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Chapter 09 - Jacksonian America

1)The Rise of Mass Politics

a)The Expanding Electorate

i)No economic equality, but transformation of American politics to extend the right to vote to new groups. Until 1820s most states limited franchise to white landowners. Changes began in West w/ Constitutions guaranteeing right to vote to all white males- E. states did likewise in order to stop exodus of ppl

ii)Change provoked resistance- MA conservatives wanted property requirement, state eventually required voters to be taxpayers + Gov had to own large lands

iii)State reforms generally peaceful but in RI instability when 1840 group led by Thomas Dorr and the “People’s Party” submitted and won a new state Const. by the ppl. 1842 2 simultaneous govts, Dorr rebellion quickly failed

iv)In S election laws favored planters and politicians from older counties, limited influence of newly settled western areas

v)Everywhere women could not vote, no secret ballots—despite limitations numbers of voters increased faster than population 

vi)Originally electors chosen by legislature, by 1828 popularly elected except SC

b)The Legitimization of Party

i)Higher levels of voter participation due to expanded electorate but also strengthening of party organization and loyalty

ii)1820s/1830s saw permanent, institutionalized parties become desirable part of political process. Began at state level in NY w/ Martin Van Buren’s factional “Bucktails”. Party’s preservation thru favors, rewards, patronage leaders goals

iii)Parties would check/balance one other, politicians forced 2 rep. will of the ppl

iv)By late 1820s new idea of party spreading beyond NY, Jackson’s 1828 election seemed to legitimize new system. By 1830s national 2-party system: anti-Jackson forces called Whigs, his followers called Democrats

c)“President of the Common Man”

i)Democratic party embraced no uniform ideological position, committed to offer equal protection and benefits by assaulting eastern aristocracy to extend opportunity to rising classes of the W + S, preserve white-male democracy thru subjugation of African Americans and Indians

ii)Jackson’s first targets entrenched officeholders of fed govt, wanted to simplify official duties to make office more accessible. Removed nearly 1/5 of office-holders removed b/c misuse of govt funds or corruption

iii)Jackson’s supporters embraced “spoils system”, making right of elected officials to appt followers to office established feature of American politics

iv)Supporters worked to transform presidential nomination system- 1832 national party convention held to replace congressional caucus, considered democratic triumph b/c power from ppl and not aristocratic caucus

v)Spoils system and convention limited power of entrenched elites (permanent officeholders, caucus elite), but neither really transferred true power to the ppl

2)“Our Federal Union”

a)Calhoun and Nullification

i)Late 1820s many in SC came to see “tariff of abominations” as responsible for stagnation of state economy (really due to exhausted farmland unable to compete with new western lands). Some considered remedy thru secession

ii)Vice President Calhoun offered alternative in theory of nullification- idea like Madison and Jefferson’s KY + VA Resolutions of 1798-1799. Argued fed govt created by states, therefore states final arbiter (not Congress or courts) of constitutionality. Convention could be held to null and void law within state

b)The Rise of Van Buren

i)Apptd Sec of State 1829 by Jackson, also member of president’s of unofficial circle of allies in “Kitchen Cabinet”. After supporting Peggy Eaton in affair over acceptance into cabinet wife social circle gained favor w/ President

ii)By 1831 Jackson had chosen Van Buren to succeed him in WH, Calhoun’s presidential dream ended

c)The Webster-Hayne Debate

i)January 1830 proposal to temporarily stop western land sales led SC Sen. Robert Hayne to claim slowing down W growth means for east to retain political and economic power. Hinted at uniting S + W against “tyranny”

ii)Nationalist and Whig Sen. Daniel Webster attacked Hayne + Calhoun for challenging integrity of the Union. Debate ensued over issue of states rights vs national power

iii)Jackson announced at Democratic Party banquet “Our Federal Union-It must be preserved”, lines drawn btwn Jackson and Calhoun

d)The Nullification Crisis

i)1832 tariff bill in Congress gave SC no relief from “tariff of abominations”, state convention held- voted for nullification of tariffs of 1828 & 1832, duties collection w/in state. Calhoun resigned VP became Sen., Hayne now Gov

ii)Jackson insisted nullification treason, strengthened federal forts in SC. 1833 Pres. proposed bill to authorize use of military to see acts of Congress obeyed

iii)No states supported SC, state itself divided. Sen Henry Clay offered compromise that tariff would be gradually lowered so that by 1842 it would be at same level as in 1816. Compromise + force bill passed March 1833

iv)SC state convention met and repealed its nullification of the tariffs, but also nullified the force act (symbolic of null. legitimacy)

