Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson became the nation’s seventh president in 1829. He made significant changes in American politics at that time. He was very popular with the people because of the fact that he was a hero of the War of 1812. He had also served in the senate and was a tough man who had manifested the spirit of the frontier. One change Jackson brought about was the steadily increasing power of the west. He happened to be the first president to come from the west of the Appalachians. Jackson was also the start of a new era of democracy in American politics.

He didn’t belong to a party but rather had much popular support. Jackson supporters were poor and relatively new voters. Unlike other races (besides that of 1824) all white men were allowed to vote rather than just white male property owners. The election of Jackson in 1828 tripled the votes cast from 356,000 in 1824 to 1. 1 million in 1828. Most of those new voters gave their votes to the man of the people, Jackson. The power of the voters was evident. Jackson had won 178 electoral votes to Adam’s 83. The election also stirred another change; the revival of the two-party system.

This race gave voters a choice between two candidates with sharply differing views. An opposition party had arisen and with it came many conflicts but the new party would also strengthen the democratic process by stirring debates on key issues and giving two different views on matters. Many newly elected officials elected to office used a practice called patronage. Jackson made the practice official by dismissing more than 200 presidential employees and about 2,000 other officeholders. They were replaced with 2,000 Jacksonian Democrats. The term spoils system was soon derived for the patronage system under Jackson.

The spoils or pillage (jobs of previous appointees and officeholders) were taken from a defeated enemy. Jackson stated, in defense of the spoils system that any intelligent man could hold a public office. His support for the system made him popular with the common man. Jackson did not approve of a overpowering or controlling federal government. He felt the national government should be the least involved as possible. He vetoed many acts of congress in his term as president, one being a road from Maysville, Kentucky to Lexington, Kentucky. He felt the state should build the road and not the national government.

Jackson’s idea of a limited government shared the beliefs of many Americans who feared the power of the federal government. During Jackson’s first term as president two major crises arouse. One being the Tariff of 1828. The other one being the Indian Crises. The passing of the Tariff of 1828 by congress placed a heavy tax on imports trying to encourage Americans to manufacture in America. The tariff benefited the north greatly while it harmed the south whose economy was based on importing and exporting cotton and other crops with foreign nations.

South Carolina declared the tariffs to be null or void and then threatened to secede from the union. After Jackson threatened to send troops in and after passing the Force Bill, which required South Carolina pay the tariffs, a truce was met. The tariffs were lowered and South Carolina removed its nullification act. Jackson, while president, supported the states efforts to remove Native American tribes from their territories and to farm the land from which they were taken. He also encouraged the Indian Removal Act passed by Congress in 1830.

The act gave him the ability to give Native Americans land in parts of the Louisiana Purchase in exchange for lands taken from them in the East. About 100,000 members from tribes were relocated from about 100 million acres of mostly cultivated land to about 32 million acres of land which is now Oklahoma. The Natives in many ways tried to keep the Americans out. The Cherokees sued but were told they were not citizens of the United States nor were they a foreign nation so therefore they could not sue. The Cherokees also sought help from the Senate but were rejected.

Then they tried winning the support of the American people but that failed also. Finally, they received help from Samuel Austin Worchester and were told by Chief Justice John Marshall that Georgia could not have authority over Cherokee territory but the ruling was ignored by the state and by Jackson. In 1839, 15,00 Cherokees were put in camps while their homes were burned. They then began a 116 day march west. The Cherokees referred to the predicament as the Trail of Tears. Jackson felt the Bank the United States was unfair and that it was to blame for the panic of 1819.

The bank was scheduled to operate until 1836 under its charter. Supporters of the bank wanted to re-charter it in 1832, four years early. They thought that if Jackson vetoed the bank, then they would use that against him in the election of 1832. However, Jackson did not give in and vetoed the bill justifying it as protecting the rights of ordinary citizens. He went on to win the election of 1832 by a very large margin over the National Republican Henry Clay. The election of 1832 had reestablished the two-party system, consisting of the National Republicans and Jackson’s Democrats.

The National Republicans would later take on the name Whigs claiming that Jackson ruled with tyranny and a king-like stature. They later christened him “King Andrew I. ” During Jackson’s second term as president he withdrew federal funds and but them into banks around the country. The banks printed excessive amounts of paper money and in 1836 Jackson had to declare that the federal government would only except gold and silver for public lands. The order, called the Specie Circular, weakened the banks and triggered the Panic of 1837 and another in 1839 lasting until 1849. This predicament never faltered Jackson’s public appearance.

He left office more popular than when he had entered it for there was widespread approval of his actions which had a great effect on U. S. politics. Many people questioned democracy in 1829 but there were few who questioned it in 1837. Jackson proved to be experienced on the frontier, popular with the masses, and devoted to democracy. His elections led to the revival of the two-party system and he had proved to be the most skillful political leader of his time. When elected president in 1828 he had no definite party but rather was a candidate of a faction. When he left office in 1836 he left a well-organized Democratic Party as a legacy.

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