Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States

Edited by: Lalor, John J.
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New York: Maynard, Merrill, and Co.
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Includes articles by Frédéric Bastiat, Gustave de Molinari, Henry George, J. B. Say, Francis A. Walker, and more.
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ERA OF GOOD FEELING (IN U. S. HISTORY),a period (1817-23) when the contests of national parties were practically suspended, partly through the exhaustion of one party (the federal party) and partly through the extinction of the surface issues of the past. The termination of the war of 1812 had put an end to every question which had divided the parties since 1800; it left the democrats a triumphant majority, and the federalists a discredited minority; and the new policy of internal improvements and a protective tariff had not yet been developed so far as to form a party issue. Neither of these last projects was supported generally or with any interest by the federalists, but both found their warmest supporters in the northern section of the democratic party.


—The inaugural address of Monroe, in 1817, was exceedingly well calculated to soothe the feelings of the hopeless minority of federalists. It spoke warmly of their peculiar interests commerce and the fisheries; it congratulated the country on the restoration of "harmony"; and it promised the diligent efforts of the president to increase the harmony for the future. The inaugural was a harbinger of a tour which he made through New England during the year, and he was received with enthusiasm by a section which had not seen a president or heard such conciliatory language from a president, since Washington. Party feeling was laid aside, and the leaders of both parties joined in receiving the president and in announcing the arrival of an "era of good feeling." The "good feeling" lasted long enough to give Monroe an almost unanimous re-election in 1820, Plumer of New Hampshire being the only elector to vote against him; but it did not induce Monroe to take any federalists into his cabinet, as Jackson advised and urged him to do.


—The era of good feeling was terminated by the election of John Quincy Adams to the presidency in 1824, the opposition which was formed during his administration, and the development of two opposing national parties. (See DISPUTED ELECTIONS, II.; DEMOCRATIC-REPUBLICAN PARTY, IV.; WHIG PARTY, I) During its existence no characteristic is more striking than the torpor which seemed to affect principle in politics, and the extent to which personal feeling seemed for the time to have superseded it. The several factions which supported Jackson, Adams, Crawford and Clay for the presidency, in 1824, hardly pretended to assign to their candidates any distinctive political principles, and one of the candidates, Jackson, was most earnestly supported for his supposed liking for internal improvements and a protective tariff, to which, as president, he proved to be a consistent opponent.


—The best medium for getting the spirit of the "era of good feeling" is 10-24 Niles' Weekly Register; see also 6 Hildreth's United States, 623; 3 Spencer's United States, 309.


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