Jacksonian Politics, 1829-1841
With Andrew Jackson's inauguration, the forces of egalitarianism for white men swept
over the government. Jackson, although anything but a "common man," was
egalitarian towards fellow white men in his habits. As was the case with other
white men of the day, he was not egalitarian, as some historians have
asserted, for he certainly did not believe in equal rights for women, African
Americans, or "Native Americans." He was courteous to them and even raised
a "Native American" in his home but he was a racist and a believer that women
were innately inferior to men and had to be protected by men. He
fought "Native Americans" many times, developing a reputation as an Indian
fighter. As President, he would advocate the theft of their lands and the
exiling of them to the West. He seemed egalitarian at the time because he
believed in the common white man unlike the Federalists and the Jeffersonian
Republicans who were elitists. His first inauguration signaled the change for
people adopted him as one of their own and mobs at the White House became a
problem. When the liquid refreshment was moved outside to get them and their
muddy footwear out of the White House, many of them jumped out the windows to
get something to drink. The establishment was appalled.
Jackson believed that almost any man could serve in the government
bureaucracy. He put this into practice by rotating people in office. Just as
Eli Whitney had introduced interchangeable parts in manufacturing, Jackson
did it for federal government employment. Although Jefferson had more faith in
people than did the Federalists, he still believed in an aristocracy of merit.
Jackson did not.
Jackson's attitudes allowed him to introduce the Spoils System to national
politics for he could reward all manner of supporters by giving them jobs.
He was the first president to operate on the principle that the people
themselves should decide public policy. He argued that he was the only public
official elected by the people as a whole. He saw himself as a democratic tribune.
He used the veto 12 times; all his predecessors had used
it a combined total of 9 times. He usually took his Differences with Congress
to the people.
Jackson had little political experience and few knew where he stood on the
issues of the day. He was a popular candidate in 1824 and 1828 because he was
General Andrew Jackson, hero of the Battle of New Orleans, not because he had
experience in national politics. When he won the popular vote in 1824 but lost
in the Electoral College, his supporters began a four year campaign to get him
elected in 1828. Communication was so bad that his supporters could assert
different things about his views in different parts of the country without
fear of being caught out. That no one knew (or cared) what Jackson thought,
made it easy.
John C. Calhoun
Once elected in 1828, where he stood on the issues did make a difference and
observers assumed that his policies would depend upon whether he chose John C.
Calhoun of his native South Carolina or Martin Van Buren of New York to advise
him. Calhoun represented an alliance between the South and the West with the
chief issues being reducing tariffs (for the South) and a liberal land policy
for the West. The difficult issue for these two sections was internal
improvements because the West wanted them but not the South. Van Buren's
supporters were the Southern Planters and the "plain Republicans" of the
Northeast. They opposed internal improvements and the national bank. The
sticking point was how high the tariff should be. The planters wanted a low
tariff whereas the plain Republicans were willing to have a higher one.
Many assumed that Jackson would choose Calhoun, for he seemed to be in the
lead until the inauguration but Calhoun's friends were frozen out of the
Cabinet. Van Buren was named Secretary of State, the stepping stone to the
Presidency. Calhoun was driven out of the party.
The reasons are several.
