HST 141                                                                                                                                                          Dr. Kerns


The Unfinished Nation: Chapter 8 “Varieties of American Nationalism”


Chapter 8 Main Themes:


  1. The effects of postwar expansion and continued economic growth in shaping the nation during the "era of good feelings."
  2. The rise of sectional controversy arising from slavery, and the early attempts by Henry Clay and others to prevent strife through the Missouri Compromise.
  3. The many prominent decisions of the Marshall Court during the Era of Good Feelings, and their role in promoting American nationalism, federal supremacy and Native American tribal sovereignty.
  4. The development of the "Monroe Doctrine" and its application in further fostering American nationalism.
  5. The end of the "era of good feelings" and the rise of America's "second party system."



A thorough study of Chapter 8 should enable the student to understand:


  • The effects of the War of 1812 on banking, shipping, farming, industry, and transportation.


  • The character of westward expansion into the Old Southwest and Old Northwest, and the development of the fur trade in the far West.


  • The "era of good feelings" as a transitional period between two party systems.


  • The causes of the Panic of 1819, the first serious economic crisis in America's history.


  • The disagreements between North and South over the admission of Missouri to the Union, and the tenets of the subsequent Missouri Compromise fashioned by Henry Clay.


  • The ways in which the status of the federal judiciary was changed by the Marshall Court, and the impact of the Court's decisions on the legal status of federal and state governments, business, and Native American tribes.


  • The origins of the "Monroe Doctrine" of 1823, and its impact on international relations at the time.


  • The controversy surrounding the election of 1824 and the alleged "corrupt bargain" between John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay.


  • The frustrations experienced by John Quincy Adams during his term as president, including congressional intransigence and the "tariff of abominations."


  • The reasons why Andrew Jackson was elected in 1828, and the significance of his victory.





American Nationalism: Between 1820 and 1840, many American politicians advocated programs that stressed the supremacy of the central government over the states, called for direct federal involvement to aid the growth of commerce, and in general advocated an aggressive course of action designed to make America a nation without equal. Much of their program, embodied in Henry Clay's American System, resembled Hamiltonian federalism, but with a significant difference. These nationalists, unlike their Federalist counterparts, decided not to oppose the rising tide of democracy, but chose to present their programs in such a way as to appeal to the common man.


 American System:   The plan, advanced by Henry Clay, that was designed to foster commercial growth and economic stability. Its basic components consisted of a tariff to protect "infant industries" and to secure American jobs (thus making it appealing to labor), a national bank into which the money from the tariff (and other taxes) would be deposited, and an internal-improvements program paid for by the federal government. As conceived, money raised from taxes would pay for the roads, canals, and the like designed to improve transportation and thus stimulate more commerce, which would produce more jobs and revenue. To keep this growing economy stable would be the function of the bank, which would issue notes and make loans for business development and expansion. Therefore, all three elements were linked in a cycle of taxing, banking, and spending that made it difficult to oppose one without opposing them all.


 Commerce Clause: The clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) that gives the national government the power to regulate foreign commerce as well as commerce between the states (interstate commerce).


 Contract Clause:   The clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 10) that prohibits the government (national or state) and individuals from impairing the obligation of contract.


 Diplomacy : The conducting of negotiations between nations and the drawing up of treaties. The act of concluding an alliance to national advantage.


Internal Improvements:   The building of canals and roads, the improvement of harbors, and the clearing of rivers to improve transportation and stimulate commerce. To be done with the help of the national government, this was a major part of the postwar nationalistic program. The concept was opposed by those who felt it was too expensive or was an unconstitutional assumption of the rights and responsibilities of the states.


Monroe Doctrine:   President James Monroe's declaration in 1823 that the Western Hemisphere was off limits to further European colonization and that the United States would consider any effort by the European powers "to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety." This policy of opposing outside interference in Western Hemisphere affairs has been the enduring cornerstone of United States policy toward Latin America.


Necessary-And-Proper Clause: The clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8) that authorizes Congress to make "all laws" necessary and proper to carry out its powers; also called the "elastic" or "implied powers" clause.


 Wildcat Bank: Usually defined as a state bank in the West, organized with little capital resources, free with credit, and generally unsound. These banks were responsible for much of the land speculation in the West, and when the bank of the United States began to tighten credit restrictions, they were among the first to fail. This had much to do with the West's dislike for the Bank.