Monticello // Thomas Jefferson Online
PBS - Burr-Hamiton Duel
Thomas Jefferson on Politics and Government
Toussaint L'Ouverture Historical Society
PBS - Toussaint L'Ouverture
PBS Online - Lewis & Clark
Discovering Lewis and Clark
The Journey Log
Lewis & Clark at National Geographic
Exploring the West from Monticello
James and Dolley Madison and the
War of 1812
Links to the War of 1812
Whitehouse - James Madison
Miller Center - James Madison
James Madison Quotes
Welcome to Montpelier - Madison's Plantation
Dolley Madison Biography
Dolley Madison Biography
Whitehouse - Dolley Madison
The Dolley Madison Project
War of 1812
Madison's War Message
PBS War of 1812
Ft. McHenry National Monument and Historical Shrine
The Bombardment of Ft. McHenry and the "Star Spangled Banner
Era of Good Feelings
Era of Good Feelings
Home of James Monroe
Elizabeth Kortwright Monroe
American Colonization Society
Library of Congress: American Colonization Society
Missouri Compromise - Library of Congress
Trivia on 5th U.S. President (Monore)
In my opinion, Thomas Jefferson is one of the most interesting people we study this semester. He is also one of the most complicated and difficult to understand. He is an enigma (what does that mean?). He has been described as consistently inconsistent. You may admire him. You may not like him at all. You may be confused.
Born in 1743 to an aristocratic Virginia plantation family, he inherited the family's property at the age of 14 when his father died. This included 2,000 acres and 83 slaves. He grew mostly hemp (I wonder if he or slaves smoked it?) for rope, canvas, paper, and other products. The plantation never really was very profitable due to his spending habits.
Jefferson was a typical Enlightenment man known for his impeccable manners, love of horses and hunting, excellent dancing, love of books, beautiful formal gardens and appreciation of fine wines. Educated at William and Mary College as a lawyer, he began building his plantation home, Monticello, after graduation. He designed it himself and included his own inventions. He invented the swivel chair and "dumb waiter" (not the stupid guy at Chili's but a small elevator to transport items such as wine and food from floor to floor). He also invented the pedometer to measure walking and created the U.S. system of money (denominations).
Like Washington, Jefferson stood out in a crowd at 6'2" tall and carrot red hair. But, unlike Washington, women seemed to be very comfortable around him. Perhaps that explained why he did not marry until he was 28 in 1772 to Martha Wayles Skelton, a widow with one child. She came from a similar background with similar interests. She had 29 house slaves to assist her so she probably did not do much housework. They were a devoted couple and he was accused of neglecting his political responsibilities to be with her. A year after they married, her father died and they inherited another 40,000 acres that they sold except 10,000 acres and 135 more slaves. This made them one of the wealthiest families in Virginia.
Soon their family grew also. The had six children but three died as infants as did her first child. Three daughters survived. As a result of almost constant pregnancy and childbirth, Martha's health deteriorated and she died in 1782, almost 20 years before he became President. Before she died, she asked Jefferson not to remarry and he did not. (Do you think that is fair? My husband gave me a list of guys to possibly marry before he died. I never did, though. Maybe there is a happy medium there somewhere.)
By the time of Martha's death, Jefferson had already become an important part of the American political system. He served in the Virginia legislature and got into trouble for suggested abolishing slavery in Virginia. After that experience he called the issue "political suicide" and never brought it up again. He also served in the Continental Congress and was the major author of the Declaration of Independence and the phrase "all men are created equal." He continued to serve in the Virginia legislature and Governor (1779-81) where he succeeded in reforming Virginia's criminal code eliminating some of the cruelest penalties like public whippings. He also got passage of a bill to promote public education and libraries and later helped found the University of Virginia (1825).
Jefferson did not serve in the military during the Revolution. He claimed he was a pacifist and hid in the woods when the British attacked Monticello. While he was in hiding, 22 of his slaves joined the British. Later, Jefferson was accused of cowardice. You might notice some similarities in Jefferson and President Bill Clinton who was accused of evading the military during Vietnam. It is interesting that Clinton's middle name is Jefferson.
Jefferson also served as ambassador in France after the Revolution and did not participate in the writing of the Constitution. He served as Secretary of State under Washington and helped create the Democratic-Republican party. He served as Vice President under John Adams but did not get involved other than to grow more critical of Federalist policies including the Alien and Sedition Acts. But, Jefferson was an enigma.
This was most apparent in this attitudes regarding race. Privately wrote about how he hated slavery but remained publicly silent after the "political suicide" incident. As a lawyer, he did represent African-Americans trying to prove they were free because they were born to free mothers. At the same time he defended himself as "benevolent" slaveowner. He was fascinated with African-American culture and studied his slaves like a sociologist or anthropologist making conclusions about their characteristics. These were simply observations, not facts. He believed African-Americans were superior to whites in integrity, kindness, and loyalty. He believed they were equal in terms of memory. But, he believed African-Americans were inferior in the ability to reason and ambivalent about overall intellectual equality. This got the attention of a man who had an influence on Jefferson's racial attitudes.
Benjamin Banneker, an African-American born free, was a farmer, author, surveyor, astronomer, and inventor. He was so respected that Washington chose him to survey the new capital in Washington DC. He wrote a letter to Jefferson to criticize him for his views and actions on the slavery issue. It seems Jefferson took it to heart and by the time he died said he did see all men as friends and equals.
Jefferson also sent mixed messages about American Indians. He wrote how he admired their eloquence and bravery but did not believe they could survive in their traditional lifestyles. He felt assimilation was the best option. Jefferson never introduced any legislation to protect and help American Indians. He also favored the colonization of free African-Americans. Colonization was the idea that free African-Americans should be sent away to another country or territory. We will get into this topic more during the Era of Good Feelings.
As Jefferson's public influence continued to grow in the 1780s and 90s, his private life became more of a mystery. Although he promised not to remarry, he did not promise to give up women. At the same time, he kept much of his life private. There was one very public romance he had while in France, though. He met Maria Cosway who he described as the "most superb thing on earth." Unfortunately, she was married and when she left France to return to her husband in England, Jefferson wrote:
Let us part
Let us part
Will you break
My poor heart?
She did and they never got together again.
After that, Jefferson's private life became even more private. Historians have a few facts but lots of rumors, but here is what we can prove. You make your own conclusions.
The rumor was that Jefferson had a slave mistress named Sally Hemings. Sally was his wife's half-sister. They had the same father, Mr. Wayles. When the Jeffersons inherited Mr. Wayles slaves, Betty, her mother, and siblings moved to Monticello. We have no accurate portraits of either Martha or Sally but it makes sense that they favored one another. It is widely believed that Sally was only 1/8 African.
