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Era of Good Feelings (1816-1825)

Questions: Evaluate the accuracy of the label "Era of Good Feelings" considering the emergence of nationalism and sectionalism. Was it truly an "Era of Good Feelings"


  • Due to Andrew Jackson's victory in New Orleans

  • Belief that U.S. won a second "War of Independence" against Britain -- without France's help

  • Stephen Decatur's victory in the Barbary Coast punishing Algiers.

  • Star-Spangled Banner (written by Francis Scott Key during War of 1812)

  • Fourth of July celebrations popular after 1812

  • Courts (with Chief Justice John Marshall) ruled on decisions unanimously

  • Transportation revolution united east and west



  • Capitalistic

  • Valued independence and self-reliance (see transcendentalists)

  • Cool, sober, hardworking and devious (according to Thomas Jefferson)

  • No or little slavery north of Mason-Dixon line

  • Federalists in New England and NY against War of 1812 (largely died out after war)


  • Saw themselves as aristocratic

  • Valued personal relationships.

  • Fiery and voluptuary (that is, devoted to luxury), lazy and generous (according to Jefferson)

  • Depended on slavery (especially after invention of cotton gin in 1793)



  • Political harmony: only one party ("Democratic-Republicans" or "Republicans")

  • Federalist Party unpopular because of Hartford Convention (1814-1814)

  • Meeting in Connecticut, New England

  • Federalists unhappy with War of 1812 and embargoes because disrupted trade with G

  • Wanted to remove 3/5ths Clause of Constitution

  • Wanted to prohibit trade embargoes over 60 days

  • Wanted to limit future presidents to one term

  • And rotating presidents from North and South (VA had dominate since 1800)

  • Radicals (Essex Junto) threatened to secede from U.S. and make separate peace with GB


  • Elected in 1816 in a landslide

  • Because Hartford Convention destroyed popularity of Federalist Party



  • Market Revolution (See post)

  • Because the United States was cut off from trade with Britain, the country had to produce its own manufactured goods

  • Samuel Slater (the "father of the American factory system") had smuggled in knowledge of textile factory technology from Britain

  • Immigration

  • Migrants came from Europe to find work in American factories and buy land

  • Transportation Revolution

  • Because of Henry Clay's American System, the country become connected by roads, canals, steamboat travel and new communication(telegraph).

  • Made it easier to transport raw materials and manufactured goods.

  • Cotton produced in South went Northeast to textile factories

  • Food produced in West went North and South

  • Americans moved west to build farms and northeast to find work in factories

  • New steamships made travel on rivers and across the Atlantic easier

  • Self-made man

  • Philosophers like the transcendentalists championed the "self-made man"

  • Unlike Europe, Americans achieved success not because of hereditary privilege or government favoritism but through their own hard work.

  • Inspired farmers to move west

  • New middle class of office workers, clerks, accountants etc. arose

  • And new opportunities arose for talented and educated men in law, medicine, teaching.



  • There were 220,000 black people living in the United States in the mid 19th century

  • Slavery

  • Most black people lived in the South and were slaves

  • Slavery increased because of the invention of the Cotton Gin making the cotton market more profitable

  • Free Blacks

  • Fewer than 2% of blacks lived in the North

  • Suffered from discrimination

  • Lived in the poorest areas of cities (New York, Cincinnati, Philadelphia)

  • Barred from schools and public facilities

  • White employers refused to hire them

  • Black people in the West were not allowed to buy land

  • Therefore they were excluded from prosperity enjoyed by Whites



  • Women could not

  • Sign contracts or sue in their own names

  • Middle Class White Women

  • The 19th century Cult of Domesticity kept white women isolated in the private sphere

  • Men worked and socialized in the public sphere.

  • Books and magazines like "The Young Lady's Book" encouraged women to be obedient and submissive.

  • Decline of the birthrate and access to manufactured goods

  • Gave middle class women more freedom at home.

  • Working white women

  • Women who worked for wages could not compete freely with men for employment

  • Men controlled their wages (the "family wage")

  • Poor women worked as domestic servants, factory workers, seamstresses

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