A New Nation
A New Nation
Trends and Themes of the Era
  • The U.S. government began to build and define itself under George Washington’s leadership.
  • The debates over ratification of the Constitution spawned the development of two separate political parties. New England Federalists supported a loose interpretation of the Constitution and a strong central government. Southern Republicans supported a strict interpretation of the Constitution and a more limited central government. Enmity between the two parties deepened, until the events of the War of 1812 finally eliminated the Federalists as a significant political party.
  • The U.S. made a concerted effort to stay out of European entanglements and maintain neutrality during its effort to build its national infrastructure. Often, though, the U.S. was caught in a tug-of-war between Britain and France. Eventually, British aggression and America’s desire to increase its territory and prove itself as an international force led to the War of 1812.
  • After the war, the U.S. enjoyed a period of optimism and general cooperation under a single political party: the Republicans. In this period, the U.S. asserted its dominance in the Western Hemisphere through the Monroe Doctrine.
  • Westward expansion began in earnest after the Louisiana Purchase. The sectional tensions created by expansion, made apparent in the Missouri Compromise, illustrated the increasing role slavery and regionalism would play in the politics of the nineteenth century.
  • Through various rulings, the Supreme Court established itself as a body able to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional and supportive of Federalist policies.
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