The war of 1812-14 was for the United States almost a second war of independence, in the sense, at least, that since then they have learned to free themselves from extr-American ties, to live a life of nation that no longer subordinates its action to the reasons of the great European rivalries. For a century, until the World War, the United States conducted an autonomous policy which, if it necessarily felt the repercussions of the politics of the great European powers, was nevertheless not inspired by them in its various attitudes. The dawn of this long period and the dogmatic assertion of this American political autonomy are linked to the name of President James Monroe, a republican, first elected in 1816 by an overwhelming majority; the second time in 1820, without competitors; case no longer repeated. era of good feelings. The federalist opposition seemed and was narrow-minded, not supported by a current of wide-ranging ideals and interests. Undeniably, the last war had helped to strengthen united sentiments; certainly not in the sense that the particular rights of states should therefore be diminished; but in the sense that the jealous defense of particularism did not exhaust the sphere of civic sentiments and duties; that alongside this one (even if not exactly above this one) there was an American national ideality which nevertheless had kindled and kindled the spirits; almost a right position of material motifs and ideal motifs. And it was precisely in this time that a national American literature was born and affirmed itself, with Washington Irving and JF Cooper; and in a sad hour of the last FS war Star – Spangled Banner. The federalists had placed themselves outside this current; denying the motives which had made their strength in Hamilton’s time, it was they who now selfishly emphasized the rights of states. This nascent widespread national awareness was also concretized in a strengthening of the federal government. Congress and even more the Supreme Court contributed to it with their action; both, because it is in the nature of juridical institutions to act, even exorbitant, against similar competing institutions; and Congress and the Supreme Court were typically federal institutions. The work of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) John Marshall who held the office, with very high authority, for 34 years (1801-35) was essential and left an indelible mark in the constitutional history of the United States. With ingenious empiricism he interpreted the constitution and resolved the cases of conflict of powers, inspired by the principle that “the means employed to exercise a power conferred by the constitution must be suitable for the purposes proposed and could include all the measures to ensure full exercise of the authority granted by the constitution “. With this almost self-evident formulation he was, in reality, reinforcing the state unity represented in the federal government. And the balancing intervention of the federal government was all the more necessary in the grave problems that formed the fabric of American life: westward expansion, communications, slavery, customs and banking policy. The years immediately following the war of 1812 saw a mighty new wave of migration. By influx from Europe and more by the demographic increase of the natives, the population of the United States was, in 1820, of 10 million: quadrupled in less than forty years. In the western regions the settlement was so developed that already new states could be welcomed into the womb of the Union: Louisiana (that is, strictly speaking, the region on the lower Mississippi) in 1812; Indiana in 1816; the state of Mississippi in 1817; Illinois in 1818; Alabama in 1819. Naturally, the settlement had expanded and continually extended far beyond the terms of these states, northwest to and along the lakes, to the west backwards to Missouri and Arkansas, and also to the south to the Florida peninsula which, Spanish until 1819, became American this year thanks to a daring coup by Andrew Jackson, very popular in the south. He, taking reason from the insecurity that reigned there under the Spaniards, unable to prevent excursions of Indian tribes from Florida to Georgia, quickly occupied it on his own initiative with volunteer gathering militias. An agreement with Spain, all taken at that time by the rebellion of its American colonies, healed this act of robbery: 5 million dollars was the price of the agreement. Large-scale expansion was only possible if accompanied by a network of new communication routes. There were riverways that acquired infinitely greater importance when, first the Hudson (1807), then the other rivers began to be crossed by steamboats. Freight rates dropped; industry and agriculture had an increase. For the needs of the incipient industry and navigation, the exploitation of the coal deposits of the Allegani was developing; new roads and new canals were planned. There was an admirable fever of activity. The war of 1812, preventing the introduction of European and especially British industrial products, had given a considerable boost to the few American industries and created new ones. Most of them were concentrated in New England. Following a method first introduced (1814) by the industrialist Francis C. Lowell of Boston, they abandoned the systems still prevalent in Europe of small workshops and industry at home and equipped themselves in large factories, already showing the tendency to concentrate all the operations of the industry, from the raw material to the finished product. The industry then insisted on the federal government to support it with protective duties. The 1812 tariff was raised in 1816 by 15-20%. Hence the clamor of the agricultural classes and