In 1787 while Jefferson was in France, he wanted his daughter to come to France. He had Sally and her brother, James (Jefferson's cook) to accompany her on the journey. In France, Sally was treated as if she was the mistress of an aristocratic gentleman. That was a role with high status. She dressed in the latest fashions. People bowed in her presence. But, after awhile, Sally and James decided they would stay in France where they would be free since there was no slavery on the continent. For some reason, they informed Jefferson of their plan and he went ballistic. How could they do that to him? As a result, he offered both Sally and James deals to get them to return with him to the United States.
For James, he offered freedom in seven years while a new cook was trained. Cooks had high status in the slave community for obvious reasons. They had to be trustworthy. Sally got a different deal. Jefferson promised to free all her children when they became 21. What would you have done? Well, both James and Sally accepted the offers and returned with Jefferson to the U.S. Why would they do that?
Shortly after the return to the U.S., Sally had her first child. She was only 17 years old. Jefferson was 47. The baby was named Tom and said to have had a striking resemblance to Thomas Jefferson. Sally had a total of five children, one was named Madison. As promised James and all Sally's children were freed but not Sally who remained with Jefferson until his death and was freed by his daughter. In addition, Jefferson gave land to the two boys. Some of the children ended up living in the white community, others in the African-American community.
Of course rumors were rampant at the time about Jefferson and Sally. There were newspaper articles, bad jokes, and poems. The following was published in many newspapers entitled "Jefferson's Concubine":
Of all the damsels on the green
On mountain, or in valley,
A lass so luscious ne-er was seen
As Monticellian Sally.
Yankee Doodle, who the noodle?
What wife was half so handy?
To breed a flock of slaves for stock
A black amour's the dandy...
When press'd by load of state affairs,
I seek to sport and dally,
The sweetest solace of my cares
Is in the lap of Sally.
What though she by her glands secretes?
Must I stand, Shill-I-shall-I?
Tuck'd up between a pair of sheets
There's no perfume like Sally.
From Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History by Fawn McKay Brodie
Today, DNA testing has been conducted and proven that the Hemings family has a relationship to Thomas Jefferson. The problem is the DNA does not specify which Jefferson fathered Sally's children. Some historians argue it was a Jefferson cousin who spent a lot of time at Monticello. Other historians refuse to believe Jefferson would have a slave mistress, it was beneath such an important man in our history. They prefer to describe Jefferson as above such earthy passions and a man totally devoted to country and politics. What do you think?
In 1800, Jefferson reached the peak of his political career with election as President. He was re-elected in 1804 to serve two terms although he said Presidents should be limited to one term. He was consistently inconsistent. His election has been called "The Revolution of 1800" by many historians. It was not a violent revolution and that's the point. It was a non-violent revolution or change in the power of government without violence. The U.S. for one of the few times in history had a political change in power nonviolently. John Adams deserves much of the credit for unlike other leaders in other countries, he graciously stepped down and accepted the democratic election process. Jefferson was inaugurated in March, 1801, and no violence erupted. This is the "Revolution of 1800" and many countries had yet to achieve this accomplishment.
I think you would find it helpful to read some of his quotes to understand Jefferson more clearly if that's possible. Here are some resources:
Collection of Quotes
The Quotations Page
Thomas Jefferson understood his unusual role of political transition from the Federalists to the Democratic-Republicans. He tried to avoid quick changes. He had an innate understanding of politics. Despite his background, he fostered a folksy image and became know as the "bathrobe President" because he would often greet visitors in that attire. He knew how to work Congress and got personally involved in debates. He also knew how to use social activities to enhance his support.
He used his entire salary as President for parties. He said "If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go at all." He was a party guy. He invited both Federalists and Democratic-Republicans. He encouraged discussion and debate but knew how to have a good time and was known for his dancing. He also introduced guest to foods he had discovered in France like macaroni, waffles, and vanilla flavor. And, he was generous in sharing his wine cellar with guests.
At the same time, he was criticized for giving away too much money. He could not refuse a beggar. The problem with this was that he was always in financial distress himself with his less that profitable plantation.
During his presidency, Jefferson had several major accomplishments and his share of failures, too. He did let the Alien and Sedition Acts expire, pardoned those who had been imprisoned as a result of the laws, and returned the fines to those convicted. He also repealed the Whiskey Tax and lowered other taxes passed during Adam's military build-up. He left the rest of Hamilton's plan in place. Despite lowering taxes, he decreased the national debt by $33 million out of the $80 million he inherited from the previous administration. He did this by cutting military spending mostly.
At the same time, he created West Point Military School. He believed it was necessary to have professionally trained and loyal military officers. So far, this idea has worked in that the U.S. has never experienced a military coup and the law of the civilian President as Commander in Chief has been upheld numerous times.
Jefferson also created the Corps of Engineers that still does work in the area of flood control and recreational development. Jefferson, as an Enlightenment man, wanted to develop technology and science.
Jefferson also got ratification of the 12th Amendment that straightened out the election process problems.
The electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President, and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate;--The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;--the person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other constitutional disability of the President. The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of electors appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States.
Despite being a "pacifist," Jefferson also conducted a war. The Tripolitan War (1801-1805) began when Tripoli (Libya) declared war on the U.S. (for more information.)
Jefferson also had big disappointments. One of the biggest disappointments was his Vice President, Aaron Burr. After Burr's attitude during the election controversy, Jefferson did not trust him. Then, in 1804 Burr killed Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Dueling was the manly way to resolve disagreements during this period although it was beginning to be outlawed in some states. Usually, no one got hurt due to the primitive nature of weapons selected by the one challenged to the duel. Guns were generally used. The two men would pace away from one another while "seconds" or witnesses watched. They turned at a given signal and fired. Most of the time, the two participants shook hands and went home. That did not happen in the Burr-Hamilton duel. Burr shot Hamilton in the gut and he died. Jefferson did not invite Burr back for a second term. He was replaced by George Clinton (another Clinton parallel).
Another big disappointment was foreign policy especially with France and England. The U.S. was being drawn into their conflict with both harassing U.S. ships. Jefferson tended to focus his anger on England since he tended to be pro-France. The main reason for his anger was something called "impressment" or "man-stealing." I know a lot about "man-stealing" but that's a story for another day. Anyway, this referred to the practice of English ships pulling aside U.S. ships, boarding the ships and forcing sailors to prove they were NOT British Navy deserters. The British Navy was infamous for its horrible conditions so desertion was a problem. While this sounds like an easy proposal, in those days Americans looked and sounded like the British. People did not carry around documents to prove who they were. So, the British took sailors they wanted and forced them into the British Navy. The situation worsened in 1807 in the so-called Chesapeake–Leopard Affair when a British ship attacked an American frigate, The Chesapeake, ten miles off the coast of Virginia. Three Americans were killed.