John Quincy Adams
When Jackson had illegally invaded Spanish Florida in 1817 and executing
two British subjects in 1818, a furor erupted in Washington. Spain protested
and demanded his punishment. Secretary of War John C. Calhoun as well as other
Cabinet officers wanted Jackson punished. Henry Clay, a member of the House of
Representative from Kentucky demanded that Jackson be censured. Secretary of
State John Quincy Adams, disagreed, for he wanted to acquire Florida. Adams
informed the Spanish that Jackson was justified in what he had done for the
Spanish were not policing their colony well enough to prevent raids into the
United States by renegades, outlaws, and Indians. He told Spain that it should
cede Florida to the US because it could not manage the colony. Spain signed
the the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. The United States agreed to honor $5
million in damage claims by Americans against Spain. Under the treaty, Spain
relinquished its claims to Oregon and the United States renounced, at least
temporarily, its claims to Texas. Van Buren reminded Jackson that Calhoun had
been the leader of the group that had wanted him imprisoned for the Florida
Martin Van Buren
Strangely enough, what has been called the Peggy Eaton
Affair1 played a major
role in Jackson's attitudes towards Calhoun. It led to the resignation of the
vice president and the entire cabinet. It was complicated by Jackson's own
sexual history. Jackson fell in love with Rachel Donelson Robards, the wife
of Captain Lewis Robards. Rachel had been born in Halifax County, Virginia, on June 15, 1767 but moved to
Tennessee in 1779. In 1784, at the age of 17, she married Lewis Robards in Kentucky, a
very jealous man from a prominent family. When he went to serve in the Navy, he sent
her to her mother's house in Nashville, Tennessee. At her mother's boarding house
she met and fell in love with Andrew Jackson, who was staying there. Robards came
home and took Rachel back to Kentucky and presumably out of reach of her beloved Jackson.
Jackson, however, went after her to Kentucky. The Robards separated and Lewis Robards
asked the state legislature for permission to file for divorce. Claiming that
they thought her husband had divorced her, they asserted that they had gotten married in
Natchez, Spanish territory, in the summer of 1791. But they had not. Not only is there
no record of the marriage—the Spanish kept very good records—no Catholic priest would
have married these two Protestants and no Protestant or an American Justice of the Peace had
the authority to marry anyone in Spain (to which Natchez belonged). Andrew and Rachel
were adulterers—illegal in those days—and she was a bigamist. Robards then got
a divorce on the grounds of adultery in 1793. Andrew and Rachel then married in
1794. The Jacksons always contended that the first marriage was an honest mistake—what else
could they say?—but Jackson was a lawyer and knew not only the procedures for a
divorce but also that he could not get married in Spanish territory. He and Rachel
suffered for the rest of their lives because of this and Jackson sought to
avenge Rachel's honor. Worse, their adultery as an issue in the 1828 campaign and
then she died after her was elected and buried in December, 1828. Jackson was
convinced that the gossip killed her.
He saw in Peggy Eaton another woman unfairly accused of immorality and rushed
to defend her. Peggy O'Neal Timberlake Eaton was the daughter of a tavern
keeper, William O'Neale; attractive, she had caught many a man's eye. Some said that she was
more than friendly with some of them but that may have been unfair, for it
may have been said simply because she lived in a tavern. She married John Timberlake,
purser of the U.S.S. Constitution. Jackson's friend and compatriot, John Eaton, fell in
love with her. Eaton had been a US Senator and the manager of Jackson's presidential
campaign in 1828. Jackson appointed him as Secretary of War. He got Timberlake moved
to the Mediterranean squadron. This was arduous duty and unhealthy. Timberlake was in
poor health and died soon after going there. Eaton had already moved in with Mrs. Timberlake
before her husband died; shortly after hearing of his death, they married. Their
behavior was scandalous and some wondered if Eaton had sent Timberlake to a place where he
would likely die. Jackson, for his part, liked them both and was convinced that
the gossip was a pack of lies.
Polite Washington society, led by Mrs John C Calhoun and the Cabinet wives,
would have nothing to do with Peggy O'Neal Timberlake Eaton. She would call
on them; they were never home to her; she left her card; and they never
responded. They refused to attend social functions where she was, leaving if
Jackson was furious and told Cabinet members and Vice President Calhoun to force their wives
to be nice to Mrs Eaton. Calhoun's wife, the ringleader of the anti-Peggy Eaton
faction. The pressure against the Eatons got so intense that John Eaton resigned
to go back to Tennessee. Martin Van Buren resigned as well. He explained to Jackson that the entire Cabinet would have to
resign because two members had. They did and Jackson was able to appoint a more
amenable Cabinet. Jackson appointed Van Buren as minister to England but Calhoun
blocked his Senate confirmation, thus striking a blow at his rival. Jackson was furious and
did not invite Calhoun to Cabinet meetings. He finally resigned and became a US Senator
from South Carolina. In 1832, Jackson chose Van Buren as his running mate.
