The “Revolution” of 1800 Election of 1800



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The “Revolution” of 1800

Election of 1800

  • Federalist party’s power waned during Adams’ presidency due to:

    • the anger over the seemingly-unconstitutional Alien and Sedition Acts

    • the increased taxes required to fund Adams’ build-up of the navy while war with France loomed

  • candidates in 1800:

    • Feds: John Adams (65 EV) and Charles Pinckney (64 EV)

    • Reps: Thomas Jefferson (73 EV) and Aaron Burr (73 EV)

  • Jefferson defeated Adams but tied with fellow Republican Aaron Burr (who was supposed to become VP); Burr decided not to defer to Jefferson but compete for presidency itself

    • with no majority in the Electoral College, election had to be decided by the (still Federalist-controlled) House of Representatives; each state’s delegation in the House was to cast one vote; the winner needed to win majority of states (9 of 16)

      • Republican states supported TJ, while Federalist states leaned towards Burr; Hamilton urged Feds to support TJ, whom he considered less dangerous than Burr

      • after many ballots, TJ prevailed giving Reps control of presidency and Congress; Feds still dominated the judiciary (see Marshall Court)

    • 12th Amendment (1804) – required separate ballots for president and vice president

      • eliminated the possibility of a tie between two candidates from the same party (Election of 1800)

      • all but eliminated the possibility of president and VP from different parties (Election of 1796)

    • in his inaugural address, Jefferson stated, “We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists…”

The “Revolution” of 1800

  • Election of 1800 called a “revolution” for two reasons:

    • Jefferson saw the election of Republicans as almost a “second American Revolution;” he thought Feds had misused the Constitution to create a strong central government like Britain and Reps would return to the ideals of the American Revolution (liberty, equality)…but would they?

      • Reps represented the interests of the common man or farmers (Feds – wealthy, industry)

      • Reps favored greater political participation, more true democracy; viewed government as the guardian of the people against the abuses of the wealthy class (Feds – republicanism, elite)

      • Reps supported lower taxes, opposed the Bank, preferred agriculture over industry

      • Reps wanted a limited national government and a strict interpretation of the Const (Feds – loose)

      • Reps supported France and thought Feds had brought US close to war with France

    • also labeled “Revolution” because it was the peaceful (though maybe not smooth) transition of power from one party to its rival; rare for its day and taken for granted today

Jeffersonian Reforms

  • Republican Congress let some of the Alien and Sedition Acts expire and repealed others; TJ released those jailed under the laws

  • TJ supported Republican campaign to impeach partisan Federalist judges; only one was actually removed by the Senate; but the threat of impeachment, however, was enough to moderate Federalist decisions

  • Reps reduced national debt by:

    • reducing the size of the federal government (employees, departments, etc.)

    • cutting the army in half and suspending the planned expansion of the navy

    • closing several foreign embassies

  • Republican Congress repealed the excise taxes (including whiskey) and other direct taxes

Louisiana Purchase

  • Louisiana was French until 1783; Spanish until 1800; then reacquired by Napoleon who hoped to rebuild France’s American empire; however, by early 1800s, Napoleon lost interest due to:

    • a need to concentrate French resources on its war with Britain

    • heavy French losses in a rebellion led by Toussaint L’Ouverture on Santo Domingo (in Caribbean)

  • American western farmers saw the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and the port of New Orleans as vital to their interests; a foreign presence in Louisiana threatened their access to these waterways

  • in 1802, Spanish officials (who still controlled the port of New Orleans, although not all of La.) closed the port to Americans; TJ feared this would damage the American economy and possibly lead to war if lands remained in foreign hands

  • TJ sent ministers to France with an offer of $10 million for New Orleans and a strip of land in northern Florida; Napoleon responded with an offer of all of Louisiana for $15 million

    • TJ faced a constitutional predicament: as a strict constructionist, TJ knew the Constitution did not specifically authorize the president to purchase foreign land; to purchase La., he would have to agree with AH that some powers are implied

    • despite some Federalist opposition, Senate Republicans quickly ratified the deal

  • consequences of the Louisiana Purchase:

    • it doubled the land-size of US

    • it opened the frontier to settlement west of Mississippi (which Americans will be settling until about 1890)

    • it opened the debate on whether or not slavery would exist in this new territory (major cause of Civil War)

    • it supported TJ’s vision of an agrarian society

    • it removed a foreign presence (France and Spain) from the nation’s borders

    • it increased TJ’s popularity (easily re-elected in 1804) and further weakened Federalists

Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806)

  • even before LP, TJ persuaded Congress to fund a scientific exploration of the trans-Mississippi West

  • Capt. Meriwether Lewis and Lt. William Clark headed an expedition from St. Louis, MO to Pacific and back

  • expedition’s results:

    • increased geographic and scientific knowledge of territory

    • strengthened US claims to Oregon Territory (Pacific Northwest)

    • improved relations with Indian tribes

    • developed maps and routes for trappers and future settlers

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

  • in 1803, only judiciary was controlled by Federalists (GW and JA’s appointments would serve for life as Constitution says)

  • before leaving office, Adams appointed John Marshall (Federalist, nationalist) as chief justice

