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Jacksonian democracy

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jacksonian democracy was a 19th-century political philosophy in the United States that expanded suffrage to most white men over the age of 21, and restructured a number of federal institutions. Originating with the seventh president, Andrew Jackson, and his supporters, it became the nation's dominant political worldview for a generation. The term itself was in active use by the 1830s.[1]

This era, called the Jacksonian Era (or Second Party System) by historians and political scientists, lasted roughly from Jackson's 1828 election as president until slavery became the dominant issue in 1854 and the political repercussions of the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics. It emerged when the long-dominant Democratic-Republican Party became factionalized around the 1824 election. Jackson's supporters began to form the modern Democratic Party and his rivals John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay created the National Republican Party, which would afterward combine with other anti-Jackson political groups to form the Whig Party.

Broadly speaking, the era was characterized by a democratic spirit and built upon Jackson's equal political policy (subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government by elites). Even before the Jacksonian era began, suffrage had been extended to a majority of white male adult citizens, a result the Jacksonians celebrated.[2] Jacksonian democracy also promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. The Jacksonians demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms, they favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of manifest destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided.

Jackson's expansion of democracy was largely limited to Americans of European descent and voting rights were extended to adult white males only. There was little or no progress (and in some cases, a regression) for the rights of African Americans and Native Americans during the extensive period of Jacksonian Democracy, spanning from 1829 - 1860.[3] Jackson's biographer Robert V. Remini argues:

[Jacksonian Democracy] stretches the concept of democracy about as far as it can go and still remain workable. ... As such it has inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history—Populism, Progressivism, the New and Fair Deals, and the programs of the New Frontier and Great Society.[4]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Age of Jackson: Crash Course US History #14
  • ✪ 19th Century Reforms: Crash Course US History #15
  • ✪ History of the Democratic Party | American civics | US government and civics | Khan Academy
  • ✪ Early phases of Civil War and Antietam | US History | Khan Academy
  • ✪ Andrew Jackson - Good Evil & The Presidency - PBS Documentary