Jackson found Van Buren more congenial. He had an instinctive egalitarianism and neo-
Jeffersonian agrarian-mindedness like Jackson. During the Peggy Eaton crisis, Van Buren,
a bachelor, had been nice to the Eatons, thus earning the gratitude of Jackson.
Jackson acted very much according to his personal
biases. That was clearly the case in the above actions. It was also true when it
came to economic policies.
Jackson had a problem with credit and land
speculation in his earlier years, for he had been a land speculator in the
Memphis, Tennessee area with John Overton and others. Failed but Jackson was
determined to pay off his creditors and did but at a cost to himself. He
developed a fear of speculation and financial schemes. He was the Panic of
1819 replicating his personal experience on a national scale. He wanted a
simple, economical government and to pay off the national debt as soon as
Although he had made a considerable amount of money from speculating in land
with credit, he almost went to debtors' prison because of a failure in 1797.
He had sold 68,000 acres to David Allison in 1795, and was paid with IOUs.
Jackson then used the IOUs to stock a trading post. But, in 1797, Allison
defaulted and Jackson had to find a way to pay off the debts or go to prison.
Although it took 15 years, he paid of the debts but grew to hate the use of
credit and paper money.
Henry Clay and other National Republicans (later Whigs) proposed the American
System Plan—high tariffs, federally-funded internal improvements, and a
national bank. These conservatives, who wanted a strong central government
which would protect and promote the interests of the wealthy and other elites,
grew restive under Jackson's opposition to their goals as well as his belief
that the government should represent all white men not just the few. They
would say that Jackson represented the mob, the great unwashed, and that
allowing these people to dictate public policy was the road to ruin.
His views on federally-financed internal improvements became clear with the
Maysville Road veto in 1830. It became a test case on Jackson's attitudes
about internal improvements. Congress passed a bill that would entail the
federal government buying $150,000 worth of stock in the Maysville Road
Company, a company that proposed to build a sixty-mile road near Maysville,
Kentucky. Jackson, arguing that it was a purely local project, one that did
not cross state lines, vetoed the bill. Moreover, he questioned the
constitutionality of such measures. The veto put the quietus on any scheme to
finance local projects with federal money. Jackson did support bills to
improve harbors and lighthouses. And he had managed to kill a project in the
home state of his rival, Henry Clay.
The Jacksonians split on the issue of protective or high tariffs. The issue
was complex. Manufacturers, especially those who had to compete against
foreign-made goods, tended to want imports taxed heavily to encourage the
purchase of domestic goods. In other words, they did not want free enterprise
when it came to their activities; instead, they wanted to use the coercive
power of the government to reach into the pockets of the purchasers. This was
an indirect subsidy. They defended the idea on the grounds that the nation
would benefit from the protection of domestic industry and that, eventually,
domestic manufacture would be so robust that it would be able to compete in
the international market. Opponents argued that this was class legislation,
that it benefited the few at a cost to the many. Those who believed in free
enterprise wanted only tax rates on imported goods sufficient to yield some
revenue for the national government. The tariff was one of its only sources of
funds but its need for money was not great since most governmental actions
were done by the states. Because the US was self-sufficient for most
agricultural products, farmers would not benefit from a tariff on them.
When Jackson was trying to beat the incumbent, John Quincy Adams, for the
presidency in 1828, his supporters in Congress got a high tariff passed on
such items as textiles and iron. The tariff would aid New England
manufacturers and Pennsylvania mines. It was designed to get votes for
Jackson. Opponents called it the "Tariff of Abominations," a propaganda name
that has stuck.
Jackson, however, was a low tariff man.