To protect Americans and avoid the European conflict plus put economic pressure on England and France, Jefferson push the Embargo Act of `1807 through Congress. It banned U.S. trade in foreign ports to avoid war. This did not work out as planned. The U.S. economy was hurt more the the other countries. The public and shippers resented the control on trade. In the Northeast, shippers ignored it and continued trade despite their men being most at risk.
To enforce the law, Jefferson did something he said no President should do. He called at the military to intervene to stop smuggling and breaking the embargo. Still, the law was ineffective but Jefferson did not give up until right before he left office in 1809.
But, the failures are not the actions that get attention during the Jefferson presidency. They are overshadowed by the Louisiana Purchase, considered his greatest accomplishment as President. In 1804, he doubled the size of the U.S. without war, a rare accomplishment. But, it actually fell into his lap.
Americans wanted to control the Mississippi River and port of New Orleans. Jefferson also wanted more territory to protect his vision of an "agrarian democracy" of educated farmers. He also saw potential for colonization of free blacks in the West.
Louisiana Territory (not just the state) had been claimed by France originally. Then, after the French and Indian War, France gave it to Spain to pay off war debts. Then, in 1800, Spain gave it back to France. At the same time, the French were growing weary of New World problems especially after the humiliating defeat by Haitian slaves. Led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, slaves rebelled and ended French control of Haiti. The leader of France, Napoleon Bonaparte, wanted out and the war with England was draining his resources. So, Napoleon offered to sell Louisiana Territory to the U.S. for three cents an acre or $15 million for 828,000 square miles of territory.
Jefferson was worried, though. He was a strict constructionist of the Constitution and it did not give the President the power to buy territory. But, Americans wanted it so he made a very popular deal, once again revealing his inconsistency. Jefferson also organized the exploration of the territory.
The most famous was the Corps of Discovery or Lewis and Clark Expedition. Now, let me warn all of you. This is my favorite story in History 1301 so I get a bit carried away. I AM Sacajawea! Believe it! It's true! See the Youtube video at the top of the page where I do my Sacajawea Snake dance.
I recommend that everyone read at least a few excerpts of the Lewis and Clark Journals (links at top). It is an amazing story. It will appeal to those of you who enjoy the out-of-doors more than those of you afraid of bugs, but it's still a great story. I spent much of my life wandering in wildernesses, hiking, canoeing, fishing, and just enjoying the outdoors. To me this is the all-time great camping out story. I AM Sacajawea. My husband called me Sacajawea, so it must be true.
Basically the Corps of Discovery or Lewis and Clark Expedition was a military operation. The participants were mostly volunteers from the military except one of the leaders, Meriweather Lewis, who was a friend of Jefferson's. He was described as a worrier, introverted, interested in nature, scientist, and business-like. The other leader, William Clark who was second in command but they acted as equals, had served in the wars against American Indians but could not take it. He learned to appreciate their culture and stopped killing them. He had the needed outdoor skills as craftsman and mapmaker. He was extroverted and a great communicator with American Indians met during the journey. They will be gone for 770 days, over two years. The whole operation cost $2500 with much of the money coming from fundraisers by future First Lady Dolley Madison. 45 men began the journey. Half returned at the halfway point to the Pacific to report to Jefferson. Only one man died and that was of appendicitis which would have killed him wherever he had been.
They had three major goals. First they were to explore the Missouri River (see map above) to determine if it was the Northwest Passage. The Northwest Passage was the myth or hope that a river crossed the continent to the Pacific Ocean. The second goal was to record information about animals, plants and geography since the U.S. really didn't know what they had since most of Louisiana Territory had not been explored by Europeans except a few French trappers and traders. The third goal was to negotiate trade agreements with American Indians. Due to the way they approached American Indians there will be few conflicts along the way with Indians or the men in the Corps.
Another important participant was York, William Clark's slave. American Indians in the region they will travel had never seen an African. He becomes very popular as Indians come from miles around to see him. The Indians even paid him to allow them to touch him. They thought his skin color was paint at first.
Along the way to the Pacific, another important member to the crew will be added. Sacajawea was a Shoshone Indian woman who had married a French trapper, Charbonneau. Due to her language skills, she, her baby, and husband join the expedition. Sacajawea (Bird Woman) will become an explorer in her own right. Charbonneau left his other wife, Otter Woman, behind, to be reunited on his return.
I've always seen the Lewis & Clark Expedition as a television show. Like every television show, it must have a theme song. My late husband and I wrote one for the occasion. Well, we stole the music from Gilligan's Island. You may want to review the melody here. A few explanations will help. The term "perogues" is the name of the boats they used. The Mandan are an American Indian nation (see map). Morphine was the drug of choice for every illness back then. And, leeches were used to drain blood from sick people or "bleeding." Now, sing!
Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
A tale of a famous trip
That started in St. Louis port,
Three perogues were their ships.
Will Clark was a mighty sailin', man,
Cap'n Lewis brave and sure.
Some forty men set sail that day,
For a two year tour, a two year tour.
The weather started getting cold,
The mountains were close by.
If not for the courage of the fearless crew,
They might just surely die.
They might just surely die.
The crew spent time in this Mandan town,
Meeting all the folks,
With York the slave and Charbonneau,
The Bird Woman and her child,
One guy was dead,
And some went home,
The rest will head on West.
So this is the tale of ad-venture,
They're gone for a long, long time.
They'll have to make the best of things,
It's an uphill climb.
The captains and the natives too,
Will do their very best
To make the others comfortable,
With morphine and leeches.
No phones, no lights, no motor car,
Not a single luxury.
Like Robinson Crusoe,
It's primitive as can be.
So join me here today my friends,
You're sure to get some points.
From hearing stories 'bout the trip,
Here in history class!
I know. The last line doesn't rhyme. It drove Ron crazy. But that was what I wanted and I usually got my way.
On May 14, 1804, at 4:00 p.m. the expedition left St. Louis along the Missouri River. There was not room for all the men in the perogues, so many hiked alongside the river. And, as in any good camping trip, it was raining. They immediately began to have problems with the current that broke their oars. Still, the crew was excited about the things they saw, both the beauty and danger as they immediately discovered rattlesnakes. But, the journey continued. Animals were abundant so hunting became a major activity for the men included boars, deer, elk, and bears. They also experienced the discomforts of travel in those days. The men came down with dysentery, boils, and insect bites. The ticks and mosquitoes were troublesome and they didn't even have Off Spray. They complained about mosquitoes during the entire journey.
