This chapter describes the events that shaped the federal government and an independent judiciary. Westward expansion of the nation and the War of 1812 brought about a strong sense of national unity.
Section 1 looks at the new government and leaders of the United States. In 1789 the United States elected its first president, and Congress introduced the Bill of Rights. That same year, Congressional leaders organized the judicial branch of government and created the cabinet. The controversial financial program of Alexander Hamilton—which included taxation, a system of public credit, and a national bank—sparked regional divisions and even caused a rebellion. Washington's support of Hamilton's programs split Congress into factions and gave rise to the nation's first political parties. Two treaties granted the United States most-favored nation status with Britain and gave the nation access to the Mississippi and New Orleans. President Adams's term was marked by a Quasi-War with France and political discord. Federalists exercised their muscle with the Alien and Sedition Acts, and Republicans countered with resolutions that supported states' rights. An unexpected outcome in the presidential election of 1800 gave the Republicans control and proved that the United States could transfer executive power peacefully.
Section 2 follows Presidents Jefferson and Madison. After two Federalist presidents, Jefferson hoped to limit the scope of federal power by reducing the federal debt, cutting government spending, and eliminating the whiskey tax. An important decision by Supreme Court Justice John Marshall established the Supreme Court as a powerful, independent branch of the federal government. Jefferson's enthusiastic support of western expansion led to the defeat of Native American nations and the Louisiana Purchase. Rising tensions with the British brought an unpopular embargo that halted all trade between the United States and Europe. The embargo paralyzed American industry and was quickly repealed. The British continued their trade restrictions under James Madison. Some Western settlers also blamed the British for inciting Native American attacks along the frontier. In Congress War Hawks called for action, while northeastern leaders asked for restraint. During the War of 1812, American attempts to invade British-held Canada failed. The British burned the White House and Capitol, but they could not capture Baltimore and New Orleans. A treaty ended the war, and the United States emerged from battle with a new spirit of national unity.
Section 3 discusses how nationalism increased significantly after the War of 1812. The War of 1812 taught Republicans the value of a strong federal government, and a new spirit of unity swept the nation. Republicans established a new national bank and passed a tariff that protected American industry. Important Supreme Court decisions strengthened the power of the federal government over the states and shaped the future of American government. In a confident show of force against the Seminoles, the United States pressured Spain to sign a treaty ceding all of Florida. The United States also issued the Monroe Doctrine to proclaim the Western Hemisphere closed to further European colonization.