Jacksonian Democracy

Topics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren Pages: 18 (4782 words) Published: December 23, 2012

I - “Democratizing” Politics

-Jackson’s inauguration symbolized the triumph of “democracy”
-the achievement of place and station by “the common man”
-Jackson felt that everyone was as competent and politically important as his neighbor
-difference between Jeffersonian democracy and Jacksonian was more of attitude than of practice
-Jefferson believed that ordinary citizens could be educated to determine right from wrong,
Jackson insisted that they knew what was right by instinct
-by the time of Jackson the “common man” gloried in ordinariness and made mediocrity a virtue
-The Founders believed that the superior man would always lead and that people would naturally choose the best
men to manage public affairs
-part of the “democratizing” of politics was when the new western states drew up constitutions that eliminated property qualifications for voting and holding office (public offices were made elective)

-eastern states revised their governments to accomplish the same
-prior to this, presidential candidates were usually chosen by a congressional caucus
-By Jackson’s time only two states (Delaware and South Carolina), still provided for the choice of presidential
electors by the legislature; all others were selected by popular vote
-In 1828 the presidential candidates were put forth by state legislatures, soon after the democratic system of
nomination by nationally party conventions was adopted
-certain social changes reflected a new way of looking at political affairs: 1. disestablishment of churches
2. the beginning of the free-school movement
-interest in adult education
-slow spread of secondary education
3. increase in the number of newspapers
-their concentration on political affairs
-wanted to bring political news to the common man’s attention
-every citizen was equally important and the conviction that all should participate in government
-officeholders stressed that they were representatives as well as leaders
-began to appeal more openly and much more intensively for votes
-as voting became more important so did compensation among candidates
-parties became more powerful institutions that instilled loyalty
-The Election of 1828:
-John Quincy Adams v. Andrew Jackson
-stimulated party formation because instead of several sectional candidates
it pitted two men against each other
-new parties created bureaucracies to keep them running smoothly
-party workers were rewarded with political office when their efforts were successful
-“To the victors belong the spoils” William Macy of New York
-the most effective way to attract the average voter, politicians soon decided, was by flattery

II - 1828: The New Party System in Embryo
-“King Mob”
-It was the battle to succeed Adams that caused the system to develop
-Jackson felt that he had been cheated out of the presidency in the election of 1824
-Jackson relied on his military reputation and on Adams talent for making
enemies also portrayed himself as losing the presidency in 1824 due to the “corrupt bargain”
-he avoided taking stands on issues and on questions where his views might displease people
-political situation was chaotic, one side unable to get support for its policies, and the other unwilling to
adopt policies for fear of losing support
-campaign soon became one of character assassination and lies
-Adams supporters said Jackson was a military tyrant, a drunkard, and a gambler
-Jackson’s wife, Rachel, was accused of being an adulteress
-Jacksonians, now calling themselves Democrats, responded
-accused Adams of supplying the Russian czar with an American virgin
-accused Adams of squandering public money on gambling devices (chess and pool set)
-in the election of 1828 each...
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