James Monroe's Presidency

Start Free Trial

In what ways did nationalism, inspired by the war of 1812, manifest itself?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The years following the War of 1812 are referred to as the "Era of Good Feelings.". This time period was characterized by nationalism spurred on by the War of 1812. Although the War of 1812 didn't involve many significant victories on the battlefield for the United States, there were a few encouraging results at the war's end. The final major battle of the war, the Battle of New Orleans, resulted in a resounding American victory. Although a treaty had already been made, news had not yet reached the British soldiers launching their assault on New Orleans. They were met by American troops led by Andrew Jackson, and they were soundly defeated. Despite the fact that the victory at the Battle of New Orleans had no real impact on the outcome of the war, Jackson's victory left many Americans feeling as though they had won the war. The outcome of the war also seemed to indicate that the United States had survived its infancy, fought off a major world power, and was destined to remain an independent nation.

The Era of Good feelings brought about examples of nationalism in many areas of society. One could argue there was literary nationalism through the writings of James Fenimore Cooper and Washington Irving. These authors produced books with American settings, something that to this point had not been popular. To continue looking at the arts, we see a similar shift to a focus on American landscapes and the American way of life through a movement known as the Hudson River School. Artists like Asher Durand and Thomas Cole were products of this movement.

The political leaders of the United States also felt more confidence at this time. During the Era of Good Feelings, the United States would attempt to expand its diplomatic influence through the Monroe Doctrine. The Monroe Doctrine asserted the United States as the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere. The Monroe Doctrine also warned European nations not to meddle in the affairs of the Americas or they would risk war with the United States.

The United States also desired to become more self-sufficient economically. American leadership felt that economic independence was just as important as political independence. In order to do this, Henry Clay developed an economic plan known as the "American System." Clay's economic plan involved the aiding of the development of American manufacturing through protective tariffs. These tariffs were designed to raise the price of European goods to give growing American industries a chance to compete with their European competitors. Clay's system also called for "internal improvements." The goal of the internal improvements was to better link the country to increase commerce and encourage settlement in the west. This plan called for the building of new roads and canals across the country. Clay's plan also involved the creation of a second national bank to help fund government ventures and American industries.

These are some of the notable examples of nationalism in the United States that occurred in the wake of the War of 1812. Although the war is generally not seen to have been successful from an American viewpoint, the spirit of the nation after the war saw many confident changes arriving in American politics, economics, and culture. These changes would alter the role of the United States for years to come.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Many Americans viewed the war, while hardly a resounding success, as a coming-of-age event. Nationalism was manifested in the post-war era, or the "Era of Good Feelings," in a number of different ways.  The Monroe Doctrine, articulated eight years after the war, reflected a new-found confidence.  Proposals by James Madison, later packaged as the "American System" by Henry Clay, included infrastructural developments like canals, roads, and lighthouses, all financed by the federal government. Developing industries contributed to a new sense of commercial independence. The United States was portrayed in popular culture as "Uncle Sam" for the first time during this period. Finally, the end of the Federalist Party, a legacy of the war, contributed to a very short-lived sense of national unity. The Second Bank of the United States was also chartered in the wake of the war, leading to the famous Marshall Court decision in McCulloch vs. Maryland, which gave constitutional authority to the sweeping new powers the federal government was beginning to claim.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial