To What Extent Was Jacksonian Democracy Democratic?
During the administration of Andrew Jackson, the United States was a nation of change both politically and socially. American society was a society of opportunity. Americans felt that, given a chance, they could make a better life for themselves. This was the era of the common people, the era of democracy. Andrew Jackson appealed to the American people because he stood for values many regarded with favor. However democratic Jackson may seem, he was more tyrant-like than any of his predecessors. His major offerings to the nation included majority rule and a popular presidency, however offered no benefits to women, African Americans, nor Native Americans. Jacksonian Democracy was in no way democratic.
Before Jackson's time, voters expected public officials to use their own best judgment in electing. Under Jacksonian Democracy, the people came to believe that officials should act according to the demands of the people. To make government respond more directly to the popular will, state and local governments began to fill some positions such as judges, constables, and public surveyors by election rather than appointment. The terms of office were also shortened so that popular opinion had a more direct effect on the actions of elected officials. Thus, the government under Jackson became the people's government, although he retained a tight grasp, using his veto often.
As new voters made demands on government, they learned the power of political organization. National issues became as much topics of conversation as local issues had always been. As national parties built stronger state and local ties, they began to rely upon a growing number of "professional politicians." These changes helped to initiate the spoils system. This practice of appointing people to government positions based on party loyalty and party service was not an entirely new development, but Jackson was the first to oust...
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