Section #4 - Early sectional conflicts over expanding slavery lead to the Missouri Compromise Of 1820
Chapter 38: James Monroe’s First Term
Run-up To The Election Of 1816
As the presidential race of 1816 begins, the popular momentum enjoyed by the Federalist Party during the early struggles of the War of 1812 has dissipated, and their desperate ploy in selecting DeWitt Clinton to run against Madison has left them without a viable candidate going forward.
Largely by default, they put forward Senator Rufus King of New York, who has already been defeated twice, in 1804 and 1808, for the Vice Presidency.
King’s credentials are actually quite credible. Graduate of Harvard College, a brief militia stint during the first war with Britain, member in 1787 of the Committee On Style that drafted the Constitution, first-rate orator and outspoken opponent of slavery, close ally of that essential Federalist, Alexander Hamilton.
In 1796 Washington offers him the Secretary of State post, which he turns down in favor of the Ambassadorship to Britain. Remarkably when Jefferson becomes President in 1800, he retains King in that critical assignment until 1803.
Along with the 61 year old King, some Federalists put forward 64 year old John Howard of Maryland as a Vice-Presidential candidate. Howard is an ex-Revolutionary War hero, who owns a large slave-holding plantation, has previously served back in 1803 as a U.S. Senator, and appears to have little in common with King.
By contrast, a genuine race for the presidential nomination develops among the Democratic Republicans.
The hand-picked candidate of both Jefferson and Madison is their fellow Virginian, James Monroe, currently serving as Secretary of State and Secretary of War.
However, the long-term anti-Jefferson faction of the Party decides to contest the top slot. This wing is led by John Randolph of Roanoke, who argues that Madison’s policies have become no more than:
Old Federalism, vamped up into something bearing the superficial appearance of Republicanism.
Their option to Monroe is the formidable Georgian, William Crawford, who has served under Madison as Minister to France and Secretary of War.
Crawford is the first of several politicians from his state who will emerge on the national stage with a reputation for arriving at independent positions and promoting them aggressively.
He is another self-made man, growing up in Appling, Georgia, along the eastern border with South Carolina. As a young man he is a farmer and teacher, before receiving a classical education at Carmel Academy under tutelage of the well-known Presbyterian minister, Moses Waddel. He is an excellent student and briefly joins the Academy staff before leaving to teach at Richland Academy, where he also studies law and passes the bar in 1799, at 27 years old. His scholarship on Georgia law and his outgoing personal style carry him readily into politics.
Crawford is physically and verbally a brawny man, and he engages in two bloody duels early in his career, both times involving political rivals backing future Governor John Clark. In 1802 he kills a Clark supporter named Peter Van Allen, and in 1806 is wounded in another duel, by Clark himself.
Later that year he is off to Washington, where he serves as U.S. Senator for six years, and is a popular choice as President pro tem in 1812. Madison appoints him Minister to France in 1813 and then Secretary of War in 1815.
Unlike the “Warhawks,” Clay and Calhoun, Crawford is initially opposed to fighting another battle with Britain, but his considerable influence in the Senate fails to carry the day. In 1813 he declines Madison’s offer to become the new Secretary of War, and instead takes a posting as Minister to France. After the conflict ends, he accepts the War slot, and serves there from 1815 to 1816, after which he becomes Madison’s Secretary of the Treasury, a position he will continue to hold over a nine year stretch, until 1825.
Crawford has just begun his new duties when various supporters put him forward as an option to Monroe for the 1816 nomination.
They tend to see in him a commanding presence, inclined to favor “old school” domestic virtues: power to the states over the national government; concerns about a centralized bank; free trade rather than debilitating embargos; limited taxation and Bill of Rights guarantees on freedom; a laissiz-faire attitude toward slavery.
Others simply see him as an end to the monopoly that Virginians seem to have on the presidency.
Over time, Crawford’s flexibility on many issues will fail to conform to the “assumed preferences” of his backers – but in the 1816 caucus they put up a good fight. In the final balloting for the nomination, he comes up just short, garnering 54 votes against 65 for Monroe.
1816 Presidential Nomination
As has become the norm by 1816, selection of a running mate for Monroe is more about geographically balancing the party ticket than about lining up a successor for the presidency. If anything, that path for the Democratic-Republicans now runs through tenure as Secretary of State.
