Monroe Presidency

What changes occurred during the presidency of James Monroe?

The conclusion of the War of 1812 brought about a feeling
altogether different than what had previously existed in America. For
the first time America had fought a war as a nation, united. The
feeling that resulted from this unification of spirit marked a rise
of nationalism and a shift in both foreign and domestic policy.

I. The Presidency of James Monroe

A. How did America respond to the end of the War of

1. A strong sense of nationalism swept the country in
the years following the War of 1812.

2. This period of increased nationalism and prosperity was called
the “Era of Good Feelings.”

B. What measures did the nation take to further our prosperity?

1. Monroe developed the idea of the American System

  • This divided the United States into 3 sections.

    a) An industrial North would turn out manufactured goods

    b) Farmers in the South would provided agricultural products.

    c) Farmers in the West would provided agricultural products.

  • The purpose of this was to develop self sufficiency. Factory
    workers in the North would form a market for agricultural
    products. Farmers in the South and West would buy manufacture

2. Congress passed protective tariffs. (A tax on imports designed
to protect domestic manufacturers.)

  • Tariff Act of 1816—Congress adopted a mild protective tariff.
    Then in 1828, it significantly raised the tariffs.

3. Transportation Improvements were made.

  • National Road—Federal government authorized construction of a
    road from Maryland to Illinois, and also of canals so goods could
    move to market more easily.

4. Congress chartered the Second Bank of the United States to
replace the first whose charter had expired.

  • To help the two sections of the country do business with each
    other; the federal government set up a new national bank.

  • Paper money quickly lost value because when the banks started
    to be regulated by the state banks, the banks issued a great deal
    of more paper money. This made it difficult to conduct business.

  • Second Bank of the United States-1816 Congress chartered this
    bank with 25 branches throughout the country.

  • The national bank issued its own paper money. These notes
    could be used anywhere, and by increasing the money supple they
    fueled a 2-year national business boom.

C. What actions did the Supreme Court take at this time?

The Supreme Court, under the leadership of Chief
Justice John Marshall, supported the trend toward national power.
This should come as no surprise considering he was one of the
Federalist judges appointed by Adams. During his term, he dominated
the court, writing more than half the opinions. Marshall’s decisions
enlarged the power of the Supreme Court.

1. Fletcher vs. Peck (1810)

A new state administration had passed a law voiding a land grant
made by the previous administration. When the landowners sued,
Marshall ruled that the contract had to stand. Article I, Sect 10 of
the Constitution forbid state laws “impairing” contracts. Thus the
contract law was created making written contracts legal and binding.

2. Dartmouth College vs. Woodward (1819)

Expanded the principle of the Fletcher decision to include
contracts between corporations and states. Previously it had been
believed that states could disregard contracts held with private
enterprise. As more business corporations were established around the
country, this ruling became very important.

3. McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819)
see lesson 17

4. Gibbons vs. Ogden (1824)
see lesson 17

 D. How did President Monroe attempt to avoid involvement
with Europe?

1. In 1823 President Monroe issued the Monroe
that warned all European powers not to interfere with
affairs in the Western Hemisphere. They should not attempt to create
new colonies or try to overthrow the newly independent republics.

2. The United States would consider such action “dangerous to our
peace and safety.” At the same time, the United States would not
involve itself in European affairs or interfere with existing
colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

3. The doctrine was largely ignored because the United States
lacked the power to enforce the doctrine. In the end it went
unchallenged because European nation no longer desired new colonies
in the region.

E. How did the nation seek to resolve the debate over the
extension of slavery into the territories and new states?

1. In 1787 slavery had been prohibited in the
Northwest Territory. However the issue was not considered yet for the
Louisiana Purchase. When the Territory of Missouri applied for
admission to the Union in 1819, its proposed state constitution
recognized the right to hold slaves.

2. Congress was in chaos. For the first time, the merits of
slavery were debated openly.

3. Missouri’s admission was stalled. Then Congress received an
application from the area now known as Maine.

4. Missouri compromise—Maine was admitted as a free state
and Missouri as a slave state, which preserved the sectional balance
in the Senate. The rest of the Louisiana Territory was split in two
“spheres of interest, one…for the slave holders and one for free
settlers. Those states above the 36’30” latitude line would become
free and those below it would allow slaves.

5. President Monroe signed the Missouri Compromise in 1820. For a
generation, the problem of slavery in federal territories seemed

Back To Class Syllabus