- At this time, the economy and population were expanding, as was overseas trade, railroads, industry and canals-building.
- Most white males received the right to vote without property requirements.
- Jacksonisn ‘democracy’ did not apply to blacks, women or Native Americans, however, although the abolitionist and women’s rights movements got their start in this era.
II. Jackson the Man
- Jackson was a child during the American Revolution, born into the class of ‘poor whites’ in South Carolina. They suffered greatly during the war.
- He became a wealthy planter and slaveholder on the frontier, in a very violent time when dueling was common.
- Jackson made a name for himself as a politician and military commander, particularly in wars against the Native Americans and the British, most of all his victory at New Orleans in 1815.
III. The Jacksonian Presidency
- Jackson regarded his presidency as a continuation of the policies of Thomas Jefferson, such as opposing a high tariff, federal funding for internal improvements and above all, the Bank of the United States.
- He favored limited government, state’s rights and balanced budgets.
- There was great rivalry between the Northern and Southern wings of the Democratic Party. Led by Martin van Buren and John Caldwell Calhoun.
- He was widely criticized for leaning heavily on a cabal of advisers in the Kitchen Cabinet, led by the future Chief Justice Roger B. Taney.
IV. Conflict with Calhoun and Nullification Crises
- South Carolina opposed protective tariffs and threatened to nullify federal law rather than pay these. It was a cotton exporting state with little manufacturing and Calhoun argued the tariffs benefitted the North.
- Jackson passed a Force Bill and threatened to lead the military to South Carolina and execute Calhoun and the nullifiers.
- During this period, a famous debate took place in the Senate between Daniel Webster and Robert Hayne, with Webster defending the nationalist and centralizing theories of the Whigs versus Hayne’s support for secession and state’s rights.
- Military force was not necessary at this time, though, since the tariff was also lowered sufficiently to satisfy South Carolina.
V. Jacksonian Racism and Indian Removal
- During the Jacksonian Era, blacks, Native Americans and other nonwhites really had no voting or citizenship rights in the United States.
- In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act, which required all Native American to relocate to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) west of the Mississippi River.
- During the 1830s and 1840s, the U.S. military fought the Black Hawk and Seminole Wars against those tribes that refused to move voluntarily.
- The Cherokee nation sued the United States and the Supreme Court ruled that they did not have to move, but Jackson ignored this decision.
- About 25% of the Cherokees died on the Trail of Tears as the army marched them west to Oklahoma.
VI. The Bank War
- Jackson had always opposed the Whig-Federalist policy of a central bank or Bank of the United States (BUS) as unconstitutional. He was a strict constructionist in this respect and argued that the Constitutional had never specifically granted this power to the federal government, which he thought also benefited only the wealthy elites in the Northeast, represented by the head of the BUS, Francis Biddle.
- Jackson refused to grant a new charter to the BUS and also removed all federal deposits, causing its collapse.
- This led to an era of rampant speculation in land and securities, fueled by state and local banks that were now operating without any centralized regulation of control.
- In 1837, the boom collapsed in a Panic that led to a prolonged depression, the worst in U.S. history up to that time, which lasted well into the 1840s.
VII. Van Buren and the Whig and Democratic Parties
- Whigs followed the pro-industrialization policies of Alexander Hamilton, government support for railroads and other internal improvements, and high tariffs.
- Whigs were strongest in the more urban and commercial areas of the North, while Democrats had their base in the rural areas and the South.
- Van Buren won the election of 1836, but was a one-term president because of the depression that began in 1837. His efforts to deal with the depression, like creating an independent treasury, were unsuccessful.
- He was defeated by William Henry Harrison in 1840, but Harrison died after just one month in office.
Tindall. George Brown and David Shi. America A Narrative History, 8th Edition Volume 1.