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Jacksonian Democracy

Topics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Henry Clay, Nullification Crisis / Pages: 20 (4782 words) / Published: Dec 23rd, 2012

I - “Democratizing” Politics

-Jackson’s inauguration symbolized the triumph of “democracy” -the achievement of place and station by “the common man” -Jackson felt that everyone was as competent and politically important as his neighbor -difference between Jeffersonian democracy and Jacksonian was more of attitude than of practice -Jefferson believed that ordinary citizens could be educated to determine right from wrong, Jackson insisted that they knew what was right by instinct -by the time of Jackson the “common man” gloried in ordinariness and made mediocrity a virtue -The Founders believed that the superior man would always lead and that people would naturally choose the best men to manage public affairs -part of the “democratizing” of politics was when the new western states drew up constitutions that eliminated property qualifications for voting and holding office (public offices were made elective) -eastern states revised their governments to accomplish the same -prior to this, presidential candidates were usually chosen by a congressional caucus -By Jackson’s time only two states (Delaware and South Carolina), still provided for the choice of presidential electors by the legislature; all others were selected by popular vote -In 1828 the presidential candidates were put forth by state legislatures, soon after the democratic system of nomination by nationally party conventions was adopted -certain social changes reflected a new way of looking at political affairs: 1. disestablishment of churches 2. the beginning of the free-school movement -interest in adult education -slow spread of secondary education 3. increase in the number of newspapers -their concentration on political affairs -wanted to bring political news to the common man’s attention -every citizen was equally important and the conviction that all should participate in government -officeholders stressed that they were representatives as well as leaders -began to appeal more openly and much more intensively for votes -as voting became more important so did compensation among candidates -parties became more powerful institutions that instilled loyalty -The Election of 1828: -John Quincy Adams v. Andrew Jackson -stimulated party formation because instead of several sectional candidates it pitted two men against each other -new parties created bureaucracies to keep them running smoothly -party workers were rewarded with political office when their efforts were successful -“To the victors belong the spoils” William Macy of New York -the most effective way to attract the average voter, politicians soon decided, was by flattery

II - 1828: The New Party System in Embryo -“King Mob” -It was the battle to succeed Adams that caused the system to develop -Jackson felt that he had been cheated out of the presidency in the election of 1824 -Jackson relied on his military reputation and on Adams talent for making enemies also portrayed himself as losing the presidency in 1824 due to the “corrupt bargain” -he avoided taking stands on issues and on questions where his views might displease people -political situation was chaotic, one side unable to get support for its policies, and the other unwilling to adopt policies for fear of losing support -campaign soon became one of character assassination and lies -Adams supporters said Jackson was a military tyrant, a drunkard, and a gambler -Jackson’s wife, Rachel, was accused of being an adulteress -Jacksonians, now calling themselves Democrats, responded -accused Adams of supplying the Russian czar with an American virgin -accused Adams of squandering public money on gambling devices (chess and pool set) -in the election of 1828 each candidate received far more votes than all FOUR candidates had received in the election of 1824 -Adams refused to attend the ceremony because Jackson had not paid him the pre-inaugural courtesy to call on Adams at the White House

III - The Jackson Appeal

-Jackson supporters like to cast him as the political heir of Jefferson -his judgment was intuitive yet usually sound -his rages were frequently designed to accomplish some carefully thought out purpose -he stood as the symbol for a movement supported by a new, democratically oriented generation -Jackson put loyalty to old comrades above efficiency when making appointments -distrusted “aristocrats” and all social privilege -he was a man of the people -epitomized many American ideals. Was patriotic, generous to a fault, natural and democratic in manner, was a fighter but a gentleman -Jackson drew support from every section and every social class - symbolized the common man

