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Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully in 1824.

Jacksonian democracy is the political philosophy of United States President Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. Prior to and during Jackson's time as President, his supporters (the beginnings of the modern Democratic Party) were resisted by the rival Adams and Anti-Jacksonian factions, which later gave rise to the Whigs. More broadly, the term refers to the period of the Second Party System (mid 1830s-1854) when Jacksonian philosophy was ascendant as well as the spirit of that era. It can be contrasted with the characteristics of Jeffersonian democracy. Jackson's equal political policy became known as Jacksonian Democracy, subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government. During the Jacksonian era, the electorate expanded to include all white male adult citizens, rather than only land owners in that group.

In contrast to the Jeffersonian era, Jacksonian democracy promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. They demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms the Jacksonians favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of Manifest Destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided. The Jacksonian Era lasted roughly from Jackson's 1828 election until the slavery issue became dominant after 1850 and the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics as the Third Party System emerged.

Contents

The Philosophy

Democratic cartoon shows Jackson slaying the monster Bank

Jacksonian democracy generally was built on several principles:

Expanded Suffrage
The Jacksonians believed that voting rights should be extended to all white men. During the Jacksonian era, white male suffrage was dramatically expanded throughout the country.
Manifest Destiny
This was the belief that white Americans had a destiny to settle the American West and to expand control over all of North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific at the expense of the indigenous population. The Free Soil Jacksonians, notably Martin Van Buren, however, argued for limitations on expansion to avoid the expansion of slavery within the Union. The Whigs generally opposed Manifest Destiny and expansion, saying the nation should build up its cities.
Patronage
Also known as the spoils system, patronage was the policy of placing political supporters into appointed offices. Many Jacksonians held the view that rotating political appointees in and out of office was not only the right but also the duty of winners in political contests. Patronage was theorized to be good because it would encourage political participation by the common man and because it would make a politician more accountable for poor government service by his appointees. Jacksonians also held that long tenure in the civil service was corrupting, so civil servants should be rotated out of office at regular intervals. However, it did lead to the hiring of incompetent and sometimes corrupt officials in the place of competent ones from the other party.
Strict Constructionism
Like the Jeffersonians who strongly believed in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jacksonians initially favored a federal government of limited powers. Jackson said that he would guard against "all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State sovereignty". This is not to say that Jackson was a states' rights extremist; indeed, the Nullification Crisis would find Jackson fighting against what he perceived as state encroachments on the proper sphere of federal influence. This position was one basis for the Jacksonians' opposition to the Second National Bank. As the Jacksonians consolidated power, they more often advocated a more expansive construction of the Constitution and of Presidential power.
Laissez-faire Economics
Complementing a strict construction of the Constitution, the Jacksonians generally favored a hands-off approach to the economy. The leader was William Leggett of the Locofocos in New York City. In particular, the Jacksonians opposed government granted monopolies to banks, especially the national bank, which was a central bank known as the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson fought to end the government monopoly to the Bank and got great opposition from Nicholas Biddle, the bank chairman. Biddle first dismissed Jackson efforts, but as the initiative gained popular support, he got more concerned. There was an attempt to murder Jackson at that time but the pistols failed. Jackson would later claim that he had proof the bankers were behind this attempt. Jackson was able to gain popular support because the Bank money manipulations and inflation had created a big recession, and it had inflated land prices, benefiting big land owners and stopping economical development. In a last attempt to stop Jackson, Biddle burst the bubble his inflationary policies had created, and brought about a deflationary correction. This put pressure on Jackson, but after a year of recession, the economy was clean by the deflationary correction, and the Bank was out of "ammunition". Jackson had won the battle. The Bank continued his operations as a state bank, but had to close years after. Once retired, every time Jackson was asked what was his biggest achievement as president he answered: "I killed the Bank".
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Election by the "Common Man"

Though elected by the United States House of Representatives, John Quincy Adams was the first president ever to be voted for by the common citizenry, as the 1824 United States Presidential election was the first in which all free white male citizens without property could vote (with the exception of 6 states). Issues of social class have been much discussed by historians (Wilentz 1982). For more details, see Social Class in American History.

The Anti-Masonic Party, an opponent of Jackson, introduced the national nominating conventions to select a party's presidential and vice presidential candidates, allowing more voter input.

Factions 1824–32

The period 1824–32 was politically chaotic. The Federalist Party was dead, and with no effective opposition, the old Democratic-Republican Party withered away. Every state had numerous political factions, but they did not cross state lines. Political coalitions formed and dissolved, and politicians moved in and out of alliances.

Many former Democratic-Republicans supported Jackson; others, such as Henry Clay, opposed him. Most former Federalists, such as Daniel Webster, opposed Jackson, although some like James Buchanan supported him. In 1828, John Quincy Adams pulled together a network of factions called the National Republicans, but he was defeated by Jackson. By the late 1830s, the Jacksonian Democrats and the Whigs politically battled it out nationally and in every state.

Reforms

Jackson fulfilled his promise of broadening the influence of the citizenry in government, although not without controversy over his methods.

Jacksonian policies included ending the bank of the United States, expanding westward, and removing American Indians from the Southeast. Jackson was denounced as a tyrant by opponents on both ends of the political spectrum such as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Jacksonian democracy had a lasting impact on allowing for more political participation from the average citizen, though Jacksonian democracy itself largely died off with the election of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Republican party.

Jackson created a system to clear out elected officials in government of an opposing party and replace them with his supporters as a reward for their electioneering. With Congress controlled by his enemies, Jackson relied heavily on the power of the veto to block their moves.

One of the most important of these was the Maysville Road veto in 1830. A part of Clay's American System, the bill would have allowed for federal funding of a project to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky. His primary objection was based on the local nature of the project. It was not the Federal government's job to fund projects of such a local nature, and or those lacking a connection to the nation as a whole.

Jacksonian Presidents

In addition to Jackson, his second vice president and one of the key organizational leaders of the Jacksonian Democratic Party, Martin Van Buren, served as president. Van Buren was defeated in the next election by William H. Harrison. Harrison died just 30 days into his term, and his vice president, John Tyler, quickly reached accommodation with the Jacksonians. Tyler was then succeeded by James Polk, a staunch supporter and protege of Jackson, and the last of the true Jacksonian presidents. James Buchanan served in Jackson's administration as Minister to Russia and as Polk's Secretary of State, but he did not pursue Jacksonian policies in an increasingly bitter and divided political climate, which ultimately resulted in the Civil War.

