I. The Rise of Mass Politics



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Chapter 9: Jacksonian America
I. The Rise of Mass Politics

- March 4th, 1829, Americans crowded before the capitol to witness the inauguration of Andrew Jackson

> “General Jackson is their own president”

A. The Expanding Electorate

- The “Age of Jackson” marked a transformation of politics that expanded the right to vote to new groups

- Most states restricted the franchise to white males who were property owners or taxpayers

- Before Jackson’s election, the rules governing voting began to expand

> Changes came first in Ohio and other new states in the West

- Older states began to grant similar politics rights to their citizens

- Daniel Webster opposed democratic changes

> “Property as such should have its weight and influence in political arrangement

- Forces of democratization prevailed in the states and reformers, citing the Declaration of Independence

> Maintained life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, not property, were main concerns of society and govt.

- In RI, democratization efforts created considerable instability

- Thomas L. Dorr and a group of his followers formed a “People’s Party,” held a convention, drafted a new constitution,

and submitted it to a popular vote, it was overwhelmingly approved.

- In 1842, two governments were claiming legitimacy

> The old state governments proclaimed that Dorr and his followers were rebels

- Dorrites made a brief and ineffectual effort to capture the state arsenal

> Dorr Rebellion quickly failed, but greatly expanded suffrage

- Slaves were not considered citizens and not believed to have legal or political rights

- In no state could a woman vote, where political bosses often bribed and intimidated them

- One of the most striking political trends was the change in the method of choosing presidential electors

- In 1800, the legislature had chosen the presidential electors in ten of the states, and the people in only six

- By 1828, electors were chosen by popular vote in every state but SC

> Election of 1828, the figure rose to 58 percent and in 1840 to 80 percent

B. The Legitimization of Party

- A new view: permanent institutional parties were a desirable part of the political process

> Idea of party occurred first at the state level, in NY

- For a party to survive, it must have a permanent opposition

> Competing parties would give each political faction a sense of purpose

> Forced politicians to remain continually attuned to the will of the people

> Check and balance each other the same way the different branches of govt. did

- The election of Jackson in 1828 legitimized the idea of party as a popular democratic institution

- In the 1830s, a fully formed two-party system began to operate at the national level

- The anti-Jackson forces began to call themselves Whigs

- Jackson followers called themselves Democrats (permanent name to the nation’s oldest political party)

C. “President of the Common Man”

- Democratic Party embraced no uniform ideological position, Jackson embraced a simple theory of democracy

> “Equal protection and equal benefits” to all its white male citizens & favored no region or class over another

> Effort to extend opportunities to the rising classes of the West and South

> Also meant a firm commitment to continuing subjugation of African Americans and Indians

- Jackson’s first targets were the entrenched office-holders in the federal govt.

> “To the victors belong the spoils.”

- By embracing the philosophy of the “spoils system,” the Jackson administration appointed their followers to public office (some estimates = 10-20% turnover of federal employees)

- In 1832, the president’s followers staged a national convention to re-nominate him

> Through the convention, power would arise directly from the people, not the aristocratic political institutions

- The spoils system and the political convention did serve to limit the power of two entrenched elites

> Neither really transferred power to the people

- Political opportunity was expanding, but much less so than Jacksonian rhetoric suggested

II. “Our Federal Union”

- Jackson believed in forceful presidential leadership and was strongly committed to preservation of the Union


A. Calhoun and Nullification

- Many in SC had come to believe that the “tariff or abominations” was responsible for stagnation of their state’s economy

> Some were ready to consider a drastic remedy- SECCESSION!!!

- Calhoun’s theory offered a more moderate alternative to secession: the theory of nullification

- Ideas of Madison and Jefferson and their Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions cited the Tenth Amendment

- Calhoun argued states- not the courts or Congress- were final arbiters of the constitutionality of federal laws

> A state could declare the federal law null and void within the state

B. The Rise of Van Buren

- Van Buren was appointed secretary of state

- Members of official and unofficial cabinet (political allies) were known as the “Kitchen Cabinet”

> friends and unofficial advisors to President Jackson

- Affair between Peggy O’Neale and Sen. Eaton (TN) in mid-1820s (Peggy Eaton Affair)

> O’Neale’s husband died in 1828 and she and Sen. Eaton were soon married

> Pres. Jackson named Eaton as Secreatry of War

> Peggy became a cabinet wife, but other cabinet wives refused to receive her

> Led to conflict between President Jackson and some cabinet members

- By 1831, partly as a result of the Peggy Eaton affair, Jackson had chosen Van Buren (VP) to succeed him



C. The Webster-Hayne Debate

- In January 1830, the controversy over nullification grew more intense

- Robert Y. Hayne charged that slowing down the growth of the West was a way for the East to retain its political and

economic growth.