Hi I’m John Green. This is Crash Course U.S. history and today, after last week’s bummer on slavery, we turn to a happier topic: the rise of democratization in the U.S. This was also known as the Age of Jackson, no Stan, not that Jackson. No, no, Stan, come’on seriously. No not, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. YES. That Jackson. Andrew Jackson. intro ...Sorry, I just had to check my collar. Right, so you’ll recall that the initial democracy of the United States wasn’t terribly democratic—almost all voters were white male land owners. Mr. Green, Mr. Green. That’s just radically unfair. Exactly, Me from the Past. But, between 1820 and 1850, this started to change. State legislatures lowered, or else eliminated, the property qualifications for voting, which allowed many more people to vote, so long as they were, you know, both white and male. Mr. Green, Mr. Green. So, I’d be in, right? Yeah, that seems reasonable. Yeah, Me from the Past, quick privilege check. One of the reasons we study history is so that you can learn that people like you are not actually at the center of history, even though, you know, you’ve been taught that. But, anyway, the whole idea of owning land as a prerequisite for voting is sort of Jeffersonian— an individual who works his own land can be truly independent, because he doesn’t need to rely upon markets to acquire stuff or, God forbid, wages to give him money with which to buy stuff. No, he makes his own stuff and he doesn’t need anybody...except for slaves and also women to make shoes and clothes and to cook food and also make children. But, in light of the Market Revolution, the idea of excluding wage workers seemed very outdated. The idea of excluding women and non-white people, though, still quite popular. But, this defining characteristic of the Age of Jackson really had very little to do with Andrew Jackson himself because, by the time he became President in 1829, every state except for North Carolina, Virginia, and Rhode Island had already gotten rid of their property requirements. In fact, that’s probably why he got elected. Right so you’ll recall that America’s mostly fake victory in the War of 1812 and the subsequent collapse of the Federalist party ushered in the “Era of Good Feelings” which was another way of saying that there was basic agreement on most domestic policies. The American System was a program of economic nationalism built on (1) federally financed internal improvements, like roads and canals, what we would now call “infrastructure” (2) tariffs, to protect new factories and industries, and (3) a national bank that would replace the First Bank of the United States whose charter expired in 1811. You’ll never guess what we called this second bank, unless you guessed that we called it “The Second Bank of the United States.” The main supporters of this American System were our old friend John C. Calhoun and our new friend Henry Clay. Both were Jeffersonian Republicans, which isn’t surprising because that was the only political party, but it’s kind of surprising because the American System had nothing to do with the Agrarian Republic that Jefferson had championed. But whatever, this was the Era of Good Feelings, so we’re gonna go with it. By the way, this nationalism also extended to foreign affairs. And if they did, we would, like, do stuff. This so called “Monroe Doctrine” also said that the U.S. would stay out of European wars. Hahahaha that is hilarious! But, we did live up to the other end of it, you’ll remember that when the British came for the Falkland Islands, we were like, “This shall not stand.” Just kidding. We were like, “Go ahead.” The last Good Feelings era president was John Quincy Adams, who was quite the diplomat and expansionist. He actually wrote the Monroe Doctrine, for instance. But in fact, it turns out that all feelings were not good. There was significant disagreement over three main issues. First, many people felt that the federal government shouldn’t invest in infrastructure. Like, James Madison, who’d initially supported those bills, ended up vetoing one of them that included a big spending increase to finance roads and canals. Now, the roads and canals did get built, but, in the end, most of the financing fell to the states. There were also big problems with the Second Bank of the United States, which you know is why you can’t visit a branch of it these days. But we’ll get to that in a minute! And, lastly, there was the perennial issue of slavery. In this case the problem started, as so many problems do, in Missouri. So, in 1819 Missouri had enough people in it to become a state, but despite the fact that there were already more than 10,000 slaves there, a New York congressman, named James Tallmadge, made a motion to prohibit the introduction of further slaves into the proposed state. It took almost two years to work out the John C. Calhounstorm that blew up after this. Actually, it took more than that. It took until the end of the Civil War basically. But in the short run, Missouri was allowed to enter the union as a slave state, while Maine was carved out of Massachusetts to keep the balance of things. But the Missouri Compromise also said that no state admitted above the 36 30 line of latitude would be allowed to have slaves, except, of course, for Missouri itself, which as you can see, is well above the line. Anyway, this solution to westward expansion worked out magnificently provided that you enjoy Civil Wars. So, Thomas Jefferson, who was by the way was still alive, which gives you some context for how young the nation truly was, wrote that the Missouri Compromise was “like a fire bell in the night that awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once the death knell of the union.” Eventually, almost. But in the short term, it did mean the rise of political parties. So, America was becoming more democratic, but if there was only one political party, that democratic spirit had nowhere to go. Fortunately, there