The Rise of Manufacturing (1820-1845) for AP US History (page 3)

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Updated on Mar 3, 2011

The Election of 1824

In this election, Secretary of the Treasury William Crawford, Speaker of the House Henry Clay, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams, and Tennessee's Andrew Jackson, all ran for president. All of them considered themselves Republicans (the party was now referred to in many newspapers as Democratic-Republican). Jackson won the most popular votes, but only 38 percent of the electoral votes, so the election was turned over to the House of Representatives. Speaker of the House Clay threw his support to Adams, who won in the House and then appointed Clay to the position of Secretary of State.

For the next four years, supporters of Jackson did everything they could to sabotage the presidency of John Quincy Adams, constantly reminding themselves of the "corrupt bargain" between Adams and Clay that had decided the 1824 election.

The 1828 Presidential Election

The 1828 presidential campaign was the model for many political campaigns of the future. Campaign rallies were held by supporters of both Quincy Adams and Jackson. Mudslinging was a daily occurrence during the campaign. Jackson's supporters claimed that Adams stole the 1824 election and gave too many fancy dinners; they also claimed that when he had been envoy to Russia, Adams had helped procure American prostitutes for the Russian tsar. Supporters of Adams said that Jackson was a murderer and an adulterer (the charge was made that his wife was an adulteress as well). Jackson won the election handily; under him, the Democratic party became the first real political party of the United States.

Jackson as President

Andrew Jackson had been born in a log cabin, but when he was elected president in 1828, he was a planter and slaveholder. He was the first president from the West and had first achieved fame by fighting Native Americans. Jackson, however, was not naïve in terms of politics; he had been a congressman and a senator from Tennessee, in addition to serving as the territorial governor of Florida. Jackson was personally popular, especially with the common people.

Jackson also expressed loyalty to those who supported him politically. He infrequently consulted with his appointed cabinet, relying instead on his "Kitchen Cabinet," the inner circle of his political supporters. Jackson also utilized the spoils system to give other political supporters jobs in the government.

Jackson also wanted to return to the Jeffersonian ideal of America as a nation of independent yeoman farmers. He opposed excessive government involvement in economic affairs, fearing that in most cases only wealthy interests benefited from that involvement. In modern terms, Jackson favored "smaller government" and was not afraid to use the power of the presidential veto to stop government programs he thought were excessive. At the end of his presidency, Jackson appointed Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; the Taney court would validate almost all of Jackson's decisions favoring states rights.

To many of his opponents, Jackson was a paradox. While he spoke of the need to limit the influence of government in society, he increased the power of the presidency. Opponents often referred to him as "King Andrew I." On the issue of slavery, Jackson was no friend of abolitionists; he was a slave owner and was opposed to reform of the slave system.

The Nullification Controversy

Jackson was forced early in his presidency to face the issue of the power of the states in relation to the power of the federal government. In 1828, Congress passed a bill authorizing new tariffs on imported manufacturing cloth and iron. The cost of these goods rose dramatically, and legislators in South Carolina began to revisit the doctrine of nullification, whereby individual states could rule on the constitutionality of federal laws. Jackson's own vice president, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, stated that the practice of nullification was a necessity to protect states from the potential tyranny of the federal government.

In 1830, a debate in the U.S. Senate over western land sales between Robert Hayne of South Carolina and Daniel Webster of Massachusetts evolved into a debate on nullification. In the Webster-Hayne Debate, Daniel Webster argued that if nullification were to proceed, the results would be "states dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched … in fraternal blood!" President Jackson was a believer in states' rights but firmly opposed the concept of nullification.

New tariffs were imposed on imported goods, and in November of 1832 a specially called convention in South Carolina voted to nullify the law imposing these tariffs. Jackson moved troops and federal marshals to South Carolina to collect the tariff payments there; Congress authorized these decisions when it passed the Force Act. John Calhoun resigned as vice president (Jackson suggested privately that he should be hanged). A crisis was avoided when the Congress passed a bill, acceptable to South Carolina, that lowered the tariffs to be collected.

The Bank Crisis

The second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816 (it was a crucial part of Henry Clay's American System). The Bank issued national currency, regulated loan rates, and controlled state banks. The Bank had been run since 1823 by Nicholas Biddle. As stated previously, Jackson was suspicious of government involvement in the economy. These suspicions extended to the National Bank.

Henry Clay was going to run for president in the 1832 election and wanted to use the bank as a campaign issue. Clay began pushing to have the bank rechartered, even though its original charter did not expire until 1836. Clay was convinced that national support of the bank would swing supporters his way. Jackson vetoed the rechartering proposal, claiming it served special interests and little else. This increased his popularity with the public and helped ensure his reelection in 1832.

Jackson wanted to destroy the National Bank, and in 1833, he ordered that money be removed from it and placed in state or local banks (Jackson's political enemies called these his "pet banks"). To keep the National Bank going, Biddle increased interest rates and called in loans that had been made to state banks. The results of this Bank War would eventually be the Panic of 1837 and a depression that would last into the 1840s.

The Whig Party: A Challenge to the Democratic-Republicans

In the 1830s, the Whig party emerged as the major opposition party to the party of Jackson. The Whigs and the Democratic-Republicans battled for elections throughout the 1830s and 1840s. Taking their lead from the legacy of Andrew Jackson, the Democrats generally favored a limited government. They saw urbanization and industrialization as necessary evils; the America they favored was still essentially a Jeffersonian one.

The Whigs favored more governmental involvement in commercial activities and favored the National Bank and industrial growth. They were opposed to rapid and uncontrolled settlement of the West. Consistent with their view of a more activist government, the Whigs also were more likely to sponsor reformist legislation. Predictably, businessmen from the North and Northeast supported the Whigs, as did Southern planters. The Democrats were generally supported by the "common man," which included small farmers, factory workers, and smaller merchants. A Democrat, Martin Van Buren, won the 1836 election, but Whig William Henry Harrison was elected in 1840. Harrison died after one month in office and was succeeded by John Tyler. Developments in Texas and American expansionism would become important issues during his presidency.

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