IV -- The Spoils System

-Jackson took office with the firm intention of punishing the “vile wretches” who had attacked him so viciously during his campaign -new concept of political office as a reward for victory seemed to justify a House-cleaning in Washington -JQ Adams rarely removed or appointed anyone for political reasons, made Jackson’s policy appear revolutionary -his removals were not entirely unjustified for many government workers had grown senile and others corrupt -even Adams admitted that some Jackson dismissed deserved their fate -Jackson advanced another reason for turning experienced government employees out of their jobs: the principle of rotation -by rotating jobs more citizens could participate in the tasks of government and the danger of creating an entrenched bureaucracy wouldbe eliminated -problem was constant replacing of trained workers by novices was not likely to increase the efficiency of the government -contempt for expert knowledge and the belief that ordinary Americans can do anything they set their minds to, became fundamental keys of Jacksonian democracy -Jackson did not practice what he preached -his top appointees were anything but the common man. A majority came from the same social and elite as those they replaced -in general, he left pretty much alone the backbone of every organization

V -- President of All the People

-Jackson was not cynical about the spoils system -he intuitively sought to increase his authority, the idea of making government workers dependent on him excellent sense -except for Martin Van Buren, sec. of state, his Cabinet was not distinguished AND he did not rely on it for advice -Jackson turned to his Kitchen Cabinet for advice -consisted of the influential Van Buren and a few close friends -men were advisors, not directors -Jackson was clearly the master of his own administration therefore the embodiment of national power -he conceived o f himself as the direct representative of all the people and -Jackson vetoed a dozen bills simply because he thought the legislation inexpedient -he had no ambition to expand the scope of federal authority at the expense of thestates -he was a Jeffersonian -favored a “frugal, constitutionally limited national government -he was a poor administrator -pinched pennies and lacked imagination -his strong prejudices and his contempt for expert advice where his ignorance -did the country considerable harm -Jackson’s great success was primarily the result of his personality -he was however, always a leader

VI -- Sectional Tensions Revived

-urged a slight reduction on the tariff and “constitutional” internal improvements -suggested that once the rapidly disappearing federal debt had been paid off, the surplus revenues of the government might be “distributed” among the states -Jackson’s cautious proposals caused conflict -if the federal government turned its expected surplus over to the states, it could not afford to reduce the price of public land without going into the red

-Senator Thomas Hart Benson of Missouri: -suggested to southern opponents of the protective tariff an alliance of the West and South -Southerners argued that a tariff levied only to raise revenue would increase the cost of foreign imports, bring more money into the treasury, and thus make it possible to reduce the price of public land

-Sen. Robert Hayne of South Carolina: -spokesman for VP Calhoun suggested an alliance of South and West based on cheap land and low tariffs

-Daniel Webster rose to the defense of the northeastern interest goading Hayne by accusing SC of advocating disunionist policies -Hayne went on to quote the exposition of the states’ right doctrine -Webster cut Hayne’s argument to shreds. He stated the Constitution was a compact of the American people, not merely of the states. -the Union was perpetual and indissoluble -Webster made the states’ right position appear close to treason -Webster effectively prevented the formation of a West-South alliance and made Webster a presidential candidate

VII --Jackson: “The Bank…..I Will Kill IT!” -in 1832 Jackson was reelected President defeating Henry Clay -the main issue of the Election of 1832 was the president’s determination to destroy the Second Bank of the US -Nicholas Biddle -president of the Bank of the US -talented Philadelphian -was experienced in literature, the law, and diplomacy -realized that his institution could act as a rudimentary central bank -regulating the availability of credit throughout the nation by controlling the lending policies of the state bands -small banks sometimes overextended themselves in making large amounts of bank notes available to borrowers in order to earn interest -by collecting these notes and presenting them for conversion into coin, Biddle could compel the local banks to maintain adequate reserves of gold and silver -make them hold their lending policies within bounds -his policies were good for the Bank of the US -pressure on local bankers to make loans were enormous -everyone wanted to borrow -rural bankers indirectly stimulated farmers to expand their output beyond current demand, which eventually led to a decline in princes in an agricultural depression -Biddle’s policies acted to stabilize the economy, and many interests, including a substantial percentage of state bankers, supported them -distrust of paper money did not disappear, and people who disliked all paper money saw the Bank as merely the largest of many bad institutions -some bankers did not like Biddle’s restraints because by discouraging them from lending freely, he was limiting their profits -few financiers realized what Biddle was trying to accomplish -New York bankers resented the fact that a Philadelphia institution could wield so much power over their affairs -New York was the nations largest importing center and they collected huge amounts of tariff money -but since the money was deposited to the credit of the Bank of the US Biddle controlled it all from Philadelphia -some objected to the Bank because it was a monopoly -had a monopoly on public funds but was managed by a private citizen and controlled by a handful of rich men

