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The Transformation of America. Politics. Introduction. America’s amazing economic transformations at the beginning of the nineteenth century led to equally dramatic shifts within the political culture of the United States

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Introduction l.jpg
Introduction

  • America’s amazing economic transformations at the beginning of the nineteenth century led to equally dramatic shifts within the political culture of the United States

  • Following the War of 1812, political power at the local and state levels steadily moved away from the propertied elites who had dominated American government in the years preceding the war

  • This process would affect how Americans saw politics and themselves over the next three decades


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Extending the Right to Vote

  • Rise of “Democracy”

  • Switch from “Great Men” to the people

  • Expansion of the vote in the new states and the old states

    • Reduction of qualifications

  • Consequences of an enlarged franchise

    • Class and reputation no longer matter

    • “New” men attain positions of power

    • Rise of factions/parties

  • Women and African Americans still left out


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Popular Participation

  • Political participation was more than just voting

  • Rise of public meetings

  • Rise of political discourse

    • Newspapers

    • “The Penny Press”

  • Combination of politics and popular entertainment


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Changing Political Landscape

  • Breakdown of the “Era of Good Feelings”

  • Splintering of the Republican Party

    • New Guard vs. the Old Guard

    • Differing views

  • Changing views and rise of “Party”

  • Questioning of the old Elites

  • Appearance of Martin van Buren and New York politics


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The Election of 1824

  • All of the political trends present in American for the past 20 years came to a head in 1824

  • Splintering of the Republican Party

    • John Quincy Adams

    • Henry Clay

    • John C. Calhoun

    • Andrew Jackson

  • Just as in 1800, there was no clear majority and the election went to the House of Representatives


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Deciding the Election of 1824

  • The “Corrupt Bargain” between Clay and Adams

  • Election of Adams

  • Promotion of the American System

    • Benefited Northeastern and Western elements

    • Eventually defeated in Congress

  • Tariffs and Sectional differences

    • 1828 “Tariff of Abominations”

  • Failure of Adams


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The New Politics: Election of 1828

  • Van Buren’s Coalition

    • Drew upon all sections: South, West and Northeast

  • First campaign where office seekers “ran” instead of “stood” for election

  • Mobilization of the press

  • First national campaign that promised supporters with offices and built political coalitions on loyalty to party members and programs


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Andrew Jackson: The Man

  • Jackson proved to be an ideal candidate because he reflected the new electorate more so than any other candidate running for office at this time

  • Born and raised on the frontier in poverty, yet he managed to become a self-made man respected in the community

  • National hero as a result of his exploits against the British in the War of 1812 and as an Indian fighter


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Election of Andrew Jackson

  • In the aftermath of Jackson’s victory, the old-style deference to an American elite gave way to a new boisterous political culture that was based on a representative government and sought to advance the interests of “common people.”

  • After the election, he bolstered his support by appointing Van Buren as his secretary of state and by distributing patronage to his supporters as reward for their loyal support

    • The “Spoils System”

  • Jackson’s efforts placed him at the head of a rather formidable political machine that existed at all levels of government


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Jackson in Government

  • After all of the appointments were made and Jackson had settled into office, he worked closely with a talented group of advisors – the “Kitchen Cabinet”

  • Together they established the Democratic Party as a major force in American politics based on mass organization, the promotion of democratic ideals, and widespread suffrage and political participation

  • With these objects in mind, the Jackson administration pursued an agenda that focused on Indian removal and targeted two major components of the American System—the national bank and tariffs.


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Indian Removal

  • Policies prior to 1820

    • Land for limited sovereignty

    • Missionaries and assimilation

  • Jackson and relocation

  • The sad tale of the Cherokee

    • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

    • Worcester v. Georgia

    • Trail of Tears

  • Indian Removal Act of 1832


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Tariffs

  • The national debate over tariffs provided another area of conflict during the Jackson administration

  • During his presidential campaign, Jackson had walked a fine line on this issue because southerners hated the tariff while many northerners regarded such measures as crucial to their economic interests

  • John C. Calhoun and The South Carolina Exposition and Protest

  • Tariff of 1832, South Carolina and the Ordinance of Nullification

  • Jackson’s Response

    • Use of Federal forces to enforce the tariff

    • Committed to work with Congress on reducing tariffs


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The Bank of the United States

  • Not only did Jackson have to deal with the tariff problem, he also had to contend with controversy over the Second Bank of the United States

  • Henry Clay, Daniel Webster and rechartering the Bank (1832)

  • Jackson’s veto of the charter

    • Explained his decision in an emotional veto message

    • He carried his message directly to the voters and based his campaign on his record of attacking privilege and promising greater opportunities for the majority of Americans

  • It proved to be a winning message, and Jackson won an overwhelming electoral victory (219 to 49) in the election of 1832


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Reemergence of the Two-Party System

  • The controversies during the Jackson administration transformed America’s political culture, but they also re-ignited the two-party system in the United States

  • Disappearance of the National Republican Party

  • Rise of the Whig Party

    • United in their opposition to Andrew Jackson - “King Andrew”

    • Northern Whigs

    • Southern Whigs

  • The Whigs made steady gains against the Democratic Party capturing a majority of seats in the House of Representatives in 1834, but they lost the presidency in 1836 to Martin Van Buren


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Other Political Parties

  • In addition to the Whig Party, other opposition parties formed and were led by individuals who believed they were ignored by both parties

  • Workingmen’s Parties

    • Urban workers

    • Built on the older republican ideal that property conferred a “stake in society”

    • “Artisan republicanism”

  • Equal Rights Party

    • William Leggett

    • Urged the Democrats to wipe out state banks just as they had disposed of the Second Bank of the United States


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Downturn in the American Economy

  • Urban discontents were drawn to these working class organizations, but they had little effect on the national political debate that centered on the declining economy in the latter half of the 1830s

  • During Jackson’s last year in office, inflation set in, and he promoted legislation to bring it under control

    • Land policies - gold or silver

  • Economic problems elsewhere exacerbated the problems in the United States

  • Downturn in the British economy (1833)

  • Panic of 1837 - lasted until 1843 and profoundly impacted American politics and culture


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Triumph of the Whigs

  • This economic crisis hampered Van Buren’s administration and galvanized the Whig Party as the election of 1840 approached

  • Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison and the Election of 1840

  • Parades, parties, and snappy slogans characterized the Whig campaign of 1840 with great effect as Harrison won both a majority of the popular vote (53 percent) and an Electoral College landslide (234 to 60)


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Consequences of 1840 & the Transformation of American Politics

  • The presidential election of 1840, in many respects, stands as the first modern presidential election in which two major parties actively campaigned to a mass audience in pursuit of the office

  • The “Era of Good Feelings” that had shaped the nine years following the War of 1812 gave way to a contentious period in American social and political history as tensions erupted between competing economic and sectional interests

  • Andrew Jackson and able political managers like Martin Van Buren emerged at this time, together fundamentally transforming American political culture

  • Their legacy is still shaping modern-day politics


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