    • used Marbury decision to strengthen the judicial branch and make it a co-equal branch of the government

    • later decisions of Marshall Court strengthened federal government’s power over states

  • Marbury v. Madison (1803)

    • Feds (under Adams) passed Judiciary Act of 1800, creating new federal judgeships that could be filled with Federalists (“midnight judges”); not all commissions (appointments) were delivered before Adams left office

    • upon taking office, TJ ordered Secretary of State James Madison not to deliver the commissions; Marbury and others sued for their commissions

    • Marshall and the Court now faced a dilemma:

      • if the Court ordered TJ & JM to deliver the commissions, TJ could ignore the order and the Court would appear weak in respect to the other branches

      • if the Court sided with TJ, it would appear afraid of TJ (the executive) and this would establish a precedent that the Supreme Court is subservient to the other branches

    • Marshall’s decision:

      • Marbury and the others are entitled to their commissions; Jefferson had no right to deny them

      • however…the Court’s power to order TJ & JM to deliver the commissions (a power known as a writ of mandamus, which was given to the Court by the Judiciary Act of 1789) was declared unconstitutional so, thus, the Court could not constitutionally order the commissions delivered

    • significance of Marshall’s decision:

      • Marbury established the Court’s power of “judicial review” – the power to determine the constitutionality of acts of Congress and the president

        • in other words, the Court was establishing itself as the final arbiter of the Constitution

        • also made the Court a co-equal branch of government (with Congress and president)

      • Marbury resolved (at least for now) the issue of nullification as TJ & JM argued in the Kentucky & Virginia Resolutions (in 1798-99)

      • the next time the Court used its power of judicial review was not until the Dred Scott case in 1857

Jefferson’s Challenges: Foreign Affairs

Aaron Burr

  • in the election of 1804, TJ was overwhelmingly reelected; but Republicans chose not to re-nominate VP Burr

  • Burr, in conjunction with some radical Federalists, plotted to win the governorship of NY, join it to New England, and secede from the Union; Hamilton helped defeat Burr’s election and this conspiracy dissipated

    • in 1804, Burr killed Hamilton in a duel at Weehawken, NJ after claiming that Hamilton publicly insulted him

  • Burr’s western conspiracy

    • by 1806, Burr developed a plan to seize Mexico by force and unite it with Louisiana under his rule

    • TJ ordered Burr’s arrest, but jury found him not guilty using a narrow definition of treason developed by John Marshall (a Jefferson adversary) and because there were no credible witnesses

Difficulties on the High Seas

  • War with the Barbary Pirates (or Tripolitan War)

    • Arab pirates off northern (Barbary) coast of Africa frequently attacked US merchant ships; GW and JA reluctantly paid tribute to protect the merchants

    • Pasha of Tripoli demanded larger tribute from Jefferson; TJ responded by sending a small naval fleet

    • Tripolitan War (1801-1805) resolved little, but it earned US some respect and protection in the region

  • Napoleonic Wars – both Britain and France continued to try to stop US trade with their rival during the on-going war

    • Orders in Council – a British “paper blockade” of France’s (and her allies’) ports

    • Napoleon’s Continental System

      • Berlin Decree – a French blockade of Britain’s (and her allies’) ports

      • Milan Decree – the French stated that they would seize ships trading with Britain

    • meanwhile, both nations continued to seize US cargo and the British practice of impressments continued

  • Chesapeake-Leopard Affair

    • British warship Leopard attacked USS Chesapeake off US coast, killing 3 Americans and wounding 8 others

    • incident was similar to Adams’ troubles with XYZ Affair/Quasi-War with France; how would TJ handle the call for war with Britain?

  • TJ responded with economic pressure (“peaceful coercion”)

    • Embargo Act (1807) – banned all foreign trade with all nations

      • Embargo met stiff resistance (including illegal smuggling), especially in New England

      • Embargo backfired and severely damaged the American economy (O, this cursed ‘Ograbme’)

    • Nonintercourse Act (1809) – plan resumed trade with all nations, except Britain and France – but had little impact on the struggling economy

    • Macon’s Bill No. 2 (1810-1811) – under James Madison

      • restored trade with Britain and France, but pledged to suspend trade with the enemy of whichever nation lifted its restrictions on the US first

      • Napoleon deceived Madison into thinking France would lift restrictions – Madison accepted Napoleon’s offer and ceased trade with Britain – French continued harassments and seizures despite offer

      • by the time Britain responded and lifted the Orders in Council, US had already declared war


Legacy of the War of 1812

Results and Effects of the War of 1812

  • US had now survived two wars against most powerful nation thus earning respect of other nations

  • US came to accept Canada as a neighbor and would soon establish peaceful relations with Britain

  • The Federalist party lost support nationwide, including in New England – would never again be a force in national politics (although their principles and policies will soon be “reincarnated” as the Whigs, and later, the Republicans)

  • With the British removed from the western forts, and without continued British support, Native Americans in the West were forced to surrender more land to white settlers

  • As a result of the British wartime blockade, American industry blossomed moving the US closer to industrial self-sufficiency

  • War heroes, like Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison, would soon emerge as political leaders

  • Americans sensed that their future lay with the settling and developing of the West and isolating themselves from European affairs

