Directions: You are advised to spend 5 minutes planning and 30 minutes writing your answer. Cite relevant historical evidence in support of your generalizations and present your arguments clearly and logically



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Free Response Essay: Jacksonian Period
Directions: You are advised to spend 5 minutes planning and 30 minutes writing your answer. Cite relevant historical evidence in support of your generalizations and present your arguments clearly and logically.
Topic: The Jacksonian Period (1824-1848) has been celebrated as the era of the “common man.” To what extent did the period live up to its characterization? Consider TWO of the following in your response.

Economic development

Politics

Reform movements

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Although a “corrupt bargain”, the election of 1824 began a period in American history in which the needs of the “common man” were addressed instead of those of the New England Federalists or aristocratic plantation owner. One of the most remarkable changes surrounding the Jacksonian Period was the advent of universal white male suffrage. In addition, presidential campaigns had to evolve in order to reach a mostly uneducated, uninformed majority. Finally, reform movements sprung up that contributed to the political changes that benefited the “common man.” Although, the Jacksonian Period celebrated the common man through political enfranchisement and reform, the era did limit the inclusion of non-white males.

One of the most remarkable changes surrounding the Jacksonian Period was the advent of universal white male suffrage. By the election of 1824, several western states had been admitted to the Union. These new states such as Alabama, Missouri, and Ohio lowered their property qualifications to vote thereby encouraging higher participation by the average farmer, merchant, or laborer sending the theory of “rule by the best people” out the window. Granting greater access to the common man upset the balance of power away from New England during the heated debates of the tariff in which the Vice President, Calhoun, was able to force a showdown with Jackson ultimately resulting in a compromise tariff of 1833. However, both of these actions had negative consequences on the Common Man such as the Panic of 1837 in which many farmers lost their farms with the creation of the Specie Circular Act and workers lost their jobs due to high tariffs. However, this frustration during Van Buren, Harrison, and Tyler administrations universal white manhood suffrage led to the rise in third parties of the Anti-Masonic Party and the Know Nothing Parties providing more options for the Common Man. Ultimately, a new era of politics arose in which the presidents no longer reflected the ideals of the upper classes, because government was more accessible to the Common Man.

In addition, presidential campaigns had to evolve in order to reach a mostly uneducated, uninformed majority. One change the states incorporated was to move from a nominating caucus to a nominating convention. Involving more citizens in the process of choosing a president also introduced a negative consequence, that of a spoils system. The spoils system, although created by John Quincy Adams, gave lucrative bureaucratic jobs to supporters of the president, with the “corrupt bargain” the ultimate example. Although this system encouraged patronage and corruption in government, it did involve more middle class in the government process. In addition, after the president was nominated, candidates had to reach a mostly uneducated, uninformed majority introducing a more broad campaign strategy--that of relying on the character flaws and spectacle rather than issues. Politics in an election year became popular entertainment with each party creating false myths such as the Whigs did in 1840 with the Democratic Harrison with “Log cabin and Hard Cider” or portraying Andrew Jackson as “King Andrew I.” With more interest in presidential elections during this period, the Common Man was more likely to participate in the election process.

Finally, reform movements sprung up that contributed to the political changes that benefited the a majority of the “common man.” The industrial revolution of the 1830’s led to growing social reforms that touched the lives of women, children, slaves, prisoners, and religious followers. Early on, women took the lead in the prison reform and temperance movement. Those movements quickly led to a growing abolitionist movement, under the leadership of Emma Willard, Susan B. Anthony, and Carrie Chapman Catt led all reform movements in energy and ambition. Although their “Declaration of Rights of Women” failed to gain women the right to vote, the momentum led to a change in many state laws regarding women’s issues. Although the abolition of slavery was not successful, William Lloyd Garrison and Harriet Beecher Stowe became wildly successful in gathering support. Idealistic communes such as found in New Harmony, Brook Farm, and Nauvoo spread the message reform, peace, and self-reliance for those seeking religious freedom. And although the immigrants fought against fierce prejudice from the nativists, they too found changes in public schools and modernized transportation. If Native Americans are included in the “common man” they not only struggled under President Jackson but suffered corruption and disease on their new reservations west of the Mississippi River. Although the reform movements were limited to white men and women, there were tremendous strides in addressing the basic ills of society greatly benefiting the common man.

The following are three lists put together by the readers of the AP Test after they read the 100,000 exams. The terms in italicized font relate to “Economic Development”, the terms in bold relate to “Politics,” and the terms underlined relate to “Reform Movements.” Look at your own FRQ and see how many you included!



WHAT WE SAW FREQUENTLY


  • Tariff of Abominations, 1828

  • Maysville Road veto of 1830

  • Tariff, 1833

  • BUS

  • Wildcat/pet banks

  • Specie Circular

  • Panic of 1837

  • Universal white manhood suffrage

  • Electoral College-chosen by the people

  • End of caucus/begin of national conventions

  • Anti-Masonic Party

  • Election 1824/ “Corrupt Bargain”

  • Spoils system

  • King Andrew I

  • Nullification Crisis

  • Bank War

  • The election of 1832

  • Indian Removal/Trail of Tears

  • Election of 1840

  • Second Great Awakening

  • Abolitionism

  • D. Dix

  • Seneca Falls

  • Transcendentalism

  • Temperance

WHAT WE SAW RARELY



  • Panic of 1819

  • Van Buren’s

  • Laissez-faire response

  • Lowell Factory girls

  • Independent Treasury

  • Missouri Compromise

  • The New Democracy

  • Revolution of 1828

  • The Whig Party

  • Election of 1836

  • The two party system

  • Burned-Over District

  • H. Mann

  • C. Finney

  • Utopianism

  • Brook Farm, Shakers, New Harmony, Oneida, Nauvoo

  • Garrison, Weld, Grimke Sisters

WHAT WE DID NOT SEE



  • Internal Improvements

  • American System

  • Cotton gin

  • Factory system

  • Eli Whtiney

  • Corporation laws

  • Sewing machines

  • McCormick’s reaper

  • Cumberland Road

  • Erie Canal

  • Veto of the 3rd BUS

  • Pacific/Asian markets

  • Charles River Bridge

  • Gibbons v. Ogden

  • Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842)

  • Market Revolution

  • JQA and Spoils System

  • Jefferson Day Toast

  • Peggy Eaton Affair

  • The Texas issue

  • Anti-foreignism/nativism

  • Election of 1844 and expansionism

  • Wilmot Proviso of 1846

  • L. Alcott

  • W. Whitman

  • S. Graham

  • J. Smith/B. Young/Mormons





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