They also had their first contact with American Indians, the Osage. They traded with them getting deer meat for two quarts of whiskey, the most popular trade good the expedition carried. The journey continued making about 20 miles a day on a good day. There were plenty of not so good days, though.
The next nation Lewis and Clark met was the one that most concerned them, the Sioux or, in this case, Dakota, who were known to be warlike. They first met the Yankton Dakota and it went well. Lewis and Clark received the gift of roasted dog which they found to be quite tasty. Next they met the Teton Dakota and this led to one of the only conflicts with American Indians. Basically the Grand Chief, Black Buffalo, had a bit too much whiskey and refused to get off the boat. That led to a showdown in which the crew manned guns. The Tetons were impressed and retreated. Word of this encounter spread ahead of the expedition so the enemies of the Teton welcomed Lewis and Clark as heroes.
Lewis and Clark soon met the Arickaree (or Ricaree, or Ree, or they call themselves Sanish, or Tanish, meaning "the people," a common form of expression among Indians to indicate their superiority). They will be one of Lewis and Clark's favorite nations. They also learned what an asset York would be. They were astonished at York size, agility, and strength. They examined him from tip to toe.
The Arickaree were different than other nations, though, in they did not drink liquor. They said if made them "act like fools." Clark described them as peaceful, industrious, and generous. They gave women to those they wished to show some acknowledgment. As Clark wrote, "Handsome squaws were sent by a man to follow us." (Note: Squaw means woman but is considered derogatory by American Indian women today.)
The Arickaree had another characteristic that surprised Lewis and Clark. When one of the crewmen was punished for leaving his post with a whipping, the Chief cried aloud. They did not believe in any corporal punishment including for children. They did not hit their children. What do you think about spanking, hitting, or other violence against children? I bet most of you think it's necessary. It's not. We'll argue about it on the FB Group.
Meanwhile, the expedition moved on as it was getting colder. They wanted to stay with the Mandan over the winter so they made their way to their village. After negotiations, the Mandan agreed to let them stay. The negotiations included York putting on a show of his dancing skills which really impressed the Mandan. During the winter, they also meet Sacajawea and her husband. Sacajawea was a teenager who her husband had bought or won in a poker game. She had been kidnapped from her Shoshone people by the Minnetaree nation and then Charbonneau got her somehow. That winter she had a baby boy named Jean Baptiste Charbonneau but everyone called "Pomp." To ease her pain in delivery she was given rattlesnake rattle which brought about the desired results. Lewis and Clark asked Sacajawea to join them and Charbonneau said she couldn't go without him, so the three joined the expedition. Sacajawea will carry her baby on her back during the entire journey. What a woman! (One of my students scolded me at the elevator saying "Sacajawea wouldn't be taking the elevator!")
The journey continued in early spring. In May, Charbonneau showed how dumb he could be and Sacajawea proved her bravery. Charbonneau was at the helm of one of the perogues for some reason. Lewis described him as the most "timid waterman in the world." He could not even swim. In the perogue were important papers, instrument, medicine and trade goods. He turned the boat over and started crying and screaming for God's mercy. Meanwhile, Sacajawea jumps in the river and saves most of the articles that washed overboard. They named the stream Sacajawea after her. (She was Shoshone Indian but Americans referred to them as Snake Indians.)
They continued on until they met with the Shoshone, Sacajawea's family. And, in one of the great coincidences in history, the Chief was Sacajawea's brother. So, they received a warm welcome and were able to trade for horses to continue the journey into the mountains. The Shoshone also did not believe in spanking children because they believed it broke the child's spirit and independence.
After leaving the Shoshones they headed into the Rocky Mountains where food became less abundant but they met American Indians such as the Nez Perce who helped provide food. Eventually, in 1805, they made it to the Pacific Ocean. A ship was supposed to pick them up but did not so they were forced to spend a miserable winter on the Northwest Coast with the Chinook Indians who they accused of cheating at cards. After the winter, on April 1, 1806, they began the return journey to St. Louis leaving Sacajawea and her family at the Mandan village. They arrived in St. Louis in September after over two years.
So what were the results? First, they discovered the Missouri River was not the Northwest Passage (there is not one). They also blazed a trail for future pioneers. The collected a vast amount of information and have been described as "more the discoverers of America that Columbus." They also showed peaceful relations with American Indians was possible although that will be ignored by most Americans.
Lewis and Clark were both rewarded with jobs. Lewis became the Governor of Louisiana Territory but died in 1809 of a gunshot wound to the head. There are many theories about this but it may have been suicide due to syphilis. Clark was appointed Director of Indian Affairs in Missouri Territory. He continued contact with Sacajawea and Pomp and even tried to adopt Pomp. Sacajawea left Charbonneau and there the story becomes a bit unclear. Some historians say she continued her travels on her own. Others say she died shortly after the journey. We do know Pomp died at a young age. York asked for freedom as his reward for his participation in the expedition and Clark refused. It is believed he ran away and lived with American Indians for the rest of his life. And all this certainly didn't hurt Jefferson's popularity. There will be others including that of Zebulon Pike who named Pike's Peak after himself.
In 1809 Jefferson prepared for retirement happy to know his friend, James Madison, would take his place. And that takes us to our next topic.
James Madison was born on a Virginia plantation, Montpilier. He considered himself a "sickly" child and adult although he lived to be 85. Princeton educated, he was a studious Enlightenment man. Socially, he lacked such skills. He was shy and we know of only two women in his life. On the other hand, as a writer his boldness came out. As a major contributor the U.S. Constitution, he has often been referred to as the "Father of the Constitution." His ideas included separation of powers and checks and balances. He also wrote most of the Bill of Rights as a Congressman. With Jefferson, he created the Democratic-Republican party and served as Secretary of State under Jefferson. Despite his accomplishments, he was always most famous for his wife, Dolley Payne Todd Madison.
Dolley (also spelled Dolly or Dorothea) Madison was probably the most popular First Lady in U.S. history. She was considered the most beautiful woman of her time and treated like a movie star today. Born in North Carolina to a Quaker family in 1768, she grew up in Virginia, but her father opposed slavery although he owned some. He eventually sold them and moved to Pennsylvania.
As a child Dolley revealed her nonconformist ways as a "tomboy" who preferred athletic competition with the boys. At 21, she married a Quaker lawyer who died three years later and left her with a small son. She met and married Madison in 1794. As a result, she was excommunicated from the Quaker church for marrying outside the church.