Whether one likes a protective tariff (an indirect subsidy of some people
in society) depends upon whether one benefits from it or not. Jackson, as
a Western agrarian in 1828-1837, opposed the protective tariff. He believed that the national
government should treat everyone equally, which protective tariffs do not do.. He, therefore, wanted to reduce the
tariffs once he got in office but doing so would reduce national government
income which he needed to reduce the national debt. Further, tampering with
the tariff would endanger the North-South alliance which had elected him when
no one knew where he stood on the issues. The tariff of 1830 made a few
revisions but did not affect the basic schedule. South Carolina exploded for
it had counted on Jackson and Congress to repeal the high tariff. The state
had been prosperous prior to this and many blamed the economic
difficulties on the tariff, which they opposed. Calhoun and his faction
outflanked the states righters with Calhoun's essay, "The South Carolina
Exposition and Protest." In the essay, Calhoun posited that the United States
was actually a confederation of states, a compact among the several states and,
if a state did not like a law passed by the national government did, it could
nullify it, that is, not allow it to be enforced within the state. South
Carolina then passed a law to nullify the Tariff of 1832.
Jackson asked for and got a bill authorizing him to coerce South Carolina into
obeying the law. Some would argue that such legislation was unnecessary
because the constitution said the president could enforce national laws but
Jackson believed in limited national government and that most of the political
power in the country should reside with the states. He also urged Congress to
modify the tariff rates, which it did with the Tariff of 1833. This tariff
created a sliding scale whereby the tax rates would decline for ten years
until they reached 20%, thus giving the high tariff people the rates they
wanted but not forever.2 South Carolina rescinded the nullification of the
Tariff of 1832 but nullified the Force Bill to reassert its putative right to
nullify a national law.
The long term effects were serious. The nullifiers could claim that their
tactic worked for they had forced the national government to pass a law that
would gradually lower the tariff. This victory made them more hostile to the
national government and more willing to make the argument and variants of it
again. They took control of South Carolina. Eventually, those who believed as
they did would try to secede from the United States in 1860.
In the short run, however, it appeared that the nullifiers had lost. Jackson
had been willing to use force and had strongly denounced disunion and
nullification. He had discovered that he was more a nationalist than he had
thought. Every other legislature, including Southern legislatures, had come
out against nullification and South Carolina. James Madison, the father of the
Constitution and one of the two authors of the Virginia and Kentucky
Resolutions,3 asserted that South Carolina was in error.
Jackson distrusted banks both because of his personal financial history and
because he did not understand them. As a rich planter, he understood owning
land and selling it or livestock or crops; those were tangible. One could put
his hands on them. Buying, selling, and renting the abstraction called money
were beyond his ken. The Bank of the United States (BUS) made him very nervous
because it concentrated a lot of power in a few hands, some of those were
foreign nationals, and because it was created via a broad interpretation
instead of a strict one of the Constitution. In his opinion, it was
The Bank had become a stabilizing influence since 1823 under the leadership of
Nicholas Biddle. Because in the course of doing business, the BUS collected a
lot of bank notes from state banks, it could operate as a brake upon those
banks by presenting the bank notes for collection. Since there were few rules
which state chartered banks had to follow, only the BUS could hope to insure
that they were safe. Most businessmen as well as most politicians liked this
regulatory aspect of the BUS' operations.
Opponents of the bank had differing motives. Some saw it as unconstitutional
or the head of a hateful system of banks or both. Some people believed in the
traditional Christian view that it was a sin to loan money at interest. Some
feared banks and credit because they did not understand them. Money lenders
have never been very popular. These opponents of the BUS were joined in the
1830s by those who wanted cheap and easy credit. As the economy expanded again
after a recession, money could be made in land speculation and new factories
and more land being farmed. If the rent on money (borrowing at interest)
dropped, then they could afford and invest more. The BUS, however, was
pursuing a non-inflationary, non-expansionist policy and thus became a target
of those who wanted a go-go economy. And it was the only bank the US
government could do anything about.
