The Era of Good Feelings

Also encompassing Jacksonian Democracy, the Marshall Court, and the stirrings of antebellum discomfort. But, to what extent was the Era of Good Feelings actually an Era of Good Feelings? It was simultaneously known as the Age of Reform and people were definitely not happy about Peggy Eaton.


Americans began looking towards the West, because of the Louisiana Purchase

Factor system allows easy control over Native Americans

-John C Calhoun:

The Missouri Compromise line

            -internal improvements

            -Tariff of Ambominations

Monroe Doctrine: rose out of the fear that the British were going to attack and Spain and Cuba were going to help.

-voting restrictions lowered; end of the caucus; end of debtor’s prisons and increased gov’t control of the BUS


·        Jacksonian Democracy: “gov’t by the people”  (New KNICKS)


New Democracy


K illing of the BUS

N ullification controversy

I ndian removal

C ommon man

K itchen Cabinet (cabinet crisis; break with Jackson and Calhoun)

S poils system


The Bank War: Jackson vs. Biddle:

-hard vs. soft money. (specie circular)

-Jackson shifts all money from BUS to pet banks, Biddle raises interest rates à Panic of 1837





-steadily expanding econ and poli opp. For white males

-gov’t = limited and laissez faire

-defend Union, attack monopolies

-adjust for votes, causes overlap -antimason

-expand powers of the gov’t

-yes to materialism and capitalism

-westward expansion = instability


Webster-Ashburton Treaty est border between Maine and Canada. Improves Anglo-American relations.


  • Third parties: Anti-Masons, Liberty, Free Soil, Know Nothings
  • Development of workingmen’s parties
    • Loco Focos
  • Seneca Falls
  • President Polk’s “Jacksonian” program
    • Independent Treasury System (revives Van Buren’s banking system)
    • Lower tariff (Walker Tariff, 1846)
  • Frederick Jackson Turner thesis: existence of cheap land in West results in a democratic frontier that eventually impacts the entire country


Court Cases:

The Marshall Court—that which validated the Supreme Court as a legitimate check against Legis and Exec

Fletcher v. Peck Contracts are everything. Sets up precedence.
Dartmouth v. Woodward Expands the meaning of “contract” to include charters.
Cohens v. Virginia (nullification). Marshall reaffirms that the states cannot override national decisions.
McCulloch v. Maryland Granted the power to destroy/create taxes.
Gibbons v. Ogden Government cannot regulate interstate commerce.
Johnson v. McIntosh Native Americans have the primary right to the land
Worcester v. Georgia Native Americans tribes are a separate entity government subject to federal law only.

The Taney Court

Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge Legitimizes Taney. Happiness > contract. Cornerstone of the democratic ideal.


Growing American Nationalism (con’t. from 1812)

  • Westward expansion including “Manifest Destiny” (see below)
  • “Young America” — President Pierce
  • Commodore Matthew Perry in Japan, 1853
  • Ostend Manifesto: American designs onCuba
    • Growing economy: Transportation revolution (see below), “Market Revolution” (see below)
    • Davy Crockett as the first national popular culture hero
    • Nationalist Culture:
    • Noah Webster’s American English Dictionary
    • McGuffey Readers
    • Knickerbocker Group
      • WashingtonIrving: Leatherstocking Tales; Biography on George Washington
      • James Fenimore Cooper: Last of the Mohicans; Legend of Sleepy Hollow
      • William Cullen Bryant
      • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Paul Revere Poem
      • Stephen Foster: music
      • Art
        • John Trumble
        • Hudson RiverSchool
        • History
          • George Bancroft — “Father of American History”
          • Francis Parkman

Transcendentalism: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman


Continuing Sectionalism on the Road to the Civil War (1820-1860)

  • “Era of Good Feelings” is short lived: tariff, BUS and slavery issue become increasingly divisive
  • Missouri Compromise of 1820
    • Tallmadge Amendment, 1819
      • Jefferson: “firebell in the night”
    • Southerners begin voting as a unified bloc to protect slavery
  • Tariff issue
    • “Tariff of Abominations” of 1828 infuriates Southerners
    • John C. Calhoun: South Carolina Exposition advocates nullification
    • Webster-Hayne Debate in 1830 presents northern unionist views vs. southern nullification views
    • Jefferson Day Toast, 1830:
      • Jackson: “The Union it must be preserved”
      • Calhoun: “The Union, next to our liberty, most dear!”
      • Nullification Controversy of 1832
        • South Carolina ordinance of secession
        • Jackson threatens to use the army
        • Clay’s compromise
        • Jackson‘s cabinet crisis leads to Calhoun’s resignation
          • Tariff issue most important
          • Peggy Eaton affair
          • Calhoun becomes leading southern sectionalist (had been a unionist before 1832)
  • Texas issue: Whigs oppose annexation in 1836 — don’t want another slave state
  • Regional Specialization as a result of Industrial Revolution and Transportation Revolution
    • East increasingly industrialized; sought higher tariffs
    • South opposed to higher tariffs and increasingly defensive about slavery
    • West increasingly tied to East
  • Anti-Abolitionism
    • Gag rule: 1836
    • Southerners pass law in Congress to ban abolitionist literature in Southern mail system
    • Underground railroad infuriates southerners
    • Southerners hate northern “personal liberty laws”
    • Reaction against Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin
    • George Fitzhugh
  • Mexican Cession (as a result of Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo)
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Mexico will poison us”
    • Wilmot Proviso, 1848
    • California statehood raises secession threats among Southern “fire eaters”
    • Free Soil Party runs as third party in election of 1848
    • Compromise of 1850: PopFACT
      • Fugitive Slave Law becomes biggest source of sectional tension between 1850 & 1854
      • Demise of the Whigs, 1852: two party system become sectional


  • Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
    • Overturns sacred 36-30′ line of Missouri Compromise of 1820
    • Birth of Republican Party
    • “Bleeding Kansas”
  • Brooks canes Sumner, 1856
  • Dred Scott case, 1857
  • John Brown raid on Harper’s Ferry, 1859
  • Election of 1860


  • States’ Rights
    • 10th Amendment: All powers not mentioned in the Constitution belong to the states.
    • Jeffersonian and Jacksonian views of states’ rights; Calhoun also
    • Madison, Monroe and Jackson veto federal funding of internal improvements
    • 1830s: Southern states pass ban on abolitionist literature in Southern mails.
    • Gag Rule, 1836-1844
    • Jackson kills the BUS; Independent Treasury System under Van Buren (“Divorce Bill”) & Polk
    • Charles River Bridge case, 1837: States given right to prevent monopolies for internal improvements
    • Defeat of Wilmot Proviso, 1848
    • Popular sovereignty in Mexican Cession and Kansas and Nebraska.
    • Calhoun’s “concurrent majority” idea

Dred Scott decision, 1857: slave owners could take slaves into the territories.


2 responses to “The Era of Good Feelings

  1. Pingback: Map of the US History Guide | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

  2. Pingback: The Revolution of 1800: Jefferson’s Era | Surviving High School: A Hypocrat in a Perpetual State of Procrastination·

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