Chapter 13 Essay Questions
The presidential campaign for Andrew Jackson had started early—on February 9, 1825, the day of John Quincy Adams’s controversial election by the House—and it continued noisily for nearly four years. Even before the election of 1828, the temporarily united Republicans of the Era of Good Feelings had split into two camps. One was the National Republicans, with Adams as their standard-bearer. The other was the Democratic-Republicans, with the fiery Jackson heading their ticket. Rallying cries of the Jackson zealots were “Bargain and Corruption,’’ “Huzza for Jackson,’’ and “All Hail Old Hickory.’’ Jacksonites planted hickory poles for their hickory-tough hero; Adamsites adopted the oak as the symbol of their oakenly independent candidate. Jackson’s followers presented their hero as a rough-hewn frontiersman and a stalwart champion of the common man. They denounced Adams as a corrupt aristocrat and argued that the will of the people had been thwarted in 1825 by the backstairs “bargain’’ of Adams and Clay. The only way to right the wrong was to seat Jackson, who would then bring about “reform’’ by sweeping out the “dishonest’’ Adams gang. Much of this talk was political hyperbole. Jackson was no frontier farmer but a wealthy planter. He was born in a log cabin but now lived in a luxurious manor off the labor of his many slaves. And Adams, though perhaps an aristocrat, was far from corrupt. If anything, his puritanical morals were too elevated for the job. Mudslinging reached new lows in 1828, and the electorate developed a taste for bare-knuckle politics. Adams would not stoop to gutter tactics, but many of his backers were less squeamish. They described Jackson’s mother as a prostitute and his wife as an adulteress; they printed black-bordered handbills shaped like coffins, recounting his numerous duels and brawls and trumpeting his hanging of six mutinous militiamen. Jackson men also hit below the belt. President Adams had purchased, with his own money and for his own use, a billiard table and a set of chessmen. In the mouths of rabid Jacksonites, these items became “gaming tables’’ and “gambling furniture’’ for the “presidential palace.’’ Criticism was also directed at the large sums Adams had received over the years in federal salaries, well earned though they had been. He was even accused of having procured a servant girl for the lust of the Russian tsar—in short, of having served as a pimp. On voting day the electorate split on largely sectional lines. Jackson’s strongest support came from the West and South. The middle states and the Old Northwest were divided, while Adams won the backing of his own New England and the propertied “better elements” of the Northeast. But when the popular vote was converted to electoral votes, General Jackson’s triumph could not be denied. Old Hickory had trounced Adams by an electoral count of 178 to 83. Although a considerable part of Jackson’s support was lined up by machine politicians in eastern cities, particularly in New York and Pennsylvania, the political center of gravity clearly had shifted away from the conservative eastern seaboard toward the emerging states across the mountains. 2.
The death of the Bank of the United States left a financial vacuum in the American economy and kicked off a lurching cycle of booms and busts. Surplus federal funds were placed in several dozen state institutions—the so-called “pet banks,” chosen for their pro-Jackson sympathies. Without a sober central bank in control, the pet banks and smaller “wildcat” banks—fly-by-night operations that often consisted of little more than a few chairs and a suitcase full of printed notes—flooded the country with paper money. Jackson tried to rein in the runaway economy in 1836, the year Biddle’s bank breathed its last. “Wildcat” currency had become so unreliable, especially in the West, that Jackson authorized the Treasury to issue a Specie Circular—a decree that required all public...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document