Jacksonians View Of Themselves Dbq Essay

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Jacksonian Democrats Essay

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Jacksonian Democrats viewed themselves as the guardians of the United States Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty, and equality of economic opportunity. In light of the following documents and your knowledge of the 1820's and the 1830's, to what extent do you agree with the Jacksonian's view of themselves.

Unlike previous presidents, Andrew Jackson represented the common men. He and his followers did not support the aristocrats, but instead favored the interests of farmers and urban workers. When they gained power, the Jacksonian Democrats brought about great advances in creating a more democratic and economically equal society.

One of the most important changes that Jackson brought was a much more democratic…show more content…

Jacksonian Democrats believed that any American was capable of holding government office. Jackson also said that if a man were to hold office for a lengthy period of time, he would be capable of "tolerating conduct from which an unpracticed man would revolt".

Along with rotation, the Jacksonian Democrats reestablished the spoils system. Jackson fired any previous office holder who was not a loyal Democrat. He would then appoint a Democrat to that position. The spoils system and rotation were advances toward greater political democracy, because they showed that one man is just as good as another is.

In addition to creating a more democratic country, Jackson also tried to establish equal economic opportunity for the people of America. The best example of this is the vetoing of the charter of the Bank of the United States. The bank was a huge monopoly. It was ran by aristocrats, most of which were from England. Nicholas Biddle, who was the president of the bank, often used funds from the bank to lend money to the members of Congress, thus wining their support.

In his veto message, Jackson wrote, "It is to be regretted that rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes." This was true, since the bank was used to provide for the interests of the rich and not the common men such as the small farmers and urban workers.

The attempt to create

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Jacksonian Democracy Dbq

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Jacksonian Democrats help create a more democratic America and because of this, believed themselves to be many things, real and fictional. In most cases they perceived themselves as defenders of equal economic opportunity, even though they sometimes put their own interests before those of the people. They also thought of themselves as guardians of political democracy, while at the same time using class differences to their advantage and emotionalized speeches, lacking real intellectual merit, to stir support. Jacksonian Democrats felt that they were the protectors of the Constitution and of individual liberties but many times they put their rivalry with the Northeastern industry and Whig politics before these things. While Jacksonians have much correct in their view of themselves as guardians of political democracy, equal economic opportunity and individual liberty, they were often more important in developing these concepts than protecting them.
Jackson was a strong opponent of the unequal and aristocrat dominated economic structure of most of America. He was very against the Bank of America because he believed it to have a monopoly on banking and felt that it was owned and run unjustly by wealthy aristocrats who were not always Americans (B). It must also be noted however, that while the Bank of America was undoubtedly corrupt (Nicholas Biddle is known to have given sums of money to close friends, and was also known to regularly bribe newspapers and similar media.) it also did what it was supposed to do very well. It provided money and credit to many of the lower classes that Jackson defended, and also was the source of much economic growth. As a result of this veto Jackson established pet banks in many Western areas to try to appease his main group of supporters and build up the rivalry between the agrarian South and West and the industrial North (C). Many immigrants found that one of the first things they discovered upon entering America was a sense of economic equality and lack of poverty, which are exactly the things Jackson was working towards (D). The case Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge decided that a charter given a person or group to do a service does not allow that group to have complete rights over this service. This decision supports the Jacksonian Democracy ideas that the rights of the community are more important than the rights of business (H).

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However, it is also important to know that Taney was elected by Jackson, and his decision, well supporting economic equality, also set a precedent for states' intervention in commerce.
The Jacksonian Democrats were very important in the revolutions in political democracy that took place during this period. During this period universal white male suffrage took place and was the first step towards the revolution of the common man in politics. Also, Jackson's acceptance and support of the two-party system helped create a more democratic America in which people with similar views could unite in their support of a singular candidate. Many "working men" of this time period had felt they had been taken advantage of and misrepresented by tyrannical aristocrats who treated them poorly (A). Jackson used this to his advantage with emotionalized speeches exploiting class differences. However, it should be said that during this time period the amount of voters increased dramatically which means that more Americans were involved in American politics (D). Jackson's use of the "Kitchen Cabinet" kept his knowledge of critics and the wants and needs of the people up to date. While many criticized him for this, the kitchen cabinet did in fact help protect political democracy as it kept Jackson aware of the common man. Finally the spoils system was clearly undemocratic. It advocated the employment of uneducated people unfit for government positions for no reason other than that they had supported Andrew Jackson. This system denies able minded people the right to contribute and instead replaces them with people who have no right being in government at all. In one case a man named Samuel Swartwout was given the position of Collector of Customs in New York fled to Europe with over a million dollars that belonged to the American government.
Jacksonians felt that they were the guardians of the Constitution and defenders of individual liberty. As a President Andrew Jackson felt that he was responsible to the common people as he was their elected leader. This influenced him in many decisions. However, when he defied the Supreme Court in the Worcester v. Georgia case, saying, "John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it," he was clearly defying the Constitution and the individual liberties of the Cherokees because of a personal vendetta with John Marshall. After this he moved thousands of Native Americans, killing more than half, saying it was for the good of the common man (G). He also vetoed the bill for an interstate road through Kentucky claiming it was unconstitutional to make internal improvements. Document F influenced Jackson toward anti-abolition, a view he clearly expressed in has 1835 annual message to Congress. He tried to institute a "gag rule" which would stop abolitionist pamphlets and letters from entering Congress, which would be a severely unconstitutional breech on the freedom of speech of many Americans (F). While Jackson used the veto inappropriately he also used it well. He supported his vetoes with valid statements regarding his reasons and thoughts as to why he thought a bill violated the rights of the people (B). He also showed that he could be a defender of the Constitution during the Nullification Crisis. His belief that the states lacked personal sovereignty under the Constitution lead him to threaten South Carolina with military force, a tactic that proves his belief in the Constitution and its power.
While Jacksonian Democrats may have been hypocritical calling themselves the guardians of the Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty and equal economic activity, they did do many things that encouraged each of these things. Their actions may have been more influenced by selfish desires and anti-industrial/Northeast attitudes than by the good of the people at some points, but they also followed through on their true democratic beliefs in many others. For these reasons Jacksonian Democrats were more developers and helpers than guardians of these democratic foundations.



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