  • Americans developed a strong sense of nationalism (Star-Spangled Banner)


The Transportation and Market Revolutions

Transportation Revolution

  • early 19th century was the era of roads and canals

  • Lancaster (PA) Turnpike (1790s)

    • first major intrastate toll road built connecting major cities (Philadelphia to Lancaster to Pittsburgh, PA), facilitating travel to the Northwest Territory

    • most roads of this era, including the Lancaster Pike, were funded by the individual states and not the federal government

  • National (or Cumberland) Road

    • first major interstate road built, initially connecting Cumberland, MD to Wheeling, VA (1811-1818); later extended to IL

    • one of few early roads to receive any federal funding

  • steamboats

    • use of steam power made shipping faster, easier, cheaper; allowed for travel upstream (upriver), as opposed to just going downstream with the current

    • Robert Fulton’s Clermont was first steamboat (1807)

    • whereas toll roads helped facilitate greater travel, steamboat navigation of rivers and canals aided in transportation of cargo, making economic growth possible

  • canals

    • in the first quarter of the 19c, America still needed to link the agriculture of the West (and the transportation networks of the Great Lakes, the Ohio, and the Mississippi) to the ports and cities of the Atlantic coast

    • the Erie Canal (completed in 1825) was first major canal built connecting western farms with eastern cities

      • it connected the Great Lakes (Lake Erie) to the Atlantic Ocean (via the Hudson River and NYC)

      • the success of the Erie Canal inspired other states to build canals – most every city, lake, and river east of the Mississippi River was connected by 1840

    • canals reduced food costs, encouraged immigrants to settle the West, and strengthened East-West economic ties

    • canal boom of 1820s and 1830s waned by late 1830s and 1840s as canals proved unprofitable, the Panic of 1837 halted construction, and canals began to be displaced by railroads

      • first railroad built in 1828

      • the era of the railroads begins in earnest in the 1840s and later

Growth of the Market Economy

  • overview of the growth of US industrial economy

    • 1800 – US economy was dominated by agriculture, little industry or manufacturing

    • 1850s – more industry than agriculture for the first time

    • 1900 – US became the world’s leading industrial nation

  • improvements in transportation reduced the cost of transporting goods – as a result, commercial agriculture (farming for profit, not just subsistence) and manufacturing became more profitable and expanded

  • furthermore, population shifts to more fertile and productive lands increased crop yields

    • West (Old Northwest or Midwest) became the breadbasket of the nation, producing wheat and other crops

    • South (esp. Deep South) became world’s leading cotton producer for several reasons:

      • rise of textile manufacturing in Britain and New England

      • population shift to the fertile “black belt” region of the Southwest (AL, MS, LA)

      • availability of slaves

      • Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin (1793)

        • made separating the seed from the cotton easier

        • as result, cotton-growing became profitable and expanded; replaced tobacco, wheat production in much of the South

        • new profitability of cotton actually increased need for slave labor



  • commerce and banking

    • the expansion of farming and manufacturing was dependent on the expansion of credit (start-up money or capital); farmers, small manufacturers sought credit from local merchants who in turn sought credit from larger merchants or manufacturers in the capital centers of Britain or the US (NYC)

    • whereas the earlier local economies could survive on barter and trade, the new long-distance market economy needed cash (and banking systems to provide it) in order to work

    • the federal government did not yet issue paper money and issued too little coin to meet the need for cash

      • the dissolution of the BUS in 1811 and the War of 1812 further dried up the available case

      • state banks filled the void by issuing banknotes, but this flood of differing currencies led to fears of rampant inflation

      • Congress responded with the charter of the 2BUS in 1816 (see Clay’s American System); but the overextension of credit by the 2BUS led to financial disaster and the Panic of 1819

      • the overall effect in this period (1810s through 1830s) was general hostility toward banks

  • early industrialization and labor

    • interchangeable parts

      • the concept of interchangeable parts for machines allowed for the mass production and cheaper manufacture of goods

      • Eli Whitney developed interchangeable parts for rifle during War of 1812

    • factories

      • Samuel Slater introduced the factory system to US in 1791 from Britain

      • the Embargo, the War of 1812, and post-war protective tariffs allowed for the growth of factories and mills

      • New England, NY, PA became the leaders in industrialization due to:

        • abundant rivers to power the machines

        • good transportation networks and seaports for shipping goods



    • cheap labor was initially hard to find as many sought cheap and readily available land in the West, but the supply of labor improved due to:

      • a decline in farming in New Eng. (as food production shifted to West)

      • the use of women and children as a source of labor

      • by the 1850s, an increasing supply of immigrants (primarily Irish)

    • Lowell System of textile mills became the model for New England factories

      • Lowell was the “great showplace of early American industrialization”

      • workers lived in boarding houses on site and lived very socially and morally regulated lives

      • most workers were young, single women (and were later replaced by Irish immigrants)

      • as conditions worsened, many women became militant labor activists (Lowell Female Labor Reform Association)

  • unions

    • many skilled (or craft) workers who had previously had their own shops moved to factories as they could not compete with cheaper, mass-produced goods

    • long hours, low pay, poor working conditions led to discontent among many workers

    • the primary goal of early unions was to reduce workday to 10 hours, but this was difficult to achieve because:

      • management quickly replaced them with immigrant workers

      • most state laws outlawed unions as “criminal conspiracies”

        • Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842)

          • decision by the Massachusetts state supreme court declared that non-violent labor unions were not criminal conspiracies

          • ruling only governed MA, not the nation, and had little impact on government protecting the rights of labor unions (this protection will not develop until 1930s)

      • periodic economic depressions created high unemployment



  • women’s occupations

    • few women worked outside the home or farm in the first half of 19c

    • most of those who did were teachers or domestic servants

    • a small number of women (virtually all of whom would be single) worked in New England factories (see Lowell factory girls)


Nationalism and the “Era of Good Feelings”


Nationalism vs. Sectionalism

  • nationalism

    • sense of unity as a nation; belief that national interests were greater than regional concerns

    • period of nationalism followed War of 1812; seen in cultural expressions, politics, economics, Supreme Court decisions, foreign policy

    • newer Republicans (like Clay, Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams) and some former Federalists shared this nationalist philosophy – it would become foundation of the National Republican and Whig parties

  • sectionalism

    • belief that regional interests came before national concerns

    • despite the apparent nationalism of the era, sectionalist rivalry was still present in debates over key issues

    • “Old Guard” Republicans (soon to be Democrats) and southerners (like Calhoun) remained sectionalist in their philosophy and continued to advocate states’ rights

Cultural Nationalism


  • music – “Star-Spangled Banner” celebrated the defense of Fort McHenry (1814); became national anthem in 1931

  • literature

    • as a result of postwar nationalism, Americans became interested in American authors and books with American themes, creating first truly American literature

    • James Fennimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans, The Pathfinder, The Deerslayer) – his fiction used American settings and glorified the frontiersman as America’s nobleman

    • Nathaniel Hawthorne (The Scarlet Letter) – questioned intolerance and conformity in American life

    • Herman Melville (Moby Dick) – reflected religious and cultural conflicts of the era

  • painting

    • nationalist painters (early 1800s) painted images of the Revolution and portraits of the revolutionary generation (Gilbert Stuart, Charles Willson Peale, John Trumbull)

    • Hudson River school – Thomas Cole and Frederick Church focused on American landscapes and nature (America’s “monuments”), especially in NY’s Hudson River valley

  • architecture

    • American architecture adopted classical Greek styles (reminiscent of ancient Athens) to reflect the democracy of the Jacksonian era

Political Nationalism


  • “Era of Good Feelings”

    • refers to a brief period in which Republicans dominated all regions of country and, thus, only one party existed in American politics

    • Election of 1820 – James Monroe was re-elected with all but one electoral vote

    • historians debate how long the “Era of Good Feelings” lasted

      • 1816-1819: some contend it ended with the Panic of 1819

      • 1816-1824: some argue it ended with the election of 1824 between JQ Adams and Jackson

    • Republicans, however, underwent changes during this period which split the party after Monroe

      • some clung to old Jeffersonian Republican ideals of limited government, strict interpretation, support for the common man (“Old Guard” Republicans would soon become Democrats)

      • others adopted old Federalist principles including high tariffs, national bank, increased federal power (“National” Republicans would soon become Whigs)

  • Missouri Compromise (1820)

    • Missouri’s request to enter the Union in 1819 threatened to tear the nation apart (and end the post-War of 1812 nationalist spirit) over the slavery issue

    • as the first La. Purchase territory to apply for statehood, MO (which had slaves present in the territory) would set a precedent for the rest of the territory

    • by 1819, the northern (free) states ruled the House; but there was an equal balance of power in the Senate between free northern and slave southern states (11 free and 11 slave states)



    • Tallmadge Amendment (1819)

      • Congressman James Tallmadge (NY) proposed an amendment to Missouri’s statehood bill that would prohibit new slaves being brought into the state and would guarantee the eventual emancipation of all slaves born in the state

      • the amendment passed the House but failed in the Senate

    • Clay’s Missouri Compromise (Compromise of 1820):

      • Missouri joined the Union as a slave state

      • Maine (split off from Mass.) was admitted as a free state to maintain the Senate balance

      • in the rest of the La. Territory, slavery was prohibited north of Missouri’s southern border (36*30’)

      • this compromise was sought in the spirit of nationalism – it successfully averted a crisis over slavery for the time being (at least until 1850)

Economic Nationalism


  • American System – Henry Clay’s (KY) plan to advance the nation’s economy and to unite the nation’s regional economies (northern industry, southern cotton, western foodstuffs)

    • high protective tariffs

      • to protect American manufacturing

        • since Britain did not sell manufactured goods to America during war, Britain had an excess of goods

        • many feared Britain would “dump” these items on the US at low prices and hurt American manufacturers

      • to raise revenue for national transportation system (see part 2 of plan)

      • Tariff of 1816

        • America’s first truly “protective” tariff with a rate of approx. 25%

        • even South and West supported this tariff at this time



    • series of internal improvements (infrastructure)

      • roads and canals would encourage the growth and settlement of the West and would link southern and western farmers to the ports and markets of the East

      • Madison and Monroe opposed because the Constitution did not explicitly allow Congress to fund such projects

