The era of good feelings, was not quite an Era of good feelings, despite the numerous good things like the new, fast emerging feeling of Nationalism, and a considerable amount of tranquility and prosperity. Stephen Decatur, the man who conquered the menacing Barbary pirates even said, Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be right; but our country, right or wrong! (Doc. A) Although these things did actually happen during the era of good feelings, there were numerous things troubling the nation: The acute issues of the tariff, the bank of the United States, internal improvements, and the sale of public lands were dividing the people. Sectionalism was rearing its ugly head, and the conflict over slavery was beginning to crystallize.
First of all, the controversial issue of the Missouri compromise, and more importantly the issue of slavery rose. Sectional tensions, involving rivalry between the slave south and the free north over the control of the Missouri territory. Missouri, a territory, had applied for admission into the union as a slave state. But the House of representatives stymied the plans of missourians by passing the Tallmadge amendment. The amendment stipulated that no more slaves could be brought into Missouri and that there be gradual emancipation for children born to slave parents already there. The Tallmadge amendments sparked a mountain of anger from slave holding southerners, depression cursed pioneers, and by many northerners. The Missouri compromise split the nation and most Americans argued either for or against it. Finally, a compromise was agreed upon, Congress agreed to admit Missouri as a slave state, but at the same time free soil Maine, would be separated from Massachusetts, and admitted as a free state. Also all future slave bondage was prohibited north of the line of 36* 30*. Even an aging Thomas Jefferson once said in a letter to a congressman, I consider it at once as the knell of the Union. (Doc.G) Also John Quincy Adams, talking about the Missouri compromise once wrote in his diary, If the Union must be dissolved, slavery is the precisely the question upon which it ought to break. (Doc. F) This compromise only proved to avoid the question of slavery, and kept both the north and south eyeing the new territories forming in the west, and also eyeing each other. The forming of Missouri and the growing groups of abolitionists clearly show the growing tension between the north and south, and further display the Sectionalism that was quickly taking over the feeling of nationalism.
Secondly, cotton became king of the south and industry was large in the north. When Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, cotton became the major money-maker for the south, when this happened the southern cotton growers became very dependant on slaves and a huge increase in the number of slaves kept was shown. The south became a one-crop economy, while the north grew into a major industry, making the economy of the north substantially stronger than the economy of the south. After the war of 1812 had ended Britain tried to destroy the factories by dumping the contents of its bulging warehouses, often cutting their prices below cost in an effort to strangle the industry of the north. Congress responded by passing the tariff of 1816- the first tariff in American history instituted primarily for protection, not revenue. In the passing of the tariff the south was the only one to have a majority vote of 34 to 23 against the tariff (Doc.H), proving that the south had no need for the tariff, because they were a one-crop economy. The south had no industry of their own and was somewhat jealous of the north for having all of the industry. This further shows the growing Sectionalism growing in America.
Lastly, during the Monroe presidency there seemed to be a lot of tranquility due to the elimination of the federalists, and the emergence of the one party system. This one party system only masked the Sectionalism with its look of triumph and greatness, but it only looked this because it couldn t handle all the growing problems that they couldn t see, without an opposition always being there to remind them. It couldn t solve the slave problem or stop the rivalry between the north and the south. Henry clay proposed an answer to America with his American system but it would only cause more sectionalism and would later be vetoed.
All in all, Sectionalism was alive and thriving during the era of good feelings and Nationalism was being slowly broken up. The issues of slavery, sectional, the tariff, and north south rivalry were covered up by the so-called era of good feelings and its so-called Nationalism. With all these facts hidden and boiling in the background the era of good feelings only hid the true problems and if you put your problems off to long they will come back to haunt you, which is exactly what happened when everything finally exploded and America went to war, with itself, and the civil war happened. A civil war that pitted brother against brother and split a nation.