References

Secondary Sources

  • Altschuler, Glenn C.; Blumin, Stuart M. (1997). "Limits of Political Engagement in Antebellum America: A New Look at the Golden Age of Participatory Democracy". Journal of American History 84 (3): 855–885 [p. 878–879]. doi:10.2307/2953083. 
  • Baker, Jean (1983). Affairs of Party: The Political Culture of Northern Democrats in the Mid-Nineteenth Century. Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press. ISBN 0585125333. 
  • Blau, Joseph L. Social Theories of Jacksonian Democracy: Representative Writings of the Period 1825-1850 (1954) online edition
  • Benson, Lee (1961). The Concept of Jacksonian Democracy: New York as a Test Case. New York: Atheneum. OCLC 21378753. 
  • Bugg, James L., Jr. (1952). Jacksonian Democracy: Myth or Reality?. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.  Short essays.
  • Cave, Alfred A. (1964). Jacksonian Democracy and the Historians. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida Press. 
  • Cole, Donald B. (1984). Martin Van Buren And The American Political System. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691047154. 
  • Cole, Donald B. (1970). Jacksonian Democracy in New Hampshire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. ISBN 0674469909.  Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Eaton, Clement ed. The Leaven of Democracy: The Growth of the Democratic Spirit in the Time of Jackson (1963) online edition
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1971). The Birth of Mass Political Parties: Michigan, 1827-1861. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691046050.  Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1983). The Transformation of Political Culture: Massachusetts Parties, 1790s-1840s. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195031245.  Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1999). "The ‘Party Period’ Revisited". Journal of American History 86 (1): 93–120. doi:10.2307/2567408. 
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1969). "Political Character, Antipartyism, and the Second Party System". American Quarterly 21 (4): 683–709. doi:10.2307/2711603. 
  • Formisano, Ronald P. (1974). "Deferential-Participant Politics: The Early Republic's Political Culture, 1789-1840". American Political Science Review 68 (2): 473–487. doi:10.2307/1959497. 
  • Hammond, Bray (1958). Andrew Jackson's Battle with the "Money Power".  Chapter 8, an excerpt from his Pulitzer-prize-winning Banks and Politics in America: From the Revolution to the Civil War (1954).
  • Hofstadter, Richard (1948). The American Political Tradition.  Chapter on AJ.
  • Hofstadter, Richard (1969). The Idea of a Party System: The Rise of Legitimate Opposition in the United States, 1780-1840. 
  • Holt, Michael F. (1999). The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party: Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195055446. 
  • Holt, Michael F. (1992). Political Parties and American Political Development: From the Age of Jackson to the Age of Lincoln. Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0807117285. 
  • Howe, Daniel Walker (1991). "The Evangelical Movement and Political Culture during the Second Party System". Journal of American History 77 (4): 1216–1239. doi:10.2307/2078260. 
  • Kohl, Lawrence Frederick (1989). The Politics of Individualism: Parties and the American Character in the Jacksonian Era. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195053745. 
  • Kruman, Marc W. (1992). "The Second American Party System and the Transformation of Revolutionary Republicanism". Journal of the Early Republic 12 (4): 509–537. doi:10.2307/3123876. 
  • McCormick, Richard L. (1986). The Party Period and Public Policy: American Politics from the Age of Jackson to the Progressive Era. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195038606. 
  • McCormick, Richard P. (1966). The Second American Party System: Party Formation in the Jacksonian Era. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.  Influential state-by-state study.
  • Mayo, Edward L. (1979). "Republicanism, Antipartyism, and Jacksonian Party Politics: A View from the Nation's Capitol". American Quarterly 31 (1): 3–20. doi:10.2307/2712484. 
  • Marshall, Lynn (1967). "The Strange Stillbirth of the Whig Party". American Historical Review 72 (2): 445–468. doi:10.2307/1859236. 
  • Myers, Marvin (1957). The Jacksonian Persuasion: Politics and Belief. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 
  • Pessen, Edward (1978). Jacksonian America: Society, Personality, and Politics. 
  • Pessen, Edward (1977). The Many-Faceted Jacksonian Era: New Interpretations.  Important scholarly articles.
  • Remini, Robert V. (1998). The Life of Andrew Jackson.  Abridgment of Remini's 3-volume biography.
  • Remini, Robert V. (1959). Martin Van Buren and the Making of the Democratic Party. 
  • Sellers, Charles (1991). The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846.  Influential reinterpretation
  • Shade, William G. (1983). "The Second Party System". in Kleppner, Paul et al.. Evolution of American Electoral Systems.  Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Schlesinger, Arthur M., Jr (1945). The Age of Jackson. Boston: Little, Brown & Company.  Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History.
  • Schouler, James (1917). History of the United States of America: Under the Constitution: Vol. 4. 1831-1847. Democrats and Whigs. New York: Dodd, Mead & Company. 
  • Sellers, Charles (1958). "Andrew Jackson Versus the Historians". Mississippi Valley Historical Review 44 (4): 615–634. doi:10.2307/1886599. 
  • Sharp, James Roger (1970). The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837.  Uses quantitative electoral data.
  • Silbey, Joel H. (1991). The American Political Nation, 1838-1893. 
  • Silbey, Joel H. (1973). Political Ideology and Voting Behavior in the Age of Jackson. 
  • Syrett, Harold C. (1953). Andrew Jackson: His Contribution to the American Tradition. 
  • Taylor, George Rogers (1949). Jackson Versus Biddle: The Struggle over the Second Bank of the United States.  Excerpts from primary and secondary sources.
  • Van Deusen, Glyndon G. (1963). The Jacksonian Era: 1828-1848.  Standard scholarly survey.
  • Wallace, Michael (1968). "Changing Concepts of Party in the United States: New York, 1815-1828". American Historical Review 74 (2): 453–491. doi:10.2307/1853673. 
  • Ward, John William (1962). Andrew Jackson, Symbol for an Age. 
  • Wilentz, Sean (1982). "On Class and Politics in Jacksonian America". Reviews in American History 10 (4): 45–63. doi:10.2307/2701818. 
  • Wilentz, Sean (2005). The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln.  Highly detailed scholarly synthesis.
  • Wilson, Major L. (1974). Space, Time, and Freedom: The Quest for Nationality and the Irrepressible Conflict, 1815-1861.  Intellectual history of Whigs and Democrats.