        • thus most internal improvements in this era were made by individual states (Erie Canal)

    • national bank

      • the first national bank’s (Hamilton’s bank) charter expired in 1811

      • the Second Bank of the United States (2BUS) was chartered in 1816 with a new 20-year charter

  • Panic of 1819 – first major financial panic (depression) since the Constitution was ratified

    • cause: 2BUS began tightening credit to control inflation

    • results: state banks closed, value of money deflated, unemployment, bankruptcies, imprisonment for debt

    • panic was most severe in the West b/c many bought up land on credit after war (speculation) – 2BUS then foreclosed on these loans

The Marshall Court (1801—1835)

    • Supreme Court, under Marshall, often supported federal government over states’ rights


  • Marbury v. Madison (1803) – by establishing the power of judicial review for the federal courts, Marshall was denying such authority to the states (as argued for in the doctrine of nullification; see the KY and VA Resolutions)

  • Fletcher v. Peck (1810) – Sup Court declared a state law to be unconstitutional

  • McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) – Sup Court protected the national bank

    • used the “necessary and proper” clause to rule the national bank constitutional

    • used the “supremacy” clause (that federal laws overrule state laws) to declare a Maryland state tax on the 2BUS to be unconstitutional

  • Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819) – ruled that a state law changing a private college into a public one was unconstitutional

  • Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) – established the basis for Congress’ regulation of interstate commerce when Court ruled that a state license granting a monopoly to a steamboat on an interstate river was null and void

Nationalism in Foreign Affairs


  • Monroe and Secretary of State John Quincy Adams actively pursued a nationalistic foreign policy in support of American interests while still maintaining peace

  • Rush-Bagot Agreement (1817) – demilitarized Great Lakes and eventually the US-Canada border

  • Treaty (Convention) of 1818 – established US-Canada border at 49th parallel to Rockies; joint occupation of Oregon with Britain

  • Adams-Onís (Florida Purchase) Treaty (1819)

    • w/o specific orders, Jackson invaded Florida to subdue Seminoles and runaway slaves raiding into the US South – Jackson’s force drove out the Spanish governor, hanged two British traders

    • worried Florida would be taken by force, Spain sold Florida for $5 million – US also surrendered claims to Texas

  • Monroe Doctrine (1823) – policy developed by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams

    • inspired by the American and French Revolutions, many Latin American nations declared and/or won independence from Spain in the 1810s and early 1820s (Mexico in 1821), but other Europeans seemed poised to reclaim colonies by force

    • US rejected the idea of issuing a joint response to these developments with Britain and instead issued (what would become known as) the “Monroe Doctrine” as part of Monroe’s annual message to Congress

    • the Monroe Doctrine:

      • America accepted existing European colonies in Western Hemisphere (the Americas), but would not tolerate more – Europeans warned not to interfere in affairs of Western Hemisphere nations

      • US pledged to stay out of European affairs, both in existing W.H. colonies and in Europe

    • Monroe Doctrine became the basis of US policy toward Latin America well into the 20th century

    • while initially welcomed because of its support for Latin American independence, the gradual assertion of American dominance in Latin American affairs was later met with hostility and resentment

The Rise of Democracy in the Age of Jackson (1820s—1840s)

Democracy in Early America (1790s to 1820s)

    • early American politics was based largely on the concept of “republicanism” – the notion that the people’s interests are best served by electing representatives from the more wealthy, more educated, elite (the “natural aristocracy”)


  • early Americans believed that the elite and well-born should be treated with respect and recognized as natural leaders of society (known as “deference” – the idea that one should “defer to his betters”)

  • mass democracy and direct rule by people (or “mob-ocracy” to its critics) largely opposed

  • American politics in this era would have appeared “undemocratic” to modern observers:

    • competing political parties were virtually nonexistent

    • voters generally deferred to the local elites or leading families

    • political campaigns were boring – a candidate’s direct appeal for votes was considered in poor taste

    • only white, adult males could vote – most states had property or tax-paying requirements to vote

    • voting was not done “in secret” but by voice vote in public

    • in most states, presidential electors were chosen by the state legislatures, not the people

  • because voters had, at best, an indirect voice in elections, voter turnout rarely topped 30% of those even eligible to vote in the first place (which was often just white, property-owning men)

Expansion of Democracy and Voting Rights (1820s to 1840s)


  • “Jacksonian Democracy” put great faith in the common people (“The voice of the people is the voice of God”)

  • between 1820 and 1840, a revolution took place in American politics, expanding and redefining democracy

    • most states eliminated property requirements for voting and office-holding (establishing the principle of universal white manhood suffrage) – vote was still denied to women and blacks (free and slave), however

    • voting by voice was eliminated (although not quite a secret ballot – most dropped a colored ballot representing a particular party in a box within full view of the room)

    • residency requirements were reduced allowing more recent immigrants to vote

    • polling places opened in more convenient locations and for longer hours

    • more direct methods of selecting candidates were used

      • caucus system (in which candidates and presidential electors were chosen by legislatures and party leaders behind closed doors) was replaced with…

      • …nominating conventions (in which larger numbers of people participated in the selection of candidates at state or national party conventions)