was a tiny little magician named Martin Van Buren. They really did call him the “Little Magician,” by the way. Also “The red fox of Kinderhook,” but we remember him as the worst-haired president. So, despite having been President of the United States, Van Buren is arguably more important for having invented the Democratic Party. He was first to realize that national political parties could be a good thing. So, I mentioned that Martin Van Buren was known as the “Little Magician, and I know this sounds a little bit silly, but I think it’s telling. You see, Van Buren was only the second American president with a well-used nickname. And the first was his immediate predecessor, Andrew Jackson, or Old Hickory. Why does this matter? Well when you’re actually having to campaign for office, as all presidential candidates did after the election of 1828, and you’re trying to appeal to the newly enfranchised “common man” what better way to seem like a regular guy than to have a nickname? I mean, if you think this is crazy, just think of the nicknames of some some of our most popular presidents. “Honest Abe,” “The Bull Moose,” “The Gipper.” Even our lesser known presidents had nicknames. “Young Hickory,” “Handsome Frank;” “Old Rough and Ready,” “Big Steve.” James Buchanan, and I am not making this up, was “Old Public Functionary.” Who’re you gonna vote for? Oh, I think the “Old Public Functionary.” He seems competent. As it happens, he wasn’t. So, by now you’re probably wondering, where does Andrew Jackson fit into all of this? When we last caught up with Jackson, he was winning the battle of New Orleans shortly after the end of the War of 1812. He continued his bellicose ways, fighting Indians in Florida, although he was not actually authorized to do so, and became so popular from all of his Indian killing that he decided to run for president in 1824. The election of 1824 was very close. And it went to the House, where John Quincy Adams was eventually declared the winner. And Jackson denounced this as “a corrupt bargain.” So, in 1828, Jackson ran a much more negative campaign—one of campaign slogans was “Vote for Andrew Jackson who can fight, not John Quincy Adams who can write.” Adams’ supporters responded by arguing that having a literate president wasn’t such a bad thing and also by accusing Jackson of being a murderer, which given his frequent habit of dueling and massacring, he sort of was. So as you can see, the quality of discourse in American political campaigns has come a long way. Anyway, Jackson won. Jackson ran as the champion of the common man and in a way he was. I mean, he had little formal schooling and in some ways he was the archetypal self made man. Jackson’s policies defined the new Democratic party, which had formerly been known as the Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans. It’s very complicated, so here, I made you this chart. So who were these new Democrats? Well generally, they tended to be lower to middle class men, usually farmers, who were suspicious of the widening gap between the rich and the poor that was one of the results of the Market Revolution. And they were particularly worried about bankers, merchants and speculators, who seemed to be getting rich without actually producing anything. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar. This vision probably would have carried the day except a new party arose in response to Jackson’s election: the Whigs. No, Stan, the Whigs. Yes. The American Whigs took their name from the English Whigs, who were opposed to absolute monarchy. And the American Whigs felt that Andrew Jackson was grabbing so much power for the executive branch that he was turning himself into “King Andrew.” So, the Whigs were big supporters of the American System and its active federal government. You know, tariffs, infrastructure, etc. Their greatest support was in the Northeast, especially from businessmen and bankers who benefitted from those tariffs and the stability provided by a national bank. And they also thought the government should promote moral character because that was necessary for a person to act as a truly independent citizen. So Jackson’s policies must have been pretty egregious for them to spawn an entire new political party. What did he actually do as president? Well, let’s go to the Thought Bubble. Let’s start with Nullification. So, in 1828, Congress passed the Tariff of 1828 because they were not yet in the habit of marketing their bills via naming them with funny acronyms. Jackson supported this in spite of the fact that it benefitted manufacturers. The tariff raised prices on imported manufactured goods made of wool and iron, which enraged South Carolina because they’d put all their money into slavery and none into industry. Unlike northerners, who could avoid the higher prices by manufacturing sweaters and pants and such at home, South Carolinians would have to pay more. They were so angry at this “Tariff of Abominations” that the South Carolina legislature threatened to nullify it. Jackson didn’t take kindly to this affront to federal power, but South Carolina persisted, and when Congress passed a new tariff in 1832 – one that actually lowered the duties -- the Palmetto State’s government nullified it. Jackson responded by getting Congress to pass the Force Act, which authorized him to use the army and navy to collect taxes. A full blown crisis was averted when Congress passed a new tariff in 1833 and South Carolina relented. This smelled a bit of dictatorship – armed tax collectors and all – and helped to cement Jackson’s reputation as a tyrant, at least among the Whigs. And then we have the Native Americans, much of Jackson’s reputation there was based on killing them, so it’s no surprise that he supported southern states’ efforts to appropriate Indian lands and make the Indians move. This support was formalized in the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which Jackson supported. The law provided