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- The United States of America Part I - 54/54 -


The strict Republicans asserted that Adams was a "consolidationist," and Clay's views of the paternalistic duty of the National Government, no less than his association with Adams, placed him in the same category. The new President gave out his political creed in his inaugural address.

"Whatsoever is of domestic concernment," said he, "unconnected with the other members of the Union, or with foreign lands, belongs exclusively to the administration of the State governments. Whatsoever directly involves the rights and interests of the federative fraternity, or of foreign powers, is of the resort of this General Government."

At the same time, he expressly stated the various formative actions of the General Government which had been allowed by the States. He expressed the hope that "by the same process of friendly, patient, and persevering deliberation all constitutional objections will ultimately be removed."

Every annual message of President Adams pleaded for a liberal interpretation of the powers of Government. Now he advocated more generous appropriations for the Cumberland Road, now the endowment of a national university, or the erection of a national monument to Washington. He suggested the founding of national observatories, the increase of the navy, the extension of the pensions, the establishing of a naval academy, the equipping of scientific exploring expeditions, provisions for civilising the Indians, and a reform in the method of taking the census.

Every message bore the full imprint of Henry Clay's national improvement policy, a sentiment in which Adams could readily join. The attention of Congress was called from time to time to the reports of surveys made by the engineers under the act of April, 1824. These reports contemplated roads and canals, river and harbour improvements, "needing the assistance of means and resources more comprehensive than individual enterprise can command," as Adams said. He called especial attention to the fact that from three to four million dollars were being spent annually on the public works without intrenching upon the necessities of the Treasury, adding to the public debt, or stopping its gradual discharge. When the State of New York, grown weary of soliciting national aid, constructed a canal from the tide-water of the Hudson to Lake Erie, really around the northern end of the Allegheny Mountains, Adams seized the opportunity of asking whether the representative authorities of the whole Union should fall behind the single members of the confederation in exercising the trust imposed by the people.

Whatever another President might have accomplished by his personal influence in these appeals was denied to Adams because of his lack of mingling qualities, and because of the hostility aroused by the manner of his election. The impression prevailed among the former supporters of Monroe and among the people of the South-west that "the will of the people" had been thwarted in some manner and could be vindicated only by the election of Jackson in 1828. This faction also imagined that Adams stood for aristocratic New England and Jackson for the democratic South-west. They were opposed to the protective principle, to internal improvements, and the continuance in power of the Atlantic coast regime. Rallying under the standard of Andrew Jackson, "the man of the people," they began to call themselves Democratic Republicans, or simply "Jackson men." Their opponents, embracing Adams and Clay and such minor leaders as the Administration had been able to collect, considered themselves as good Republicans as their opponents; but, taking into account their nationalistic tendencies, called themselves "National Republicans," or "Adams men." Unconsciously and even unwillingly, political parties had been revived.

As the election of 1828 approached, national affairs gave every indication of the end of an epoch. Those formative events, which seem to culminate regardless of the wish or will of man, indicated a great change. The determination to overthrow the Adams-Clay combination turned the election into a political revolution not unlike that of 1800. Economic conditions assumed a new aspect because of the advent of "King Cotton," and the sudden ascendency of the "lower South." The election for two consecutive terms of Calhoun to the Vice-Presidency showed that Southern leadership had passed from Virginia to South Carolina. Successful experiments with steam transportation on land predicted a revolution in the history of internal communication and, consequently, of internal improvements. The clear diplomatic horizon, the universal peace except in turbulent South America, and the successful negotiations in recent treaties foretold an era of insularity and full fruition of individuality. Political parties had been revived, but on such divergent lines that they might soon be expected to develop national policies. Fortunate would the Republic have been if such legitimate divisions had been the only lines of difference as the great middle period came on. But sectionalism had yet to run its course, commercially and territorially, before a true union of interests, ideals, and affections could be secured.

END OF PART I


The United States of America Part I - 54/54

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