especially of the great southern planters, owners of slaves, who had every interest in having industrial products (especially fabrics) at a good price. But already now, around 1820, the biggest issue was that of slavery. In the northern states, slavery, which had never been much in bloom, had disappeared by itself; nor agriculture (of farmers) nor did the industry feel the need for black workers. Unlike in the south: the large planters could not do without a cheap and therefore colored labor; nor did they admit that the Negro knew how to work except as a slave. They considered it a vital issue. On the other hand, the constitution did not give the federal government any power to intervene in the matter, which was left to the discretion of individual states. Only an amendment to the Constitution could have abolished slavery in all states. But how to find the required two-thirds majority until slave and anti-slave states balanced each other out in the Senate? For over thirty years, the political struggle of the United States is summed up in the tenacious effort of both parties to break this to their own advantage. equilibrium. In short, it was of the utmost importance to know whether the new states accepted into the union were slavers or anti-slavers. Therefore the question of slavery is closely connected with that of expansion into the West. After 1812 the practice was followed of matching the entry of a slave state to that of an anti-slave state. Representing the Ohio River by an ordinance of 1787, the boundary between the two types, the entry into the union of the anti-slaver state of Indiana (1817) north of Ohio was followed by that of the slaver Mississippi (1818); that of Illinois from that of Alabama. But no dividing line had been set for the vast region west of the Mississippi. What criterion would have been adopted when a slave territory had asked to enter the Union as a state? This was the case of the Missouri territory, in 1820. After a long and bitter debate, it ended with the so-called “Missouri compromise”: the new state was accepted, but as a counterweight it was erected as a non-slave state in the far north-east, little Maine, which until then had been part, with some autonomy, of Massachusetts. It was also established that west of the Mississippi to the then barely known Rocky Mountains in the region opening up to further American expansion, the parallel 36 ° 30 ′ would be what was the Ohio River to the east: dividing line between future slave states and future free states. The question was postponed, not resolved; the bold, rapid expansion would soon have imposed the solution. In 1817 American pioneers were already entering Spanish Texas; American farms and stations for the fur trade had established themselves on the Pacific coast at the outlet of Columbia, in contact with the Russians and the English, with whom, in 1818, an agreement was reached for the delimitation of these distant regions. American expansion, therefore, did not develop without some contact and friction with European powers. When the Hispano-American populations, and especially Mexico, rebelled against the mother country, the United States had reasons to fear that to help Spain, in homage to the principles of the Holy Alliance, other and more dangerous European nations could intervene in matters. American. Monroe took an energetic attitude, to ward off any eventuality; as early as 1822 it recognized the new South American republics and in the famous message to the Senate of 2 December 1823 stated that the United States, considering the two Americas now closed to the colonial policy of European nations, would oppose any European attempt to interfere in the free development of the independent states of North and South America. This statement exceeded, at that moment, the real possibilities of the United States; but it was nevertheless significant, as a symptom of a new national consciousness, and, one would say, of a pan-American mission that they attributed to themselves. The fact is that the feared European intervention did not happen; on the contrary, the following year (1824) the disputes with Russia about the extension of Alaska, Russian dominion, were settled.
The second presidency of Monroe was drawing to a close; and even before his exit from power the “era of good understanding” was over. Regional rivalries, not yet well organized around party ideologies, gave the theme to the struggle for the presidency. In 1824 all four candidates, true regional champions (favorite sons, they were said) proclaimed themselves republicans. After bitter struggle, no one getting a majority, the House of Representatives made the choice: John Quincy Adams of Massachusetts. But spiritually the real winner had been Andrew Jackson of Tennessee. In the course of 1825-26 these national tendencies coagulated in party formations, extended, with varying influence and penetration, in all the states of the Union. They called themselves the national republicans, or certainly republicans. They were president Adams and Henry Clay: like the Hamiltonian federalists, they wanted to strengthen the powers of the federal government, interpret the Constitution in a restrictive sense of the powers of the states, promote protective duties of industry, impose the dominance of the federal bank over the banks of the States, contribute with the federal treasury to public works of national interest, especially communication routes. It is not necessary after that to warn that the republicans had more numerous adherents in the northern states. The strict advocates of the rights of states called themselves, on the contrary, democrats. Powerful above all in the southern states, they brought forth men like Andrew Jackson, JC Calhoun, WH Crawford.
