|Historical leaders|| Andrew Jackson |
Martin Van Buren
James K. Polk
Thomas Hart Benton
Stephen A. Douglas
|Split from||Democratic-Republican Party|
|Ideology|| Agrarianism |
|National affiliation||Democratic Party|
|Periods in United States history|
|Part of the Politics series|
Jacksonian democracy was a 19th-century political philosophy in the United States that expanded suffrage to most white men over the age of 21, and restructured a number of federal institutions. Originating with the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson, and his supporters, it became the nation's dominant political worldview for a generation. The term itself was in active use by the 1830s.
This era, called the Jacksonian Era (or Second Party System) by historians and political scientists, lasted roughly from Jackson's 1828 election as president until slavery became the dominant issue in 1854 and the political repercussions of the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics. It emerged when the long-dominant Democratic-Republican Party became factionalized around the 1824 United States presidential election. Jackson's supporters began to form the modern Democratic Party. His political rivals John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay created the National Republican Party, which would afterward combine with other anti-Jackson political groups to form the Whig Party.
Broadly speaking, the era was characterized by a democratic spirit. It built upon Jackson's equal political policy, subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government by elites. Even before the Jacksonian era began, suffrage had been extended to a majority of white male adult citizens, a result which the Jacksonians celebrated.Jacksonian democracy also promoted the strength of the presidency and the executive branch at the expense of the United States Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. The Jacksonians demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms, they favored geographical expansionism, justifying it in terms of manifest destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided.
Jackson's expansion of democracy was largely limited to European Americans, and voting rights were extended to adult white males only. There was little or no progress (and in some cases, a regression) for the rights of African Americans and Native Americans during the extensive period of Jacksonian Democracy, spanning from 1829 to 1860.Jackson's biographer Robert V. Remini argues:
[Jacksonian Democracy] stretches the concept of democracy about as far as it can go and still remain workable. ... As such it has inspired much of the dynamic and dramatic events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in American history—Populism, Progressivism, the New and Fair Deals, and the programs of the New Frontier and Great Society.
William S. Belko in 2015 summarizes "the core concepts underlying Jacksonian Democracy" as:
equal protection of the laws; an aversion to a moneyed aristocracy, exclusive privileges, and monopolies, and a predilection for the common man; majority rule; and the welfare of the community over the individual.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. argued in 1945 that Jacksonian democracy was built on the following:
An important movement in the period from 1800 to 1830—before the Jacksonians were organized—was the gradual expansion of the right to vote from only property owning men to include all white men over 21.Older states with property restrictions dropped them, namely all but Rhode Island, Virginia and North Carolina by the mid 1820s. No new states had property qualifications although three had adopted tax-paying qualifications—Ohio, Louisiana and Mississippi, of which only in Louisiana were these significant and long lasting. The process was peaceful and widely supported, except in the state of Rhode Island. In Rhode Island, the Dorr Rebellion of the 1840s demonstrated that the demand for equal suffrage was broad and strong, although the subsequent reform included a significant property requirement for any resident born outside of the United States. However, free black men lost voting rights in several states during this period.
The fact that a man was now legally allowed to vote did not necessarily mean he routinely voted. He had to be pulled to the polls, which became the most important role of the local parties. They systematically sought out potential voters and brought them to the polls. Voter turnout soared during the 1830s, reaching about 80% of adult male population in the 1840 presidential election.Tax-paying qualifications remained in only five states by 1860 – Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Delaware and North Carolina.
One innovative strategy for increasing voter participation and input was developed outside the Jacksonian camp. Prior to the presidential election of 1832, the Anti-Masonic Party conducted the nation's first presidential nominating convention. Held in Baltimore, Maryland, September 26–28, 1831, it transformed the process by which political parties select their presidential and vice-presidential candidates.
The period from 1824 to 1832 was politically chaotic. The Federalist Party and the First Party System were dead and with no effective opposition, the old Democratic-Republican Party withered away. Every state had numerous political factions, but they did not cross state lines. Political coalitions formed and dissolved and politicians moved in and out of alliances.
