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The Era of Bad Feeling

September 23, 2014

Henry Clay did not like Andrew Jackson.  General Jackson did not like Henry Clay or John Quincy Adams.  President Adams did not particularly care for either man, but he did offer Cabinet positions to both.  Clay became Secretary of State.  Jackson could have become Secretary of War, but he did not want to serve in the Adams Administration.

Jefferson had been Washington’s Secretary of State, Madison had been Jefferson’s, Monroe had been Madison’s, and, during the Era of Good Feeling, John Quincy Adams had been Monroe’s Secretary of State.  Clay was now the heir apparent to the presidency, and Jackson couldn’t allow that.  In order to stop Clay, Jackson would have to stop Adams from getting re-elected in 1828.

Meanwhile, Adams appealed to the American people in his inaugural address.  He humbly acknowledged that nearly 70% of the people had voted for other candidates: “Less possessed of your confidence in advance than any of my predecessors, I am deeply conscious of the prospect that I shall stand more and oftener in need of your indulgence.”

But Adams had little Congressional support for his public improvements program, little sympathy from the electorate, and no indulgence from Jackson’s people.  The Era of Good Feeling had ended with the retirement of President Monroe, and a new, unhappy era had begun.

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