- He hoped to attract support from westerners in Congress for South Carolina’s drive to lower the tariff

> Claimed both the South and West were victims of the tyranny of the Northeast

- Daniel Webster attacked Hayne for what he considered their challenge to the integrity of the Union

> Challenged Hayne to a debate on the issue of states’ rights versus national power

>Webster concluded with the ringing appeal: “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable!”

>President Jackson underscored certain words: “Our Federal Union- It must be preserved.”

>Calhoun responded: “The Union, next to our liberty most dear.”

- Issue started over the sale of western lands to an issue over states’ rights vs. federal rights



D. The Nullification Crisis

- SC voted to nullify the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 and forbid the collection of duties within the state

- SC elected Hayne to serve as governor and Calhoun (who resigned as VP) to replace Hayne as senator

- Jackson insisted the nullification was treason and strengthened the federal forts in South Carolina

- In 1833, Jackson proposed a force bill

> Authorized the president to use military to see that acts of Congress were obeyed

- Henry Clay averted a crisis, devised a compromise…the tariff would be lowered gradually to 1816 level

- Unwilling to allow Congress to have the last word, the convention nullified the Force Act

- Calhoun claimed a victory for nullification

- Episode taught Calhoun and his allies that no state could defy the federal government alone



III. The Removal of Indians

A. White Attitudes toward the Tribes

- In the 18th century, whites considered the Indians as “noble savages”

> Attitude changed in early 19th century to a more hostile one, particularly among whites in western states

- White westerners favored removal because they feared endless conflict and violence

> Most of all because of their own insatiable desire for territory  tribes possessed valuable land

- Legally, only the federal govt. had authority to negotiate w/ the Indians over land

> Supreme Court decisions established the tribes as “nations within the nation”

- Marshall Court declared the tribes not only sovereign nations, but also dependent ones

> US govt. interpreted that as a way to move the Natives out of the way of expanding white settlement

B. The Black Hawk War

- Notable chiefly for the viciousness of the white military officers against Sauk and Fox Indians

> Vowed to exterminate the “bandit collection of Indians” and attacked even when Black Hawk surrendered

- Retreated across the Mississippi into Iowa and white troops pursued them as they fled and slaughtered them

> Abraham Lincoln served as a captain of the militia, but saw no action

> Jefferson Davis was a lieutenant in the regular army


C. The “Five Civilized Tribes”

- Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, Chickasaw & Choctaw had established agrarian societies w/ successful economies

- Cherokees in GA had formed a stable & sophisticated culture w/ own written language & formal Constitution

> Some whites argues they should be allowed to retain their eastern lands, since they had become “civilized”

> Men took over farming and Cherokee women restricted themselves largely to domestic tasks

- In 1830, Congress passed the Removal Act (w/ Jackson’s approval) which aimed at relocating them West

- Southern tribes faced a combination of pressures from both the state and federal governments, most tribes were too weak

to resist, and they ceded their lands in return for only token payments

- In Georgia, the Cherokees tried to stop the white encroachments, which were actively encouraged by Jackson, by

appealing the Supreme Court

- The Court’s decisions seemed to vindicate the tribe, but Jackson’s hostility toward natives left him with little sympathy

for the Cherokees & little patience with the Court, eager to retain the support of white southerners & westerners

- His reaction to John Marshall’s rulings reflected his belief that the justices express hostility to his presidency

- “John Marshall made his decision, now let him enforce it.” The decision was not enforced, however

- In 1835, the federal government extracted a treaty from a minority faction of the Cherokees, none of them a chosen

representative of the Cherokee nation

- The treaty ceded the tribe’s land to Georgia in return for $5 million and a reservation west of the Mississippi, but

majority of the 17,000 Cherokees didn’t recognize the treaty as legitimate and refused to leave their homes

- Jackson sent an army of 7,000 under Gen. Winfield Scott to round them up & drive them westward at bayonet point

D. Trails of Tears

- About 1,000 Cherokee fled to North Carolina, where the federal government eventually provided a small reservation for

them in the Smoky Mountains

- The rest made the long forced trek to “Indian Territory” (now Indiana)

- “Even aged females, apparently nearly ready to drop in the grave, were traveling with heavy burdens attached to their

backs, sometimes on frozen ground and sometimes on muddy streets, with no covering on their feet.”