Most former Republicans supported Jackson, while others such as Henry Clay opposed him. Most former Federalists, such as Daniel Webster, opposed Jackson, although some like James Buchanan supported him. In 1828, John Quincy Adams pulled together a network of factions called the National Republicans, but he was defeated by Jackson. By the late 1830s, the Jacksonian Democrats and the Whigs politically battled it out nationally and in every state.
The spirit of Jacksonian democracy animated the party from the early 1830s to the 1850s, shaping the era, with the Whig Party the main opposition.The new Democratic Party became a coalition of poor farmers, city-dwelling laborers and Irish Catholics.
The new party was pulled together by Martin Van Buren in 1828 as Jackson crusaded against the corruption of President John Quincy Adams. The new party (which did not get the name Democrats until 1834) swept to a landslide. As Mary Beth Norton explains regarding 1828:
Jacksonians believed the people's will had finally prevailed. Through a lavishly financed coalition of state parties, political leaders, and newspaper editors, a popular movement had elected the president. The Democrats became the nation's first well-organized national party.
The platforms, speeches and editorials were founded upon a broad consensus among Democrats. As Norton et al. explain:
The Democrats represented a wide range of views but shared a fundamental commitment to the Jeffersonian concept of an agrarian society. They viewed a central government as the enemy of individual liberty and they believed that government intervention in the economy benefited special-interest groups and created corporate monopolies that favored the rich. They sought to restore the independence of the individual—the artisan and the ordinary farmer—by ending federal support of banks and corporations and restricting the use of paper currency.
Jackson vetoed more legislation than all previous presidents combined. The long-term effect was to create the modern strong presidency.Jackson and his supporters also opposed reform as a movement. Reformers eager to turn their programs into legislation called for a more active government. However, Democrats tended to oppose programs like educational reform and the establishment of a public education system. For instance, they believed that public schools restricted individual liberty by interfering with parental responsibility and undermined freedom of religion by replacing church schools.
Jackson looked at the Indian question in terms of military and legal policy, not as a problem due to their race.In 1813, Jackson adopted and treated as his own son a three-year-old Indian orphan—seeing in him a fellow orphan that was "so much like myself I feel an unusual sympathy for him". In legal terms, when it became a matter of state sovereignty versus tribal sovereignty he went with the states and forced the Indians to fresh lands with no white rivals in what became known as the Trail of Tears.
Among the leading followers was Stephen A. Douglas, senator from Illinois, who was the key player in the passage of the compromise of 1850, and was a leading contender for the 1852 Democratic presidential nomination. According to his biographer Robert W. Johanssen:
Douglas was preeminently a Jacksonian, and his adherence to the tenets of what became known as Jacksonian democracy grew as his own career developed. ... Popular rule, or what he called would later call popular sovereignty, lay at the base of his political structure. Like most Jacksonians, Douglas believed that the people spoke through the majority, that the majority will was the expression of the popular will.
Jackson fulfilled his promise of broadening the influence of the citizenry in government, although not without vehement controversy over his methods.
Jacksonian policies included ending the bank of the United States, expanding westward and removing American Indians from the Southeast. Jackson was denounced as a tyrant by opponents on both ends of the political spectrum such as Henry Clay and John C. Calhoun. This led to the rise of the Whig Party.
Jackson created a spoils system to clear out elected officials in government of an opposing party and replace them with his supporters as a reward for their electioneering. With Congress controlled by his enemies, Jackson relied heavily on the power of the veto to block their moves.
One of the most important of these was the Maysville Road veto in 1830. A part of Clay's American System, the bill would have allowed for federal funding of a project to construct a road linking Lexington and the Ohio River, the entirety of which would be in the state of Kentucky, Clay's home state. His primary objection was based on the local nature of the project. He argued it was not the federal government's job to fund projects of such a local nature and or those lacking a connection to the nation as a whole. The debates in Congress reflected two competing visions of federalism. The Jacksonians saw the union strictly as the cooperative aggregation of the individual states, while the Whigs saw the entire nation as a distinct entity.
Carl Lane argues "securing national debt freedom was a core element of Jacksonian democracy". Paying off the national debt was a high priority which would make a reality of the Jeffersonian vision of America truly free from rich bankers, self-sufficient in world affairs, virtuous at home, and administered by a small government not prone to financial corruption or payoffs.
