After the war of 1812, America underwent some changes as a nation. In comparison to the country prior to the war, the United States initially appeared to be more united in the sense that only one party ruled, but in reality, this only increased factions within the government due to sectionalism and the court. Because the United States emerged as a one party nation after the War of 1812, members of past parties, such as the Federalists, felt the need to join with the Jeffersonians to maintain their competitiveness in the government.
Evidently, this meant that many members within the Jeffersonian party began to hold differing political viewpoints. Thus, what the Jeffersonians originally represented became irrelevant and the true values of the party were obliterated. Basically, the party was meaningless and political unity was only superficial. For instance, Henery Clay was considered a Jeffersonian during this time, but he was in favor of building roads with the use of tax dollars, which was not a traditional Jeffersonian belief.
Where politicians came from also had a huge influence on their views. Those from the South favored the use of slaves while those from the North opposed it. When it came to deciding whether incoming states would be free or slave states, conflict arose. The Southern states were concerned that if another free state was added, that their candidates would be more likely to lose elections, and vice versa. Finally, the Missouri compromise was brought about which physically drew a line through the country at 36 30.
All states above would be free, and all below would be slave states. Cleary, this led to a severe case of sectionalism; the country was divided amongst slave states and free states. With such sectional differences, unity was impossible, despite the fact that only Jeffersonians existed. Another factor which effected the nation’s unity was the court. Since John Adams appointed “midnight judges” to the Supreme Court during the final hours of his presidency, Federalist influence still lingered throughout the court, specifically with John Marshall.
Marshall was certainly not a Jeffersonian as he constantly sought to strengthen the court and the Federal government with his rulings. During the case of Marbury vs. Madison, he successfully strengthened the court by stating that the final say of what is constitutional belongs to the court. This began the practice of judicial review. In the case of McCulloch vs. Maryland, Madison limited state power forbidding states from overriding constitutional law. Many a Jeffersonian opposed his rulings as they believed that power should lie within the states and that the Federal government should not have too much strength.
Obviously, Marshall’s court led to division after the war of 1812. However, the fact that the Jeffersonian Republicans were now the only political party alone is a good basis to how the country was more united after the War of 1812. Unity like this was unheard of in the United States prior to this time. For the first time, there appeared to be no political factions, causing the Era of Good Feelings. A sense of nationalism was adopted by Americans as well and unity certainly seemed to be present.
Although the country became unified in many trivial ways after the War of 1812, for the most part, the United States actually became more divided. Yes, single party rule existed, but this did not mean that all within the party were truly loyal to the ways of Jefferson, but were merely conforming to stay in the running for future elections. Because of this, sectionalism emerged and Marshall’s court provided further political detachment, making the United States a very divided nation after the War of 1812.