The Jackson Era 1824-1845 1) How did political beliefs and events shape Andrew Jackson’s presidency? 2) How did Andrew Jackson’s presidency affect Native Americans? 3) How do economic issues affect the president and presidential elections?
James Monroe held the Presidency for two terms, but declined to run for a third term. John Quincy Adams, son of the former President John Adams, was elected as the 6th President. However, there were rumors of corruption and “making deals” that got Adams elected so his Presidency was always tainted with a dark cloud. He only lasted one term.
By 1828, the Republican Party had divided into two separate parties: Democratic Republicans National Republicans “Republicans” “Democrats” Favored states’ rights Mistrusted strong central government Working class Wanted a strong central government Supported federal projects (road-building) Merchants, wealthy farmers
During the campaign, both parties resorted to mudslinging, or attempts to ruin the other opponents’ reputations with insults. Election slogans, rallies, buttons and events such as barbecues were also used to stir up enthusiasm. All of these new features became a permanent part of American political life.
Andrew Jackson won the election of 1828, making him the 7th President of the United States. John C. Calhoun became his Vice President. Jackson was the first “people’s President.” Born in a log cabin, he was a self-made man, a patriot and a war hero. He was nicknamed “Old Hickory” because his troops said he was as tough as a hickory stick. Small farmers, craftspeople and others who felt left out of the expanding American economy loved Jackson. They felt that his rise from a log cabin to the White House demonstrated the “American Dream,” the great American success story.
Jackson promised “equal protection and equal benefits” for all Americans – at least for all white American men. In the nation’s early years, only men who owned property or paid taxes had suffrage, the right to vote. Jackson extended the right to vote to all white men. Women, however, could not vote. African Americans and Native Americans and few rights of any kind.
Jackson instituted the “spoils system.” When a new President gets elected, he brings all his supporters with him into the government jobs and the people that supported the old President have to leave.
The Tariff Debate Tariffs made European goods more expensive. Northeastern factory owners loved tariffs because people would buy American products. Southerners hated them because tariffs made products more expensive for them. IN 1832, South Carolina passed the Nullification Act, declaring it would not pay the tariffs because they were “illegal.” S.C. threatened to secede, or break away, from the Union.
Jackson eased the crisis by passing a bill that would gradually lower the tariffs. At the same time, however, Jackson had Congress pass the Force Bill, allowing him to use the military to enforce acts of Congress. South Carolina accepted the new tariff but nullified the Force Bill. Guess which state was the first one to secede from the Union and start the Civil War?
Indian Removal Act In 1830, Jackson pushed the Indian Removal Act through Congress. The act allowed the federal government to pay Native Americans to move west. Western settlers wanted the Indian lands. Jackson had fought Indians during the War of 1812 and had no love for them. He felt that if he moved them all to the western Great Plains, they would be out of the way of everyone forever and they wouldn’t have any more conflicts with them. Most Americans felt the western Great Plains were a wasteland that would never be settled.
Treaties for removal were forced upon the Native Americans. In 1834, the Indian Territory (in present-day Oklahoma) was set up to receive all relocated Indians. The Cherokee nation refused to give up their lands and initially were supported by the Supreme Court in Worcester v. Georgia. Jackson, however, ignored the Supreme Court, claiming that their decision could not be enforced.
The government persuaded a small group of Cherokee to sign a treaty called the Treaty of New Echota, which gave up their small group’s land. Jackson, however, claimed they signed it on behalf of the entire Cherokee nation and used it as the legal document he needed to remove the Native Americans. The U.S. Senate approved the signed treaty and the Cherokee’s fate was sealed. The Cherokee that refused to leave were forcibly removed by the army. The Cherokee knew they could not defeat the army, so their leaders gave in and the long march to the West began.
The Trail of Tears One of the greatest crimes the United States has ever committed against a people. Over 4000 Cherokee died in camps and along the way from starvation, disease and exposure to brutal weather.
Other resistance movements came from the Sauk and Fox tribes, Chicasaw, Choctaw, Creek and the Seminole tribes. Only the Seminole people of Florida successfully resisted their removal. After a series of wars against white settlements, called The Seminole Wars, the government finally gave up and allowed the Seminole to stay in Florida. Many, however, had been caught and sent west during the wars and others had died in the fighting, so their numbers were greatly reduced.
After 1842, most Native Americans had been moved west and lived, organized by tribes, on reservations. Eventually, white settlers would expand into these lands as well.
Jackson’s War Against the Bank The Bank of the United States was a powerful institution. It held the federal government’s money an controlled much of the country’s money supply. For years, Jackson attacked the Bank of the United States as being an organization of wealthy Easterners that ordinary citizens could not control. When the time came up for the Bank’s operating charter to be renewed, Jackson refused to sign the charter, which forced the Bank to close. He ordered the withdrawal of all government money from the Bank and placed the funds in smaller state banks.
Jackson decided not to run for a third term in 1836. The Democrats chose Martin Van Buren, Jackson’s friend and Vice President. Van Buren faced opposition from a new political party, the Whigs. The Whigs had broken off from the Republicans because they didn’t agree with them, but didn’t like the Democrats either. They were Jackson haters. But Jackson was still popular, and his support of Van Buren caused Van Buren to win the election and become the 8th President of the United States.
The Panic of 1837 Soon after the election, the country entered a depression. Land valued dropped, banks failed. Business closed, people lost their jobs. Farmers plunged into debt and lost their land. In cities, many people could not afford food or rent. President Van Buren believed in laissez-faire government – government should interfere as little as possible in the nation’s economy. Established the federal treasury. Removed all the government money from private banks and put it all in the federal treasury. The private banks had been using federal money to support themselves. The federal treasury would stop this.
With the depression in full swing, the Whigs saw a chance to win the next election because people were unsatisfied with the Democrats. The Whigs nominated William Henry Harrison, a hero of the War of 1812. He called on John Tyler to be his running mate for Vice President. Since Harrison had made a major military victory at the Battle of Tippecanoe during the War of 1812, their Presidential campaign slogan was “Tippecanoe and Tyler too.”
William Henry Harrison became the first Whig President. Inauguration day, 1841, was bitterly cold. Harrison, however, insisted on delivering his speech without a hat or coat. He died of pneumonia 32 days later. His claim to history is that he served the shortest term of any American president.
John Tyler, the Vice President, became the first Vice President to gain the presidency because the elected President died in office. Although Tyler was a Whig, he had once been a Democrat and many of his policies favored the Democrats. Four years later, he lost re-election to Democratic candidate James Polk. The Whigs were out of power after only 4 years.