U.S. Department of State: A Reference History

By Elmer Plischke | Go to book overview

4
Transition Period -- Extension and Stabilization, 1829-1861

In this period from the end of the Democratic-Republican years to the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, significant changes materialized. These involved the expansion of the territory and population of the United States, the growth of the number of States constituting the American Union, the nature and turnover of political leadership, and the role played by the United States in international affairs.

Sometimes this period, called the "democratic era," is characterized as emphasizing American continental affairs and domestic governmental crystallization. However, it also represents the time when international interests mounted, when Congress and the Department of State focused on departmental reorganization and structural refinement, when the diplomatic and consular services and the negotiation of treaties and agreements expanded geographically and increased both substantively and numerically, and when the handling of the State Department's domestic and other extraneous functions peaked, and Congress finally commenced to transfer some of them to other Executive Departments and agencies.


ORGANIZATION AND MANAGEMENT

During the four decades prior to the inauguration of Andrew Jackson, six Presidents were elected, of whom four served double terms, and they appointed nine Secretaries of State, who provided considerable stability in the management of foreign affairs. By comparison, in the next thirty-two years nine Presidents were elected. Of these only Jackson served two terms, and Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan held office for four years. All of them were Democrats. The Whigs did not fare as well. William Henry

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