3)The Removal of the Indians

a)White Attitudes Toward the Tribes

i)In 18th century many whites considered Indians “noble savages” who had inherent dignity, by 19th century more hostile attitude especially among whites in W and territories, simply “savages”

ii)White westerners wanted removal b/c feared continued contact + expanding white settlements would lead to endless violence, & Indian lands valuable

iii)Only fed govt had power to deal w/ Indians after Sup. Court decisions. Indians created new large political entities to deal w/ whites

b)The Black Hawk War

i)In Old Northwest Black Hawk War 1831-1832 to expel last of Indians there

ii)Conflict notable for violence of white military efforts, attacked even when Chief Black Hawk was surrendering and killed Indians fleeing battle

c)The “Five Civilized Tribes”

i)1830s govt worried about remaining “Five Civilized Tribes” in South- successful agricultural society, Constitution forming Cherokee Nation 1827

ii)Fed govt worked in early 19th century thru treaties to remove tribes to West and open lands to white settlement. Negotiation process unsatisfying + slow

iii)Congress passed Removal Act 1830 to finance def negotiations w/ tribes in order to relocate them West, pressure from state govts to move as well

iv)In GA Sup. Court decisions of Cherokee Nation v Georgia (1831) and Worcester v Georgia (1832) seemed to protect tribal lands

v)1835 treaty signed with minority tribe in Cherokee nation ceding all land to GA, but majority of Cherokees refused to recognize its legitimacy. Jackson sent army under General Winfield Scott to drive them westward to reservation  

d)Trials of Tears

i)Forced trek to “Indian Territory” began winter 1838. Thousands died before destination, dubbed “Trail of Tears”

ii)Cherokees not alone: btwn 1830-1838 nearly all “Five Civilized Tribes” expelled from Southern states & relocated to Indian Territory created by Congress in Indian Intercourse Act of 1834. Undesirable land far from whites

iii)Only Seminoles in Florida resisted relocation. Under pressure had agreed to cede land and move to Ind. Territory, many members of tribe moved

(1)But 1835 minority led by chief Osceola staged uprising. Jackson sent army, conducted campaign of systematic extermination but successful guerilla warfare forced govt to abandon war in 1842

e)The Meaning of Removal

i)By end of 1830s almost all major Indian societies relocated to far less hospitable lands west of Mississippi on reservations surrounded by forts

ii)White movement west impossible to have stopped, but alternative to removal could have been some form of co-existence like in NW trading posts, TX

iii)BY mid-19th century Americans believed western lands had no pre-existing civilization. Natives could not be equal partners, were obstacles to be removed, “lacked intelligence, industry and moral habits for improvement”

4)Jackson and the Bank War

a)Biddle’s Institution

i)Bank of United States in 1830s had HQ in Philadelphia, branches in 19 cities, by law only place govt could deposit its funds

ii)Conducted private business issuing credit, bank notes used throughout country, restrained less well-managed state banks. Pres Nicholas Biddle had made bank sound + prosperous. Regardless, Jackson wanted to destroy it

iii)Opposition came from “soft-money” faction who wanted more currency in circulation. Made up of state banks, resisted Bank of US’s efforts to restrain free issue of notes from state banks

iv)“Hard money” faction wanted gold and silver to back currency, suspicious of expansion and speculation. Jackson supported hard-money

v)Jackson did not favor renewal of bank charter after 1836 expiration. Biddle tried to save bank by granting financial favors to influential men, named Daniel Webster made legal counsel (gained Clay’s support). Recommended renewal bill 1832 to make bank issue in 1832 elections. 

vi)Bill passed Congress but Jackson vetoed it, could not be overridden. In 1832 Jackson + Van Buren elected despite opposition to bank over opposition Clay

b)The “Monster” Destroyed

i)Jackson determined to destroy “monster” Bank quickly. To weaken it removed govt deposits (two Tres. Secretaries fired b/c feared financial destabilization, third Roget Taney complied)

ii)When administration transferred funds from Bank to pet banks, Biddle called in loans and raised interest rates- hoped would cause financial distress and recession that would persuade Congress to recharter Bank

iii)Financial conditions worsened winter 1833/1834, two sides blamed it on each other. Finally Biddle contracted credit too far for his own allies in the business community, began to fear his efforts to save ban threatening their own

iv)Biddle forced to grant credit in abundance on reasonable terms, tactics ended change of re-charter. End in 1836 empowered unstable bank system

c)The Taney Court

i)Jackson moved against economic nationalism support of Supreme Court, after Marshall died 1835 named Roger Taney chief justice

ii)Charles River Bridge v Warren Bridge (1837) btwn company chartered by state for toll bridge monopoly and company applying to legislature to pay for toll-free bridge. Taney ruled that govt’s goal to promote general happiness took precedence over right of contract and property, therefore state had right to amend contract o advance well-being of community

iii)Reflected Jacksonian ideal that key to democracy expansion of economic opportunity that could not occur if corporations maintained monopolies and choked off competition from newer companies