What became of Jacksonian Democracy, according to Sean Wilentz was diffusion. Many ex-Jacksonians turned their crusade against the Money Power into one against the Slave Power and became Republicans. He points to the struggle over the Wilmot Proviso of 1846, the Free Soil Party revolt of 1848, and the mass defections from the Democrats in 1854 over the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Others Jacksonian leaders such as Chief Justice Roger B. Taney endorsed slavery through the 1857 Dred Scott decision. Southern Jacksonians overwhelmingly endorsed secession in 1861, apart from a few opponents led by Andrew Johnson. In the North, Jacksonians Stephen A. Douglas and the War Democrats fiercely opposed secession, while Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan and the Copperheads did not.
In addition to Jackson, his second Vice President and one of the key organizational leaders of the Jacksonian Democratic Party, Martin Van Buren, served as President. Van Buren was defeated in the next election by William Henry Harrison. Harrison died just 30 days into his term and his Vice President John Tyler quickly reached accommodation with the Jacksonians. Tyler was then succeeded by James K. Polk, a Jacksonian who won the election of 1844 with Jackson's endorsement.Franklin Pierce had been a supporter of Jackson as well. James Buchanan served in Jackson's administration as Minister to Russia and as Polk's Secretary of State, but he did not pursue Jacksonian policies. Finally, Andrew Johnson, who had been a strong supporter of Jackson, became President following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865, but by then Jacksonian democracy had been pushed off the stage of American politics.
The Whig Party was a political party active in the middle of the 19th century in the United States of America. Alongside the Democratic Party, it was one of the two major parties in the United States during the late 1830s, the 1840s, and the early 1850s, part of the Second Party System. Four U.S. presidents were affiliated with the Whig party for at least part of their respective terms. Other influential party leaders include Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, William Seward, John J. Crittenden, and Truman Smith.
The Democratic-Republican Party, better known at the time as the Republican Party and various other names, was an American political party founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790s that championed republicanism, political equality, and expansionism. The Democratic-Republicans became increasingly dominant after the 1800 elections as the opposing Federalist Party collapsed, and the party splintered during the 1824 presidential election. One faction of the Democratic-Republicans eventually coalesced into the modern Democratic Party, while the other faction ultimately formed the core of the Whig Party.
The Anti-Masonic Party, also known as the Anti-Masonic Movement, was the first third party in the United States. It strongly opposed Freemasonry as a single-issue party and later aspired to become a major party by expanding its platform to take positions on other issues. After emerging as a political force in the late 1820s, most of the Anti-Masonic Party's members joined the Whig Party in the 1830s and the party disappeared after 1838.
The 1824 United States presidential election was the tenth quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Tuesday, October 26 to Wednesday, December 1, 1824. No candidate won a majority of the electoral vote, becoming the only election to require a contingent election in the House of Representatives under the provisions of the 12th Amendment. On February 9, 1825, the House chose John Quincy Adams as president. It was the first election in which the winner did not achieve at least a plurality of the national popular vote.
The 1828 United States presidential election was the 11th quadrennial presidential election. It was held from Friday, October 31 to Tuesday, December 2, 1828. It featured a re-match of the 1824 election, as President John Quincy Adams of the National Republican Party faced Andrew Jackson of the Democratic Party. Both parties were new organizations, and this was the first Presidential election their nominees contested. Unlike in 1824, Jackson defeated Adams, marking the start of Democratic dominance in Federal politics.
The 1840 United States presidential election was the 14th quadrennial presidential election, held from Friday, October 30 to Wednesday, December 2, 1840. Economic recovery from the Panic of 1837 was incomplete, and Whig nominee William Henry Harrison defeated incumbent President Martin Van Buren of the Democratic Party. The election marked the first of two Whig victories in presidential elections.
The 1844 United States presidential election was the 15th presidential election, held from Friday, November 1 to Wednesday, December 4, 1844. Democrat James K. Polk defeated Whig Henry Clay in a close contest turning on the controversial issues of slavery and the annexation of the Republic of Texas.