Do you believe in that "opposites attract" thing? I always like men as much like me as possible for some reason. I don't think I would do well in an "opposites" relationship. What about you? Some people find it exciting. Obviously, Dolley and James saw it that way because no more different people could possibly get together. One historian said the only thing they had in common was their heights. They were both 5'6" and she was 5'9" in heels plus she often wore a tall turban-type hat. She referred to James as her "darling little husband." He was quite. She was outgoing. He was consumed with politics but she was uninterested. But, they both seemed happy. He got her beauty and popularity. She got power. They had no children of their own, though.
By the times James was elected to the presidency, Dolley had already made a name for herself. She helped Jefferson with social events and did fundraising for the Lewis and Clark Expedition and charities. As First Lady she was known for her parties, fashion, and beauty. Image was everything. She invented the inaugural ball and redecorated the Presidential Mansion (White House). She gave lavish dinners and tea parties. She wore the latest designs and designed some herself that were copied in France. She like to wear daringly low-cut gowns that revealed her attractive figure. Even when Madison's popularity lagged, she remained popular. One of his opponents said the only reason Madison was re-elected in 1812 was because of her.
At the same time, she was not just a pretty face. She was strong-willed, intelligent, a lively conversationalist, and could show her bravery as during the War of 1812. Dolley maintained her popularity until her death at the age of 81.
Unfortunately, Dolley could not save her husband from the difficult times he faced. When he took office, the U.S. continued to have troubles with Europe. The Embargo Act of 1807 had been repealed and then several other versions were suggested. In 1810, Congress settled on Macon's Bill No. 2. This lifted all embargoes on trade but offered England and France a deal. If either country would agree to stop harassing U.S. ships, the U.S. would not trade with the other (embargo). Napoleon jumped at the offer but had no intention of leaving the U.S. alone. Without investigating, Madison ordered an embargo on England. In return, England increased impressment activities.
By 1811, though, the embargo seemed to be working. England began to make overtures to resolve the problems with the U.S. But, many Americans were in a warlike mood. Since the Democratic-Republicans were in power, the obvious enemy was England. This militant mood resulted from the work of young Congressmen, most of them from the West (Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee). They were led by Henry Clay from Kentucky and known as the "War Hawks." The felt the U.S. was not getting respect. They questioned U.S. independence. They also wanted control of Canada and Florida. And, they believed the British were helping American Indian resistance in the Ohio River Valley region.
Problems were growing in the Ohio Valley, though, especially Indiana Territory. There had been a series of treaties between the U.S. and various American Indian nations in which the U.S. gained land. At the same time, U.S. settlers tended to ignore the borders set by these treaties. This angered American Indians and conflicts developed. While the U.S. government blamed England for helping and encouraging American Indians (which they may have done), it was growing settlement of the region that really caused the conflict.
American Indians were trying to help themselves by organizing resistance to the taking of their lands. In the early 19th century, two charismatic leaders emerged, Tecumseh and Tenskwatawa (The Prophet).
Tecumseh and the Prophet were Shawnee Indian twin brothers who grew up during the chaos of war between Europe and and American Indians. Tecumseh became a political and military leader and organized a confederation of American Indian nations to resist U.S. settlement of Indiana Territory. The Prophet became a spiritual leader or shaman who organized resistance to the destruction of American Indian culture. They resented the so-called "government chiefs" who cooperated with Americans and signed treaties giving away land. Tecumseh and the Prophet refused to recognize them.
By 1787, Chief Tecumseh emerged as a military leader and begain raiding settlers. He was determined to stop assimilation and "walking the white man's road." Then, in 1805, his brother had a spiritual experience that led him to vow to lead his people to Paradise. He attacked the decline in morality, intertribal violence, loss of traditional values, and association with whites. This new religion spread like wildfire. Hundreds of American Indians came to the Prophet and settled on the Tippecanoe River (or Creek) and it became known as Prophetstown. So many came, however, there was not enough food and disease spread. He sought help from the English in Canada and Americans. Only the British assisted.
Then, in 1809, the Treaty of Ft. Wayne gave three million acres to the U.S. and was signed by the "government chiefs." Tecumseh called an intertribal council. War seemed certain and Tecumseh's power grew. Attacks on settlers increased. The governor of Indiana Territory, William Henry Harrison, was determined to destroy Prophetstown and American Indian resistance. He feared Tecumseh and referred to him as the "Moses of American Indians." To respond to what he saw as a threat to settlers, in 1811 he began the building of Ft. Harrison near Prophetstown. This alarmed Tecumseh so he left to recruit more American Indians into the resistance.
By November, 1811, though, The Prophet became convinced an attack was imminent. Despite Tecumseh's absence, he planned a preemptive attack even though he had never led a military action. He convinced the warriors to follow because his powers would make it rain and destroy the enemies' gunpowder. On November 7, 1811, the rain came and American Indians attacked Ft. Harrison. This was called the Battle of Tippecanoe. American Indians were unable to defeat the Americans and 36 were killed, scalped and mutilated. The following day, Harrison's troops attacked Prophetstown. When it was all over about 60 American Indians were killed along with 62 Americans. Although it was basically a draw, Harrison declared "complete and decisive victory." And it was a total defeat for the Prophet. He lost his status and was shunned as a result.
Tecumseh's power increased. Those American Indians who remained became more militant. By 1812, large numbers of American Indian warriors were at Prophetstown. They were aware that England and America were moving toward war and that's what Tecumseh wanted. He would get help from England in destroying the American enemy.
Meanwhile, the War Hawks were dong what they could to give Tecumseh that war. President Madison was more and more in the War Hawk camp. He wanted to get tough and ordered a military build-up but Congress was reluctant to spend money to back up the belligerent talk. By June, 1812, it was obvious England was ready to give up but it was too late. Congress and Madison declared the first official war in U.S history a day after England agreed to stop harassing American ships. The declaration of war was signed June 18, 1812, despite great opposition. The war declaration passed the House 79 to 49 and the Senate 19 to 13. New England, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland contained many opponents to war due to trade with England. The Federalist party basically opposed the war, too. But the War of 1812 was officially declared. Madison hoped it would end before it began, but he was wrong. As the presidential election approach, opposition grew. Some in New England threatened to secede or leave the Union. Some will even assist England in the war. And opponents had at least one good argument. The U.S. was in no way prepared for war.
Years of military cutbacks left a poorly trained army of 7-10,000 men, most of them militiamen in the frontiers. Appointed officers became part of the political struggle. Recruitment of troops was slow, too, so they depended on impoverished Americans and their were few of those. It was so bad that recruitment took place in taverns.