funds to re-locate the Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Creek and Seminole Indians from their homes in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama. In response, these tribes adopted a novel approach, and sued the government. And then, the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia’s actions in removing the Cherokees violated their treaties with the federal government and that they had a right to their land. To which Jackson supposedly responded by saying, “John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it.” So, Jackson set the stage for the forced removal of the Cherokees from Georgia to Oklahoma, but it actually took place in the winter of 1838-1839 under Jackson’s successor Van Buren. At least ¼ of the 18,000 Indians died during the forced march that came to be known as the Trail of Tears. Boy, Thought Bubble, you do know how to end on a downer. But, thank you. But Andrew Jackson also changed our banking system. Just as today, banks were very important to the industrial and mercantile development of the U.S. And at the beginning of Jackson’s Presidency, American banking was dominated by the Second National Bank, which you’ll remember, had been established by Congress as part of the American system. Oh it’s time for the Mystery Document? The rules here are simple. When I inevitably fail to guess the author of the Mystery Document, I get shocked with the shock pen. “The powers, privileges, and favors bestowed upon it in the original charter, by increasing the value of the stock far above its par value operated as a gratuity of many millions to its stockholders … Every monopoly and all exclusive privileges are granted at the expense of the public which ought to receive a fair equivalent. The many millions which this act proposes to bestow on the stockholders of the existing bank must come directly or indirectly out of the earnings of the American people … Stan, I know this one! Is it not conceivable. It is not conceivable how the present stockholders can have any claim to the special favor of Government. Should [the bank’s] influence become concentrated, as it may under the operation of such an act as this, in the hands of a self-elected directory … will there not be cause to tremble for the purity of our elections[?]” It is Andrew Jackson’s veto of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. YES. So in 1832 bank leader Nicholas Biddle persuaded Congress to pass a bill extending the life of the Second US Bank for 20 years. Jackson thought that the Bank would use its money to oppose his reelection in 1836, so he vetoed that bill. In fact, the reason I knew that was from the veto message is because it talks about the bank as an instrument to subvert democracy. Jackson set himself up as a defender of the lower classes by vetoing the bank’s charter. Now, Whigs took exception to the idea that the president was somehow a more democratic representative of the people than the legislature, but in the end Jackson’s view won out. He used the veto power more than any prior president, turning it into a powerful tool of policy. Which it remains to this day, by the way. So the Second Bank of the U.S. expired in 1836, which meant that suddenly we had no central institution with which to control federal funds. Jackson ordered that money should be disbursed into local banks, unsurprisingly preferencing ones that were friendly to him. These so-called “pet banks” were another version of rewarding political supporters that Jackson liked to call “rotation in office.” Opponents called this tactic of awarding government offices to political favorites the spoils system. Anyway, these smaller banks proceeded to print more and more paper money because, you know, free money. Like, between 1833 and 1837 the face value of banknotes in circulation rose from $10 million to $149 million, and that meant inflation. Initially, states loved all this new money that they could use to finance internal improvements. But, inflation is really bad for wage workers. And also, eventually, everyone. So all this out-of-control inflation, coupled with rampant land-speculation eventually lead to an economic collapse, the Panic of 1837. The subsequent depression lasted until 1843. And Jackson’s bank policy proved to be arguably the most disastrous fiscal policy in American history, which is really saying something. It also had a major effect on American politics because business-oriented Democrats became Whigs, and the remaining Democrats further aligned with agrarian interests, which meant slavery. So the Age of Jackson was more democratic than anything that came before and it gave us the beginnings of modern American politics. I mean, Jackson was the first president to really expand executive power and to argue that the president is the most important democratically elected official in the country. One of the things that makes Andrew Jackson’s presidency so interesting and also so problematic is that he was elected via a more democratic process, but he concentrated more power in the executive in a thoroughly undemocratic way. In the end, Andrew Jackson probably was the worst American president to end up on currency, particularly given his disastrous fiscal policies. But the Age of Jackson is still important. And it’s worth remembering that all that stuff in American politics started out with the expansion of democracy. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week. Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. The script supervisor is Meredith Danko. Our associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my high school history teacher, Raoul Meyer, and myself. And our graphics team is Thought Cafe. If you have libertage caption suggestions, please leave them in comments, where you can also leave questions about today’s video that will be answered by our team of historians. Thanks for watching Crash Course and as we say in my hometown, don’t forget to be awesome...WHAT.



General principles

William S. Belko in 2015 summarizes "the core concepts underlying Jacksonian Democracy" as:

equal protection of the laws; an aversion to a moneyed aristocracy, exclusive privileges, and monopolies, and a predilection for the common man; majority rule; and the welfare of the community over the individual.[5]

Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., in 1945 argues Jacksonian democracy was built on the following:[6]

  • Expanded suffrage – The Jacksonians believed that voting rights should be extended to all white men. By the end of the 1820s, attitudes and state laws had shifted in favor of universal white male suffrage[7] and by 1856 all requirements to own property and nearly all requirements to pay taxes had been dropped.[8][9]
  • Manifest destiny – This was the belief that Americans had a destiny to settle the American West and to expand control from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and that the West should be settled by yeoman farmers. However, the Free Soil Jacksonians, notably Martin Van Buren, argued for limitations on slavery in the new areas to enable the poor white man to flourishthey split with the main party briefly in 1848. The Whigs generally opposed Manifest Destiny and expansion, saying the nation should build up its cities.[10]
  • Patronage – Also known as the spoils system, patronage was the policy of placing political supporters into appointed offices. Many Jacksonians held the view that rotating political appointees in and out of office was not only the right, but also the duty of winners in political contests. Patronage was theorized to be good because it would encourage political participation by the common man and because it would make a politician more accountable for poor government service by his appointees. Jacksonians also held that long tenure in the civil service was corrupting, so civil servants should be rotated out of office at regular intervals. However, patronage often led to the hiring of incompetent and sometimes corrupt officials due to the emphasis on party loyalty above any other qualifications.[11]
  • Strict constructionism – Like the Jeffersonians who strongly believed in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jacksonians initially favored a federal government of limited powers. Jackson said that he would guard against "all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State sovereignty". However, he was not a states' rights extremistindeed, the Nullification Crisis would find Jackson fighting against what he perceived as state encroachments on the proper sphere of federal influence. This position was one basis for the Jacksonians' opposition to the Second Bank of the United States. As the Jacksonians consolidated power, they more often advocated expanding federal power, presidential power in particular.[12]
  • Laissez-faire – Complementing a strict construction of the Constitution, the Jacksonians generally favored a hands-off approach to the economy as opposed to the Whig program sponsoring modernization, railroads, banking and economic growth.[13][14] The chief spokesman amongst laissez-faire advocates was William Leggett of the Locofocos in New York City.[15][16]
  • Opposition to banking – In particular, the Jacksonians opposed government-granted monopolies to banks, especially the national bank, a central bank known as the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson said: "The bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!" and he did so.[17] The Whigs, who strongly supported the Bank, were led by Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and Nicholas Biddle, the bank chairman.[18] Jackson himself was opposed to all banks because he believed they were devices to cheat common peoplehe and many followers believed that only gold and silver should be used to back currency, rather than the integrity of a bank.
Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully (1824)
Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully (1824)

Election by the "common man"

An important movement in the period from 1800 to 1830—before the Jacksonians were organized—was the gradual expansion of the right to vote from only property owning men to include all white men over 21.[19] Older states with property restrictions dropped them, namely all but Rhode Island, Virginia and North Carolina by the mid 1820s. No new states had property qualifications although three had adopted tax-paying qualifications—Ohio, Louisiana and Mississippi, of which only in Louisiana were these significant and long lasting.[20] The process was peaceful and widely supported, except in the state of Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, the Dorr Rebellion of the 1840s demonstrated that the demand for equal suffrage was broad and strong, although the subsequent reform included a significant property requirement for any resident born outside of the United States. However, free black men lost voting rights in several states during this period.[21]

The fact that a man was now legally allowed to vote did not necessarily mean he routinely voted. He had to be pulled to the polls, which became the most important role of the local parties. They systematically sought out potential voters and brought them to the polls. Voter turnout soared during the 1830s, reaching about 80% of adult male population in the 1840 presidential election.[22] Tax-paying qualifications remained in only five states by 1860 – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina.[23]

One innovative strategy for increasing voter participation and input was developed outside the Jacksonian camp. Prior to the presidential election of 1832, the Anti-Masonic Party conducted the nation's first presidential nominating convention. Held in Baltimore, Maryland, September 26–28, 1831, it transformed the process by which political parties select their presidential and vice-presidential candidates.[24]


The period from 1824 to 1832 was politically chaotic. The Federalist Party and the First Party System were dead and with no effective opposition, the old Democratic-Republican Party withered away. Every state had numerous political factions, but they did not cross state lines. Political coalitions formed and dissolved and politicians moved in and out of alliances.[25]

Most former Republicans supported Jackson, while others such as Henry Clay opposed him. Most former Federalists, such as Daniel Webster, opposed Jackson, although some like James Buchanan supported him. In 1828, John Quincy Adams pulled together a network of factions called the National Republicans, but he was defeated by Jackson. By the late 1830s, the Jacksonian Democrats and the Whigs politically battled it out nationally and in every state.[26]

Formed the Democratic Party

Jacksonian democracy

1837 cartoon plays on "Jackson" and "jackass", showing the Democratic Party as a donkey, which remains its cartoon symbol into the 21st century
1837 cartoon plays on "Jackson" and "jackass", showing the Democratic Party as a donkey, which remains its cartoon symbol into the 21st century

The spirit of Jacksonian democracy animated the party from the early 1830s to the 1850s, shaping the era, with the Whig Party the main opposition.[27] The new Democratic Party became a coalition of poor farmers, city-dwelling laborers and Irish Catholics.[28]

The new party was pulled together by Martin Van Buren in 1828 as Jackson crusaded against the corruption of President John Quincy Adams. The new party (which did not get the name Democrats until 1834) swept to a landslide. As Mary Beth Norton explains regarding 1828:

Jacksonians believed the people's will had finally prevailed. Through a lavishly financed coalition of state parties, political leaders, and newspaper editors, a popular movement had elected the president. The Democrats became the nation's first well-organized national party.[29]

The platforms, speeches and editorials were founded upon a broad consensus among Democrats. As Norton et al. explain:

The Democrats represented a wide range of views but shared a fundamental commitment to the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian society. They viewed a central government as the enemy of individual liberty and they believed that government intervention in the economy benefited special-interest groups and created corporate monopolies that favored the rich. They sought to restore the independence of the individual—the artisan and the ordinary farmer—by ending federal support of banks and corporations and restricting the use of paper currency.[30]

Jackson vetoed more legislation than all previous presidents combined. The long-term effect was to create the modern strong presidency.[31] Jackson and his supporters also opposed reform as a movement. Reformers eager to turn their programs into legislation called for a more active government. However, Democrats tended to oppose programs like educational reform and the establishment of a public education system. For instance, they believed that public schools restricted individual liberty by interfering with parental responsibility and undermined freedom of religion by replacing church schools.

Jackson looked at the Indian question in terms of military and legal policy, not as a problem due to their race.[32] In 1813, Jackson adopted and treated as his own son a three-year-old Indian orphan—seeing in him a fellow orphan that was "so much like myself I feel an unusual sympathy for him".[33] In legal terms, when it became a matter of state sovereignty versus tribal sovereignty he went with the states and forced the Indians to fresh lands with no white rivals in what became known as the Trail of Tears.

Among the leading followers was Stephen A. Douglas, senator from Illinois, who was the key player in the passage of the compromise of 1850, and was a leading contender for the 1852 Democratic presidential nomination. According to his biographer Robert W. Johanssen:

Douglas was preeminently a Jacksonian, and his adherence to the tenants of what became known as Jacksonian democracy grew as his own career developed. ... Popular rule, or what he called would later call popular sovereignty, lay at the base of his political structure. Like most Jacksonians, Douglas believed that the people spoke through the majority, that the majority will was the expression of the popular will.[34]


A Democratic cartoon from 1833 shows Jackson destroying the Bank with his "Order for the Removal", to the annoyance of Bank President Nicholas Biddle, shown as the Devil himself. Numerous politicians and editors who were given favorable loans from the Bank run for cover as the financial temple crashes down. A famous fictional character Major Jack Downing (right) cheers: "Hurrah! Gineral!"
A Democratic cartoon from 1833 shows Jackson destroying the Bank with his "Order for the Removal", to the annoyance of Bank President Nicholas Biddle, shown as the Devil himself. Numerous politicians and editors who were given favorable loans from the Bank run for cover as the financial temple crashes down. A famous fictional character Major Jack Downing (right) cheers: "Hurrah! Gineral!"

Jackson fulfilled his promise of broadening the influence of the citizenry in government, although not without vehement controversy over his methods.[35]

Jacksonian policies included ending the bank of the United States, expanding westward and removing American Indians from the Southeast. Jackson was denounced as a tyrant by opponents on both ends of the political spectrum such as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. This led to the rise of the Whig Party.

Jackson created a spoils system to clear out elected officials in government of an opposing party and replace them with his supporters as a reward for their electioneering. With Congress controlled by his enemies, Jackson relied heavily on the power of the veto to block their moves.