An irony of politics in these days was that both entrepreneurs and the
agrarian-minded were attracted to Jackson's Democratic Party, a name that the
more liberal wing of the Jeffersonian Republicans4 took to emphasize their
The BUS charter was to expire in 1836, twenty years after it was first
granted. Biddle was considering trying to get it re-charted early for the bank
seemed very popular. Jackson, in his first inaugural address, had questioned
both the constitutionality and the necessity of having the bank but Biddle and
other bank supporters, although upset by Jackson's remarks, believed that the
bank was sacrosanct. When it became clear that Jackson was going to run for
reelection5 in 1832, the National Republicans, who were going to run his
fellow Westerner, Henry Clay of Kentucky, against him persuaded Biddle to have
the recharter bill submitted to Congress. They believed that the bill would
pass with substantial majorities and it did. They thought they had Jackson in
a double bind. He would hurt his re-election chances if he vetoed the bill for
it was clear that Congress and many others supported the bank. If he signed
the recharter bill, then the National Republicans could point out what a
hypocrite he was since he had said he opposed the BUS.
Jackson vetoed the bill and took his decision to the people. He argued that it
was unconstitutional6 and that foreigners owned too much stock and had too
much control. This xenophobic argument often works in politics because many
people are so insecure that they fear strangers in general, and strangers
(including strangers from another country) having and power over them. Jackson
understood this but he was also a very nationalistic ex-General. What appealed
to constituents, however, were his ideas on privilege. In his veto message he
acknowledged that natural inequalities exist
but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages
artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive
privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble
members of society—the farmers, mechanics and laborers—who have neither the
time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves have a right to
complain of the injustice of their government.
This powerful statement of liberal philosophy worked. Jackson beat Clay by a
vote of 219 to 40.7
Jackson was determined to destroy the bank. He paid off the national debt and
ordered his Secretary of the Treasury to remove the $10 million in federal
deposits from the BUS and place them in selected state banks (banks which
supported Jackson, of course). He had to fire two secretaries of the treasury
before he could find one, Roger B. Taney, who would obey his orders, which he
did in September, 1833. The first two believed that the removal of deposits
would hurt the economy. Taney was a loyal Jacksonian and would later be
rewarded by being appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. It was a
mistake the kill the Bank, for, despite any shortcoming it might have
had, it was effective. The US finally created another
agency to do much of what the BUS did but only in 1913.
The National Republicans and Biddle refused to accept this outcome; they tried
to use the power of the Bank—calling in the loans of opponents, cheap loans
to supporters, attacks on state banks in districts of opponents, special
favors to supporters, and similar actions—to force a recharter bill through
Congress with a veto-proof majority. The fight in the 1833-34 session of
Congress was fierce, abetted by the widespread economic distress created by
Biddle, but the Jacksonians, led by James K. Polk in the House, held firm.
Jackson won the bank war.
Jackson wanted to do more than destroy the Bank of the United States; he and
his main followers wanted to drive paper money (bank notes) from circulation.
They were "hard money" men, believing that only money backed by specie (gold
and silver) should be used. So Jackson ordered the "pet banks" (as
detractors called the deposit banks) to quit issuing or accepting $5 notes
from other banks, thus driving them out of circulation. Then these banks would
quit accepting higher denominations. Driving these notes from circulation
would mean that state banks would have to use specie for small transactions
and to do so, would have to curtail loans and withdraw small bills from
circulation in order to have enough specie available.
Inflation hit the economy before the plan went very far, for Jackson had
destroyed the BUS' power to curtail state banks inflating the currency by
issuing bank notes in massive quantities. The nation went into another
speculative land boom worse than the one in 1815-19 which had collapsed in the
Panic8 of 1819 and the bust of Even the pet banks joined the boom. The lure
of easy money was too great to resist. The Jackson administration would not
interfere because it believed in free enterprise (laissez faire). At the state
level, the split between hard and soft money men split the Democratic Party.
Since much of the boom was caused by people buying public land on credit in
hopes of selling it at a profit a few months later, Jackson issued the Specie
Circular in 1836 to stop this speculation by requiring that the land be paid
for in specie or specie-backed bank notes. The Circular strained the credit
system because it decreased the amount of money in circulation, made the cost
of borrowing higher, and forced many creditors to call in loans. The economy
collapsed in the Panic of 1837, throwing one-third of the workers out of jobs.