VIII -- Jackson’s Bank Veto

-the formidable opposition to the Bank was unorganized until Jackson brought it together -once he did the Bank was quickly destroyed -Jackson was an ignorant enemy of the institution -Henry Clay was supportive of the bank and pushed for renewal -the Bank was the country’s best defense against a speculative mania -Biddle found himself gravitating toward Clay and the new National Republican party -offered advantageous loans and retainers to politicians and newspaper editors in order to build up a following -Jackson declared to Van Buren, “The Bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!” -Clay, Webster, and other prominent National Republicans hoped to use the bank controversy against Jackson -reasoned that the institution was so important to the country that Jackson’s opposition to it would undermine his popularity -Biddle asked Congress to renew the Bank Charter before it expired in 1836 thinking that by pressing the issue before the Election of 1832 they could force Jackson to either approve the re-charter bill or to veto it -Jackson vetoed it explaining why he had rejected the idea -his reasoning became immensely popular -being a good Jeffersonian he insisted that the Bank was unconstitutional, despite the feelings of the Supreme Court -he swore as President to uphold the Constitution as he understood it -felt the bank was inexpedient -most unfortunate aspect of Jackson’s veto was that he could have reformed the Bank instead of destroying it -Jackson set out to smash the Bank of the US without any real idea of what might by put in its place -Shortly after his reelection Jackson decided to withdraw the government funds deposited in its vault which turned out to be his most powerful weapon against the Bank -under the law only the Secretary of the Treasury could remove the deposits -Sec Louis McLane refused to do so believing that the state banks were less safe -Jackson promoted him to “Sec of State” and appointed Wm Duane to the treasury post -however, he failed to ask him his views on the issue -the new secretary agreed with McLane -Duane felt that it would not be prudent to entrust the banks money to local and irresponsible banks -believing that the Cabinet should obey the president Jackson dismissed Duane and replaced him with Attorney

General Roger Taney who had been advising him on the Bank affair -Taney carried out the order and deposited new federal receipts into seven state banks in eastern cities while continuing to meet government expenses with drafts on the Bank of the US -set on winning the Bank war, Jackson lost his fear of paper money -Taney deposited money into the Union Bank of Baltimore where he owned stock -the favored state banks were called “pet” banks -Taney did make sure that the banks were financially sound -favored banks whose directors were sympathetic to it -Taney began to remove the deposits it quickly lost its credit -within 4 months they went from $9,868,000 to $4 mil -Biddle had to press the state banks hard by presenting all their notes and checks that came across his counter for conversion into specie and drastically limiting his own bank’s business loans -paper money became scarce and specie almost unattainable -a series panic threatened -pressure was put on Biddle and he finally reversed his policy and began to lend money freely

