Sectional controversy began to grow during the 1820s and 1830s.  What were some issues other than slavery that drove this?

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pholland14 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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One controversy of the period was the Bank of the United States. Andrew Jackson did not renew its charter because he feared that money would be concentrated into the hands of a few Northeastern elitists. His non-renewal made his base in the South and West quite happy, but it destabilized the banking system and led to the Panic of 1837.

Another controversy was tariff law. South Carolina threatened secession over what it called the Tariff of Abominations. This was especially problematic since the vice president of the United States at the time was John C. Calhoun, a prominent South Carolinian. Jackson threatened to use force to keep South Carolina in the Union and enforce the tariff, and the threat of civil war dissolved.

Culturally, the North and South were becoming distinctively different. The North was becoming a haven for new investment and immigration. The North was also more egalitarian, though it had its share of wealthy people. The South had a small collection of wealthy landowners and a lot of poverty. These sectional tensions boiled over during presidential elections, as voters felt pressured to vote for the "favorite son" of a particular region even if they did not entirely endorse the candidate's platform.

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An issue that provoked sectional crises during this time period was the Bank of the United States. The First Bank of the United States, championed by Alexander Hamilton, had been chartered in 1791. Its charter had lapsed in 1811, and it the Second Bank of the United States was rechartered in 1816. The bank drew criticism from the South because it was seen as a sign of excessive federal power, to the detriment of state and local power. It was also regarded as restricting entrepreneurship. The 1819 Supreme Court case McCulloch v. Maryland upheld the constitutionality of the bank, which was endangered by state taxes.

In 1832, President Jackson ran for reelection on the platform of vetoing the bank's rechartering. After he won the election, he removed federal funds from the bank, and the bank was not rechartered in 1836. The bank was a sectional issue as the North largely supported it, while the South and West, which favored state power and state banks over federal power and the federal bank, did not.

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There were a number of issues that helped to heighten sectional tensions during this time.

The most important of these was the tariff and the issue of nullification that went with it.  Southerners did not want tariffs while Northerners did.  This was because Southerners relied more on imports while many Northerners wanted to block imports that would compete with their own manufactures.  When the federal government imposed a high tariff, South Carolina tried to nullify the law.  This led to sectional tensions.

A much less important issue was the issue of internal improvements.  Southern states generally had less of these than the North did.  Therefore, the South wanted the federal government to help pay for them while the North did not since they already had the improvements.  This, too, helped cause sectional tensions.

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