      • presidential electors were increasingly chosen by direct popular vote instead of state legislatures

    • people displayed more enthusiasm for elections – parties used newspapers, speeches, parades and rallies, gimmicks, barbecues, alcohol, etc. to mobilize support for candidates

    • even political language changed – candidates no longer “stood” for office but “ran” for office

  • in 1820, less than 30% of adult white males voted; by 1840, nearly 80% voted

Attacks on Privilege


  • in 1820s, skilled politicians (such as Martin Van Buren and Thurlow Weed in NY) emerged who found success with new political tactics – torchlight parades, partisan newspapers, nominating conventions

  • political “bosses” (as they became known) soon learned that the most successful technique for arousing popular interest in politics was to attack a privileged group/institution that had used political influence to attain power/wealth

    • Anti-Masonic party – this party attacked members of the fraternal order of Freemasons who seemed to hold a disproportionate amount of political and economic power (Anti-Masons were eventually absorbed by the Whigs)

    • Workingmen’s parties – not one party, but a group of parties and labor unions in the East that pushed for industrial workers’ rights (redistribution of property, ten-hour workdays, abolition of debtors prisons)

    • politicians attacked opponents for being too aristocratic and tried to paint themselves as the “common man” – drinking liquor and being “born in a log cabin” soon became keys to political popularity

    • elites everywhere (churches, judges, lawyers, doctors) became targets of attack

      • as a result, more judges and other offices (at state/local levels) were elected instead of appointed

      • formal training requirements for legal and medical profession were dropped

Legacy of the “Age of Democracy”

  • expansion of democratic principles in this era included significant changes and obvious limitations

    • politically, suffrage was expanded to include almost all white males and political participation appealed to a larger segment of the population

    • socially, the habit of “deference to one’s betters” (“better” only because of status and wealth) was undermined and the expectation that one might “climb the ladder of success” increased for many (the “self-made man”)

    • economically, however, emphasis was placed only on equality of opportunity and not equality of result or reward – thus, the American capitalist society remained divided between the rich, middle class, and poor

    • furthermore, these ideas of equality and opportunity were not extended to non-whites and women – thus, this era can only be described as that of “white men’s democracy”

Alexis deTocqueville’s Democracy in America

  • deTocqueville and another man were sent to US by the French government to study the American prison system – while in US, they traveled extensively, spoke with many, and studied many aspects of American society

  • deTocqueville published Democracy in America in 1835, giving historians an invaluable outsider’s perspective on American politics and life in the “Age of Jacksonian Democracy”

  • deTocqueville’s observations:

    • found the essence of American democracy to be local self-government (ex. New England town meetings)

      • impressed by how many ordinary citizens participated in local politics

      • and by how Americans did not surrender to the power of central government

    • noted how important religion was to many Americans and believed that this was due to the separation of church and state (unlike Europe)

    • stated that Americans seemed driven by the desire to accumulate wealth – contrasted this to aristocratic Europe where the poor accepted that they could not acquire wealth and the rich had almost a sense of entitlement about it

    • recognized that American democracy did not extend to women and that women seemed resigned to a separate domestic sphere (see “Cult of Domesticity” in Unit 4)

    • observed that free northern blacks were segregated, discriminated, denied basic rights; detailed the sufferings of Native Americans as a result of their forced migrations west

  • seemed to foreshadow the Civil War when he noted that the slavery issue could tear America apart and that it appeared to him that any state could declare independence from the Union

John Quincy Adams’ Presidency

Election of 1824


  • Monroe retired after two terms without an obvious successor – fierce competition ensued for presidency, which meant a definitive end to the “Era of Good Feelings”

  • with no Federalist opposition, 4 Republicans competed for the presidency:

    • John Quincy Adams (MA, New England) – Monroe’s Secretary of State

    • Henry Clay (KY, West) – War Hawk, American System, Missouri Compromise, Speaker of the House

    • Andrew Jackson (TN, West) – war hero from the Battle of New Orleans and the incursion into Florida

    • William Crawford (GA, South) – Treasury secy.; chosen by congressional caucus

  • 1824 was the first election in which the national popular vote total was counted

  • Jackson won the largest percentage of popular votes (43%) and the largest number of electoral votes; however, no candidate received a majority in the electoral college

  • the election was decided by the House choosing from among the top 3 candidates

    • as the 4th-place finisher, Clay was eliminated; but as House Speaker, Clay used his influence to help Adams, a fellow nationalist, secure the presidency

    • when Clay was later made Adams’ Secretary of State (an office viewed as the “stepping-stone” to the presidency), Jacksonians charged a “corrupt bargain” – no evidence exists to support the claim

John Quincy Adams’ Presidency


  • Adams’ presidency was made difficult by Jackson’s supporters and Jacksonians in Congress who were still bitter over the election results

  • JQA alienated “Old Guard” (Jeffersonian) Republicans (soon to be known as Jacksonian Democrats) by asking for federal funding of various projects:

    • internal improvements

    • subsidies to manufacturing

    • a national university and astronomical observatory



  • Tariff of Abominations (1828)

    • in the election year of 1828, Congress passed a new, high tariff (45% and more on some items) perhaps knowing that the tariff bill would put JQA in a lose-lose situation

