The Jacksonian Period (1824-1848)by Isaac McDermott, MattMcCormick, and Aimee Meller
To what extent did the period live upto its characterization as the era of the“common man”?• Consider the following factors:– Economic development– Politics– Reform movements
ThesisAndrew Jackson’s Presidency ushered in an eraof the “common man” in America through hisuncommon upbringing, his gifts of governmentservice to his supporters, and his actions againstthe national bank.
A Unique President• Jackson was the first President from outside theThirteen Colonies (Tennessee).• He was a war hero, remembered for leadingAmerica to victory at New Orleans in the War of1812.• Grew up as an orphan, in the backwoods of theCarolinas.• These characteristics gave the American peoplenew motivation that anybody, not just the richand the privileged, could be President.
The War Against the Bank• Jackson is remembered for his war against the Bank of the UnitedStates, led by Nicholas Biddle.• The BUS was harsh on the Westerners (wouldn’t give out lenientcredit for land), and very corrupt.– Biddle used the Bank’s money for bribes and to lend his friends.– But, it was a pretty solid bank otherwise.• In 1832, Henry Clay introduced a bill to re-charter the Bank.– Jackson realized that this was a battle between the power of the Westvs. the East: the East wanted the bank, but the West didn’t.• Jackson showed that the West was more powerful by vetoing thebank bill, and later drained it of its wealth.• This move showed that Jackson wanted to align himself with thewell-being of the common man, and that centralized, corruptgovernment economics was not the answer.
The Spoils System• Jackson rewarded many of his most avid supporters with politicalpositions.• He believed that loyalty was more important than experience in thissituation.• Only 1/5 of all the men given positions were kicked out, and hemade a couple of clean sweeps of the offices later.• Those who wanted positions hounded Jackson continuously, andthose who got kicked out went mad and suicidal.• One supporter, Samuel Swartwout, embezzled one million dollarsfrom the Port of New York.• Despite these, Jackson wanted to bring the possibility of politicaloffice closer to the common people, rather than thewealthy, educated folk.