Jacksonian Democrats: Oppressors of the Common Man

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Keegan Kylstra
12/9/12
APUSH
Darnell

Jacksonian Democrats: Ruthless Oppressors of the Common Man.

There is no doubt that the Jacksonian Democrats changed American history. Their brand of fiery populism increased political participation throughout the nation, with millions of white men voting by the 1840 presidential election, as seen in Grolier’s Presidential Election Results. However as the King Andrew the First cartoon shows, Jacksonian Democrats were in reality, tyrannical opportunists who made decisions based on dogma and populism, ignored the Courts, and curtailed minority rights, ultimately weakening the Constitution. The economic policies of the Jacksonian Democrats were dogmatic rather than realistic, as shown by the Bank charter renewal fight and its aftermath. When the bank charter was put up for renewal in 1832, Congress renewed it overwhelmingly. However Jackson in his Bank Veto Message says the bank was unconstitutional. However in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819 the bank was deemed constitutional as part of the “necessary and proper clause” in the Constitution granting the federal government the power to pass items not explicitly stated in the Constitution if it relates to government functions, as it provided a uniform currency. The bank veto furthered “a general equality of condition amongst the people”, as noted by Alexis Tocqueville. This new “equality of condition”, however, was one of poverty amongst all people. The Distribution Act of 1836 distributed federal surpluses to “pet banks” in the states. This, along with laws such as the Specie Circular, which stipulated all land transactions be paid for in hard currency, caused state banks to default, creating the Panic of 1837. The Jacksonian Democrats’ solution to this problem was the Independent Treasury System, which dried up credit even further, as remaining federal funds were put in dust bins such as Fort Knox. Few settlers could get their hands on hard currency in the first place,...
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