The Second Bank of the United States, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was the second federally authorized Hamiltonian national bank in the United States during its 20-year charter from February 1816 to January 1836. The bank's formal name, according to section 9 of its charter as passed by Congress, was "The President, Directors, and Company, of the Bank of the United States."
The Free Soil Party was a short-lived political party in the United States active from 1848 to 1854, when it merged into the Republican Party. The party was largely focused on the single issue of opposing the expansion of slavery into the western territories of the United States.
The National Republican Party, also known as the Anti-Jacksonian Party, was a political party in the United States that evolved from faction of the Democratic-Republican Party that supported John Quincy Adams in the 1824 presidential election.
In the 19th century, a number of new methods for conducting American election campaigns developed in the United States. For the most part the techniques were original, not copied from Europe or anywhere else. The campaigns were also changed by a general enlargement of the voting franchise—the states began removing or reducing property and tax qualifications for suffrage and by the early 19th century the great majority of free adult white males could vote. During the Reconstruction Era, Republicans in Congress used the military to create a biracial electorate, but when the troops were removed in 1877, blacks steadily lost political power in the increasingly one-party South. After 1890 blacks generally lost the vote in the South.
The First Party System is a model of American politics used in history and political science to periodize the political party system that existed in the United States between roughly 1792 and 1824. It featured two national parties competing for control of the presidency, Congress, and the states: the Federalist Party, created largely by Alexander Hamilton, and the rival Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party, formed by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, usually called at the time the Republican Party. The Federalists were dominant until 1800, while the Republicans were dominant after 1800.
Historians and political scientists consider the Second Party System to be a term of periodization to designate the political party system operating in the United States from about 1828 to 1854, after the First Party System ended. The system was characterized by rapidly rising levels of voter interest, beginning in 1828, as demonstrated by Election Day turnouts, rallies, partisan newspapers, and high degrees of personal loyalty to parties.
The Bank War refers to the political struggle that developed over the issue of rechartering the Second Bank of the United States (B.U.S.) during the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1829–1837). The affair resulted in the shutdown of the Bank and its replacement by state banks.
The Know Nothing, formally known as the Native American Party and the American Party from 1855 onwards, was a far-right nativist political party and movement in the United States which operated nationwide in the mid-1850s. It was primarily an anti-Catholic, anti-immigration, and xenophobic movement, originally starting as a secret society. The Know Nothing movement also briefly emerged as a major political party in the form of the American Party. Adherents to the movement were to simply reply "I know nothing" when asked about its specifics by outsiders, providing the group with its common name.
The presidency of Andrew Jackson began on March 4, 1829, when Andrew Jackson was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1837. Jackson, the seventh United States president, took office after defeating incumbent President John Quincy Adams in the bitterly contested 1828 presidential election. During the 1828 presidential campaign, Jackson founded the political force that coalesced into the Democratic Party during Jackson's presidency. Jackson won re-election in 1832, defeating National Republican candidate Henry Clay by a wide margin. He was succeeded by his hand-picked successor, Vice President Martin Van Buren, after Van Buren won the 1836 presidential election.
The presidency of Martin Van Buren began on March 4, 1837, when Martin Van Buren was inaugurated as President of the United States, and ended on March 4, 1841. Van Buren, the incumbent Vice President and chosen successor of President Andrew Jackson, took office as the eighth United States president after defeating multiple Whig Party candidates in the 1836 presidential election. A member of the Democratic Party, Van Buren's presidency ended following his defeat by Whig candidate William Henry Harrison in the 1840 presidential election.
The Locofocos were a faction of the United States Democratic Party that existed from 1835 until the mid-1840s.
The Second Bank of the United States opened in January 1817, six years after the First Bank of the United States lost its charter. The Second Bank of the United States was headquartered in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, the same as the First Bank, and had branches throughout the nation. The Second Bank was chartered by many of the same congressmen who in 1811 had refused to renew the charter of the original Bank of the United States. The predominant reason that the Second Bank of the United States was chartered was that in the War of 1812, the U.S. experienced severe inflation and had difficulty in financing military operations. Subsequently, the credit and borrowing status of the United States was at its lowest level since its founding.
The following is a list of important scholarly resources related to Andrew Jackson.