IX -- Jackson versus Calhoun

-Webster-Hayne debated had revived discussion of Calhoun’s argument about nullification -Jackson’s attitude towards nullification was to oppose it because of his devotion to the Union -Jackson felt that he had devoted too much of his life to fighting for the entire US to countenance disunion -Jackson stated, “Our Federal Union: It must be preserved.” Calhoun replied, “The Union next to our liberty, most dear!” -Calhoun wanted to be the next president so he accepted the VP under Jackson in the hope of succeeding him at the end of one term -Calhoun was worried because Jackson seemed to place special confidence in Van Buren who also had claim to succession -Jackson and Calhoun became estranged in what became known as the Peggy Eaton scandal -Jackson also discovered that when he invaded Florida in 1818, Calhoun, then Sec. of War, advised Pres. Monroe that Jackson be summoned before a court of inquiry and charged with disobeying orders -Calhoun had repeatedly told Jackson that he had supported him, the revelation convinced Jackson that Calhoun was not a man of honor -Jackson and Calhoun were not far apart ideologically except on the issue of the right of the state to overrule federal authority -Jackson did not believe that the area of national power was large or that it should be expanded -he favored internal improvements but he preferred that local projects be left to the states

X -- Indian Removals

-Jackson took a states’ right position in the controversy that arose between the Cherokee Indians and Georgia -Jackson agreed with Jefferson that the NA were “savage” and “they were incapable of self-government” -ignored the fact that the Cherokee lived settled lives and had governed themselves for years -Cherokee inhabited a region that was coveted by whites because it was suitable for growing cotton -Jackson pursued a policy of removing them from the path of white settlement -he insisted that the receive fair prices for their land and that the government bear the expense of resettling them -believed that moving them west of the Mississippi would protect them -between 1831 and 1833 more than 15,000 Choctaw migrated from Mississippi to Arkansas -the Cherokee sought to hold on to their lands by adjusting to white ways -took up farming and cattle raising, developed a written language, drafted a constitution and tried to establish a state within a state in Georgia -Georgia would not recognize the Cherokee Nation -passed a law in 1828 declaring all Cherokee laws void and the region part of Georgia -Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) -Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the Cherokee were “not a foreign state, in the sense of the Constitution” and therefore could not sue the US -Corn Tassel, Cherokee convicted in a Georgia court of the murder of another NA -appealed on the ground that the crime had taken place in Cherokee Territory -Marshall agreed and declared the Georgia action unconstitutional -Jackson backed Georgia saying that no independent nation could exist within the US -Georgia hanged Corn Tassel -in 1838 after Jackson left office, the US forced 15,000 Cherokee to leave Georgia for Oklahoma -at least 4000 died on the way, the route has been named the Trail of Tears -Jackson’s willingness to allow Georgia to ignore the decisions of the SC persuaded extreme southern states’ righters that he would not oppose the doctrine of nullification should it be formally applied to a law of Congress -they deceived themselves

XI -- The Nullification Crisis

-the nullification crisis is what is referred to as South Carolina’s challenge to the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 -the proposed alliance of South and West to reduce the tariff and the price of land had not materialized, partly because Webster had discredited the South in the eyes of western patriots and partly because the planters of Scaro and Georgia, fearing the competition of new cotton lands, opposed the rapid expansion of the West almost as much as northern manufacturers did -also planters were troubled by northern criticism of slavery -Denmark Vesey, who won his freedom with money earned in a lottery, had alarmed people with a planned, organize revolt in 1822 -Nat Turner, in 1831, led a slave uprising in Virginia -Calhoun’s idea of nullification was ingenious rather than profound -he was a Southern political thinker who justified the Southern resistance to the Tariff of 1828 -it was based on false assumptions: that the Constitution was subject to definite interpretation: that one party could be permitted to interpret a compact unilaterally without destroying it, that a minority of the nation could reassume its sovereign independence but that a minority of a state could not -Jackson was in this respect Calhoun’s exact opposite -If a state could nullify a law of Congress, the Union could not exist. -in South Carolina they had a convention which passed an ordinance of nullification prohibiting the collection of tariff duties in the state after Feb 1, 1833 -legislature authorized the raising of an army and appropriated money to supply it with weapons -Jackson quickly began military preparations of his own -made an effort to end the crisis peaceably -suggested to Congress to lower the tariff further -delivered a “Proclamation to the people of South Carolina” -nullification could only lead to the destruction of the Union -“Disunion by armed force is treason. Are you really ready to incur its guilt?” -Jackson’s reasoning shocked even opponents of nullification -if South Carolina did not back down, the president’s threat to use force would mean civil war and possibly the destruction of the Union he claimed to be defending -Calhoun sought desperately to control the crisis -he resigned as VP and was appointed to replace Hayne in the Senate where he led the search for a peaceful solution -Clay was a willing ally -many who admired Jackson were afraid that he would do something rash -wanted to deal with the controversy by discussion and compromise -administration leaders introduced both a new tariff and a Force Bill granting the president additional authority to execute the revenue laws -South Carolina tried to get other southern states to join with them but all rejected the idea of nullification -South Carolina planters were now convinced that nullification and secession could only succeed with the support of other states -in March of 1833, Clay and Calhoun pushed a compromise tariff through Congress -compromise reflected the willingness of the North and West to make concessions in the interest of national harmony

