Andrew Jackson (1829-1837)
The era of emergence of popular politics in 1820‘s and the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) is often called as the Age of Common Man, or the Era of Jacksonian Democracy.
Andrew Jackson was born to a Scottish family on the border of South and North Carolina on 15th March, 1768. He was a son of Saddle maker and was groomed in extreme poor condition. He became orphan at the age of 14 years and tasted all the hardships in his life during his childhood. Jackson was a brilliant student of Law. He was very much enthusiastic to be military men and served the military from 1813 to 1400. He was made Major General after defeating Greeks and he also defeated British in the battle of New Orland. In 1828 he became the president of America defeating John Quincy Adams. He was described as ―Old Hickory.
- Rise of Democratic Society
The peoples who traveled from Europe to America (like Alexis de Tocqueville, French Aristocrat) were amazed to see the informal and democratic attitude of Americans. As the rich and poor use to dress in the same manner, they normally travel in the same busses and trains and sits on the same tables in hotels. The principle of equality among the white men in America was widespread belief.
- Politics of Common Man
In 1830‘s and 1840‘s the politics of America moved out from the fine homes of rich aristocrats to the lower and middles class society. This was the time when these classes were given the right to vote and the number of vote for president increase from 350,000 in 1824 to 2.4millions in 1840.
- Universal male suffrage
All the white men in America were given the right to vote regardless of their class or religion. This increased the voting ration in America from 37% to 57.6%. The political offices now could also be held by the lower and middle ranks of the society.
- Party Nomination Convention
In past days, a nomination for appointment of a candidate to an office was made by the caucus. Te common peoples had no opportunity to participate. In 1830‘s the caucuses were replaced by nominating convention. The politicians and voters would gather in a large all to nominate the party candidate.
- Maximum Use of Veto Power
Andrew Jackson used the veto power more than any other Americans president in the history. He was the President who enjoyed all the powers of being the president.
- Rise of Political Parties
Andrew Jackson realized the importance of political parties. There were only two parties by that time, the democrats and the Whigs. Jackson allows many other parties during his time. Anti-Masonic and Workingmen Party emerged during his tenure and the common man got a chance to be involved in politics.
- More Elected offices
During the Jacksonian era much larger number of states and locals officials were elected, rather than appointed, as in the past. This increased the interest of voters to participate in elections.
- Popular Campaigning
Candidates for offices directed their election campaign to the interest of the common people. Politics also became a form of local entertainment. Campaigns of 1830‘s and 1840 have featured marching bands and large rallies in which voters were treated with free drinks and food.
- Spoilt System
Winning government jobs became lifeblood of political parties. Jackson believed in appointing peoples to federal post strictly according to whether they have campaigned for Democratic Party. Jackson believed in system of rotation in office to make maximum number of democrats to hold office. Spoil system was criticized as it promoted government corruption.
- Kitchen Cabinet
Kitchen Cabinet is normally the consultative and advisory body of the president, but Andrew Jackson started the practice of consulting the informal group of advisers mostly his friends including Major Lewis, Isaac Hill and General Duff.
- Peggy Eaton Affair
The champion of common men also went to the wellbeing of common women at least in the case of Peggy Eaton. She was the wife of Jackson Secretary of war. She by that time was the target of malicious gossips by the other women who avoided inviting her to their private parties. When Jackson insisted to invite Peggy Eaton socially most of his cabinet including Vice President: John Calhoun resigned
- Indian Removal Act 1830
Jackson concept of democracy did not extents to the natives Americans. He was of the view that the natives should leave their tradition and customs and resettle west of Mississippi. In the presidency of eight years Jackson had 94 treaties with the Red Indian and ultimately used military to drive them out across the Mississippi. The hardship on the ―trails of tears‖ was so great that 4000 Cherokees died on the tragic westward trek
- Re-chartering of Bank of USA
Jackson was of the view that central bank is abusing its powers and is serving the interest of wealthy peoples. His suspicion increases to the arrogant personality of Nicholas Biddle the President of Bank. Henry Clay opposition member was in support of Bank and challenged Jackson on bank issue by persuading majority in congress on bank re-charter bill. Jackson vetoed the bill and overhauled the banking system in America.
- Foreign Policy
He managed a balanced and friendly foreign policy with friendly relations with France, Britain and other Europeans Countries maintaining better trade relations and cordial policies in political, economic and social relations. He settled the claims of France in North America which were pending since 1815
Questions on Andrew Jackson
In what way did the philosophy and purpose of Jacksonian democracy differ from those of the Jeffersonian democrats? (CSS 2002)
What are the Salient features of Andrew Jackson’s Presidency and Democracy? (CSS 2004)
How did Jeffersonian Democratic thinking differ in philosophy and purpose from the Jacksonian democracy? (CSS 2007)
―President Andrew Jackson was a people‘s president.‖ Discuss. (CSS 2006)
Note: Andrew Jackson (CSS 2008)
Jackson has been called the first modern President because he was the first to see the power which a President might exercise – Discuss. (CSS 2008)