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Chapter 13 The Rise of Mass Democracy. Old Hickory Wallops Clay in ‘32 Jackson’s supporters again raised the hickory pole while Clay men detracted Jackson’s dueling, gambling ,cockfighting, and fast living (somewhat ironic considering that Clay was guilty of much of the same lifestyle!).

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Old Hickory Wallops Clay in ‘32

Jackson’s supporters again raised the hickory pole while Clay men detracted Jackson’s dueling, gambling ,cockfighting, and fast living (somewhat ironic considering that Clay was guilty of much of the same lifestyle!).

Also ,a new third party, the Anti-Masonic Party made its entrance for the first time.

Opposed to the fearsome secrecy of the Masonic party order ,it was energized by the mysterious murder of someone who threatened to expose the Freemason’s secrets.

While sharing ideals ,they were against Jackson, a Mason. Also, they were supported by churches hoping to pass religious reform.

For the first time , national conventions were held to nominate candidates.

Clay had the money and the support of the press , but the poor people now voted too, and Jackson won handily, handing Clay his second loss in a presidential race.


This cartoon shows different kinds of monkeys in cages marked "Home, Consumption, Internal, Improvements," who are stealing each others food. A man coming through the door says "What a humbug!" The seated organ grinder says "Hail Columbia! Happy Land!" And the man standing on the right (Henry Clay) says "Walk in! Walk in! and see the new improved grand, original American system!" This cartoon refers to the "American System" which had been proposed by Alexander Hamilton and promoted by Henry Clay and the Whig Party. The Democratic Party, however, opposed such an economic development system, which in this cartoon they call a humbug.

burying biddle s bank
Burying Biddle’s Bank

Hoping to kill the BUS, Jackson now began to withdraw federal funds from the bank, so as to drain it of its wealth; in reaction, Biddle began to call for unnecessary loans, personally causing a mini panic.

Jackson won, and in 1836, the BUS breathed its last breath, but because it had been the only source of sure credit in the United States, hard times fell upon the West once the BUS died, since the “wildcat banks” were very unreliable.


This cartoon attacks Andrew Jackson’s plan to distribute Treasury funds, formerly kept in the Bank of the United States, to banks in various states. Jackson is the jackass in the center, “dancing among the chickens” (the state banks). Martin Van Buren is the fox (right).

the birth of the whigs
The Birth of the Whigs

Under Jackson, the modern two-party system of politics came to be.

Opponents of Jackson despised his iron-fisted nature and called him “King Andrew.” This wide group coalesced into the Whig party, cemented only by their hatred of Jackson.

Generally, the Whigs:

Disliked Jackson

Supported Henry Clay’s American System and internal improvements.

Once formed, American would have at least two major political parties henceforth.


"Caucus on the Surplus Bill"This political cartoon offers a satiric view of President Andrew Jackson's support of the Surplus Bill or Distribution Act, which would distribute surplus federal funds among the states. Jackson only agreed to sign it because Congress threatened to override his veto -- and because it was politically beneficial for Martin Van Buren's candidacy. Jackson sits at a table with Van Buren and his running mate, Richard M. Johnson, pondering the bill.

the election of 1836
The Election of 1836
  • “King Andrew” was too old to run again but promoted Martin Van Buren to be the man to follow in his footsteps.
  • The Whigs suffered from disorganization. They tried to offer a favorite son candidate from each section of the country in the hope that no one would win a majority of the electoral vote.
  • Thus, the election would be thrown to the House of Representatives, and they could possibly win there.
  • Their scheme failed however, and Van Buren won.

This pro-Whig political cartoon depicts President Martin Van Buren being hypnotized by former president Andrew Jackson into continuing his monetary and independent treasury policies.

the election of 18361
The Election of 1836

The previous slide is a political cartoon from the 1836 US Presidential Election Campaign.  Martin Van Buren (seated on the left) and William Henry Harrison (seated on the right) play cards.  Jackson is peeking at William Henry Harrison's cards to cheat on behalf of Van Buren and Richard Johnson (Van Buren's running mate) is standing near Martin Van Buren in an effort to assist him to victory. The title of the cartoon reads “All Fours- Important State of the Game- The Knave About to be Lost.” The term “knave” means; a boy servant; a male servant; a man of humble birth or position; a tricky deceitful fellow..

big woes for the little magician
Big Woes for the “Little Magician”
  • Van Buren was the first president to have been born in the United States ,but lacked the support of many Democrats and could not hope to match Jackson’s popularity.
  • Problems included a rebellion in Canada in 1837 threatened to plunge America into war, plus Van Buren also inherited the depression caused by Jackson’s BUS killing.
depression doldrums and the independent treasury
Depression Doldrums and the Independent Treasury
  • The Panic of 1837 was caused by the “wildcat banks” irresponsible lending, rampant over- speculation, the “Bank War ,” the failure of wheat crops, and the Specie circular stating that debts must be paid in specie (gold or silver ) which only the wealthy possessed.
  • The failure of two large British Banks in 1836 had started the panic going, and a chain reaction ensued.
  • Hundreds of U.S. banks fell ,including some of Jackson’s “pet banks,” banks that had received the money that Jackson had withdrawn from the BUS to kill it.
The Whigs proposed expansion of bank credit , higher tariffs, subsidies for internal improvements, and more active involvement on the part of the government, but Van Buren spurned the ideas.

Instead , he proposed the “Divorce Bill” (separating the bank from the government and storing money in some of the vaults of the larger American cities ,thus keeping the money safe but also unavailable ) that advocated the independent treasury ,and in 1840 , it was passed.

The next year , the victorious Whigs repealed it , but in 1846 , it was brought back; it finally merged with the Federal Reserve System in the next century.