XII -- Boom and Bust

-during 1833 and 1834 Sec of the Treas Taney insisted that the pet banks maintain large reserves -state banks began to offer credit on easy terms -much of the new money flowed into speculation in land; a mania to invest in property swept the country -during 1835 and 1836 as a result of the creation of the “pet banks” the money supply increased rapidly and fueled wild speculation in land -throughout the West farmers borrowed money from local banks by mortgaging their land. They used the money to buy more land from the government and then borrowed still more money from the banks on the strength of their new deeds -Jackson became alarmed by the speculative mania -he issued the Specie Circular-purchasers must pay for public land in gold or silver -at once the rush to buy land came to a halt -speculators unable to dispose of lands mortgaged to the banks had to abandon them to the banks, but the banks could not realize enough on the foreclosed property to recover their loans -panic swept the country in the spring of 1837 as every bank in the nation was forced to suspend specie payment -there is no doubt that Jackson’s war against the Bank exaggerated the swings of the economy.

XIII -- Jacksonian Abroad

-Jackson’s emotional and dogmatic side also influenced his handing of foreign affairs -by pushing relentlessly for the solution of minor problems, he won a number of diplomatic successes -opened the British West Indian ports to American ships -his most important foreign policy success was when he got France to agree to pay about $5 million to compensate for damages to American property during the Napoleonic conflict -French Chamber of Deputies refused to pay -Jackson asked for a law “authorizing reprisals upon French property” if the money was not paid -Jackson’s case was ironclad -Congress took no action -Jackson suspended relations with France and ordered the navy readied -The French were insulted with Jackson’s manner but the French Chamber finally appropriated the money -Jackson often took dangerous risks to gain rather limited points -Jackson’s behavior reinforced the impression held by foreigners that the US was a rash young country with a chip on its shoulder

XIV -- The Jacksonians

-by 1836 being a Jeffersonian no longer meant much; what mattered was how one felt about Jackson -Jackson left behind an organization with a fairly cohesive body of ideas -The Democratic Party contained rich and poor citizens, Easterners and Westerners, abolitionist and slaveholders -was not a close-knit organization but they agreed on certain underlying principles -suspicion of special privileges and large business corporations -freedom of economic opportunity -absolute political freedom (at least for white males) -conviction that any ordinary man is capable of performing the duties of most public offices -Jackson’s ability to reconcile his belief in the supremacy of the Union with his conviction that national authority should be held within narrow limits tended to make the Democrats the party of those who believed that the powers of the states should not be diminished -nearly all Jacksonians favored giving the small man his chance -supported public education and refused to put much weight on a person’s origin, dress, or manner -this attitude helps explain why immigrants, Catholics, and other minority groups usually voted Democratic -Jacksonians showed no tendency either to penalize the wealthy or to intervene in economic affairs to aid the underprivileged -“That government is best which governs least”

