THE ERA OF GOOD FEELINGS was the period in the United States that reflected a sense of national purpose and a desire for unity among Americans after the War of 1812. The era saw the collapse of the Federalist Party and an end to the bitter partisan disputes between it and the dominant Democratic-Republican Party. Historians treated the era with skepticism as the political atmosphere was strained and divisive especially among factions within the Monroe Administration and the Republican Party. The phrase Era of Good Feelings was coined by Benjamin Russell in the Boston Federalist newspaper, Columbian Centinel on July 12, 1817 following Monroe’s visit to Boston, MA, as part of his goodwill tour. The most perfect expression of the Era of Good Feelings Tour were Monroe’s visits to New England and to the Federalist stronghold of Boston.
Our single page document, 8 x 9 ¾, provides a fascinating look into some of those who lived during the period as Democratic-Republicans and Federalists. Our writer has passed this list of names on for review, presumably for the creation of an organization to honor those who were part of the Era of Good Feelings. He writes, “I have taken the liberty to inclose [sic] this for your inspection, having marked opposite the names of the gentlemen the Politicks they have supported, believing it still to be of some importance to maintain a preponderance in New England notwithstanding so much boasting of the ‘Era of good feelings.’”
Under the column, “Board elected Sept. 1878, the names of nearly 20 politicians are listed with their political designations and a second list of four names “recommended”, possibly for induction. Several were members of the American Antiquarian Society. The list: Seth Wheaton, Nicholas Brown, James D’Wolf, Edward Carrington, George D’Wolf, Philip Allen, E.K. Dexter, Henry P. Franklin, Thomas Coles, Christopher Ellery, Richmond, Bullock, Samuel Arnold, Charles Potter, Samuel Eddy, Richard Jackson, Hezekiah Sabin Jr. and Samuel Whitmore.
We’ve found biographical information on several. The list includes a slave dealer, his nephew who continued the trade even after it was made illegal by congress and punishable by hanging, the namesake of Brown University, president of the American Bank of Providence, RI, President Thomas Jefferson’s Collector of Customs in Newport, RI, Congressman and Chief Justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court, and a man we believe to have been a lieutenant colonel in George Washington’s Army as a Second Commandant of the notable Second Company from Connecticut.
NICHOLAS BROWN JR. (April 4, 1769 – September 27, 1841) was a Providence, RI, businessman and philanthropist who was the namesake of Brown University. He served in the state legislature as a Federalist.
JAMES DEWOLF (March 18, 1764-December 21, 1837) was a slave trader, a privateer during the War of 1812. He gained notoriety in 1791 when indicted for murdering a female slave said to have smallpox whom he believed threatened the lives of other slaves and crew because of the disease. The case was dismissed and considered justifiable under contemporary law. DeWolf financed 25 slaving voyages. During his lifetime, his name was usually written “James DWolf” as it is in our document. He served in the Rhode Island state legislature for nearly 25 years and in the 1820s as a United States Senator from Rhode Island. Our document identifies him as a Republican.
GEORGE DEWOLF, the nephew of James, is also listed as a Republican on our document. He carried on the slave voyages illegally until 1820. Congress had made the importing of slaves an offense punishable by hanging in 1808. All told, the DeWolf family is said to have brought over 11,000 slaves.
HENRY P. FRANKLIN, listed as a Republican, was bank president and director of the American Bank of Providence and a textile producer.
CHRISTOPHER ELLERY (November 1, 1768-December 2, 1840) was a United States Senator from Rhode Island. He was born in Newport and graduated from Yale College in 1787. Ellery was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the U.S. Senate. He was later appointed by Thomas Jefferson as United States Commissioner of Loans at Providence and was appointed Collector of Customs at Newport.
SAMUEL EDDY (March 31, 1769-February 3, 1839) was a graduate of Brown University and U.S. Representative from Rhode Island. He also served as Rhode Island Secretary of State (1798-1819). Eddy was elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Congresses and re-elected as an Adams-Clay Republican to the Eighteenth Congress. He also served as associate justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court and later served as Chief Justice.
RICHARD JACKSON (July 3, 1764-April 18, 1838) was elected as a Federalist to the Tenth Congress and re-elected to the Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth, serving from 1808-1815. He served on the Board of Trustees of Brown University.
HEZEKIAH SABIN, JR. is listed as a Republican. We find a Hezekiah Sabin Jr. as the second commandant of Second Company who became a Lieutenant Colonel in Washington’s Army. The Company was formed as an escort on July 2, 1775, when General Washington passed through New Haven, CT, on is was to take command of forces around Boston. On July 5th, 1779, the Second Company, put up a heroic defense of New Haven against a large British invasion force.
Expected toning with folds. Some remaining attachment paper on the verso. Very readable and a wonderful piece of Americana.
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