- Thousands, perhaps an eighth or more of the émigrés, perished

- Jackson claimed that the “remnant of that ill- fated race was beyond the reach of injury or oppression.”

- Virtually all of the “Five Civilized Tribes” were expelled from the southern states and forced to relocate

- The Choctaws were the first to make the trek. The army moved out the Creeks in 1836. The Chickasaw began the long

march westward a year later

- The government thought the Indian Territory was safely distant from existing white settlements and consisted of land

that most whites considered undesirable

- Only the Seminoles in Florida managed to resist the pressure to relocate

- A substantial minority, under the leadership of the chieftain Osceola, refused to leave and staged an uprising, joining the

Indians in their struggle was a group of runaway black slaves who have been living with the tribe

- The Seminole War dragged on for years, the Seminoles with their African-American associates were masters of guerilla

warfare in the jungle terrain of the Everglades

- Finally, in 1842, the government abandoned the war and the relocation of the Seminoles was never complete

E. The Meaning of Removal

- The tribes had ceded over 100 million acres of eastern land to the federal government; they had received in return about

$68 million and 32 million acres west of the Mississippi. There they lived divided by tribe in a territory surrounded by a

string of United States forts to keep them in

- Eventually, even this forlorn enclave would face incursions from white civilization

- Several alternatives to the brutal removal policy, in the West, were white settlers and native tribes living side by side and

creating a shared world

- Pueblos of New Mexico, fur trading posts of the Northwest, Texas and Canada

- Even during the famous Lewis and Clark expedition, white settlers had lived with western Indians

- The westward-moving whites of later years came to imagine the territories they were entering as a virgin land

- Native Americans could not be partners in the creation of new societies in the West.

- Indians, Andrew Jackson had once said, “Neither the intelligence, the industry, the moral habits, nor the desire of

improvement” to be fit partners

- White Americans justified a series of harsh policies that they believed (incorrectly) would make the West theirs alone



IV. Jackson and the Bank War

- Jackson was quite willing to use federal power against rebellious states and Indian tribes. On economic issues, however,

he was consisted opposed to concentrating power in the federal government or aristocratic institutions associated with it
A. Biddle’s Institution

- The Bank of the US in the 1830s was a mighty institution headquarters in Philadelphia

- It had branches in twenty-nine other cities, making it the most powerful institution in the nation, by law, the Bank was

the only place that the federal government could deposit its own funds

- The govt. owned one-fifth of the banks stock, provided credit to growing enterprises, issued bank notes and exercised a

restraining effect on the less well-managed state banks

- Nicholas Biddle, who served a President of the Bank, did a lot to put the institution on a sound and prosperous basis

Soft Money Hard Money

- Wanted more money in circulation - Gold and silver were the only basis for money

- Objected the Bank of the U.S. - Condemned all Banks that issued bank notes

- Rapid economic growth/ speculation - Embraced older ideas of “public virtue”

- Consisted largely of bankers and their allies - Jackson supported Hard Money
- Jackson had been involved in some grandiose land and commercial speculations based on paper credit

- His business had failed and he had fallen deeper into debt as a result of the Panic of 1797, after that he was suspicious of

all banks and all paper currency

- Jackson made it clear that he wouldn’t favor renewing the charter of Bank of the US, which was due to expire in 1836

- Biddle began granting financial favors to influential men who he thought might help him preserve the bank

- Congress passed the recharter bill; Jackson vetoed it

- Jackson defeated Clay with 55 percent of the popular vote and 219 electoral votes

B. The “Monster” Destroyed

- Jackson was now more determined then ever to destroy the “monster” Bank

- He decided to remove the government’s deposits from the bank

- His Secretary of Treasury believed it would destabilize the financial system and refused to give the order

- Jackson fired him and appointed a new one; new secretary similarly balked, Jackson fired him too

- Taney began placing the government’s deposits in a number of state banks called “pet banks”

- When administration began to transfer funds to the pet banks Biddle called in loans and raised interest rates

- He realized his actions were likely to cause financial distress, he hoped a short recession would persuade Congress to re-

charter the Bank

- Financial conditions worsened in the winter of 1833-34; supporters of the bank blamed Jackson’s polices for recession

- Biddle contracted credit too far even for his own allies in the business community

- To appease the business community, Biddle at last reversed himself and began to grant credit in abundance

> Ended his chances of winning a recharter of the bank

- Jackson had won a considerable political victory

- When the Bank of the United States died in 1836 the country lost a valuable financial institution