      • if JQA vetoed it, he would alienate his supporters in New England and manufacturing interests

      • if JQA signed it, he would alienate the South and West and that would sweep Jackson into office

    • JQA signed it into law knowing it would cost him politically

Election of 1828


  • 1828 election was a rematch of 1824 with National Republican John Quincy Adams vs. Democrat Andrew Jackson

  • campaign was notoriously dirty and full of “mud-slinging”

    • Jackson was labeled a “murderer” (for events in Florida) and “adulterer” (wife, Rachel, was previously married)

    • Adams was accused of installing pool tables and gambling in the White House and “pimping” for Russia’s czar

  • “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson won easily due more to his “war hero” status and his “common man” persona than his positions on issues


The Age of Jackson

Andrew Jackson


  • AJ was a westerner, a military man (War of 1812, Florida); he was rugged, violent (military, duels), vindictive, a “self-made man” (although he will attain wealth and own slaves); a man of few ideas but strong convictions; tough (Old Hickory), uneducated

    • in short, he embodied the “common man” being celebrated in this era

  • 1820s – 1840s were known as the “Age of the Common Man” or as the “Age of Jackson”

    • Jackson, although he influenced and dominated this era, was more a symbol of the times than the cause of them

    • Jackson’s “people’s inaugural”

Jackson’s Presidency


  • role of the president – AJ saw the president as the representative of all the (white) people and the protector of the common man’s interests, not the wealthy elites

    • spoils system – AJ believed that government should be run by common me;, that a new president should replace government officials with new ones (his friends and supporters) and he frequently replaced his Cabinet, often with westerners

      • “Kitchen Cabinet” – AJ’s unofficial advisers (many from the West), who often had more influence on his policies than his official Cabinet

    • Peggy (O’Neale) Eaton Affair (or “Petticoat War”) – AJ supports a common woman

      • Secretary of War John Eaton’s wife was shunned by other Cabinet wives for being from a lower class and was accused of being an adulteress (this reminded AJ of how his wife was treated)

      • AJ ordered his Cabinet to tell their wives to accept Mrs. Eaton, but much of the Cabinet resigned in protest

      • VP Calhoun also resigned in part due to the Eaton Affair; Mrs. Calhoun was particularly rude to Peggy Eaton; also AJ learned that Calhoun had wanted him punished for his incursion into Florida in 1818

      • AJ’s support for Peggy Eaton (a lower class, Irish woman) secured Irish-immigrant support for Democrats which, for a variety of reasons, continues to this day



    • veto power – AJ used the veto power to limit federal spending, earning him the critical nickname “King Andrew”

      • vetoed 12 bills, most by any president to this point in time

      • Maysville Road veto – vetoed federal funding of intrastate road in KY (rival Clay’s home state)

    • retirement of debt

      • due in large part to federal government’s sale of western lands, the national debt was eliminated in 1835 for one year (only time in history)

  • Indian affairs

    • Indian Removal Act (1830) – required federal enforcement of Indian removal west of Mississippi

      • AJ supported the law, and most Indians begrudgingly complied

    • Worcester v. Georgia (1832)

      • the Cherokees of northern GA, however, sued the state of GA to stop their removal; they argued that they had “civilized” and established representative government

      • the Marshall Court ruled that the state’s law (GA had passed a law requiring the Cherokees’ removal) held no force over Cherokee lands – only the federal government had power over an Indian tribe, regardless of whether that tribe lived within a state or a federal territory

      • AJ disagreed with the Court; he defiantly (and allegedly) replied, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it”

      • Marshall Court decided against states’ rights, AJ defended the state’s right to remove Indians

    • Trail of Tears (1838) – the Army forced Cherokees to leave GA for OK – approx. 25% died on the journey



  • Nullification Crisis – foreshadowing the Civil War

    • the “Tariff of Abominations” (1828) angered the South; cotton exports to Britain had declined as a result

    • southerners reiterated the “doctrine of nullification” (recall TJ’s and JMad’s KY and VA Resolutions)

      • South Carolina Exposition and Protest

        • Calhoun (SC) advocated a theory that each state (b/c it was a sovereign state and because together the states had created the federal Union) could declare a federal law to be null and void in that state

        • based on this theory of states’ rights, SC nullified the tariff and refused to collect it

    • Webster-Hayne Debate (1830) – in Congress, Daniel Webster (MA) argued against nullification, while Robert Hayne (SC) argued for it

    • Jefferson Day Dinner (1830) – Jackson and Calhoun engage in tense exchange over the tariff crisis and its threat to the union

    • Tariff of 1832 – Congress lowered the tariff to about 35%, but the South was still upset; SC still refused to collect tariffs

    • Force Bill (1833) – AJ persuaded Congress to give him the authority to use troops in SC to force compliance (SC, then, nullified the Force Bill!)

