Most of the past presidents have been able to confront and overcome many problems during their terms, and this president is no exception. During his two terms as president, James Monroe has confronted several problems which he met in office, some of these are the Missouri Compromise, the Panic of 1819, the acquirement of the territory of Florida, and one of the most influential actions throughout history, the Monroe Doctrine.
At the start of his presidency, Monroe started a series of tours across the nation with the objective of reaching out to the people of the country and to check on the conditions in which the country found itself after the war. The first tour that he took was headed north, tour in which it was first thought the most bitter, but surprisingly ended in a warm welcome for the president. The trip took about fifteen weeks back to Washington, D.C., with a result of being a success. During the tour, the Boston Columbian Centinel described the reception in Massachusetts as the beginning of the ‘Era of Good Feelings’ for the country.
After that, he continued with two more tours in which he was received with cheers and and in which he was able to win the hearts of the people of the different regions of the country.
Some time later came one of the major domestic crises during Monroe’s presidency term, the Panic of 1819.
The recession of 1819-1822, which was largely blamed on bankers and others, it was one of the economic forces that made many Americans look to Jackson as the savior of the working class and the typical hero of the country (‘Panic of 1819’). William Jones, the first president of the bank of the United States, decided to take some actions in which he just made it worse by creating speculation and inflation. Later came a proposal to close the Bank of the United States but wasn’t supported enough by congress, because at that time 40 members owned stocks at the bank. The bank tried to stabilize the problem so that it wouldn’t come out of hand but it was too late, it was already on its way to the depression. This affected very largely to the country, creating mistrust towards banks and its money, and even affecting farmers, which would later survive at the crisis by changing to a subsistence lifestyle.
And this got difficult to deal with the fact that the government couldn’t interfere with the bank, just as stated in the McCullough v Maryland: ‘the Bank of the United States, though privately run, was a creation of the federal government that could not be touched by the states’.
Just as Jefferson stated a few years ago: ‘We are to be ruined by paper, as we were formerly by the old Continental paper’. (‘Panic of 1819’). At the end, Monroe supported a policy proposed by William Crawford, Secretary of Treasury, in which it was intended to relax payment terms on mortgages for lands purchased from the federal government.
It wasn’t until 1822 when it settled down to be stable.
Around that time came another event, the Florida Purchase. It started 1818, when Andrew Jackson received a letter from Monroe in which it stated for him to command troops that were fighting the Seminoles and the Spanish at the moment. Around the same time, Secretary of State, Adams was negotiating with Luis Onis Gonzalez, Spain’s minister about legitimization of American claims of West Florida. But jackson’s troops at the time approached the territory of Florida, taking over of Florida. After the invasion, Onís and London were outraged by Jackson’s actions, in which two british citizens were killed and affected the negotiations for the treaty.
Adams was able to hold back the protests from London and continued with negotiations with Spain which later decided to cede East Florida. Meanwhile Congress failed to censure Jackson and he became incredibly famous.
After the chaotic part of the invasion and of the protests, Adams got to sign a treaty (Adams-Onís Treaty) in which Spain agreed to cede Florida and give up Northwest territories to the United States and in exchange the U.S. would pay Spain 5 million dollars and recognize Texas as part of Spain’s territory.
The United States was expanding its territory at a fast pace and one of those territories that came along with a crucial issue for the country was Missouri, which requested for admission to the Union in 1819 but was rejected because it could affect a balance between the states, slavery. At that moment, Missouri was growing rapidly—it had been organized as a formal territory only at the beginning of 1819—and approximately 10,000 of its 60,000 inhabitants were slaves (Purcell, Sarah), and was mostly settled by southerners. This meant that Missouri would be joining as a slave state unbalancing the 22 states deal. If Missouri was admitted, it would give the southerners more power than the northerners in court. Monroe suggested a solution, to resettle the blacks back to Africa, but it wasn’t considered at all as a solution. Monroe feared that this dispute could divide the Union. At the end, after a new Congress would be convened, Missouri would be admitted as a slave state along with Maine as a free state and they agreed on outlawing slavery on western territories above the 36/30′ north latitude line. Monroe, satisfied, signed the bill on March, 1820.
One of the last actions that Monroe accomplished was one of the most important in the history of the United States, the Monroe Doctrine. Henry Clay was the first to propose Monroe about recognizing, but Monroe didn’t followed the idea until his second term. It started with some rumors that started in Europe in which France would consider helping Spain to regain its old colonies in Central and South America. When the rumor spread all its way to the United States, people reacted, protesting to protect the new nations and to recognize them as independent nations.
- Genovese, Michael A. “Monroe, James.” Encyclopedia of the American Presidency, Third Edition, Facts On File, 2017. American History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=17967&itemid=WE52&articleId=211628. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.
- James Monroe.’ Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed., vol. 11, Gale, 2004, pp. 111-113. Gale eBooks, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX3404704530/GVRL?u=ppjsh_ca&sid=GVRL&xid=40188fa4. Accessed 18 Dec. 2019.
- Kelley, Brent. James Monroe. Chelsea House, 2000, Infobase eBooks, ebooks.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=105958&ISBN=9781438137414, Accessed 9 Dec. 2019.
- “Panic of 1819: The First Major U.S. Depression.” The Globalist, 10 Feb. 2009, www.theglobalist.com/panic-of-1819-the-first-major-u-s-depression/.
- Preston, Daniel. “James Monroe: Domestic Affairs.” Miller Center, 20 June 2017, millercenter.org/president/monroe/domestic-affairs
- Purcell, Sarah J. “The Era of Good Feelings?: 1816–1819.” Early National Period, Facts On File, 2004. American History, online.infobase.com/Auth/Index?aid=17967&itemid=WE52&articleId=193956. Accessed 12 Dec. 2019.