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THE RISE OF NATIONALITY.
In spite of execrable financial management, of the criminal blunders of political army officers, and of consequent defeats on land, and quite apart from brilliant sea-fights and the New Orleans victory, the war of 1812 was of incalculable benefit to the United States. It marks more particularly the point at which the already established democracy began to shade off into a real nationality.
The Democratic party began its career as a States-rights party. Possession of national power had so far modified the practical operation of its tenets that it had not hesitated to carry out a national policy, and even wage a desperate war, in flat opposition to the will of one section of the Union, comprising five of its most influential States; and, when the Hartford Convention was suspected of a design to put the New England opposition to the war into a forcible veto, there were many indications that the dominant party was fully prepared to answer by a forcible materialization of the national will. In the North and West, at least, the old States-rights formulas never carried a real vitality beyond the war of 1812. Men still spoke of “sovereign States," and prided themselves on the difference between the “ voluntary union of States” and the effete despotisms of Europe ; but the ghost of the Hartford Convention had laid very many more dangerous ghosts in the section in which it had appeared.
The theatre of the war, now filled with comfortable farms and populous cities, was then less known than any of our Territories in 1896. There were no roads, and the transportation of provisions for the troops, of guns, ammunition, and stores for the lake navies, was one of the most difficult of the problems which the National Government was called upon to solve. It cannot be said that
the solution was successfully reached, for the blunders in transportation were among the most costly, exasperating, and dangerous of the war. But the efforts to reach it provided the impulse which soon after resulted in the settlement of Western New York, the appearance of the germs of such flourishing cities as Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, the opening up of the Southwest Territory, between Tennessee and New Orleans, and the rapid admission of the new States of Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri. But the impulse did not stop here. The inconveniences and dangers arising from the possession of a vast territory with utterly inadequate means of communication had been brought so plainly to public view by the war that the question of communication influenced politics in every direction. In New York it took shape in the construction of the Erie Canal (finished in 1825). In States farther west and south, the loaning of the public credit to enterprises of the nature of the Erie Canal increased until the panic of 1837 introduced