Jacksonian Democrats

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Jacksonian Democrats believed themselves to be representatives of the common people. The Jacksonian Democrats had great success in strengthening political democracy. However, they failed in their self-appointed roles as the guardians of the United States Constitution, individual liberty, and the equality of economic opportunity.

The Jacksonian Democrats fully utilized the executive branch’s outlined powers of the United States Constitution; however, the Jacksonians were the main beneficiaries. Jacksonian Democrats did not sustain three separate and equal branches of government as constitutionally required.

The Jacksonian Democrats emphasis on political democracy by increasing political participation and expanding of the right to vote was one of their greatest successes. In the presidential election of 1824, fewer than 27 percent of adult white males voted. By 1828 the percentage skyrocketed to 58 percent. This expansion in political participation was due to the changes made to voting requirements. Until the 1820s, voting was reserved for white males who either owned property, paid taxes, or both. In the New York Convention of 1821, James Kent and his conservative followers argued that the taxpaying requirement was not enough. However, reformers argued back, citing from the Declaration of Independence, that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” not property, were the main concerns of society. The property requirement for voting was then abolished. Similar restrictions began to dissipate in Ohio and other new western states, which, upon joining the Union, created constitutions that granted all adult white males the right to vote regardless of property ownership and taxpaying.

Because of their racist actions towards the Native Americans (primarily the Cherokee tribe), the Jacksonian Democrats failed in their guardianship of individual liberty. By the1820s and 1830s, the Native Americans were viewed as uncivilized and uncivilizable “savages”...
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