The Revolutionary Age of Andrew Jackson

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The Age of Andrew Jackson was a time of revolution when enormous changes were “shaking and transforming America.” Prominent figures “wrestl[ed] with the nation’s prospects and with each other,” further shaping the people and its democratic government. (Remini, i) Every decision Jackson and his men made in some way or another affected the social, economical, and political aspects of life in the Age of Jackson. Once Andrew Jackson took office, the people immediately embarked on a journey to develop a closer relationship with the government. Though conflicts, many times over particular issues concerning the nation’s practices and patterns, occurred between the President and Congress, Jackson proved to be a “living symbol of the advance of American democracy” and, eventually, Congress seemed to agree. (Remini 27)

The Revolutionary Age of Andrew Jackson is arranged into three parts, or “books”. Each describes events primarily through the accounts of prominent historical figures such as Webster, Clay, and Jackson. The events, spanning from westward expansion to the days of Jackson, are presented chronologically. Book I of The Revolutionary Age of Jackson, titled “A New Age” talks of how “American society itself had changed.” The nation simply “throbbed and pulsed with energy.” People began to believe in equality of opportunity. They believed that “no one should have special privileges… Government must… prevent any one from gaining an advantage over the others.” (Remini, 15) Many issues had also risen, many concerning preserving the Union, slavery, Indian presence, and etc. And “central to all these issues” was Andrew Jackson.

Jackson’s election “marked a new beginning in the relationship between the government and the people” Never had there been such an inauguration of a President. Never before had the “ordinary citizen—the common man—so spontaneously expressed his enthusiasm for a new administration.” (Remini, 33) It already shows that the people and the government were bonding. It was “the beginning of truly popular government in America” and all because of Andrew Jackson and his administration. (Remini, 150)

The Age of Jackson marked the beginning of modern political campaigning. Now the politicians were reaching out to the masses, employing “gimmicks of all kinds to arouse and sustain popular interest in the activities of the party.” (Remini, 50) All the proof needed to argue that popular government had indeed arrived was seen in the constant rise of the number of voters and by looking at the candidates elected into office. To a large extent, popular government emerged because of a small group of men: Martin Van Buren, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Thomas Harton Benton, and John C. Calhoun.

Book II, titled “Issues and Answers”, is where Remini presents his purpose. He presents the many issues of the time—“how to make America truly democratic; how to hold the Union together, when slavery was threatening to tear it apart; what to do with the Indians… how to solve the fierce power struggle between the President and the Congress”—and explains the actions of Jackson and how he changed American life. (Remini, i)

Making America truly democratic began with politics. Jackson believed that government jobs belonged to all and thus supported the principal of rotation to avoid corruption of the office holders. Rotation meant that more people served. And when more people served, there was a more democratic system. “It seemed to the ordinary citizen that the people themselves had finally assumed control of their government.” (Remini, 135) Whether or not a democracy truly came to America can be debated. What matters is that the people believed democracy had come.

When the Civil War drew near, many Americans “wistfully looked back to the Age of Jackson and remembered how their President had guided the country away from secession and its bloody consequence.” (Remini, 84) He exerted notable leadership and had the...
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