US Expansion: Northwest & Southwest Division

Topics: America

Throughout the emergence of nationalism and sectionalism, the period from 1817 to 1825 was labeled the “Era of Good Feelings.” This era has been labeled incorrectly due to westward expansion creating disunity among the states, sectionalism overpowering nationalism, and Congress not dealing with issues presented by the people. The United States was a nation that sought expansion, as they believed that it would strengthen their level of independence apart from Britain. when the United States started expanding westward, the people saw their expansion as a good and bad act.

Some individuals believed that expansion would make the nation better as a whole, but those who acted under nationalism. Others believed that expansion would separate the United States and cause their success to fail. John C. Calhoun stated, “Let it not be forgotten, let it be forever kept in mind, that the extent of the republic exposes us to the greatest of calamities- disunion.

We are great, and rapidly-l was about to say fearfully-growing” which accurately demonstrates how some individuals believed expansion would leave the nation vulnerable to present differences and split the nation amongst their perspectives (Document B).

The belief that separation would occur happened, as the United States separated beliefs between the North and the South as the nation expanded. The United States expound as far west as they possibly could, and they even created the Monroe Doctrine to keep Britain away from trying to colonize the United States again once they gained enough land. As demonstrated by the map, the United States was completely scattered in terms of population.

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Some individuals were living in communities with many inhabitants near each other, while others were isolated and kept their distance from each other. As time progressed, sectionalism became prominent in the western region. During the presidential election of 1820, nationalism was more prominent, and the majority of the western territory voted for James Monroe.

However, sectionalism became more prominent as the population grew in the western region, causing political ideals to change. In the 1824 election, there were 4 candidates, and none of them received the majority vote. As demonstrated by the 1824 election, the candidate majority vote per state was spread across the western territory, demonstrating the fact that nationalism declined as sectionalism increased, as the individuals of each state had different political ideals, believing their ideals were the best. 1hese states then voted for who they thought best fit their ideals, and that’s the main reason why the 1824 election map for the western territory is scattered to the extent that it is. The population split is one of the reasons the Era of Good Feelings was labeled incorrectly, as it allowed the West to identify themselves as their own region, and once regions started identifying themselves, the split between nationalism and sectionalism began. Both nationalism and sectionalism aided the development of the United States, however, sectionalism overpowered nationalism due to the division among the states.

Nationalism is the political ideology that one’s nation or region is the best, and nationalism involves pride and support for the nation as a whole. Sectionalism, on the other hand, is the political ideology that one’s section of the nation or region is the best rather than the region as a whole. Nationalism was prominent for the United States when the Era of Good Feelings began, as demonstrated through John Krimmel’s Fourth of July image. Nationalism is a prominent political philosophy demonstrated in this image, as the flag waving above George Washington glorifies the unity and creation of the nation, and the multiple different types of people in the image demonstrate unity amongst the nation, emphasizing nationalism and national unity even more. Nationalism was also prominent, demonstrated by “The Albany Advertiser.

The boat that was traveling, which was packed with people, had “A military band [that| played patriotic airs” to demonstrate their support for the nation and the nation’s success thus far (Document D). Sectionalism, however, became evident around the year 1820, as the United States started expanding westward. As stated by Thomas Jefferson, “A geographical line, coinciding with a marked principle. Moral and political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of men, will never be obliterated” the North and South began to separate from each other due to more land as well as different perspectives regarding political and economic ideologies. In addition to the geographical line representing the geographical split, the line also separated the views based on the Missouri Compromise was the agreement that slavery was prohibited North of the Louisiana territory except for the state of Missouri.

The Northerners wanted to abolish slavery in Missouri but the South wanted Missouri to be a slave state, so when the compromise was made, the North and South parts of the Western region were split even further apart. As the Era was coming to a close, the North and South have separated in that Sectionalism was much more prominent than Nationalism. Some states believed that states had the power to tax and others did not, which further separated the two regions. However, Congress settled this taxation issue in the court case McCulloch v. Maryland. McCulloch v. Maryland was a court case that dealt with whether Maryland taxing the second national bank was unconstitutional or if they were allowed to tax the bank.

John Marshall, Chief Justice of the supreme court stated, “If the states may tax one instrument, employed by the government in the execution of its powers, they may tax any and every other instrument” in order to demonstrate that taxation was not created for the states to handle on their own, that the government was indirectly granted the power “to lay and collect taxes” and to control who taxes who. Shortly after the court case was resolved, the Era of Good feelings ended. Because the nation went from a time of Nationalism to a time of Sectionalism, the Era of Good Feelings was labeled incorrectly. The Era of Good Feelings was an era that promoted westward expansion but demonstrated the dis-unification of the United States in terms of Northwest and Southwest territories. These two territories have been separated on the basis of different economic and political ideals. As the Southerm and Northern territories ot the western region ot the United States separated, sectionalism became more prominent than nationalis, further splitting the two territories. Due to the changes that have occurred throughout the Era of Good Feelings, the label of the era is inaccurately labeled.

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US Expansion: Northwest & Southwest Division. (2023, Feb 22). Retrieved from

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