The War of 1812 was, in a sense, a second war of independence
that confirmed once and for all the American break with England.
With its conclusion, many of the serious difficulties that the
young republic had faced since the Revolution disappeared.
National union under the Constitution brought a balance between
liberty and order. With a low national debt and a continent
awaiting exploration, the prospect of peace, prosperity, and
social progress opened before the nation.
Commerce cemented national unity. The privations of war
convinced many of the importance of protecting the manufacturers
of America until they could stand alone against foreign
competition. Economic independence, many argued, was as
essential as political independence. To foster self-sufficiency,
congressional leaders Henry Clay of Kentucky and John C. Calhoun
of South Carolina urged a policy of protectionism – imposition
of restrictions on imported goods to foster the development of
The time was propitious for raising the customs tariff. The
shepherds of Vermont and Ohio wanted protection against an
influx of English wool. In Kentucky, a new industry of weaving
local hemp into cotton bagging was threatened by the Scottish
bagging industry. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, already a
flourishing center of iron smelting, was eager to challenge
British and Swedish iron suppliers. The tariff enacted in 1816
imposed duties high enough to give manufacturers real
In addition, Westerners advocated a national system of roads
and canals to link them with Eastern cities and ports, and to
open frontier lands for settlement. However, they were
unsuccessful in pressing their demands for a federal role in
internal improvement because of opposition from New England and
the South. Roads and canals remained the province of the states
until the passage of the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916.
The position of the federal government at this time was
greatly strengthened by several Supreme Court decisions. A
committed Federalist, John Marshall of Virginia, became chief
justice in 1801 and held office until his death in 1835. The
court – weak before his administration – was transformed into a
powerful tribunal, occupying a position co-equal to the Congress
and the president. In a succession of historic decisions,
Marshall established the power of the Supreme Court and
strengthened the national government.
Marshall was the first in a long line of Supreme Court
justices whose decisions have molded the meaning and application
of the Constitution. When he finished his long service, the
court had decided nearly 50 cases clearly involving
constitutional issues. In one of Marshall's most famous opinions
– Marbury v. Madison (1803) – he decisively established
the right of the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality
of any law of Congress or of a state legislature. In
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), he boldly upheld the
Hamiltonian theory that the Constitution by implication gives
the government powers beyond those expressly stated.
Questions with answers in bold:
1. The __________ was a kind of second
war of independence.
a. Battle of New Orleans
b. French and Indian War
c. Spanish-American War
d. War of 1812
2. Many Americans argued that economic independence was as essential as political independence.
3. What, in 1816, imposed duties high enough to give American
manufacturers real protection?
4. Roads and canals remained the province of the states until
the passage of what in 1916?
Federal Air Road Act
5. Who served as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1801
6. In what 1803 Supreme Court decision did Marshall
decisively establish the right of the Supreme Court to review
the constitutionality of any law of Congress or of a state
Marbury v. Madison
7. What 1819 Supreme Court decision upheld the Hamiltonian
theory that the Constitution, by implication, gives the
government powers beyond those expressly stated?
McCulloch v. Maryland
Click here to print.
Text courtesy of the U.S. State Department, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2005