The Tyranny of Andrew Jackson
Andrew Jackson: the common man or the first king of America? He is viewed by history in many different ways, some see him as the man who granted universal white male suffrage, created a more democratic way to elect electoral voters to congress and replaced caucuses with national nominating conventions; and others, who saw past this false representation and saw how in his eight years in office, he vetoed 12 bills, forced Native Americans from their homeland, ignored supreme court decisions and let his personal life affect his presidential decisions. Jackson, as captured in his portrait in the National Portrait gallery was a stern man with a strong sense of self-reliance. And while these qualities can be seen as the prominent characteristics for a good leader, when abused, they could cause unrest throughout a nation. Jackson entered the political office with a hint of vengeance. One of his main goals was to efface Adam’s high-ranking officials, whom he claimed worked against his election using fraud. Long standing bureau chiefs, attorneys, custom and land officers, and federal marshals were losing their jobs to benefactors of Jackson’s campaign at rapid rates because “rotation in office gives the people a sense of sharing in their own government” (Van Deusen 35). Not only were these jobs given to those without experience, but at times the appointee’s were conniving and slimy. The best example of this would be former army comrade Samuel Swartwout. Jackson appointed Swartwout as the collector of the New York City customhouse, where the US government collected almost half of its annual revenue. After a couple years in the job, Swartwout fled with over $1 million dollars, equal to a bit more than $29,850,000 today. (measuringworth.com) (Andrew Jackson: Domestic Affairs). After this debacle among others, the rotation in public service eventually lowered the prestige and rank of government service (Van Deusen 36). Not only did Jackson displace many major jobs in government, but he defied major decisions, earning him the name King Andrew I. Throughout his presidency Jackson vetoed twelve bills, ignored Supreme Court rulings and became the first to enforce the “Pocket Veto.” He ignored the Supreme Court in major cases, brushing them off as if he were omnipotent. While some bills he vetoed were insignificant in today’s world, it is evident that he did not veto many bills for a practical purpose but as an act of revenge or malice. His reactions to minor problems caused an economic scare and nearly a civil war. Following the War of 1812, America was in great debt. We owed money to Britain and the various banknotes distributed by the differing banks caused an influx of inflation. To fix this economic situation, in 1816 President Monroe signed a bill authorizing the Second Bank of the United States to create another place to keep federal funds and create a consistent banknote. The Bank was effective for approximately twenty years, until President Jackson and President of the Bank, Nicholas Biddle, were faced with opposing beliefs. Andrew Jackson, the “common man,” who showed a strong liking for the west, claimed that the bank’s economic power was a threat to the country and the government. On his side were State banks, who felt threatened by the central bank’s influence and western farmers who tended to be jealous of the wealthy Northerners. Nicholas Biddle on the other hand was a sophisticate from Philadelphia. He and his cohorts came from the wealthy North, and all from moneyed families with a lot of political backing and influence. Despite the fact that Biddle’s supporters overrode Jackson’s by 111,090 citizens on a memorial designed to save the bank, he ignored this popular support and vetoed the 1832 recharter from Congress (Second Bank of United States). President Andrew Jackson let his hypocrisy and his personal issues get in the way with the Maysville Road veto. Jackson built part of his...
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