As it turned out it would be probably the worst war fought by the U.S. in history. It was a complicated, multi-front war against the English and their American Indian allies. For the first year and a half, the U.S. looked bad, almost embarrassing. It featured the evacuation of Ft. Dearborn (Chicago) where 38 Americans were killed when the Potawatomi Indian attacked and burned the fort to the ground. In another incident, after a successful attack into Ontario, Canada, American troops inexplicably retreated to Detroit. Then in August, 1812, Detroit surrendered without a fight despite having more troops that the approaching British. The commander, General William Hull was later convicted of cowardice.
In October, another successful offensive into Canada from New York fell apart when reinforcement refused to leave New York. 900 Americans were captured in the retreat. Early in 1813, the U.S. tried to retake Detroit and failed leaving 400 Americans dead. In April, 1813, the U.S. temporarily occupied York (Toronto) but were forced to retreat and defeated. Meanwhile, naval battles were similar as England blocked the East Coast and took control of the Great Lakes.
It was not until September, 1813, that Americans had a victory when Captain Oliver Hazard Perry took control of Lake Erie and the British were forced to evacuate Detroit. With this, William Henry Harrison led 4,500 troops into Ontario defeating the British and Tecumseh at the Battle of the Thames. Tecumseh was killed and the confederacy of American Indians fell apart.
Elsewhere, the U.S. still struggled. England continued to control the coast, two efforts to take Montreal failed, the U.S. economy was suffering and by 1814, England defeated Napoleon so England could focus on the War of 1812. To make matters worse the Creek Indians in the Southeast decided to exploit America's problems by organizing their own resistance in Alabama Territory. By August, 1813, they had killed 400 American settlers. This is known as the Creek Uprising. To deal with the problem, Madison sent an emerging leader from Tennessee, Andrew Jackson. He will get the nickname "Hickory" for being so hard on his own men as well as the Creeks who experienced a systematic slaughter. Davy Crockett was one of the soldier under Jackson and he said "We shot them [Creeks] like dogs." By August, 1814, the Creek were defeated and forced to sign a treaty giving the U.S. 23 million acres of land although they were allowed to stay there. One interesting note about Andrew Jackson, though. He found an orphaned Creek child and took it home to raise as his own and did. I can't explain this, can you?
Meanwhile, the U.S. was still struggling with England. In August, 1814, one of the low points in U.S. history occurred when the British attacked Washington DC and burned it to the ground. The Army ran away and only sailors and marines stayed to fight. Government officials fled but not Dolley Madison. She held out for two days and watched the British approach. Her husband had gone to visit troop. She packed valuable and was finally forced to flee with the Presidential Mansion (White House) was attacked and burned. She managed to save a portrait of George Washington and other items. Once story has it that she saved the original copy of the Declaration of Independence but that is still debated. But, she proved her bravery.
The British continued on the Baltimore and attacked Ft. McHenry. Francis Scott Key was there trying to negotiate the freedom of a friend. During the battle he was inspired to write "The Star-Spangled Banner."
The tune was actually an old beer drinking British song but the words were his. So, everybody stand up and sing the most difficult song in the world.
Baltimore held and the British were forced to retreat out of the Chesapeake Bay area. And so it continued, back and forth so negotiations began in Belgium to end the war. but there would be one more showdown, the Battle of New Orleans. Madison expected an attack on this important city so after the Creek Uprising ordered Andrew Jackson to prepare a defense of the city. Jackson put together a force of 5,000 troops including pirates and free African-Americans. Jackson did an unusual thing, too. He demanded African-American troops be paid equally. He also had pirate Jean Lafitte on his side. Lafitte had talked to the British pretending to be on their side and got information about their plans. Then, he turned it over to Jackson and offered the use of his cannons to assist the U.S.
In December of 1814, 10,000 British troops and 50 ships approached New Orleans. But, they had a big surprise for them. Jackson had built a defensive position on a small hill next to a flat plain that the British would have to cross to attack. Military historians consider Jackson defensive plan one of the greatest in history. On December 23, Jackson launched an unusual night attack then fell back and waited. On January 8, 1815, the British made a head-on assault. The results are described in a song popular when I was a teenager. Listen to this and see if you can figure out what happened during the Battle of New Orleans.
The Battle of New Orleans was a stunning victory for the U.S. Over 2,000 British were killed. 13 Americans, mostly African-Americans, died in the battle. Jackson said his African-American troops fought "like desperadoes." That was the good news. The bad news the war had already officially ended on December 24 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent. But, news came slowly in those days so there was no way for the U.S. or British troops to know they were fighting after the war ended. In the treaty, the war was officially a tie. We returned to our pre-war status. There were no agreements about impressment, freedom of the seas or boundary disputes.
At the same time, there were serious results of the War of 1812. 2,260 Americans died but the U.S. had new respect in the world. We were truly independent. This will be the last war between the U.S. and England. After this we always fought on the same side. For American Indians the war was very bad news with the loss of millions of acres of land and the death of Tecumseh. On the other hand, patriotism grew in both the U.S. and Canada. For Canada this was their American Revolution. They proved the U.S. could not take control of their territory. In addition, new heroes were created like Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison, both future Presidents. But, probably the most important result was the collapse of the Federalist party. Having opposed the war, American perceived we won due to the Battle of New Orleans despite the treaty. Americans felt patriotic and saw the Federalists as traitors having opposed the war. The Federalists fall apart although their beliefs will continue. This begins a new period in U.S. history called the Era of Good Feelings as the U.S. returns to a one-party political system. That takes us to our next topic, President Monroe and the Era of Good Feelings but remember why it's called that. You will see there were lots of bad feelings, too.
The period from about 1816 to 1824 has often been referred to as the Era of Good Feelings. It sounds better than it really was. Serious problems emerged.
James Monroe, a Democratic-Republican, was elected in 1816 over the last Federalist presidential candidate , Rufus King. Monroe won the Electoral College 183 to 34. Monroe won again in the 1820 election 231 to 1 in the Electoral College. The U.S. had returned to a one-party political system, but almost immediately factions will begin to develop within the Democratic-Republican party.
James Monroe was born in 1758 in Virginia but not so wealthy as lout of college (William and Mary) to join the military during the American Revolution where he achieved the rank of Major and a taste for alcohol. It was said he was a "serious drinker" but not a "problem drinker." I wonder what that means...At any rate he never received his college degree but received personal tutoring from Thomas Jefferson and received admission to the bar as a lawyer. Like his predecessors, Monroe had a long career of public service.
