The Era of Good Feelings, 1815-1824
The inauguration of James Monroe on March 4, 1817, appeared to herald the beginning of a new era, one without the rabid partisanship that had dominated the political scene since the mid-1790s. For all intents and purposes, Monroe ran for president basically unopposed in 1816. 1 Although the Federalists nominated Rufus King, he did not have enough national recognition to launch a successful campaign. When the electoral college voted, Monroe won by the sizeable margin of 183 to 34. The circumstances of the inaugural ceremony itself, however, indicated that all was not as peaceful and happy as many people hoped. Still in the midst of reconstruction following the destruction of the War of 1812, the House and the Senate could not reach an agreement on holding the inauguration as usual in the House chambers. At the last minute, they agreed on an outdoor ceremony. The inauguration went well, but many blamed the conflict over the site on Henry Clay, Speaker of the House. Clay, apparently resentful over not being appointed secretary of state by the new president, seemed to confirm these rumors when he failed to attend the inaugural ceremony. 2 Such animosities and arguments did not bode well for the future.
For, a while, at least, all went well, and many believed that the nation had truly entered into "an era of good feelings."' With the Federalist Party basically no longer in existence, people asserted that partisanship would now disappear and that the country could concentrate on the more important issues of growth and development. The newspapers expressed these hopes and beliefs as they continued to inform their readers about the various news and events of Washington and elsewhere. The War of 1812 had slowed the spread of the press somewhat, but peace allowed it once more to grow throughout the country. In 1815, the first year after the end of the war, 413 newspapers appeared in the United States. By 1820, the year of Monroe's reelection, the number had grown to 512. And in 1828, when