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Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 4409

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02

[Sidenote: No gain from the war.]

[Sidenote: National pride.]

After nearly three years of war, the expenditure of one hundred millions of dollars, the loss of about thirty thousand lives, the destruction of property, and ruinous losses of American vessels, the country stood where it had stood in 1812, its boundary unchanged, its international rights still undefined, the people still divided. Yet peace brought a kind of national exaltation. The naval victories had been won by officers and men from all parts of the Union, and belonged to the nation. The last struggle on land, the battle of New Orleans, was an American victory, and obliterated the memory of many defeats. President Madison, in his annual message of 1815, congratulated the country that the treaty "terminated with peculiar felicity a campaign signalized by the most brilliant successes."

[Sidenote: Training of soldiers.]

One noteworthy effect of the war had been the development of a body of excellent young soldiers. Winfield Scott distinguished himself in the Niagara campaigns, and rose eventually to be the highest officer of the American army. William Henry Harrison's military reputation was based chiefly on the Indian battle of Tippecanoe in 1811, but it made him President in 1840. Andrew Jackson's victory at New Orleans brought him before the people, and caused his choice as President in 1828. The national pride was elated by the successes of American engineers, American naval architects, American commodores, and volunteer officers like Jacob Brown, who had finally come to the front.

[Sidenote: Extrication from European politics.]

The end of the war marks also the withdrawal of the United States from the complications of European politics. From 1775 to 1815 the country had been compelled, against its will, to take sides, to ask favors, and to suffer rebuffs abroad. During the long interval of European peace, from 1815 to 1853, the United States grew up without knowing this influence. Furthermore, the field was now clear for a new organization of American industries. The profits of the shipping trade had not been due so much to American enterprise as to the greater safety of foreign car

goes in neutral bottoms. When this advantage was swept away, American shipping languished, and its place was taken by manufacturing.

[Sidenote: Decay of the Federalist party.]

[Sidenote: Persistence of Federalist principles.]

[Sidenote: Gain in national spirit.]

The most marked result of the war was the absorption of the Federalist Party, which at once began, and in five or six years was complete. In the election of 1812 eighty-nine votes had been cast for the Federalist candidate (§ 109); in 1816 there were but thirty-four (§ 123); in 1820 there was not one. This did not mean that Federalist principles had decayed or been overborne; the real reason for the extinction of that party was that it lived in the ranks of the Republican party. When Jefferson in 1801 said, "We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists," he expressed what had come to be true in 1815. The great principles for which the Federalists had striven were the right of the federal government to exercise adequate powers, and its duty to maintain the national dignity: those principles had been adopted by the Republicans. John Randolph was almost the only leader who continued to stand by the Republican doctrine enunciated by Jefferson when he became President. Jefferson himself had not scrupled to annex Louisiana, to lay the embargo, and to enforce it with a severity such as Hamilton would hardly have ventured on. Madison had twice received and used the power to discriminate between the commerce of England and of France; and during the war the nation had reimposed federal taxes and adopted Federalist principles of coercion. James Monroe, Secretary of State at the end of Madison's administration, and candidate for the Presidency in 1816, was in his political beliefs not to be distinguished from moderate Federalists like James A. Bayard in 1800. The Union arose from the disasters of the War of 1812 stronger than ever before, because the people had a larger national tradition and greater experience of national government, and because they had accepted the conception of government which Washington and Hamilton had sought to create.



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