James Monroe served in the Virginia legislature, served on the National Congress during the Articles of Confederation days, and was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention. He opposed its ratification, however, due to fears of a strong central government. At the same time, he became a U.S. Senator in 1790 and worked against Hamilton's economic plan. He also was appointed Minister of France in 1794 since he admired the French like most Democratic-Republicans. But, he made the mistake of criticizing George Washington and was accused of biased actions against the English and was recalled in 1796. In 1799, he was elected Governor of Virginia. With Jefferson's election he was sent to France to work out the Louisiana Purchase Treaty. Under Madison, he was Secretary of State and for awhile also Secretary of War (what we call the Secretary of Defense today)at the same time during the War of 1812. In 1816, he won the presidency and served two terms.
Despite his long resume, historians generally describe him as mediocre President, but he was enormously popular since he had no real political opposition to rip him to shreds. To Americans he symbolized unity and nationalism (extreme patriotism). One thing was certain, though. He did not gain his popularity from him wife, Elizabeth Kortwright Monroe. She was no Dolley Madison.
Elizabeth was something of a mystery. Born in 1768, her father was a prosperous New York merchant. Her family had opposed independence from England as was common among the wealthy class of businessmen. She was described as tall, stately, graceful, and somewhat of a snob. Her family was disappointed when she married Monroe in 1768 because they thought she could do better. She was only 17 and was 27. She was most comfortable in France's social scene. She admired their arts, spoke French fluently, and the French admired her beauty calling her "la belle Americaine." And it was in France that she got involved in intrigue that got her husband in trouble. She helped Madame Lafayette, the wife of the General who helped the U.S. during the Revolution. She managed to get Madame Lafayette to escape the guillotine although she remained in prison despite getting her a passport. This was one of the reasons he was recalled.
While admired in France, the same was not true in the U.S. Although considered quite beautiful, she could not follow Dolley Madison. Americans saw her as "Frenchified." She was accused of "taking on airs" or acting like she was better than others that did not seem appropriate to many Americans for a republic. She was not into that "republican motherhood" thing. She often wore a small crown like royalty. Other descriptions of her are contradictory. Some said she was a domineering wife who controlled her husband. Others said the opposite. Some said she was too formal while others said she was not formal enough. One Washington DC socialite wrote, "The Monroes are perfect strangers not only to me but to all the citizens." We do know they had two daughters who spent a fortune on clothes and left Monroe with financial difficulties constantly. But, as First Lady she lived a relatively low profile die to illness but lived to be 62 years old. Her husband died the next year (1831).
James Monroe, however, was very popular for his knack for unifying the nation. Shortly after elected, he made a good will tour from Maine and Massachusetts to Detroit. Thousands greeted him along the way. He also met with former Federalists to bring them into the Democratic-Republican party. He made appointments from all regions and different points of views. He needed all the good will to get through the difficulties during his presidency.
One of the first problems was the economy. The Panic of 1819 was the first nationwide economic depression in the U.S. There were several reasons for the Panic of 1819. First, after the War of 1812, England began dumping cheap goods into the U.S. that hurt U.S. industries. This led the politicians to support protective tariffs temporarily that had been opposed before this. Tariffs, taxes on imports, served to increase the price of foreign goods to equalize the competition.
Another problem was the Bank of the U.S. created by Alexander Hamilton. Democratic-Republicans had opposed it all along so in 1811 Congress allowed the charter to expire. State banks took on the roles with each issuing their own currency. They over did it. There was not enough gold or silver to back the currency so its value depreciated. Counterfeiting became rampant. Conducting business became almost impossible. The War of 1812 worsened the situation and the credit system collapsed.
So in 1816, the Bank of the U.S. was rechartered to insure stable currency with informal power to regulate state bands and restrict lending to state banks. By the time Monroe took office, the economy was improving but over-heated.
Crop failures in Europe led to increased prices form American rice, corn, wheat, meat, and cotton. American farmers responded by expanding production. Meanwhile other Americans got into land speculation. Sales increased from $3 million in 1815 to $13 million in 1818. At the same time the Bank of the U.S. was ineffective in curbing this speculation and added to the problems by expanding credit, lax supervision of state banks. Then in 1818, European crops production improved and prices declined. With that farmers were unable to pay loans, state bans began to fair, credit collapsed, speculators were stuck with overpriced land, businesses went bankrupt and unemployment increased. Soup kitchens and charities kept people alive. Debtors' prisons filled. A new leader for the Bank of the U.S., Nicholas Biddle, came in with the attitude to bring about recover by increasing reserves and reforming the circulation of money.
For most Americans, that was too little too late. The Bank of the U.S. had made some powerful enemies. At the same time, the Panic of 1819 had some positive results including interest in politics by ordinary Americans and agitation for decreasing or the elimination of property ownership requirements to vote. Also, many states passed laws against debtors' prisons. But, the economy was only one problem Monroe faced.
One problem was more dangerous that the economic problems. Sectionalism reared it's ugly head. Sectionalism is regional conflicts. Despite the mood of nationalism that swept the nation after the War of 1812, beneath the surface sectional tension between the North, South, and West began to develop. The South opposed tariffs due to little manufacturing that led to increased costs of goods. They also feared retaliation on southern products by Europeans. The South also opposed expanding the role of the federal government.
Meanwhile, New England opposed internal improvements such as road building since they feared that would hurt trade in their ports and increase trade competition with the west. The West wanted internal improvements. President Monroe favored the South and New England and vetoed internal improvements.
The most serious issue sectional issue was over slavery. For the first time in U.S. history, slavery became a major issue. Northerners just assumed it would go away by itself. The foreign slave trade had ended in 1807, a year earlier that required in the Constitution. The demand for and prices of slaves were decreasing. Dominant crops such as wheat and corn were less dependent on slavery than cotton and tobacco which were less important by this time. Everything changed in 1793 when Eli Whitney introduced his cotton gin, actually an idea he got from a slave. The cotton gin made cotton more profitable and cultivation spread. By 1819, the demand for slaves had increased.
The slavery issue exploded in 1819 when Missouri requested statehood as a slave state. The North opposed this because at that time there were eleven free and eleven slave states. This equality made anything to do with slavery impossible to get through Congress especially the Senate. Then Congressman James Tallmadge of New York introduced an amendment to prohibit expansion of slavery and the gradual emancipation of slaves born in Missouri. This upset the South. The Tallmadge Amendment failed to pass. Finally, a compromise was developed known as the Missouri Compromise in 1820.