Jackson left office in March, 1837, before the full effects were felt.
Hamilton wanted a national debt to bind the wealthy to the government. If
the government failed, they would lose money. That's still one of the
functions of the national debt. Did Jackson pay off the national debt? The US government
was very limited. Although Jackson believed in a more activist government than
his predecessors, none of his decisions meant paying off the national
debt. With the boom in land sales and trade, revenue poured in faster
than the US government could spend it. This had nothing to do with anything Jackson did. So the national debt
was paid off (which most economists would say was a
bad thing because it constricted the money supply).
A surplus was generated, something Jackson had sought
because he believed in a limited government; he signed the Distribution Act,
which would remit the surplus to the states, on
June 23, 1836. He did not want it but signed it in order to
help his man Van Buren get elected.
Many Jacksonians were deeply troubled by this action for
it ran counter to Jackson's philosophy.
Van Buren defeated three National Republicans/Whigs for the presidency and
assumed office in March, 1837 just in time to bear the brunt of the economic
depression caused, in part, by his mentor, Jackson. He tried to disassociate
the national government from the private banking industry by proposing that
the government create a treasury system independent of private banks in which
the national government would place all its funds and from which those funds
would be disbursed. This independent treasury system would, thus, remove
federal funds from politics. There was considerable opposition, however, to
this proposal because it would contract credit because private bankers would
no longer be able to use federal government monies to back loans. The measure
did not pass until 1840, thus doing Van Buren little good. He also wanted the
national government to accept only gold or silver, thus contracting the money
supply even further.
Van Buren's economic policies did little to end the
depression and he was defeated in 1840 by the Whig, William Henry Harrison.
The Panic of 1837 caused a wave on anti-bank measures at the state level. Some
states prohibited banks. Other states adopted the socialist measure of having
the state government own the banks. More moderate state legislatures opted to
create banks owned by a combination of the state and private enterprise.
Virtually all states created stricter regulation of the banking business. New
York passed the Free Banking Act of 1838 which created general incorporation
acts. Instead of banks receiving their charters from legislatures, an open
invitation to influence peddling and corruption, New York created a system by
which any group of people who met the requirements could incorporate as a
bank, thus democratizing the process.9
Out of all this turmoil over banks, the money supply tariffs, federally-
financed internal improvements, and who should make public policy, a new
political system emerged. Once again, a two-party system emerged but this time
the parties did not represent elites—the Southern planter aristocracy and the
merchant elite of New England—but white men in general. Suffrage requirements
had been lowered in the 1820s and 1830s and campaigns, beginning with
Jackson's campaign for the presidency after 1824.10 As the parties—the
Democrats and the Whigs—competed for the votes of white males, they had to
find ways to build strong political machines and use simple slogans to entice
followers. Veracity became a hindrance because the truth was too often too
complex. The Whigs had run three candidates in 1836 representing different
section (regions of the country) but lost so they adopted the Jacksonian
tactics and ran Harrison as a "people's candidate" against the "aristocratic"
Van Buren. They used the slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," referring to the
Battle of Tippecanoe (Harrison suffered severe losses against Tecumseh's army
and did not stop his army). When the Democrats referred to Harrison as a man
who would be satisfied sipping hard cider under a tree, the Whigs capitalized
in it by portraying him as a simple man from a log cabin, i.e., a man of the
people. They depicted Van Buren as an aristocrat, out of touch with the
people. The truth was that Harrison was college-educated when few were and
from an aristocratic Virginia family. Van Buren was more a man of the people
but he could not overcome the Whig campaign tactics of massive rallies,
torchlight parades and the symbolism of the log cabin, hard cider, and the
Indian fighter. Harrison won by only 150,000 in the popular vote but by 234 to
60 in the Electoral College, the only vote that really counted. The modern
election campaign was born.