One of the most important of these was the Maysville Road veto in 1830. A part of Clay's American System, the bill would have allowed for federal funding of a project to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky, Clay's home state. His primary objection was based on the local nature of the project. He argued it was not the federal government's job to fund projects of such a local nature and or those lacking a connection to the nation as a whole. The debates in Congress reflected two competing visions of federalism. The Jacksonians saw the union strictly as the cooperative aggregation of the individual states, while the Whigs saw the entire nation as a distinct entity.[36]

Carl Lane argues "securing national debt freedom was a core element of Jacksonian democracy." Paying off the national debt was a high priority which would make a reality of the Jeffersonian vision of America truly free from rich bankers, self-sufficient in world affairs, virtuous at home, and administered by a small government not prone to financial corruption or payoffs.[37]

What became of Jacksonian Democracy, according to Sean Wilentz was diffusion. Many ex-Jacksonians turned their crusade against the Money Power into one against the Slave Power and became Republicans. He points to the struggle over the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, the Free Soil Party revolt of 1848, and the mass defections from the Democrats in 1854 over the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Others Jacksonian leaders such as Chief Justice Roger B. Taney endorsed slavery through the 1857 Dred Scott decision. Southern Jacksonians overwhelmingly endorsed secession in 1861, apart from a few opponents led by Andrew Johnson. In the North, Jacksonians Stephen A. Douglas and the War Democrats fiercely opposed secession, while Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and the Copperheads did not.[38]

Jacksonian Presidents

In addition to Jackson, his second Vice President and one of the key organizational leaders of the Jacksonian Democratic Party, Martin Van Buren, served as President. Van Buren was defeated in the next election by William Henry Harrison. Harrison died just 30 days into his term and his Vice President John Tyler quickly reached accommodation with the Jacksonians. Tyler was then succeeded by James K. Polk, a Jacksonian who won the election of 1844 with Jackson's endorsement.[39] Franklin Pierce had been a supporter of Jackson as well. James Buchanan served in Jackson's administration as Minister to Russia and as Polk's Secretary of State, but he did not pursue Jacksonian policies. Finally, Andrew Johnson, who had been a strong supporter of Jackson, became President following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, but by then Jacksonian democracy had been pushed off the stage of American politics.

See also


  1. ^ The Providence (Rhode Island) Patriot 25 Aug 1839 stated: "The state of things in quite as favorable to the cause of Jacksonian democracy." cited in "Jacksonian democracy", Oxford English Dictionary (2019)
  2. ^ Engerman, pp. 15, 36. "These figures suggest that by 1820 more than half of adult white males were casting votes, except in those states that still retained property requirements or substantial tax requirements for the franchise – Virginia, Rhode Island (the two states that maintained property restrictions through 1840), and New York as well as Louisiana."
  3. ^ Warren, Mark E. (1999). Democracy and Trust. Cambridge University Press. pp. 166–. ISBN 9780521646871.
  4. ^ Robert V. Remini (2011). The Life of Andrew Jackson. HarperCollins. p. 307. ISBN 9780062116635.
  5. ^ William S. Belko, "'A Tax On The Many, To Enrich A Few': Jacksonian Democracy Vs. The Protective Tariff." Journal of the History of Economic Thought 37.2 (2015): 277-289.
  6. ^ Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (1945)
  7. ^ Engerman, p. 14. "Property- or tax-based qualifications were most strongly entrenched in the original thirteen states, and dramatic political battles took place at a series of prominent state constitutional conventions held during the late 1810s and 1820s."
  8. ^ Engerman, pp. 16, 35. "By 1840, only three states retained a property qualification, North Carolina (for some state-wide offices only), Rhode Island, and Virginia. In 1856 North Carolina was the last state to end the practice. Tax-paying qualifications were also gone in all but a few states by the Civil War, but they survived into the 20th century in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island."
  9. ^ Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2nd ed. 2009) p 29
  10. ^ David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Manifest Destiny (Greenwood Press, 2003).
  11. ^ M. Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Party System in the United States (1910)
  12. ^ Forrest McDonald, States' Rights and the Union: Imperium in Imperio, 1776–1876 (2002) pp 97-120
  13. ^ William Trimble, "The social philosophy of the Loco-Foco democracy." American Journal of Sociology 26.6 (1921): 705-715. in JSTOR
  14. ^ Louis Hartz, Economic Policy and Democratic Thought: Pennsylvania, 1776–1860 (1948)
  15. ^ Richard Hofstadter, "William Leggett, Spokesman of Jacksonian Democracy." Political Science Quarterly 58.4 (1943): 581-594. in JSTOR.
  16. ^ Lawrence H. White, "William Leggett: Jacksonian editorialist as classical liberal political economist." History of Political Economy 18.2 (1986): 307-324.
  17. ^ Melvin I. Urofsky (2000). The American Presidents: Critical Essays. Taylor & Francis. p. 106. ISBN 9780203008805.
  18. ^ Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War (1957)
  19. ^ Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2009) ch 2
  20. ^ Engerman, p. 8–9
  21. ^ Murrin, John M.; Johnson, Paul E.; McPherson, James M.; Fahs, Alice; Gerstle, Gary (2012). Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People (6th ed.). Wadsworth, Cengage Learning. p. 296. ISBN 978-0-495-90499-1.
  22. ^ William G. Shade, "The Second Party System". in Paul Kleppner, et al. Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983) pp 77-111
  23. ^ Engerman, p. 35. Table 1
  24. ^ William Preston Vaughn, The Anti-Masonic Party in the United States: 1826–1843 (2009)
  25. ^ Richard P. McCormick, The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era (1966).
  26. ^ Michael F. Holt, Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln (1992).
  27. ^ Lee Benson in 1957 dated the era from 1827 to 1853, with 1854 as the start of a new era. Lee Benson (2015). The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case. p. 128. ISBN 9781400867264.
  28. ^ Sean Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2005).
  29. ^ Mary Beth Norton; et al. (2014). A People and a Nation, Volume I: to 1877. Cengage Learning. p. 348. ISBN 9781285974675.
  30. ^ Mary Beth Norton; et al. (2007). A People and a Nation: A History of the United States, Volume I: To 1877. Cengage Learning. p. 327. ISBN 978-0618947164.
  31. ^ John Yoo, "Andrew Jackson and Presidential Power." Charleston Law Review 2 (2007): 521+ online.
  32. ^ Prucha, Francis Paul (1969). "Andrew Jackson's Indian policy: a reassessment". Journal of American History. 56 (3): 527–539. doi:10.2307/1904204. JSTOR 1904204.
  33. ^ Michael Paul Rogin (1991). Fathers and Children: Andrew Jackson and the Subjugation of the American Indian. Transaction Publishers. p. 189. ISBN 9781412823470.
  34. ^ Robert Walter Johannsen (1973). Stephen A. Douglas. University of Illinois Press. p. 137. ISBN 9780252066351.
  35. ^ Donald B. Cole, The Presidency of Andrew Jackson (1993)
  36. ^ Wulf, Naomi (2001). "'The Greatest General Good': Road Construction, National Interest, and Federal Funding in Jacksonian America". European Contributions to American Studies. 47: 53–72.
  37. ^ Carl Lane, "The elimination of the national debt in 1835 and the meaning of Jacksonian democracy." Essays in Economic & Business History 25 (2012) pp. 67-78.
  38. ^ Sean Wilentz, "Politics, Irony, and the Rise of American Democracy." Journal of The Historical Society 6.4 (2006): 537-553, at p. 538, summarizing his book The rise of American democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln (2006).
  39. ^ "James K. Polk: Life in Brief". Miller Center. Archived from the original on June 13, 2016. Retrieved June 16, 2016.