    • Compromise Tariff of 1833 – Clay won passage of a gradual reduction of the tariff back to 1816 levels

      • SC rescinded nullification orders; the crisis was diffused

  • the Bank War

    • in 1832, Bank president Nicholas Biddle and Henry Clay attempted to make the 2BUS a campaign issue by pushing Congress to re-charter the bank four years early (charter was not set to expire until 1836)

      • the re-charter bill passed easily, but AJ vetoed it on the grounds that the Bank favored the rich at the expense of the common man (the “hydra of corruption”)

        • AJ issued a veto message that defended his decision, citing his opinion that the Bank was unconstitutional (despite the Court’s ruling in McCulloch) and that it threatened the interests of the “common man”

      • in part due to his veto, AJ easily won re-election in 1832 over rival Clay

    • to “kill” (actually eliminate) the 2BUS, AJ ordered Secretary of the Treasury Roger Taney to withdraw federal deposits from the 2BUS and transfer the funds to state banks

      • many funds were transferred to “pet banks” – state banks owned by Jackson’s Democrat supporters

      • by removing federal deposits (the largest share of 2BUS’s funds), the Bank was “killed”

      • state banks immediately and somewhat recklessly began to extend credit, rapidly increasing the amount of paper money in circulation, which led to inflation and more land speculation out West

      • the 2BUS retaliated against AJ’s actions by calling in outstanding loans; this, combined with inflation, led to financial crisis

    • Specie Circular

      • Specie Circular -- to reduce inflation and curb land speculation, AJ issued an executive order stating that all future purchases of federal land must be paid in specie (gold and silver) instead of paper banknotes

      • the value of banknotes (which is all most people had; few had specie) and land purchases plummeted as a result of AJ’s order

      • America’s economy (along with other nations’ economies) plunged into the Panic of 1837

Van Buren and the Second-Party System

The Whigs and the Return of the Two-Party System
    • the nationwide coalition of Jackson supporters (now known as Democrats) and the emergence of a coalition of Jackson’s opponents (known as Whigs) helped restore the two-party system and make it a lasting feature of American politics


  • the Democrats

    • Democrats supported local rule, limited government, and equal economic opportunities (for white males)

    • Democrats opposed the national bank, high tariffs, and high land prices

    • drew support from South, West; were often small farmers, urban workers, backwoods frontiersman, and immigrants; tended to be Catholic, Lutheran, or non-church-going; not as morally strict as Whigs
    • the Whigs


    • Whigs were a new party that emerged from the nationalist wing of the Republican party and included ex-Federalists, Anti-Masons, and various opponents of Andrew Jackson (including John Calhoun, at times)

    • Whigs criticized Jackson for his “abuse” of power (financial policies, “excessive” use of the veto); they labeled him “King Andrew”

    • Whigs were led by Henry Clay (KY) and Daniel Webster (MA)

    • supported Clay’s American System (protective tariff, national bank, federal funding of internal improvements) and many of the policies of the now-defunct Federalists

    • Whigs (especially the Anti-Masonic elements) were opposed to immorality and increasing crime in northern cities; often blamed these problems on immigrants

    • drew support from New England, Middle Atlantic, and upper Midwest states; were often industrialists, merchants, planters, middle class professionals, and native-born Americans; tended to be evangelical Protestants; cherished traditional (Puritan) moral values

Martin Van Buren’s Presidency


  • Election of 1836

    • AJ persuaded Democrats to nominate his loyal VP Martin Van Buren to continue his policies

    • Whigs nominated three regional candidates, hoping to throw the election to the House again

    • despite losing some of the Jackson’s solid support in the South, MVB easily won the election

  • Panic of 1837 haunted MVB’s presidency, earning him the perhaps undeserved nickname, “Martin Van Ruin”

  • Independent Subtreasury System

    • MVB proposed a public depository for federal funds that would be independent of private banks

    • the plan was opposed by Whigs – who preferred a return of the national bank – and who delayed the plan in Congress for three years before passing it

  • other events of the Van Buren presidency:

    • Caroline affair (1837) – a break-away group of Canadian rebels fled British authorities by seeking safety in New York; sympathetic Americans supplied the rebels, using the Caroline, which the British promptly destroyed; one American was killed in the incident, which prompted a public call for war

    • Aroostook “War” (1838-39) – frontier militias on the American and Canadian sides of Maine’s unsettled border armed and threatened war; intervention by American and British diplomats resolved this and other border issues (Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842) and reduced tensions

    • Trail of Tears (1838) – MVB oversaw the forced removal of the Cherokee to OK

    • Mormon War (1838) – MVB did not respond to Mormon pleas for protection against hostile persecution by Missourians; as a result, Mormons were forced to leave Missouri for Illinois and, ultimately, Utah (see Mormon Trek in Unit 4)

    • Amistad case (1840-41) – a controversial case involving African slaves on board the Spanish ship, La Amistad, who were taken into custody by American officials; case brought attention to the rising abolitionist movement in America

Election of 1840

      • MVB’s chances of re-election were devastated by the state of the economy

      • Whigs sought to run their own “Jackson,” choosing the “Hero of Tippecanoe,” William Henry Harrison, and southern Democrat-turned-Whig John Tyler as his running mate

    • Whigs offered a comprehensive program (much like Clay’s American System) to restore the economy

      • following a massive popular campaign (“Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too”) and tremendous voter turnout, Harrison won a decisive electoral victory; also, Whigs captured both houses of Congress

      • Harrison (the second-oldest president ever elected) developed pneumonia and died one month into his term


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