The Political Fate Of Early Vice-Presidents Vs. Secretaries Of State
|Year||President||Vice President||Secretary of State||Presidential Nominee|
|1792||Washington||Adams||Jefferson, Randolph, Pickering||Adams in 1796|
|1796||Adams||Jefferson||Pickering, Lee, Marshall||Jefferson in 1800|
|1800||Jefferson||Burr||Lincoln, Madison||Jefferson in 1804|
|1804||Jefferson||Clinton||Madison||Madison in 1808|
|1808||Madison||Clinton/Vacant||Smith/Monroe||Madison in 1812|
|1812||Madison||Gerry/Vacant||Monroe||Monroe in 1816|
In the end, the party settles on Daniel Tomkins, the sitting Governor of NY, as its nominee. Tompkin’s fame rests on his personal efforts to strengthen the state militia during the War of 1812. Unfortunately this has involved sizable loans to purchase equipment, which he backs against his personal wealth. In the end these bankrupt him and turn him to drink and an early death only three months after his term as Vice-President is underway.
Monroe Wins In A Landslide
Actual voting in the election of 1816 is completed between November 1 and December 4. The popular turn-out is down dramatically from the 1812 race which featured intense controversy over both the trade embargos and the war with Britain.
Popular Voting For President & Number Of States Where Electors Chosen By Their Votes
|7 of 12||6 of 15||9 of 16||6 of 16||11 of 17||10 of 17||9 of 18||10 of 19|
As expected, Monroe wins in a landslide, carrying 16 states, losing only in traditionally Federalist strongholds, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.
Results Of The 1816 Presidential Election
|Candidates||State||Party||Pop Vote||Tot EV||South||Border||North||West|
|Rufus King + locals||NY||Federalist||34,740||34||0||3||31||0|
|Needed To Win||109|
His margin of victory in the Electoral College is well ahead of what Madison accomplished before him, and almost comparable to Jefferson’s victory in 1804.
Winning Margin In Electoral Votes Actually Cast
|1804||Thomas Jefferson||Democratic-Republican||162 of 176/92%|
|1808||James Madison||Democratic-Republican||122 of 175/70%|
|1812||James Madison||Democratic-Republican||128 of 217/59%|
|1816||James Monroe||Democratic-Republican||183 of 217/84%|
The Democratic-Republicans Strengthen Their Control Over The House
Two new states – Indiana and Mississippi – participate in the election of the 15th Congress. Both end up in the Democratic-Republican column, sending one House representative and two Senators to Washington.
First Time Voting Among New States
Overall the election represents the beginning of the death spiral for the Federalist Party in the House. They give back all of the gains they recorded in 1812 and 1814, and end up with only 40 of the 185 total seats.
Election Trends – House Of Representatives
Democratic-Republican dominance extends across all geographic regions. They continue to “own” the South, losing only a few seats in Virginia and North Carolina. In the North, they win the big states of Pennsylvania (23 seats) and New York (27) by wide margins, and even take 9 of 20 races in Massachusetts.
House Trends By Region
The Federalists hold their own in the Senate. Three states – Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland – remain in their control, and they strengthen their hand near term in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island.
Election Trends – Senate
But the Democratic-Republicans continue to shut them out across the South and the West.
Senate Trends By Region
President James Monroe: Personal Profile
James Monroe is born on April 28, 1758, in Westmoreland County, Virginia, also the birthplace of George Washington and Robert E. Lee. His roots are considerably more humble than the three other presidents who precede him in the so-called “Virginia dynasty.”
His father, Spence Monroe, inherits some 500 acres of land, and builds a four room wooden cabin on it, which measures a mere 58×20 feet. He and his wife have five children and apparently own “several slaves,” who help him raise tobacco, corn, barley and livestock. The family is considered well off, but by no means aristocratic.
James Monroe works the farm, while also attending Campbelltown Academy, where he is tutored, along with his friend John Marshall, by the Scottish Reverend, Archibald Campbell, of the Church of England. In 1774, his father dies, and, as the oldest son, he inherits the plantation.
At this point he also comes under the ongoing influence of an uncle on his mother’s side, Judge Joseph Jones. Jones has served on the Virginia Courts, as a member of House of Burgesses, and later as representative to the Continental Congress. His friendships include Washington, Jefferson and Madison. Jones steers Monroe to enroll at the College of William & Mary.
But his education is interrupted after one year by the war with Britain. His father, Spence, had been outspoken in his criticism of abuses in colonial taxation, and now his son is eager to pick up arms as open conflict begins. He joins the 3rd Virginia Militia and, within two weeks of the Concord battle, he participates in a raid on the arsenal at the Governor’s palace in Williamsburg. He is seventeen years old at this time.
Monroe’s military career will extend over five years. His regiment is with Washington in August, 1776, when British Generals Clinton and Howe almost trap it in Manhattan. He then joins in the long retreat north, and from there across the Hudson and back south to New Jersey. On Christmas Day, 1776, he crosses the Delaware along with Washington and attacks the Hessians at the Battle of Trenton, where he almost loses his life. A musket ball severs an artery in his shoulder during a heroic assault, and he nearly bleeds out before a doctor saves him. Monroe’s combat role ends with Trenton, although he does continue to serve in the militia almost until the end of the war.
Monroe’s early experiences in life will mirror Washington more so than Jefferson or Madison. His perspectives on America are formed on the battlefield rather than in the library, and they endow him with a bias toward independent thought, leadership and action.
After the war he returns to Virginia, and the need to attend to his personal finances, something that will plague him through-out his life. He picks up the study of law, not out of particular interest, but as a proven path to required income. His connections result in two distinguished tutors, Jefferson and his former teacher, George Wythe, who has also apprenticed John Marshall, Edmund Randolph and Henry Clay in the law.
In 1783 he sells his inherited farm, passes the bar, and opens a practice in Fredericksburg. But his interest in politics continues. He serves in the state assembly and then as a delegate to the fourth session of the Congress of the Confederation. He is now on the national stage, and focused already on issues of national security and westward expansion that will mark his political future.
There are before us some questions of the utmost consequence…whether we are to have standing troops to protect our frontiers or leave them unguarded…whether we will expose ourselves to the…loss of the country westward…and the intrusion on settlers by European powers who border us.
While in New York at the Congress, he falls in love with Elizabeth Kortright, whose family is prominent in local society. Their marriage in 1786 will span 44 years and produce a son, who dies in infancy, and two daughters.
When time comes for the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Monroe is still “ranked” by other Virginians, and, to his annoyance, is left out of the delegation. His stated views exhibit a streak of political independence. Like the Federalists, he favors a strong central government, and supports its authority to nationalize the militia in times of crisis. But he stands with the Anti-Federalists in demanding the inclusion of a personal Bill of Rights.
Monroe steps up to challenge James Madison, who is eight years his senior, for a House seat in America’s first election, in 1788. He loses, but is soon selected as a U.S. Senator in 1790. In Philadelphia, he boards with Madison and Jefferson, and aligns with the Democratic-Republican Party. After four years, he is entrusted by his old war commander, George Washington, with his first ministerial assignment, to a Paris dominated by Napoleon.
His task there, a thankless one, involves coddling France while his counterpart in London, John Jay, negotiates his Amity Treaty of 1794 with the British. Jay keeps him in the dark from start to finish, and Monroe ends up being humiliated when the French learn of the treaty in the press. The fiercely pro-French Monroe lashes out publicly against Jay, and Alexander Hamilton convinces Washington to recall him. This wound is not forgotten, and Monroe is involved in exposing the “Reynold’s adultery affair” which forces Hamilton to resign in 1795.
He returns home to resume his law career and set up his new plantation called Highland, situated on 1,000 acres immediately adjacent to Jefferson’s Monticello. His true calling, however, is politics, and in 1799 he is elected Governor of Virginia. Then Jefferson becomes president in 1801 and grooms both Madison and Monroe as likely successors. As special envoy to France, Monroe helps negotiate the Louisiana Purchase. He serves as Minister to Britain from 1803- 1808, and rejects attempts by an anti-Jefferson wing of the Democratic-Republican Party to have him run against Madison in the 1808 election. Madison rewards his loyalty by naming him Secretary of State, an office he holds from 1811-1817. After the British burn Washington on August 24, 1814, he also assumes the post of Secretary of War until the fighting is over.
In 1816 he is a natural candidate to succeed Madison, and he goes on to complete two terms (1817-25) during a period that becomes known as the “Era of Good Feelings” – despite the nation’s first tremor around the issue of slavery, leading to the 1820 Missouri Compromise. His own recorded thoughts about slavery mirror Jefferson, and he is an early sponsor of the American Colonization Society. The capital city of Liberia, Monrovia, is named after him.
Sidebar: For Sale – Monroe’s Plantation, Including A Stock of Cattle And Slaves
LOUDOUN LAND FOR SALE
For sale on Thursday, the 21st of December next on the premisies, the tract of LAND on which the late Judge Jones resided in Loudoun County with about 25 slaves, and the stock of Horses, Cattle, and Hogs, on the estate. The tract contains nearly 2000 acres [8 km²], and possesses many advantages which entitle it to the attention of those who may wish to reside, in that highly improved part of our country. Two merchant mills are in the neighbourhood, one on the adjoining estate, and the other within two miles [3 km]. It is 10 miles [16 km] from Leesburg, 35 [56 km] from Alexandria and 40 [64 km] from Georgetown. The new, Turn-pike from Alexandria crosses a corner of the land, and terminates at the nearest merchant mill. The whole tract is remarkably well watered, Little river passing through the middle of it, and many small streams on each side emptying into that river. About 50 or 60 acres [200,000 or 240,000 m²] are already well set with timothy, and at leats 300 acres (1.2 km²) are capable of being made excellent meadow. It will be divided into tracts of different dimensions to suit the convenience of purchasers. A credit of one, two and three years will be allowed. Bonds with approved security, and a trust on the land will be required. The negroes are supposed to be very valuable, some of them being good house servants, and the others, principally, young men and women. For them the same terms of credit will be allowed, and that of a year for every other article.
March 4, 1817
Monroe’s First Inaugural Address
The Capitol is still being rebuilt after the 1815 fire, when James Monroe is inaugurated, on March 4, 1817. The ceremony takes place in the temporary quarters of the House, known as the Brick Capitol. He is sworn in by his childhood friend, Chief Justice John Marshall, and then sets a precedent by stepping outside to deliver his address to a gathered crowd.
His speech begins by reflecting on the current state of the nation, which he finds flourishing under the government institutions in place since the Revolution.
I should be destitute of feeling if I was not deeply affected by the strong proof which my fellow-citizens have given me of their confidence in calling me to the high office whose functions I am about to assume… From the commencement of our Revolution to the present day almost forty years have elapsed… During a period fraught with difficulties and marked by very extraordinary events the United States have flourished beyond example. Their citizens individually have been happy and the nation prosperous.
He then outlines several of his proposed priorities: strengthening the national defense; developing infrastructure and manufacturing to expand the domestic economy and export trade abroad; managing public finances; and achieving harmony between western settlers and the Indian tribes.
Monroe concludes with comments on the favorable state of the nation, and a wish for help from both citizens and the Almighty in the job that lies ahead.
March 4, 1817 – March 3, 1821
Overview Of Monroe’s First Term
In assembling his cabinet, Monroe begins with a heady move by naming John Quincy Adams as his choice for Secretary of State. Adams’s foreign experience begins at age eleven when he accompanies his father to his post in Britain. From there he serves as a U.S. Senator, then as minister to the Netherlands, followed by Prussia, Russia and, from 1814-17 in England, where he first establishes a level of respect and trust with then Secretary of State Monroe that endures. Politically, Adams has grown up a Federalist, but he is forced out of the party in 1807 when he helps to draft the 1807 Embargo Bill and caucuses with the Democratic-Republican side in choosing Madison as their 1808 nominee. The partnership between Monroe and JQA will compare with that between Jefferson and Madison.
The new President retains Crawford in his Treasury post, and reaches out to Congressman John Calhoun, an outspoken supporter of the 1812 conflict. These two, along with Adams, will contend to succeed Monroe when the 1824 presidential race begins.
James Monroe Cabinet In 1817
|Vice-President||Daniel Tompkins||New York|
|Secretary of State||J Quincy Adams||Massachusetts|
|Secretary of Treasury||William Crawford||Georgia|
|Secretary of War||John C. Calhoun||South Carolina|
|Secretary of the Navy||Benjamin Crowninshield|
|Attorney General||Richard Rush||Pa son of Benj|
Adams, like Monroe, believes that America is poised in 1817 to put aside its external concerns about safety and concentrate on its many opportunities for internal development.
Every serious difficulty which seemed alarming to the people of the Union in 1800 had been removed or sunk from notice in 1816. With the disappearance of immediate peril, foreign or domestic, society could devote all its energies…to its favorite objects.
This outlook is so pervasive that, in July 1817, the Columbia Sentinel newspaper declares that the nation has entered an “era of good feelings.” Symbolic of this view is the start of work on an audacious engineering project that will last for eight years – the construction of the Erie Canal, which will ultimately create a water route for commerce from Lake Erie to New York harbor.
Unfortunately, the rosy outlook predicted upfront fails to materialize as planned.
First off, Monroe finds that the War of 1812 has had serious residual effects on the American economy, and these lead to the so-called “Panic of 1819.”
