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Andrew Jackson & Jacksonian Democracy. 1. https://thehermitage.com/learn/andrew-jackson/president/presidency/ 2. https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Jacksonian_democracy 3. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/andrew-jackson/. Websites Used. Growing Up.
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1. https://thehermitage.com/learn/andrew-jackson/president/presidency/2. https://www.academickids.com/encyclopedia/index.php/Jacksonian_democracy3. https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/presidents/andrew-jackson/ Websites Used
Growing Up • More nearly than any of his predecessors, Andrew Jackson was elected by popular vote; as President he sought to act as the direct representative of the common man. • Born in a backwoods settlement in the Carolinas in 1767, he received sporadic education. But in his late teens he read law for about two years, and he became an outstanding young lawyer in Tennessee. Fiercely jealous of his honor, he engaged in brawls, and in a duel killed a man who cast an unjustified slur on his wife Rachel. • Jackson prospered sufficiently to buy slaves and to build a mansion, the Hermitage, near Nashville. He was the first man elected from Tennessee to the House of Representatives, and he served briefly in the Senate. A major general in the War of 1812, Jackson became a national hero when he defeated the British at New Orleans. • In 1824 some state political factions rallied around Jackson; by 1828 enough had joined “Old Hickory” to win numerous state elections and control of the Federal administration in Washington.
What is Jacksonian Democracy? • Jacksonian democracy is the term used in American politics to describe the period when the "common man" participated in the government, occurring after Jeffersonian democracy. • Andrew Jackson, who was elected in 1828, was the first president even partially elected by the common citizenry, as the 1824 United States Presidential election was the first in which free white men without property could vote (notwithstanding this, one quarter of the participating states had their electors chosen by their State Legislatures). In addition, some political parties began holding public nominating convention-meetings to select a party's presidential and vice presidential candidates, allowing more voter input. • Jackson, a war hero who had fought alongside trappers and traders in the War of 1812, was someone with whom the common man could identify. He commonly discussed politics in his parlor with other men while smoking cigars, in contrast to the more formal meetings common to Jeffersonian Democracy. As a result of this informal attitude to politics, he was sometimes advised by a group of old friends, known as his "kitchen cabinet". • The faction of the United States Democratic-Republican Party that solidly followed Andrew Jackson were sometimes referred to as Jacksonian or Jacksonian Democrats.
The Eaton Affair • Andrew Jackson’s time as president would mark a major historical shift for the United States. Unfortunately, the first two years of his term were marred by a social scandal that turned political. • Just months before Jackson took office his close friend and Secretary of War, John Eaton, married Margaret “Peggy” Timberlake of whom Washington socialites disapproved due to her questionable upbringing and rumors concerning her past. When the other cabinet members’ wives refused to associate with Mrs. Eaton, Jackson was forced to defend his friends, especially since John Eaton had defended Rachel Jackson so vigorously during the 1828 campaign. He demanded Mrs. Eaton be accepted into Washington’s social circles. This became known as the “Eaton Affair.”
Jackson’s Kitchen Cabinet • At the same time, several of Jackson’s cabinet members, thinking he would only serve one term, were positioning themselves to succeed him as president. These divisive actions resulted in Jackson showing favor only to those who socialized with the Eatons and proved their loyalty to him in other ways. • To rid himself of the immediate controversy Jackson dismissed his entire cabinet in 1831 except for the Postmaster General. In time, this caused Jackson to turn to a group of unofficial advisors. His opponents labeled them his “Kitchen Cabinet” because of their “back door” access to the President.
Jackson Fires Inept Government • Jackson took office with great expectations to cleanse government of corruption and restore the nation’s finances. Washington’s elite feared that Jackson would fire everyone that held government positions, even the competent, and replace them with his own people. Although Jackson replaced only about ten percent of the government officers he held power over, it was a high percentage compared to his predecessors. • The officers he replaced were largely inept, corrupt or were politically opposed to Jackson. For this, Jackson is credited with what he called “the principle of rotation in office,” but others would label it the “spoils system.”
Jackson Attempts to Balance the Budget • Jackson kept a watchful eye over government expenditures and congressional appropriations. In one instance, he vetoed a road bill approved by Congress. On top of being too costly, the bill only benefitted one area of the country and failed to improve the nation’s defenses. Prior to Jackson, presidents had only vetoed legislation they believed to be unconstitutional. Jackson established a new principle of vetoing legislation as a matter of policy. • Jackson’s spending controls along with increased revenue enabled him to pay off the national debt in 1835 and keep the nation debt free for the remainder of his term. This is the only time in the nation’s history that the federal government was debt free. • Jackson is the only president in history to pay off the national debt and leave the federal government budget with a surplus
Jackson and the Indian Removal Act of 1830 • Jackson also espoused removing Indian tribes in the United States to the west of the Mississippi River as one of his reforms. • Jackson argued that the United States policy of attempting to assimilate the tribes into white society had failed and the Native Americans’ way of life would eventually be destroyed. Furthermore, he recognized that whites desired their lands and feared if the Native Americans remained in those areas they would eventually be exterminated. Opposition groups fought Jackson’s removal policy in Congress, but their efforts failed by a handful of votes. Congress’ authorization of the Indian Removal Act in 1831 empowered Jackson to make treaties with the tribes in arranging for their displacement. • Though he had railed against government corruption in the past, Jackson largely ignored the shady treaties forced upon the various tribes and the corrupt actions of government officials. The Indian Removal process was completed two years after Jackson left office with great loss of Native American life due to this corruption, inadequate supplies and removal by force. • Today, Jackson’s Indian Removal policy and its tragic consequences which led to the Trail of Tears is the most conspicuous blight on his presidential legacy.