This divided Louisiana Purchase territory into slave and free territories based on Missouri's southern border (36' 30" latitude). Sates to the south of the land plus Missouri would be slave states. States to the north of the line except Missouri would be free states. To maintain the balance, though, Congress split Maine from Massachusetts and it became a separate free state. While the South could claim a partial victory, it left them bitter and paranoid. Almost every politician vowed to avoid the issue of slavery in the future. It will not be that easy
Other issues during the Era of Good Feelings were less divisive. The Treaty of 1818 or Rush-Bagot Treaty was an agreement between Canada/England and the U.S. that resolved boundary issue between the U.S. and Louisiana Territory, established fishing right off the coast of Newfoundland and agreed to joint occupation of Oregon territory.
Another dispute was resolved very differently. Spain still controlled Florida and this was causing the U.S. problems. In addition, the U.S. and Spain both claimed western Florida. There was also a dispute with Spain over the boundary between Texas (Spanish) and Louisiana Territory (U.S.). In addition, Spain also claimed Oregon. The U.S. was determined to get all of Florida because of hostile American Indians there.
The Seminoles were descendants of the Creek. Seminole meant "renegades." They are most famous for never signing a treaty with the U.S The main problem was their "open door" policy. Anyone could be a Seminole including runaway slaves and criminals escaping the U.S. In addition, the Seminole would cross the Florida border and attack U.s. settlers then return to the haven of Florida.
The answer to the problem seemed to be Andrew Jackson. In 1818, he was ordered to Florida to halt raids using "necessary measures" but not to cross into Florida. Jackson was not one to follow orders, however. With 3,000 troops, Jackson pushed into Florida and seized towns like Pensacola, executed two British citizens who were helping the Seminoles, and attacking the Seminoles. This will become known as the First Seminole War. Jackson had exceeded his orders but when Spain complained to the Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams, and President Monroe, they defended Jackson's actions. Adams ordered continued occupation of Florida until Spain subdued the Seminoles. Then he told Spain they should sell Florida to the U.S. to resolve the problem.
Spain agreed. The result was the Transcontinental Treaty or Adams-Onis Treaty or Florida Purchase Treaty (take your pick). In 1819, the U.S. and Spain signed the treaty that sold Florida to the U.S. for $5 million, Spain gave up their claim to Oregon, and settled the Texas border at the Sabine River. The treaty was ratified by Congress in 1821.
Another part of the Era of Good Feelings was the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall who had been in that position since 1801. It was said he kept the Federalist party alive. Appointed by John Adams, he was known for conservative, pro-business, anti-states rights, pro-Bank of the U.S., anti-universal suffrage (right to vote), protection of contracts, and pro-federal regulation of commerce decisions. One of his most famous decisions occurred during the Jefferson era, Marbury vs. Madison. This established judicial review or gave the power to determine constitutionality to the Supreme Court. This was very controversial as many saw it as breaking the code of separation of powers. How could the Supreme Court give the Supreme Court power? Well, it did and it stands today. He will continue to lead the Supreme Court until 1835 and become very important during the struggles with American Indians during the Jackson presidency.
Another important event during the Era of Good Feelings was the issuing of the Monroe Doctrine of 1823. This was not a law but a pronouncement directed toward Europe. Monroe ordered Europeans to stay our of the Americas/New World. He ordered them not to establish anymore colonies or to interfere in the region. Monroe hoped this would avoid alliances and quarrels. At the time, Europeans ignored the doctrine but it will have an enormous impact on U.S. foreign policy in the Post-Civil War Era especially at the turn of the 20th century and Theodore Roosevelt. So, remember the Monroe Doctrine when you take History 1302.
Probably the most interesting trend in the Era of Good Feelings was the push for colonization or moving free African-Americans to another place. The British had paved the way with the creation of Sierra Leone in West Africa during the era of the "partitioning" of Africa.
The days of European and African governments operating as equals had come to an end. First, England took a small bit of land for Sierra Leone for freed slaves and those rescued from slave ships. Many English citizens had at this point turned against slavery but not necessarily stealing territory. Private citizens founded the settlement in 1788. By 1796, the settlement was part of 2,500 square miles claimed as an English possession. The main effort to takeover Africa began as result of Mungo Park of Scotland who was the first European to conduct exploration of inland Africa. The many myths were dispelled and Europeans decided they wanted the resources the continent had to offer. Many Europeans began claiming parts of Africa (see map). Only Ethiopia remained independent as the Italians failed to conquer them.
U.S. efforts to follow the English pattern of settling free African-American in Africa began by 1811. Paul Cuffee (1/2 African, 1/2 American Indian) visited Sierra Leone in 1811 and decided to organize a group of free African-Americans to property nearby. 38 people agreed to go and establish a colony in 1811. But, once there Cuffee died of malaria and the survivors fled to Sierra Leone. Efforts were revived after the War of 1812.
First Presbyterians worked on a program to train African-Americans as missionaries to Africa. Then, in 1816, the American Colonization Society formed to fund and promote resettlement of free African-Americans in Africa. (Note: I am careful not to say "back to Africa" as many do. These African-Americans probably had never been to Africa so it was not going back for most.) This appealed to many prominent Americans like Frances Scott Key and James Monroe.
There was opposition to the idea, though. Some said they were condemning the African-Americans to hell. Most free African-Americans were uninterested. That did not stop the movement, though.
The U.S. received claim to a site in West Africa, south of Sierra Leone by England in 1819. It will become known as Liberia. Ships were chartered and supplies purchased but only 86 volunteered to go and only 28 were adult males. The departed in January, 1820, for the ten-week journey. They arrived in Africa in the rainy season, disease struck and by September half were dead and the survivors fled to Sierra Leone. In January of 1821 another effort took 35 colonists. Again, they arrived in the rainy season and ran out of supplies. They were also attacked by native Africans. Now, this is interesting. Why would "brothers and sisters" attack the colonists?
Somehow the colony managed to survive until 1822 when 55 more settlers arrived with supplies. But, by then, there was a full-scale war with native Africans. The colony managed a decisive win as result of Matilda Newport's expertise with a cannon. Still there was great suffering but the colony survived and more settlers arrived. By 1825, there were six separate communities. Also, in 1825, the U.S. Marines arrived to protect the colonists from slave traders. By 1847, Liberia declared independence with U.S. approval. The capital was Monrovia as it is today having been named after James Monroe. An estimated 15,000 African-Americans went to Liberia during this period. Would you have gone?
That about covers the Era of Good Feelings but there was something that did feel good. The first U.S. dirty dancing was introduced. Parents warned their children not to do the dance because it caused uncontrollable passion, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease. The dance was the waltz introduced by immigrants. It was considered a dirty dance because it was the first dance that included the couple embracing. So, get ready. Let's dirty dance.