Sat Jul 5 11:34:33 2008
If the War of 1812 was damaging to the American psyche we sure got over it in a hurry. Following the Treaty of Ghent that ended the war in 1815 many in the US felt powerful and secure. No longer threatened by British, Spanish or Native Americans along the southern and western frontiers, Federalism collapsed and the “Era of Good Feelings” followed. While James Madison learned a lesson and changed his positions to support a national bank and strong military, both he and his successor James Monroe continued to oppose key national infrastructure projects like roads, bridges and canals (e.g., Madison’s veto the Federal Public Works Bill of 1817 and Monroe’s veto of the Cumberland Road Bill of 1822). Andrew Jackson’s hostility to federal planning and oversight would undermine the progress made by Madison (e.g., Jackson’s veto of the National Bank recharter of 1836) and “by withdrawing the government from policy making, Jacksonians empowered markets, perhaps by default, both in politics and enterprise, as arbiters of conflict in American society” (John Lauritz Larson, Internal Improvement, p. 192). The military side of these “empowered markets” can clearly be seen in Robert May’s “An Officer Corps Responds to Opportunities for Expansion…” with enterprising entrepreneurs invading Canada, Cuba, Ecuador, Hawaii, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua.