THE END OF THE WAR OF 1812 marked the beginning of a new period in American history. The American people could now devote their full energies and attention to settling and developing the continent which they had won. Thus, 1815 marks the start of an era of unprecedented expansion, which continued in full swing until 1848. This period, 1815-1848, had a unity and a quality of its own, which entitle us to label it "Jacksonian." It possessed many of the attributes associated with Jacksonian democracy: raw materialism, driving expansion, but also generous enthusiasms and reforming zeals. Americans achieved a sense of stability derived from pride in their past and a feeling of abounding confidence in the future. This, of course, would change after 1848 and give way to a vastly different mood. For in the fifties, there was a growing preoccupation with the slavery crisis and a growing conviction of the inevitability of civil war.
In Jacksonian America, national development assumed a sectional form. A single nation was growing, developing, evolving; but it was organized into three clearly differentiated sections, or regions, each with its own distinct patterns of social, political, and economic life.