The republican government of Adams went beyond the limits: the customs tariff of 1824 had already considerably tightened that of 1816. That of 1828 earned from opponents the name, which has remained, of “tariff of abominations”. The prices of cotton, tobacco, rice, that is, the main products of the south, were falling, while, thanks to the tariff, the industrial products of the north were raising prices. The south looked ruined; but he voted for the tariff that imposed protective duties also on certain raw materials produced by the breeders of the north-west (wool, etc.) because he hoped, in this way, to antagonize the north with the west and to break the compactness of the republican party. The game succeeded: in the presidential elections of 1828, the Democratic candidate Andrew Jackson succeeded, who, of an authoritarian nature, he established a whole new system of exercising presidential power. He did not pose as a dictator, but he did not care to govern in good harmony with Congress. He considered himself to be the agent of the people and directly responsible only towards them and naturally, above all, towards the party that had brought him to power. It was therefore he who introduced the system, which lasted for over half a century, until 1882, of the rotation of public offices, whereby the winning party believed itself in the right to replace with its own men the offices covered by the followers of the losing party; and not only in some very high federal offices which, even before then, had been subject to the events of the parties, but often also in minute offices, post offices, customs, etc. New Yorker WL Marcy, Spoils System. It should be added that this did not hurt too much the public conscience, which admitted, even in the administration, a certain degree of partisanship. After all, experience had shown that certain limits were not passed and that the party in power, whatever it was called, was the best servant of the superior interests of the Federal Union. Here is the case of Jackson: he had supported the rights of states; but when, between 1828-29, the Democrat Calhoun went out in the parliament of Charleston (South Carolina) in the famous declaration “of denunciation and protest” in which he not only supported the unconstitutionality of the 1828 tariff, but also the right to a state, in such cases, to appeal for the decision to the arbitration of the other states, Jackson, in the face of the dangerousness of this theory, he did not hesitate to loudly proclaim that the Federal Union came first and that it had to be safeguarded by all means. The historic debate that took place in the Senate in 1830 on the subject proved how much Calhoun’s theory, in its enunciation and in its developments, could be fatal to the Union. Against Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, Senator Robert Y. Hayne interpreted the Charleston declaration as meaning that a state, if it considered a federal law unconstitutional, could not only declare it void (nullification), but to oppose by any means to it being applied in the state itself. Jackson’s re-election in 1832, for the four-year period 1833-37, proved that this disintegrating doctrine did not meet the favor of the great mass of the country. And the facts followed the premises. However, when in December 1832 South Carolina wanted to declare the federal law on tariffs null and void, Jackson called 10,000 men to arms to impose the will of the Union even by force. This time the demonstration of force was enough, and Jackson, moreover, used restraint by reducing the “rate of abominations.”
Jackson’s two presidencies or, as his opponents put it, “Jackson’s reign,” mark, in various respects, an important step in American history. Economic and political life becomes more complex. In this period (1833) also the first cry of an American workers’ movement, which held its first national meetings in Philadelphia, with an exposition of the usual demands. But more important is the extension of the right to vote introduced in the constitutions of almost all states following the democratic victory of 1828 and applied in a strict democratic sense also to administrative and judicial elections. The increase in the number of voters made it necessary to organize the two major parties on a permanent national basis; boss) and the need for corresponding financial means for the political struggle. The practice of presidential elections was also modified; while until now presidential candidates were proposed by more or less restricted committees, now (starting with the elections of 1832) the two large parties propose their candidate in conventions national in which the party organizations of each state (with double the number of delegates than the state representatives in Congress) can make their voices and preferences heard. With this, the provincial something that characterized the political life of the United States has ended, and the oligarchy of those few classes that until now had given political cadres to the nation is also partly broken. The economy was also transforming itself; the first railways (1830) brought a revolution in the means of communication and with the possibility of relatively rapid transport gave new wings to the penetration in the west, disproving the idea of those who asserted that the expansion was too far incompatible, for the distances, with the Federal Union. In the midst of so much progress and optimism, some sudden stops. Crisis of growth. In 1837 over 600 banks went bankrupt, creating a movement of panic, aggravated by the succession of two bad harvests. This financial disaster was largely due to Jacksonian democratic politics, highly opposed to the privileged national bank reconstituted in 1816. The privilege expired in 1832. Jackson vetoed the renewal and had federal deposits withdrawn from the bank, distributing them among about fifty. banks of the various states which, in this way, became privileged in their turn. Supported by the government and by the wave of general optimism, these and many other banks over-extended their credit: the lean years came and it was a disaster. The federal treasury lost $ 10 million, large sum for the times; the Democratic Party was compromised. In the elections of 1836 he barely managed to win his own candidate Martin Van Buren (1837-41) against a coalition of disgruntled southern Democrats and Republicans, who were now scrambling in their turn to invoke the rights of states against exorbitance. presidential elections in financial matters. Van Buren plugged the leaks as best he could, and out of conviction and to give satisfaction to public opinion he separated the federal treasury from the fate of the banks. But the Democratic party was in the memory of the voters too tied to the panic of 1837. In the elections of 1840 the aforementioned coalition, which called itself “Whig”, led to the triumph of its candidate, WH Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe.