Chapter 13 The Rise of a Mass Democracy
Chapter 13 The Rise of Mass Democracy
Beginning in the 1820s, a powerful movement celebrating the common person and promoting the “New Democracy” transformed the earlier elitist character of American politics. The controversial election of the Yankee sophisticate John Quincy Adams in 1824 angered the followers of Andrew Jackson. Jackson’s sweeping presidential victory in 1828 represented the political triumph of the New Democracy, including the spoils-rich political machines that thrived in the new environment. Jackson’s simple, popular ideas and rough-hewn style reinforced the growing belief that any ordinary person could hold public office. The “Tariff of Abominations” and the nullification crisis with South Carolina revealed a growing sectionalism and anxiety about slavery that ran up against Jackson’s fierce nationalism. Jackson exercised the powers of the presidency against his opponents, particularly Calhoun and Clay. He made the Bank of the United States a symbol of evil financial power and killed it after a bitter political fight. Destroying the bank reinforced Jacksonians’ hostility to concentrated and elite-dominated financial power, but also left the United States without any effective financial system. Jackson’s presidency also focused on issues of westward expansion. Pursuing paths of “civilization,” Native Americans of the Southeast engaged in extensive agricultural and educational development. But pressure from white settlers and from the state governments proved overwhelming, and Jackson finally supported the forced removal of all southeastern Indians to Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears.” In Texas, American settlers successfully rebelled against Mexico and declared their independence. Jackson recognized the Texas Republic but, because of the slavery controversy, he refused its application for annexation to the United States. Jackson’s political foes soon formed themselves into the...
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