XV -- Rise of the Whigs

-opposition to Jackson was far less cohesive -Henry Clay founded the National Republican party, which provided a nucleus -its orientation was basically anti-Jackson -in 1834 many Democrats could not accept the logic of Jacksonian finance so together with the Clay element, the extreme states’ righters who followed Calhoun, and other dissident groups they became the Whig Party -Whigs referred to their anti-monarchical feeling -referred to Jackson as King Andrew the First -implied patriotic distaste for too powerful executives -The Whigs: -possessed great resources of wealth and talent -anyone who understood banking was almost obliged to become a Whig -spiritual descendents of Hamilton who rejected the administrations refusal to approach economic problems from a broadly national prospective also joined -the anti-intellectual and antiscientific bias of the administration drove many ministers, lawyers, doctors, and other well-educated people to the Whigs -Emerson described the Whigs, “as the enterprising, intelligent, well-meaning, and wealthy part of the people” -Whigs argued that they also appealed to ordinary voters who were predisposed to favor strong governments that would check the “excess” of unrestricted individualism -The Whigs had too many generals and they stood in conflict with the major trend of the age: the glorification of the common man

-The Election of 1836: -the Whigs relied on favorite sons and the hope of the election being decided by the House -Daniel Webster ran for New England -Hugh Lawson White of Tennessee ran for the West and South -General William Henry Harrison was supposed to win the Northwest and draw support from those who like to vote for military heroes -Martin Van Buren was Jackson’s handpicked successor -Van Buren won both the popular and the electoral vote

XVI -- Martin Van Buren: Jacksonianism Without Jackson

-Van Buren’s brilliance as a political manipulator tended to obscure his statesmanlike qualities and his engaging personality -he fought the Bank of the US as a monopoly, but he also opposed the state banks -he believed in public construction of internal improvements, but he favored state rather than national programs, and he urged a rational approach: Each project must stand on its own as a useful and profitable public utility -he was never in the pocket of any special interest group or tariff lobbyist -he took office just as the Panic of 1837 was beginning -Panic of 1837: -banks stopped converting paper money into gold and silver -caused interest rates to decline and business loans again became easy to obtain -Van Buren was not responsible for the panic or the depression but his manner of dealing with economic issues was not helpful -saw his role as being concerned only with problems plaguing the government, ignoring the economy as a whole -took a hands-off approach -Van Buren’s refusal to assume any responsibility for the general welfare appears to explode the theory that the Jacksonians were deeply concerned with the fate of ordinary citizens -Van Buren’s chief goal as President was finding a substitute for state banks as a place to keep federal funds -settled on the idea of “divorcing” the government and all banking activities by passing the Independent Treasury Bill -Independent Treasury Bill -called for the construction of government owned vaults where federal revenues could be stored until needed -all payments to the government were to be made in hard cash -bankers and businessmen objected to the government’s withholding so much specie from the banks, which needed all the hard money they could get to support loans that were the lifeblood of economic growth -luckily no acute shortage of specie developed because heavy agricultural exports and the investment of much European capital in American railroads and the discovery of gold added another important source of specie -the supply of money and bank credit kept pace roughly with the growth of the economy but the government had little to do with it -Wildcat Banks-particularly unsound and risky banks chartered under state law in the US. People would start a bank in a small town and when they acquired enough assets they would up and leave with the money

XVII --The Log Cabin Campaign

-In the Election of 1840 the Whigs adopted a different strategy. They nominated William Henry Harrison for president and to balance the ticket the chose a former Democrat, John Tyler of Virginia. -portrayed Harrison as living in a log cabin and drinking hard cider -Tyler was an ardent supporter of states’ rights -began another mud-slinging campaign -Democrats nominated Van Buren again and chose Richard Mentor Johnson as his VP (claim to fame was that he killed Tecumseh) -Harrison won by almost 150,000 popular votes and the electoral vote was 234 to 60 -William Henry Harrison -had no ambition to an aggressive leader -believed that Jackson had misused the veto -many felt that either Clay or Webster was destined to be the real ruler of the new administration and soon the two were squabbling over the old general -less than a month after his inauguration Harrison fell ill and died -Tyler took over. He was honest and conscientious but he was also a doctrinaire -when Tyler took over the political climate of the country changed dramatically

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