> left with fragmented and unstable banking system



C. The Taney Court

- Taney gradually helped modify Marshall’s vigorous nationalism

- Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge of 1837

- Decision reflected Jacksonian ideal: the key to democracy was an expansion of economic opportunity



V. Changing face of American Politics

- Jackson’s forceful tactics in crushing the nullification movement and the Bank of the US galvanized a growing pposition

coalition known as the Whigs

> Scholars now call it the “Second Party System”



A. Democrats and Whigs

- Democrats envisioned expanding economic and political opportunities for white males

> Role of govt. should be limited and it should remove obstacles to opportunity

>Meant defending the Union and attacking centers of corrupt privilege

- Jackson said in his farewell address “The planter, farmer, mechanic and laborer all know that their success depends on

their own industry and economy”

- Whigs favored expanding the power of the federal govt.

> Encouraged industrial and commercial development into a consolidated economic system

>Whigs embraced material progress, but were cautious about westward expansion (rapid growth = instability)

> Envisioned an industrial future as a commercial and manufacturing power

> Favored establishing banks, corporations and other modernizing institutions

- Whigs were strongest among merchants & manufacturers of NE, planters in the South, and farmers & rising commercial

class of West

> Advocated internal improvements, expanding trade, and rapid economic progress

- Democrats drew support from smaller merchants and workingmen of the NE

> Southern planters suspicious of industrial growth

> Westerners favored a predominantly agrarian economy

- Whigs were wealthier than Democrats > more aristocratic backgrounds & more commercially ambitious

- Religious and ethnic divisions played an important role in determining the constituencies of the two parties

> Irish and German Catholics tended to support the Democrats

> Evangelical Protestants gravitated toward the Whigs

- Whigs tended to divide their loyalties among three figures

> “Great Triumvirate”: Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and John Calhoun

- Clay won support from those who favored his program for internal improvements and economic development,

> Called the American System

> He ran for president three times and never won

- Daniel Webster won broad support with his passionate speeches in defense of the Constitution and the Union

> His close connection with the Bank of the US and the protective tariff, his reliance on rich men for financial support

and his excessive fondness for brandy prevented him from winning the office

- John C. Calhoun never considered himself a true Whig

> He had tremendous strength in the South and supported a national bank

- Democrats were united behind Andrew Jackson’s personal choice for president, Martin Van Buren

- Whigs could not even agree on a single candidate, while Webster represented the party in New England

- In the end, Van Buren won easily with 170 electoral votes to 124 for all his opponents



B. Van Buren and the Panic of 1837

- Andrew Jackson retired from public life in 1837, the most loved political figure of his age

- Van Buren encountered economic difficulties that devastated the Democrats and helped the Whigs

- In 1836, Jackson issued the “specie circular”

> Payment for public lands would only be accepted utilizing gold or silver

- It provided a financial panic that began in the first months of Van Buren’s presidency

> Hundreds of banks failed, unemployment grew, and bread riots broke out in larger cities

- Prices fell, especially the price of land, railroad and canal projects failed

- It was the worst depression in American history to that point, and it lasted for five years

> A political catastrophe for Van Buren and the Democrats

- Van Buren did succeed in establishing a ten-hour workday, one of only a few of legislative achievements

- The most important was the creation of a new financial system to replace the Bank of the US

> Govt. would place its funds in an independent treasury in Washington

- In 1840, the administration finally succeeded in driving the measure through both houses of Congress



C. The Log Cabin Affair

- Whigs held the first national nominating convention and chose William Henry Harrison and John Tyler for VP

- Harrison was a renowned soldier, a famous Indian fighter, and a popular national figure

- Democrats nominated Van Buren

- Harrison won the election with 234 electoral votes and a popular vote majority of 53 percent

D. The Frustration of the Whigs

- Harrison died of pneumonia one month after taking office  VP Tyler succeeded him

- Tyler was a former Democrat, but there were still signs of his Democratic past in his approach to public policy

- Refused to support Clay’s attempt to re-charter a Bank of the US

- Vetoed several internal improvement bills that Clay and other congressional Whigs sponsored

- Finally, a conference of congressional Whigs read Tyler out of the party



E. Whig Diplomacy

- Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842 established a firm northern boundary between the US and Canada

> Along the Maine-New Brunswick border

- During the Tyler administration, the US established its first diplomatic relations with China

- In the Treaty of Wang Hya, Cushing secured most-favored-nation provisions

- He also won the Americans the right of “extraterritoriality”

> the right of Americans accused of crimes in China to be tried by American, not Chinese, officials

- In the next ten years, American trade with China steadily increased



- In the election of 1844, the Whigs lost the White HouseHayne H


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