Aftermath of The War Of 1812: Nationalism and Sectionalism

I. Many historians have concluded that the war was a foolish move--it was carried out poorly & the peace treaty was inconclusive (the peace treaty preserved the status quo and there was no mention of any of the grievances that had led to war). But it had other value. 

A. But it was important for national pride--we had won our first war and with the world's most powerful navy!  


1.  (Mostly because Brit couldn't fight U.S. & Napoleon at same time, but we don’t admit that)  

B.  The  war produced many symbols of U.S. nationalism  


1.  The President’s residence was white -washed to remove smoke damage caused when the British invaded and set Washington, D.C. on fire—now it was the White House

2. British attack on Ft. Henry prompted Francis Scott Key to write The Star Spangled Banner    

3. The Battle of New Orleans raised Andrew Jackson to hero status & produced myths about superior U.S. military prowess    

a. although in retrospect it seems Jackson only won because the Brits advanced to within rifle range  

b. & then they paused & became sitting ducks for American troops

II. National pride appeared in many of our institutions and policies


A. War resulted in many changes for America—it set us on the path to becoming an industrial power  

1. Problems with fighting showed need for greater infrastructure--Madison called for fed support for system of internal improvements (roads and canals)  


a. Congress voted the money


2. Also saw the need for better equipped army--had used home-made bullets & gifts of clothing in the War of 1812    

a. Congress voted $ for a standing army much larger than the one Jefferson had

b. & also voted the $ to provision it & built forts in west


3. Most importantly--the war stimulated manufacturing


a. the trade embargo during the war had meant no importing of manufactured goods

b. but the war effort needed them—so U.S. manufacturing grew  

c. even Jefferson realized this was needed, though he still longed for an agrarian nation


4. To help this trend along, Congress voted for protective tariffs


a. sold this as a way to raise $ for internal improvements, industry, &  the military


5. War was also an impetus for the creation of a national bank—


a. the 1st one had expired 1811 

b. so in 1816--Congress chartered 2nd National Bank


6. Our leaders thought all this would bind nation together--so they called it "The American System"


a. Henry Clay of Kentucky was its chief author  

B. nationalism also showed up in the Supreme Court (SC), under chief Justice John Marshall


1. McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819


a. SC struck down a MD law taxing 2nd the National Bank  

b. this asserted supremacy of federal authority over state—b/c the Constitution is the supreme law of the land & federal government controls the Constitution  

c. the court argued that the Bank's charter was constitutional b/c Congress can make all laws “necessary and proper” to carry out the powers of government  

d. this decision linked business & commercial interests w/ the federal government


2. Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824


a. a N.Y. law gave Robert Fulton & Robert Livingston a monopoly on NY-NJ steamboat trade  

b. Aaron Ogden was their successor to this monopoly  

c. Gibbons, however, got his license from Congress to operate a steamboat along the same route  

d. the SC ruled that N.Y. couldn't give Ogden a monopoly b/c Congressional authority to license new enterprises took precedent over state authority


 C.  Nationalistic Foreign policy also flourished


1. Sec of State John Quincy Adams negotiated the Adams-Onis Treaty, 1819 w/ Spain


a. defined the southwestern boundary of LA purchase and therefore our nation was defined according to terms we wanted


2. The Monroe Doctrine


a. between 1808 & 1822 many Latin American countries breaking away from Spain  

b. U.S. wanted to recognize them, but also wanted to avoid conflict w/ Spain

  i. after Adams-Onis, we recognized their independence b/c we had won a favorable treaty  

c. we also feared Russians moving down the west coast  

d. then GB suggested a joint declaration disavowing European territorial ambitions in the west  

e. but U.S. moved alone: Pres Monroe declared for non-colonization, non-intervention, & non-interference by Europe in the western hemisphere  

f. doctrine was popular at home but ignored in Europe--if European nations did keep out it was b/c GB also wanted them out & had a strong navy  

III. Yet even as forces of nationalism were strong, so were forces of sectionalism


 A. 1820 Missouri Compromise—should the territory of MO be admitted as a slave state--it came up as one?  

1. NY Republican rep James Tallmadge introduced amendment to the statehood bill in 1819: called the Tallmadge Amendment


2. no more slaves could enter MO & all slaves born there after statehood would be emancipated after age 25


3. House passed it---Senate didn't, but votes were clearly on sectional lines


4. MO issue suddenly thrust sectional politics to the forefront


a. 1819 were 11 slave & 11 free states  


b. every pres since Jefferson was a Southerner or a Southern sympathizer—to some folks, this looks like slave state conspiracy   (Click here for that List)

c. growth of abolitionist societies in North with vocal critics of slavery in Congress made Southerners think there was a plot to destroy their way of life    

d. THUS all the issues that were later to lead to civil war were present in 1819    

e. and emotions ran high in the debate


i. in debate Rep Thomas W. Cobb of GA shouted: "if you persist, the union will be dissolved, seas of blood can only extinguish the fire" the Tallmadge amendment was starting 


ii. Tallmadge replied: "Let it come."


6. BUT compromise ruled:


a. MO admitted as a slave state/Maine as a free state   

b. slavery in LA territory restricted to lands that were south of the 36 30 line              

B. MO Comp seen as victory for the S--gained acceptance of MO as slave state


1. BUT: Southern interests conceded a huge tract of land to freedom   


2.  MO comp re-enforced principle of NW Ordinance of 1787 that Cong could limit slavery in territories   


3. THUS southerners accept argument that slaves were not other forms of property that could be moved at will    


C. the MO Comp was very emotional--it  was so highly charged not just because of the issue of the balance of power in Congress, but because slavery was a moral issue


1. settlers of MO were from KY & TN who had grown up w/ slavery—accepted it   


2. but in the N, slavery was dieing out & many viewed slavery as evil


SUM: Thomas Jefferson saw the proverbial handwriting on the wall--he said:

"This momentous question, like a fire bell in the night, awakened me and filled me with terror."