External links


File:Andrew
Portrait of Andrew Jackson by Thomas Sully in 1824.

Jacksonian democracy is the political philosophy of United States President Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. Prior to and during Jackson's time as President, his supporters (the beginnings of the modern Democratic Party) were resisted by the rival Adams and Anti-Jacksonian factions, which later gave rise to the Whigs. More broadly, the term refers to the period of the Second Party System (mid 1830s-1854) when Jacksonian philosophy was ascendant as well as the spirit of that era. It can be contrasted with the characteristics of Jeffersonian democracy. Jackson's equal political policy became known as Jacksonian Democracy, subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government. During the Jacksonian era, the electorate expanded to include all white male adult citizens, rather than only land owners in that group.

In contrast to the Jeffersonian era, Jacksonian democracy promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. They demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms the Jacksonians favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of Manifest Destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided. The Jacksonian Era lasted roughly from Jackson's 1828 election until the slavery issue became dominant after 1850 and the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics as the Third Party System emerged.

Contents

The Philosophy

File:AJ~
Democratic cartoon shows Jackson slaying the monster Bank

Jacksonian democracy was built on political principles[1]:

Expanded Suffrage
The Jacksonians believed that voting rights should be extended to all white men. By 1840, universal white male suffrage was the norm, and nearly all requirements to own property had been dropped.
Manifest Destiny
This was the belief that white Americans had a destiny to settle the American West and to expand control from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific and settled by yeoman farmers. The Free Soil Jacksonians, notably Martin Van Buren, however, argued for limitations on slavery in the new areas to enable the poor white man to flourish. The Whigs generally opposed Manifest Destiny and expansion, saying the nation should build up its cities[2].
Patronage
Also known as the spoils system, patronage was the policy of placing political supporters into appointed offices. Many Jacksonians held the view that rotating political appointees in and out of office was not only the right but also the duty of winners in political contests. Patronage was theorized to be good because it would encourage political participation by the common man and because it would make a politician more accountable for poor government service by his appointees. Jacksonians also held that long tenure in the civil service was corrupting, so civil servants should be rotated out of office at regular intervals. However, it did lead to the hiring of incompetent and sometimes corrupt officials in the place of competent ones from the other party[3].
Strict Constructionism
Like the Jeffersonians who strongly believed in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jacksonians initially favored a federal government of limited powers. Jackson said that he would guard against "all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State sovereignty". This is not to say that Jackson was a states' rights extremist; indeed, the Nullification Crisis would find Jackson fighting against what he perceived as state encroachments on the proper sphere of federal influence. This position was one basis for the Jacksonians' opposition to the Second National Bank. As the Jacksonians consolidated power, they more often advocated expanding federal power and Presidential power in particular.
Laissez-faire Economics
Complementing a strict construction of the Constitution, the Jacksonians generally favored a hands-off approach to the economy, as opposed to the Whig program sponsoring a two modernization, railroads, banking, and economic growth [4]. The leader was William Leggett of the Locofocos in New York City.
Banking
In particular, the Jacksonians opposed government granted monopolies to banks, especially the national bank, which was a central bank known as the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson fought to end the government monopoly to the Bank and was opposed by the Whigs, led by Daniel Webster and Nicholas Biddle, the bank chairman[5]. Jackson himself was opposed to all banks, because he believed they were devices to cheat common people; he and many followers believed that only gold and silver could be money.