Then events in 1820 multiply the challenges.
In South America, the famous liberator, Simon Bolivar, is busily overthrowing Spain’s colonies, with the effects reaching all the way up to America’s southern neighbor, Mexico. Concerns mount about incursions from Spain or surrogates back into the Western Hemisphere. Troubles in Spanish Florida around rebel Seminole Indians increase these worries.
Then comes another shock, this time from a Pennsylvania congressmen, James Talmadge, who offers up an amendment to a bill involving statehood for Missouri that sets off a firestorm around the longsuppressed topic of slavery. It will prove to be the opening thrust in a 40 year conflict between the South and the North that ends up in civil war.
The good news is that, by the close of his first term, Monroe has navigated many of these setbacks quite well.
Key Events: Monroe’s First Term (1817-1821)
|March 4||Monroe inaugurated|
|July 4||Construction begins in Rome, NY on DeWitt Clinton’s Erie Canal project|
|July 12||Columbia Sentinel newspaper dubs the period “the era of good feelings” in America|
|Sept 27||Ohio Indians cede 4 million acres of land to state of Ohio|
|Oct 8||John C. Calhoun named Secretary of War|
|November First Seminole War begins|
|Dec 2||Monroe asserts that federal funds can be used for infrastructure projects|
|Jan 8||Sharp post-war declines in manufacturing output are recorded|
|Feb 28||New York passes bill requiring debts be paid with specie or US banknotes|
|May 24||General Andrew Jackson takes Spanish outpost at Pensacola, Florida|
|June 20||Connecticut becomes the first eastern state to drop property requirement for suffrage|
|July 1||Second US Bank tightens money supply by requiring states to pay off debts in gold|
|Aug 23||First steamship trip goes across Lake Erie to Detroit|
|Oct 19||Chickasaw Indians cede lands between Mississippi and Tennessee Rivers|
|Oct 20||US and Britain sign Convention of 1818 on Canadian borders, except for Oregon region|
|Nov 20||Bank of Kentucky suspends operations, causing public panic|
|Nov 28||JQ Adams informs Spain that it must either control Seminoles or cede Florida to US|
|Dec 3||Illinois admitted as 21st state|
|January||Beginning of widespread bank failures, foreclosure and financial collapse|
|Jan 12||Clay bill to condemn Andrew Jackson’s unilateral actions in Florida fails to pass|
|Feb 2||In Dartmouth v Woodward, Supreme Court says corporate charters are valid contracts|
|Feb 13||James Tallmadge seeks to amend Missouri statehood bill by ending slavery there|
|Feb 22||In Adams-Onis Treaty, Spain cedes East Florida to US for $5MM and “hands-off Texas”|
|Feb 27||After Tallmadge Amendment passes in House on Feb 17, the Senate votes it down|
|Mar 6||In McCulloch v Maryland, Supreme Court says USB is legal and state cannot tax it|
|May 5||Sermon by William Ellery Channing announces Unitarian schism with Christian churches|
|June 20||Steamship Savannah completes trans-Atlantic journey to Liverpool|
|Dec 14||Alabama admitted as 22nd state|
|Jan 23||The House votes to admit Maine as 23rd state, but the senate holds this up|
|Jan 26||The House supports the Taylor amendment allowing Missouri o enter as a slave state|
|Feb 6||Ship carrying 86 free blacks sets sail from New York headed to Sierra Leone|
|Feb 17||The Thomas amendment in the Senate adds the 36’30” free/slave dividing line in La. land|
|Mar 3||Missouri Compromise admits Maine as free, Missouri as slave state and 36’30” as redline|
|Mar 15||Maine is admitted as 23rd state, making 12 free and 11 slave at the moment|
|April 24||Public Land Act passes: price/acre down from $2 to $1.25; minimum plot from 160 to 80|
|May 15||To stop smuggling of foreign slaves into US, congress deems this piracy punishable by death|
|July 19||Initial Missouri constitution bars free blacks and mulattos from entering the state|
|Dec 6||Monroe wins second term in a landslide|
|December||Kentucky Relief Party set up to relieve debtors, opposed by Clay, supported by Jackson|
|Jan 17||Spain gives Moses and son Stephen Austin okay to settle 300 Americans in San Antonio|
|Feb 24||Mexico declares independence from Spain|
|Mar 2||Congresses agrees to admit Missouri, if it drops unconstitutional ban against free blacks|
|—||Benjamin Lundy begins publishing Genius of Universal Emancipation newspaper|