The parties were almost equal in strength. They had to turn out the vote to
win. Whereas in 1824, only 27% of the eligible voters voted, this percentage
rose to 56% in 1836 and 78% in 1840. Parties developed stridently partisan
newspapers to convince people that they were right and built organizations
(political machines) to get out their vote. To win, parties had to figure out
what the electorate wanted and then promise to get it.
By 1840, the United States was changing from an agrarian society with a small
export sector, a society run by small elites, into a more complex society that
included both subsistence and commercial agriculture, substantial national and
international trade, and a burgeoning manufacturing sector. In this new
society, the common white man counted and had to be courted. It was not
democracy, as many have proclaimed, but it was more democratic for white men,
a minority in the United States.
What was Jackson like? Among other things, he obviously was a
man who made friends with important people. John Overton was
one of them. He was quick-tempered and given to fighting, including
duels. He valued his military exploits more than being president; he
wanted to be called General when he was president.
He is a symbol for an age, to paraphrase closely one of the great books
about him. It was an age when rule by the elite and deferential politics
was disappearing as more and more white men (some blacks in parts of the
nation as well) were being enfranchised and were exercising the
newly-acquired right to vote. Conservatives wailed about this trend but
could not stop it. Property and religious qualifications were being
repealed at the state level. The election of 1824 proved that the
congressional caucus system of nominating candidates for president was
dead but it also proved that the election of the president was not done
by popular vote. The Jacksonians began a four-year campaign to get
their man elected in 1828. They could and did say different things about
him in different places because no one knew where he stood on the issues
and communications were so bad that they did not get caught. John Quincy
Adams, although a brilliant man, was stymied in Congress as the
Jacksonians did everything they could to make him look bad.
And he certainly wasn't "Mr. Personality." They ran Jackson as
the "Hero of the Battle of New Orleans" and as a great
Indian fighter. So we see the appeal to the masses. His opponents, the
National Republicans, used the adultery issue in the campaign. Both
sides were using irrelevant criteria in campaigns. We see more of
this in 1832, then again in 1836, and, in full flower, in 1840. The Whigs
had learned the lesson that it wasn't experience, offices held, or such
that mattered. In order to appeal to the masses, it was necessary to use
http://www.wnpt.net/rachel/rachel_mardiv/natchez.html for the question of whether
Jackson and Rachel Robards were married in Natchez in the summer of 1791. A biography of Rachel
Jackson can be found at
John S. Cooper, Andrew Jackson and the Eaton Affair: A National
Soap Opera is useful.
2 The high tariff people won more than the low tariff people because they got
what they wanted first, thus putting them in the position to pass a new high
tariff law five or more years later. More important was the fact that they
were in the catbird seat.
3 These resolutions were issued by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the
1790s to oppose the Alien and Sedition Acts of the John Adams administration.
They argued a case for nullification when the Bill of Rights was being
4 Not to be confused with the modern Republican Party which was founded in
the 1850s. The genealogy is the Federalist Party, the National Republicans,
the Whig Party, and then the Republican Party. The names are a product of
5That Jackson survived his first term was a surprise. When elected he was 60
years old and in ill health. His beloved Rachel had and many thought that he
would soon follow. Instead, the presidency invigorated him.
6Presidents cannot decide the constitutionality but the right of the federal
courts to do so was not clearly established in 1832.
7As was demonstrated once again in 2000, only the members of the Electoral
College can vote for the President and Vice President of the United States.
When Jackson ran in 1832, the popular vote did not have the force that it has
8Economic depressions were called panics in the 19th century.
9The US had not used the corporate form for business much so this act was
precedent setting and very important for the economic history of the nation.
10 Jackson had gotten more votes than anyone else in the 1824 election but no
one had a majority. When the election was thrown into the House of
Representatives, the Henry Clay forces threw in their lot with John Quincy
Adams to elect him. Clay was rewarded by being named Secretary of State, at
the time the stepping stone to the presidency. Jackson's supporters
immediately began campaigning for their man to win the presidency in 1828. In
order to do so, they sought to generate anger at J. Q. Adams by declaring that
he and Clay had made a "corrupt bargain." Of course there was nothing corrupt