Election by the "Common Man"

An important movement in the period from 1800 to 1830--before the Jacksonians were organized--was the expansion of the right to vote to include all white men[6]. Those states that had property restrictions all dropped them. The process was peaceful, and widely supported, except in the state of Rhode Island. In Rhode Island the Dorr Rebellion of the 1840s demonstrated that the demand for equal suffrage was broad and strong. The fact that a man was now legally allowed to vote did not necessarily mean he routinely did vote. He had to be pulled to the polls, which became the single most important role of the local parties. They systematically sought out potential voters, and brought them to the polls. Voter turnout soared during the Second Party System, reaching about 80 percent of the adult white men by 1840[7].


The Anti-Masonic Party, an opponent of Jackson, introduced the national nominating conventions to select a party's presidential and vice presidential candidates, allowing more voter input.

Factions 1824–32

The period 1824–32 was politically chaotic. The Federalist Party and the First Party System was dead, and with no effective opposition, the old Democratic-Republican Party withered away. Every state had numerous political factions, but they did not cross state lines. Political coalitions formed and dissolved, and politicians moved in and out of alliances.

Many former Democratic-Republicans supported Jackson; others, such as Wandy Rodriguez, opposed him. Most former Federalists, such as Daniel Webster, opposed Jackson, although some like James Buchanan supported him. In 1828, John Quincy Adams pulled together a network of factions called the National Republicans, but he was defeated by Jackson. By the late 1830s, the Jacksonian Democrats and the Whigs politically battled it out nationally and in every state.

Reforms

Jackson fulfilled his promise of broadening the influence of the citizenry in government, although not without controversy over his methods.

Jacksonian policies included ending the bank of the United States, expanding westward, and removing American Indians from the Southeast. Jackson was denounced as a tyrant by opponents on both ends of the political spectrum such as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. Jacksonian democracy had a lasting impact on allowing for more political participation from the average citizen, though Jacksonian democracy itself largely died off with the election of Abraham Lincoln and the rise of the Republican party.

Jackson created a system to clear out elected officials in government of an opposing party and replace them with his supporters as a reward for their electioneering. With Congress controlled by his enemies, Jackson relied heavily on the power of the veto to block their moves.

One of the most important of these was the Maysville Road veto in 1830. A part of Clay's American System, the bill would have allowed for federal funding of a project to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky. His primary objection was based on the local nature of the project. It was not the Federal government's job to fund projects of such a local nature, and or those lacking a connection to the nation as a whole.

Jacksonian Presidents

In addition to Jackson, his second vice president and one of the key organizational leaders of the Jacksonian Democratic Party, Martin Van Buren, served as president. Van Buren was defeated in the next election by William H. Harrison. Harrison died just 30 days into his term, and his vice president, John Tyler, quickly reached accommodation with the Jacksonians. Tyler was then succeeded by James Polk, a staunch supporter and protege of Jackson, and the last of the true Jacksonian presidents. James Buchanan served in Jackson's administration as Minister to Russia and as Polk's Secretary of State, but he did not pursue Jacksonian policies in an increasingly bitter and divided political climate, which ultimately resulted in the Civil War.

Notes

  1. ^ Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Age of Jackson (1945)
  2. ^ David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Manifest Destiny (Greenwood Press, 2003).
  3. ^ M. Ostrogorski, Democracy and the Party System in the United States (1910)
  4. ^ Louis Hartz, Economic Policy and Democratic Thought: Pennsylvania, 1776-1860 (1948)
  5. ^ Bray Hammond, Banks and Politics in America, From the Revolution to the Civil War (1957)
  6. ^ Alexander Keyssar, The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States (2000)
  7. ^ William G. Shade, "The Second Party System". in Paul Kleppner, et al. Evolution of American Electoral Systems (1983) pp 77-111

References

External links


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