References and bibliography

  • Adams, Sean Patrick, ed. A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson (2013). table of contents
  • Altschuler, Glenn C.; Blumin, Stuart M. (1997). "Limits of Political Engagement in Antebellum America: A New Look at the Golden Age of Participatory Democracy". Journal of American History. Organization of American Historians. 84 (3): 855–885 [p. 878–879]. doi:10.2307/2953083. JSTOR 2953083.
  • Baker, Jean (1983). Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press. ISBN 978-0-585-12533-6.
  • Benson, Lee (1961). The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 978-0-691-00572-0. OCLC 21378753.
  • Bugg, James L., Jr. (1952). Jacksonian Democracy: Myth or Reality?. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Short essays.
  • Cave, Alfred A. (1964). Jacksonian Democracy and the Historians. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press.
    • Cave, Alfred A. "The Jacksonian movement in American historiography" (PhD, U Florida, 1961) online free; 258pp; bibliog pp 240–58
  • Cheathem, Mark R. (2011). "Andrew Jackson, Slavery, and Historians" (PDF). History Compass. 9 (4): 326–338. doi:10.1111/j.1478-0542.2011.00763.x.
  • Cheathem, Mark R. and Terry Corps, eds. Historical Dictionary of the Jacksonian Era and Manifest Destiny (2nd ed. 2016), 544pp
  • Cole, Donald B. (1984). Martin Van Buren And The American Political System. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-04715-7.
  • Cole, Donald B. (1970). Jacksonian Democracy in New Hampshire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-46990-7. Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Engerman, Stanley L.; Sokoloff, Kenneth L. (2005). "The Evolution of Suffrage Institutions in the New World" (PDF): 14–16.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1971). The Birth of Mass Political Parties: Michigan, 1827-1861. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-04605-1. Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1983). The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1790s-1840s. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-503124-9. Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1999). "The 'Party Period' Revisited". Journal of American History. Organization of American Historians. 86 (1): 93–120. doi:10.2307/2567408. JSTOR 2567408.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1969). "Political Character, Antipartyism, and the Second Party System". American Quarterly. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 21 (4): 683–709. doi:10.2307/2711603. JSTOR 2711603.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1974). "Deferential-Participant Politics: The Early Republic's Political Culture, 1789-1840". American Political Science Review. American Political Science Association. 68 (2): 473–487. doi:10.2307/1959497. JSTOR 1959497.
  • Hammond, Bray (1958). Andrew Jackson's Battle with the "Money Power". American Heritage. summary of Chapter 8, an excerpt from his Pulitzer-prize-winning Banks and Politics in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War (1954).
  • Hofstadter, Richard (1948). The American Political Tradition. Chapter on AJ.
  • Hofstadter, Richard. "William Leggett: Spokesman of Jacksonian Democracy." Political Science Quarterly 58#4 (December 1943): 581-94. in JSTOR
  • Hofstadter, Richard (1969). The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840.
  • Holt, Michael F. (1999). The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505544-3.
  • Holt, Michael F. (1992). Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8071-1728-6.
  • Howe, Daniel Walker. What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (Oxford History of the United States) (2009), Pulitzer Prize; surveys era from ant-Jacksonain perspective
  • Howe, Daniel Walker (1991). "The Evangelical Movement and Political Culture during the Second Party System". Journal of American History. Organization of American Historians. 77 (4): 1216–1239. doi:10.2307/2078260. JSTOR 2078260.
  • Kohl, Lawrence Frederick (1989). The Politics of Individualism: Parties and the American Character in the Jacksonian Era. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-505374-6.
  • Kruman, Marc W. (1992). "The Second American Party System and the Transformation of Revolutionary Republicanism". Journal of the Early Republic. Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. 12 (4): 509–537. doi:10.2307/3123876. JSTOR 3123876.
  • Lane, Carl. "The Elimination of the National Debt in 1835 and the Meaning Of Jacksonian Democracy." Essays in Economic & Business History 25 (2007). online
  • McCormick, Richard L. (1986). The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the Progressive Era. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-503860-6.
  • McCormick, Richard P. (1966). The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Influential state-by-state study.
  • McKnight, Brian D., and James S. Humphreys, eds. The Age of Andrew Jackson: Interpreting American History (Kent State University Press; 2012) 156 pages; historiography
  • Mayo, Edward L. (1979). "Republicanism, Antipartyism, and Jacksonian Party Politics: A View from the Nation's Capitol". American Quarterly. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 31 (1): 3–20. doi:10.2307/2712484. JSTOR 2712484.
  • Marshall, Lynn (1967). "The Strange Stillbirth of the Whig Party". American Historical Review. American Historical Association. 72 (2): 445–468. doi:10.2307/1859236. JSTOR 1859236.
  • Myers, Marvin (1957). The Jacksonian Persuasion: Politics and Belief. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
  • Pessen, Edward (1978). Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics.
  • Pessen, Edward (1977). The Many-Faceted Jacksonian Era: New Interpretations. Important scholarly articles.
  • Remini, Robert V. (1998). The Life of Andrew Jackson. Abridgment of Remini's 3-volume biography.
  • Remini, Robert V. (1959). Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party.
  • Rowland, Thomas J. Franklin B. Pierce: The Twilight of Jacksonian Democracy (Nova Science Publisher's, 2012).
  • Sellers, Charles (1991). The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846. Influential reinterpretation
  • Shade, William G. "Politics and Parties in Jacksonian America," Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 110, No. 4 (October 1986), pp. 483–507 online
  • Shade, William G. (1983). "The Second Party System". In Kleppner, Paul; et al. (eds.). Evolution of American Electoral Systems. Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr (1945). The Age of Jackson. Boston: Little, Brown & Company. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History.
  • Sellers, Charles (1958). "Andrew Jackson Versus the Historians". Mississippi Valley Historical Review. Organization of American Historians. 44 (4): 615–634. doi:10.2307/1886599. JSTOR 1886599.
  • Sharp, James Roger (1970). The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837. Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Silbey, Joel H. (1991). The American Political Nation, 1838-1893.
  • Silbey, Joel H. (1973). Political Ideology and Voting Behavior in the Age of Jackson.
  • Simeone, James. "Reassessing Jacksonian Political Culture: William Leggett's Egalitarianism." American Political Thought 4#3 (2015): 359-390. in JSTOR
  • Syrett, Harold C. (1953). Andrew Jackson: His Contribution to the American Tradition.
  • Taylor, George Rogers (1949). Jackson Versus Biddle: The Struggle over the Second Bank of the United States. Excerpts from primary and secondary sources.
  • Van Deusen, Glyndon G. (1963). The Jacksonian Era: 1828-1848. Standard scholarly survey.
  • Wallace, Michael (1968). "Changing Concepts of Party in the United States: New York, 1815-1828". American Historical Review. American Historical Association. 74 (2): 453–491. doi:10.2307/1853673. JSTOR 1853673.
  • Ward, John William (1962). Andrew Jackson, Symbol for an Age.
  • Wellman, Judith. Grassroots Reform in the Burned-over District of Upstate New York: Religion, Abolitionism, and Democracy (Routledge, 2014).
  • Wilentz, Sean (1982). "On Class and Politics in Jacksonian America". Reviews in American History. The Johns Hopkins University Press. 10 (4): 45–63. doi:10.2307/2701818. JSTOR 2701818.
  • Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln. Highly detailed scholarly synthesis.
  • Wilson, Major L. (1974). Space, Time, and Freedom: The Quest for Nationality and the Irrepressible Conflict, 1815-1861. Intellectual history of Whigs and Democrats.

Primary sources

  • Blau, Joseph L., ed. Social Theories of Jacksonian Democracy: Representative Writings of the Period 1825–1850 (1954) online edition
  • Eaton, Clement ed. The Leaven of Democracy: The Growth of the Democratic Spirit in the Time of Jackson (1963) online edition

External links

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