The Politics of Jacksonian America
Hill and Wang, N.Y.
Review written by Richard Foust
Harry L. Watson’s book, “Liberty and Power, The Politics of Jacksonian America”, takes an analytical look at America and her politics during the Age of Jackson. Watson uses the economy and the ideological mindset of the people, to support a powerful argument about the beginning of American political parties and their importance in defining the political direction of the country. Watson argues that economic inequalities caused by the “Market Revolution” and a threat to American liberty caused Americans to organize politically in support of a President that would put the interest of the majority first. The results would be pivotal in American politics and shape how elections were conducted to this day. The end of the War of 1812 brought an end to conflict in America and opened the door for change in the country. Citizens took full advantage of new technology and advances in manufacturing, communication and transportation which made it more profitable to produce agricultural and manufactured goods that could be sold and transported to markets that were previously out of reach. This boosted the economy beyond what had previously been seen in America and profoundly changed the lives of its citizens. Referred to by historians as the “Market Revolution” it injected capitalism into the lives of Americans. Manufacturers replaced skilled workers in favor of the newest machine and farmers turned to commercial agriculture for great profit. However, capitalism did not benefit all. The smaller subsistence farmers who couldn’t compete with the commercial farmers suddenly risked the loss of their farms. Many men found themselves working menial labor jobs that promised no future. While some were getting rich, others were sinking lower. “As a result, competing pulls of relative...