Jackson & The National Bank • With the Eaton Affair behind him and his programs in full swing, Jackson turned his attention to an issue that would define his presidency and forever reshape the office he held. In 1816, the United States Congress chartered the private Second Bank of the United States to hold the country’s money, make loans and regulate currency. Bank profits benefited private stockholders as well as the U.S. government, which owned stock in the bank. In its early years, the bank was riddled with corruption and poor financial management. This resulted in economic hardship in the U.S. • Under the direction of the bank’s new president Nicholas Biddle, however, the Bank’s fortunes were turned around. The nation’s money was now being astutely managed, producing a good business climate as a result. • Jackson realized their important role in the U.S. economy but his distrust in banks in general led him to believe the Bank of the United States held too much power and could wield it at any moment to ruin the U.S. economy. Furthermore, he saw the Bank as a threat to national security since its stockholders were mainly foreign investors with allegiances to other governments. • The crux of the issue for Jackson was what he saw as the never-ending battle between liberty and power in government. In his belief system, people should sacrifice some individual liberty for the beneficial aspects of government. But if any government institution became too powerful it stood as a direct threat to individual liberty. • Jackson signaled early on in his administration that he would consider re-chartering the Bank, but only if its powers were limited.
The Election of 1832 • Jackson’s opponents quickly seized opportunity to use the issue with the Bank to attack Jackson. Supporters of the Bank, led by Henry Clay, Jackson’s chief opponent in the 1832 presidential contest, argued that it played a vital role in the economy and that the true threat to individual liberty came from Jackson himself and his broadening of presidential powers. Clay decided that he would force Jackson to make the Bank a campaign issue in 1832 by re-chartering the Bank early. • Clay secured Congressional approval of the re-charter forcing Jackson to promptly veto it on constitutional and policy grounds. Clay and Jackson then put the issue of who or what was the greater danger to individual liberty, to the people. The people overwhelmingly re-elected Jackson. • Vindicated by the people, Jackson prepared to finish his fight with the Bank in his second term, but first had to deal with a threat to the Union.
Runaway South Carolina • South Carolinians, led by Jackson’s former vice-president, John Calhoun, felt the Tariff of 1832 unduly harmed their state while directly benefiting northern manufacturing states since it protected northern manufacturers from foreign competitors who offered cheaper goods. • Calhoun advanced the idea that the states had the constitutional right to nullify (or invalidate) any federal law and that states could secede from the Union. • In late 1832, South Carolina nullified the Tariff of 1832 and threatened secession. Jackson rejected these ideas and promised the use of force if South Carolina disobeyed the law. After much brinksmanship, Congress passed a compromise tariff that placated South Carolina and a bill that authorized the use of force against nullification. • Jackson’s actions prevented a break in the union as well as setting precedents that Abraham Lincoln would later use to oppose secession.
Legacy as President • When Jackson vacated office in March 1837, he left his mark on the presidency and forever changed the course of American history. • Through his actions and tenure as president, Jackson squarely set the Executive Branch on an equal footing with Congress in terms of power and ability to shape law and government policies. • Jackson preserved and defended the Union against threats from nullifiers and secessionists. Nations across the globe viewed the United States with newfound respect due to Jackson’s management of foreign affairs. Most importantly, however, Jackson’s presidency pushed the nation further toward democracy, but much work remained in granting equal rights and freedoms to those still oppressed in the United States.
After the Presidency & His Death • Andrew Jackson left Washington for home on March 7, 1837. Well-wishers and supporters lined his route home, cheering the way for the man who had sacrificed much to give them a voice in Washington. Although he was no longer the president, others still sought his counsel and support. Post-presidency, Jackson kept up an active correspondence with many in Washington, offering his insights and advice from The Hermitage in Nashville. Jackson found great joy in spending time with his family and attending church in his final years. • During his final years, Jackson experienced the misery of constant infections, pain, and vision and hearing problems. While he frequently predicted his own death, he continued to fight and hang on to life for the better part of a decade. Finally, on June 8, 1845, surrounded by his loved ones, he died in his bedroom at The Hermitage. The leader, warrior, planter, husband, father, friend and statesman closed his eyes for the last time. For Andrew Jackson, the storm was over. He was buried two days later in The Hermitage garden with nearly ten thousand people in attendance.