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Andrew Jackson DBQ

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Andrew Jackson DBQ
Andrew Jackson DBQ
Sean Clinton Jacksonian Democrats were not the "Guardians of Democracy" that they claimed to be, rather, they were much more guardians of their own sectional interests, and arguably Andrew Jackson's inflated ego. Jacksonians were skilled at emotionalizing issues and rallying the support of the South and West. Their primary goals were not Constitutional justice and individual liberty, but instead they strived to suppress New England, the Whig party, and business interests and to preserve States’ rights.
Andrew Jackson (despite allegations to the contrary by South Carolina and Tennessee) was born in North Carolina and grew up a son of the frontier. The hero of the Battle of New Orleans and a proven hothead (he blatantly disobeyed orders and hanged a few of the enemy in the Seminole War), Jackson was also not what one would call an intellectual. It was the emotionalizing of campaign issues that got him elected in 1828 over a superior statesman, President John Q. Adams. Through an over-emotionalized revivalist campaign style, Jackson's camp brought the common man out of the backwoods and into the voting booth. (Records show that voter participation rose dramatically through the Jackson era). By exploiting the class difference between the urban Eastern industrialists and the South and Western agrarian, Jackson's aides turned "Old Hickory" into a symbol for the fight against the upper class and intellectualism. From this point on, it mattered little what Jackson did as President, as long as it was perceived as the will of the common man.
The Bank of the United States, under the direction of Nicholas Biddle, had, to an extent, become an agent by which wealthy Northern merchants filled their money bags. However, the same could not be said for the well-being of Western speculators who, had borrowed a great deal of money and now, in the late 1820s, were feeling the crunch of leveling-off land prices. Due to the fact that the Bank did not benefit Jackson's constituency (and also because of a personal dislike for "Czar" Biddle), Jackson vetoed the bill for a Recharter of the Bank, proclaiming that it was in the "hands of a few men irresponsible to the people." He of course meant the common individual. Jackson’s animosity toward the Recharter is illustrated in document B, where he writes in his veto message about the problems and one-sidedness of the bank. However, intellectuals like Daniel Webster saw through this exploitation of industry/agrarian conflict. Webster's reply in Document C shames Jackson for turning a political issue into an emotional dilemma. (It should be noted, in fairness to Andrew Jackson, that Webster owed several thousand dollars to the U.S. Bank). Still, Jackson claimed to be protecting the rights of individuals, instead of the interests of Western speculators. In document H, Roger B. Taney's decision (Taney was a Southerner and a Jacksonian) in the 1837 Charles River Bridge case, business was overruled by the rights of the community and the individual, or was it? Taney's decision actually set a precedent for a State's right to intervene in commerce, though it claimed to support the individual's liberty.
At times, however, it was Jackson's ego and not sectional favoritism that drove “Jacksonian Democracy”.
When Chief Justice John Marshall (a Federalist) ruled that the Cherokee nation had a right to its territory, Jackson declared, "Justice Marshall has made his decision now let him enforce it." Jackson claimed that the "common man" wanted the Indians removed and promptly sent the Cherokee down the "Trail of Tears" to Oklahoma as depicted in document G. The move was actually fueled by Jackson's dislike for Marshall and his feeling that the Executive branch superseded the Court.
Another portrayal is when Jackson vetoed the Maysville Road project in Kentucky, claiming that the Constitution mandated internal improvements in intra-state areas be the responsibility of local government. He declined to mention that the road ran through the home district of his arch rival, Whig Speaker of the House, Henry Clay. In truth, “Jacksonian Democracy” did not protect individual rights, as evidenced by the mistreatment of blacks, Indians, and immigrants. Although Jackson and most Jacksonians were slaveholders, when Jackson's individual pride was damaged by the nullification crisis of 1832 (Jackson resented upstart South Carolina and John C. Calhoun, due to the Eaton affair), he had to show that he was neither pro-slavery nor an abolitionist. The Cherokees were brutally mistreated due to Jackson's removal policy. Irish immigrants were often the victims of big city riots in the East, which Andrew Jackson did nothing to prevent. These injustices were usually concealed from visitors like Harriet Martineau, who, in document D, praises the United States for having what appeared to be one of, if not the best, society she had ever seen.
In conclusion, Jacksonian Democracy did little for individual liberty and constitutional justice. Rather, it usurped these ideas for its own purposes. Jackson's ego dictated policy, as did the needs of the South and West. Several examples of suppressed individual freedom occurred. Jacksonians were more the protectors of self-interest, than the guardians of Democracy.

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