Andrew Jackson looked on toward a new democracy after his victory at New Orleans. The changes in this time period, after the war of 1812, would send America into a troubled future. The Post war political and economic changes would prove to be another stepping stone in America’s evolving democracy.
The political changes after the War of 1812 would redefine America’s newly founded Democracy and contribute to a greater national government. Andrew Jackson gained America’s respect after his victory at New Orleans and was later elected President in 1829. Jackson and his cabinet invested power into an powerful Executive Branch. The Jackson democrats tended to exaggerate the puissance of the lower class poor while decreasing the influence of the rich and potent and aristocracy. Andrew Jackson abolished restrictions on voting and increased active participation in the government by the lower and middle classes. Jackson also made the government more directly responsible to the people without the use of federally funded improvements. After the war of 1812, the federal government not only grew domestically but also internationally. The Monroe Doctrine shifted America’s foreign policy.
The Monroe Doctrine stated that European nations may not interfere or influence nations or colonies in the Western Hemisphere. Although at the time America lacked the military capacity to enforce this Doctrine, this policy was a major shift away from George Washington’s policy of neutrality. The U.S. continued its policy of non involvement in European wars, but Europe now was expected to stay away from the Western Hemisphere. The U.S. continued to enforce this Doctrine to this day, with perhaps the most famous example being President Kennedy’s Cuban Blockade. After the War of 1812, America’s nationalism and unification began to fade in the face of sectionalism. The North and the South soon began to dispute over controversial issues. The South depended on an agricultural, slave based economy.
The North saw slavery as immoral. This issue split the South and North creating tension and strong sectionalism. Protective tariffs also divided the country. The North, whose industry was based on manufacturing and trade, produced products more expensive than Europe’s. In order to compete with Europe, the North wished to institute protective tariffs as an incentive to buy Northern products. They desired to purchase cheaper European products. Also, the South feared Europe would tax Southern agricultural products sold to European factories. The South saw the tariff as a way for the North to profit while the South to bore the burden.
Economic changes also occurred after the War of 1812. Eli Whitney introduced the cotton gin, which enabled mass production of cotton, and led to an increased dependence by the South on a slave based Cotton society. The South’s economic system became so dependant on slavery, that by the 1850’s one out of every three persons in the South was a slave. The North also went through an economic change. When the British blockaded the US during the War of 1812, wealthy Northern men invested in new technology.
The North soon entered the industrial age after the introduction of interchangeable parts by Eli Whitney. The North began manufacturing products such as cloth and textile. In order produce their goods workers were needed. Young girls soon filled these openings delighted to be able to support themselves and to be around other people their age. In addition, the influence of banks sparked economic growth. A second national bank was introduced at this time providing even more cash for entrepreneurs and speculators.
In conclusion, the years after the War of 1812 saw a redefinition of America’s democracy. Jacksonian Democracy expanded the powers of the Executive Branch, decreased the power of aristocracy, and increased popular participation in the government. The economic changes led to sectional crisis between the North and South which would prove to be a role and reoccurring theme throughout the 1800’s. The Industrial Revolution would enable America to survive and thrive without Europe, while the Monroe Doctrine would lead us to eventually defy and overwhelm European influence in the Western Hemisphere. The years after the War of 1812 would see a stronger, and yet, paradoxically more divided nation.
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