5)The Changing Face of American Politics

a)Democrats and Whigs

i)Democrats in 1830s envisioned expanding economic and political opportunity for white males, limited govt but one that removed obstacles to opportunity, defense of Union, attacking corruption, radical branch called Locofocos

ii)Whigs favored expanding power of fed govt, industrial and commercial development, knit country into consolidated economic system, cautious westward expansion b/c feared territorial growth would produce instability, embraced industrial future and commercial and manufacturing greatness

iii)Whigs supported by merchants and manufactures of NE, wealthy Southern planters, western commercialists. Democrats supported by smaller merchants and workingmen of NE, S planters suspicious of industry, agrarian westerners

iv)Above all wanted to win elections: Whigs connected w/ Anti-Masons to resent “undemocratic” Freemasons (such as Jackson and Van Buren). Irish and German Catholic immigrants supported Democrats b/c aversion to commercial development, Evangelical Protestants supported Whigs

v)Whigs led by “Great Triumvirate” of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John Calhoun. 1836 election Dems united behind Jackson’s choice of Van Buren for candidate, but Whigs could not agree on single candidate. Clay, White, and William Henry Harrison ran for regional interests, defeated by Van Buren

b)Van Buren and the Panic of 1837

i)Van Buren elected on economic boom that reached height 1836- canals and railroads being built, easy credit, land business booming, govt revenues from sales + 1833 tariff created surpluses that allowed reduction of nat’l debt

ii)Congress passed 1836 “distribution” act to return surplus to states, used to fund highways, railroads, canals, created economic boom

iii)Withdrawal of fed funds strained state “pet” banks, forced to call in loans. Jackson issued “specie circular” that required payment for public land sales be in gold or silver or currency backed by them b/c feared rampant speculation

iv)Circular produced financial panic during Van Buren’s presidency banks and business failed, food riots- largest depression in American history to that point

v)Both parties responsible for panic- surplus redistribution a Whig measure, Jackson’s circular, but also panics in England and W. Eur that caused those investors to withdraw funds from American banks, also crop failures

vi)Panic of 1837 led Democrats + Van Buren administration to pay price for no govt intervention. Only success of VB creation of “subtreasury system” to replace Bank of US- govt funds placed in independent treasury in Washington, no private banks could use money to fund loans and speculation

c)The Log Cabin Campaign

i)To win 1840 election Whigs supported only one candidate- William Henry Harrison for pres and John Tyler for VP

ii)1840 campaign first in which “penny press” carried news of candidates to larger audience of workers and tradespeople. Whigs, although represented affluent elements of pop, presented themselves as party of the common people

iii)Whig campaign effective at portraying the wealthy Harrison as a simple log cabin and cider man and VB as an aloof aristocrat--- Harrison won election

d)The Frustration of the Whigs

i)Harrison died of pneumonia 1 month after inauguration, new President Tyler was a former Democrat who refused to let Clay and Webster control policy

ii)Pres supported bills abolishing independent treasury system and raising tariff rate, but refused Clay’s attempt to recharter Bank and vetoed internal improvement bills sponsored by Whigs. 

iii)Whigs kicked Tyler out of party, entire cabinet resigned. Tyler and some conservative southern Whigs who supported slavery and states rights prepared to join the Democratic Party

e)Whig Diplomacy

i)Canada uprising caused tension leading to burning of an American steamship carrying arms and the subsequent arrest of a British citizen for burning 1837. Tension over Canada-Maine boundary led to small “Aroostook War” 1838

ii)Finally negotiations to reduce all tensions occurred btwn Sec of State Webster and British Lord Ashburton. 1842 Webster Ashburton treaty established new Maine border, GB refused to interfere w/ American ships-- relations improved

iii)Tyler administration established first diplomatic relations with China, Americans received same privileges as British such as “extraterritoriality” and port use

iv)Whigs lost White House in 1844 elections

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