The Era of Good Feelings marked a period in the political history of the United States that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. The era saw the collapse of the Federalist Party and an end to the bitter partisan disputes between it and the dominant Democratic-Republican Party during the First Party System. President James Monroe endeavored to downplay partisan affiliation in making his nominations, with the ultimate goal of national unity and eliminating parties altogether from national politics. The period is so closely associated with Monroe's presidency and his administrative goals that his name and the era are virtually synonymous. The designation of the period by historians as one of "good feelings" is often conveyed with irony or skepticism, as the history of the era was one in which the political atmosphere was strained and divisive, especially among factions within the Monroe administration and the Republican Party. The phrase Era of Good Feelings was coined by Benjamin Russell, in the Boston Federalist newspaper, Columbian Centinel, on July 12, 1817, following Monroe's visit to Boston, Massachusetts, as part of his good will tour of America. The Era of Good Feelings started in 1815 in the mood of victory that swept the nation at the end of the War of 1812. Exultation replaced the bitter political divisions between Federalists and Republicans, the North and South, and the East coast cities and settlers on the western frontier. The political hostilities declined because the Federalist Party had largely dissolved after the fiasco of the Hartford Convention in 1814-15. As a party, Federalists "had collapsed as a national political force." The Democratic-Republican Party was nominally dominant, but in practice it was inactive at the national level and in most states. The era saw a nationalizing trend that envisioned “a permanent federal role in the crucial arena of national development and national prosperity.” Monroe’s predecessor, President James Madison, and the Republican Party, had come to appreciate – through the crucible of war – the expediency. Federalists "had collapsed as a national political force." The Democratic-Republican Party was nominally dominant, but in practice it was inactive at the national level and in most states. The era saw a nationalizing trend that envisioned “a permanent federal role in the crucial arena of national development and national prosperity.” Monroe’s predecessor, President James Madison, and the Republican Party, had come to appreciate – through the crucible of war – the expediency of Federalist institutions and projects, and prepared to legislate them under the auspices of John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay’s American System. Madison announced this shift in policy with his Seventh Annual Message to Congress in December 1815, subsequently authorizing measures for a national bank and a protective tariff on manufactures. Vetoing the Bonus Bill on strict constructionist grounds, Madison nevertheless was determined, as had been his predecessor, Thomas Jefferson, to see internal improvements implemented with an amendment to the US Constitution. Writing to Monroe, in 1817, Madison declared that, “there has never been a moment when such a proposition to the states was so likely so be approved.” The emergence of “new Republicans” – undismayed by mild nationalist policies – anticipated Monroe’s “era of good feelings” and a general mood of optimism emerged with hopes for political reconciliation. Monroe’s landslide victory against Federalist Rufus King in 1816 was so widely predicted that voter turnout was low. A spirit of reconciliation between Republicans and Federalists was well underway when Monroe assumed office in March 1817. Monroe and political parties
As president, Monroe was widely expected to facilitate a rapprochement of the political parties in order to harmonize the country in a common national...
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