Monday, December 14, 2009

Good Feelings

Does this sound familiar?

"A unity all the more prized since it had so nearly been destroyed during the war by internal divisions and external threats. The President, who was aware of this vague and unspecific aspiration, sought to harness it to broad national aims. He hoped that this new sense of 'oneness' would operate as a useful force in leading the nation to a full utilization of its resources and that it would also serve as means of reconciling party animosities...An agreement had to be forged among the differing interests within the community to achieve a program which would be generally accepted without requiring one group to suffer unduly in order to provide an advantage for another element..."

That's from Harry Ammon's James Monroe: A Quest for National Identity (pp. 366-367): my boy Monroe, coming to the presidency right after the War of 1812, starting the so-called "Era of Good Feelings" where these pesky parties of Federalists and (Jeffersonian) Republicans were going to put aside their differences and all get along forever.

Instead, despite Monroe's integrity, everyone around him in Washington was out for personal gain. A lot of good stuff did happen - but unfortunately the "Era of Good Feelings" was probably never destined to last very long.

Read more Monroe thoughts on my Literary Supplement.

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