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Topic: The Age of Jackson

Aim: How did the Age of Jackson represent changes to America’s political system?

Do Now: Read the handout and answer the question that follows.


The age of Jackson background

The era that saw the emergence of popular politics in the 1820’s and the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) is often called the Age of the Common Man, or the Era of Jacksonian Democracy. Historians debate whether Jackson was a major molder of events, a political opportunist exploiting the democratic ferment of the times, or merely a symbol of the era. Nevertheless, the era and Jackson’s name seem permanently linked.


Ex: 1824: 350,000 cast votes for President – 1840:

Universal Male Suffrage

More Examples of Democratic Reform

1.) Rise of Third Parties – While only the large national parties could hope to win the presidency, other political parties also emerged. Ex: The Anti-Masonic Party who attacked the secret societies of Masons and accused them of belonging to a privileged antidemocratic elite.

2.) More Elected OfficesDuring the Jacksonian era, a much larger number of state and local officials were elected to office, instead of being appointed as in the past. This change gave the voters more voice in their government.

Winning government jobs became the lifeblood of party organizations. At the national level, President Jackson believed in appointing people to federal jobs strictly according to whether they had actively campaigned for the Democratic Party. Any previous holder of the office was fired and replaced with a loyal democrat. This practice of dispensing government jobs in return to party loyalty was called the spoils system by critics because it promoted government corruption.

Spoils System -

How would the spoils system promote government corruption?

Jackson believed in a system of rotation in office. To make it possible for a maximum number of Democrats to hold office, he would limit a person’s tenure in office to just one term and appoint some other deserving Democrat in his place. Jackson defended the replacement and rotation of officeholders by the new administration as a democratic reform. No man has any more intrinsic claim to office than another. Jackson had contempt for experts and believed that ordinary Americans were capable of holding any government office.
Rotation in Office -

How can both the spoils system and rotation in office program demonstrate a strengthening of democracy? Do you agree?

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