Drunkard's Progress an 1846 pro temperance lithograph depicting how drunkenness leads to ruin.

The situation of alcohol in America was a complex one. The Pilgrims had not been opposed to drinking. But one of their charges against the Bishops of the Church of England had been their drunkenness.[12] Alcohol was a major source of government revenue, a force holding communities together. Yet drunkenness, particularly of the poor, began to be commented upon during the late 1700s and 1800s. During presidential elections, drunkenness was encouraged by political campaigns, and some people [who?] charged that votes were exchanged for drinks. Many churches came to believe that taverns encouraged business on Sundays, the one day without work, and that people who would have otherwise gone to church spent their money at the bar. As a result of these beliefs, groups began forming in several states to reduce the consumption of alcohol. Although the Temperance movement began with the intent of limiting use, some temperance leaders such as Connecticut minister Lyman Beecher began urging fellow citizens to abstain from drinking in 1825. In 1826, the American Temperance Society formed in a resurgence of religion and morality. By the late 1830s, the American Temperance Society had membership of 1,500,000, and many Protestant churches began to preach temperance.


Routes on the Underground railroad to Canada. Unless a slave could leave the country, slave catchers would pursue them through free states.

The increased efforts to reach African Americans, including circuit riders who were former slaves, gave a wider audience to the injustice of slavery. Some preachers and some women's societies started helping slaves who dared to escape their masters. This became an organized Abolition movement, a political effort to abolish slavery. American Quakers had been known for their abolitionism since the 1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery. Now some Evangelical denominations took up the cause. For some it was short-lived. The American Methodist church declared itself anti-slavery during the same 1784 conference that created it as a Church separate from the Church of England. But by 1843, "over a thousand Methodist ministers and preachers owned slaves."[13] It also inspired opposition. For every Christian who believed the Bible called them to put an end to slavery, there might be another who insisted that it showed slavery was an instrument of the Good Lord. Denominations in the South became divided against their coreligionists in the North. "When, in 1844, the Methodist General Conference condemned the bishop of Georgia for holding slaves, the church split, and the following year saw the birth of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South." The Presbyterians split in 1861.[14] Laws were drawn up in the South to make it illegal to convert a slave. Yet Abolition had a long reach. Abolitionists joined with slaves and ex-slaves, such as Harriet Tubman, to create the Underground Railroad. African Americans such as Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass dared to speak for the abolitionist cause. Books and magazines carried their words to the slave states.

In 1817 the American Colonization Society was formed, which sought to form a colony of former American slaves and Free African Americans in Africa.[15] By 1822 a colony in west Africa was established, which declared it's independence in 1847 as the nation of Liberia.[15] Abolitionist opposition to Colonization movements became heated by the 1830's, as it was seen as an instrument that was created by slavery.[15]

Questions For Review

  1. Why was the American Navy successful in the initial Atlantic battles of the War of 1812?
  2. What was the "Era of Good Feelings"? What were the reasons for the label?
  3. Name the reasons behind the prosperity of the early 19th century and the Panic of 1837.


  3. The U.S. Capitol Visitor Center at
  4. A People and A Nation, Eighth Edition
  6. A People and A Nation, Eighth Edition
  7. A People and A Nation, Eighth Edition
  9. Bednarowski, Mary Farrell. American Religion: a Cultural Perspective. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1984. P. 30.
  10. Bedell, George C., Leo Sandon, Jr., and Charles T. Wellborn. Religion In America. Second Edition. New York: Macmillan, 1982 (1975). p. 171
  11. Harris, George Washington. "Parson John Bullen's Lizards." Yarns Spun by a Nat'ral-Born Durn'd Fool, Warped and Wove For Public Wear. [Google Books, ] New York: Dick and Fitzgerald, 1867. P. 52.
  12. Gonzales, Justo L. The Story of Cristianity, Volume 2: The Reformation to the Present Day. HarperSanFrancisco. HarperCollins, 1985. p. 150
  13. Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity. Volume 2. Pp. 250-251
  14. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity. Volume 2. p. 251
  15. a b c Cuffee, Paul; Ashmun, Jehudi (23 July 2010). "Colonization - The African-American Mosaic Exhibition Exhibitions (Library of Congress)". Retrieved 19 September 2020.

Jeffersonian Democracy · Religious Movements