The Rise of a Mass Democracy
The "Corrupt Bargain" of 1824
There were 4 main "Republican" candidates in the election of 1824: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford, and Henry Clay.
No candidate won the majority of the electoral votes, so, according to the Constitution, the House of Representatives had to choose the winner. Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, was thus eliminated although he did have much say in who became president. Clay convinced the House to elect John Quincy Adams as president. Adams agreed to make Clay the Secretary of State for getting him into office. Much of the public felt that a "corrupt bargain" had taken place because Andrew Jackson had received the popular vote.
A Yankee Misfit in the White House
John Quincy Adams was a strong nationalist and he supported the building of national roads and canals. He also supported education.
Going "Whole Hog" for Jackson in 1828
Before the election of 1824, two parties had formed: National Republicans and Democratic-Republicans. Adams and Clay were the figures of the National Republicans and Jackson was with the Democratic-Republicans.
Andrew Jackson beat Adams to win the election of 1828. The majority of his support came from the South, while Adams's support came from the North.
"Old Hickory" as President
Jackson was the first president from the West and 2nd without a college education.
The Spoils System
When the Democrats rose to power in the White House, they replaced most of the people in offices with their own people (the common man). These people were illiterate and incompetent. This system of rewarding political supporters with jobs in the government was known as the "spoils system."
The Tricky "Tariff of Abominations"
In 1824, Congress increased the general tariff significantly.
The Tariff of 1828- called the "Black Tariff" or the "Tariff of Abominations"; also called the "Yankee Tariff". It was hated by Southerners because it was an extremely high tariff and they felt it discriminated against them. The South was having economic struggles and the tariff was a scapegoat.
In 1822, Denmark Vesey led a slave rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina.
The South Carolina Exposition, made by John C. Calhoun, was published in 1828. It was a pamphlet that denounced the Tariff of 1828 as unjust and unconstitutional.
"Nullies" in the South
In an attempt to meet the South's demands, Congress passed the Tariff of 1832, a slightly lower tariff compared to the Tariff of 1828. It fell short of the South's demands.
The state legislature of South Carolina called for the Columbia Convention. The delegates of the convention called for the tariff to be void within South Carolina. The convention threatened to take South Carolina out of the Union if the government attempted to collect the customs duties by force.
Henry Clay introduced the Tariff of 1833. It called for the gradual reduction of the Tariff of 1832 by about 10% over 8 years. By 1842, the rates would be back at the level of 1816.
The compromise Tariff of 1833 ended the dispute over the Tariff of 1832 between the South and the White House. The compromise was supported by South Carolina but not much by the other states of the South.
The Trail of Tears
Jackson's Democrats were committed to western expansion, but such expansion meant confrontation with the Indians who inhabited the land east of the Mississippi.
The Society for Propagating the Gospel Among Indians was founded in 1787 in order to Christianize Indians.
The five civilized tribes were the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. President Jackson wanted to move the Indians so the white men could expand.
In 1830, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act. It moved more than 100,000 Indians living east of the Mississippi to reservations west of the Mississippi. The five "civilized" tribes were hardest hit.
Black Hawk, who led Sauk and Fox braves from Illinois and Wisconsin, resisted the eviction.
The Seminoles in Florida retreated to the Everglades, fighting for several years until they retreated deeper into the Everglades.
The Bank War
President Andrew Jackson despised the Bank of the United States because he felt it was very monopolistic.
The Bank of the United States was a private institution, accountable not to the people, but to its elite circle of investors. The bank minted gold and silver coins. Nicholas Biddle, the president of the Bank of the United States, held an immense and possibly unconstitutional amount of power over the nation's financial affairs.
The Bank War erupted in 1832 when Daniel Webster and Henry Clay presented Congress with a bill to renew the Bank's charter. Clay pushed to renew the charter in 1832 to make it an issue for the election of that year. He felt that if Jackson signed off on it, then Jackson would alienate the people of the West who hated the Bank. If Jackson vetoed it, then he would alienate the wealthy class of the East who supported the Bank. Clay did not account for the fact that the wealthy class was now a minority. Jackson vetoed the bill calling the Bank unconstitutional.
The veto showed that Jackson felt that the Executive Branch had more power than the Judicial Branch in determining the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States.
"Old Hickory" Wallops Clay in 1833
A third party entered the election in the election of 1832: The Anti-Masonic party. The party opposed the Masonic Order, which was perceived by some as people of privilege and monopoly. Although Jackson was against monopolies, he was a Mason himself; therefore the Anti-Masons were an anti-Jackson party. It gained support from evangelical Protestant groups.
The Jacksonians were opposed to all government meddling in social and economic life.
Andrew Jackson was reelected in the election of 1832.
Burying Biddle's Bank
The Bank of the United States's charter expired in 1836. Jackson wanted to make sure that the Bank would be exterminated.
In 1833, 3 years before the Bank's charter ran out, Jackson decided to remove federal deposits from its vaults. Jackson proposed depositing no more funds in the bank and he gradually shrunk existing deposits by using the funds to pay for day-to-day expenditures of the government.
The death of the Bank of the United States left a financial vacuum in the American economy. Surplus federal funds were placed in several dozen state banks that were political supportive of Jackson.
Smaller, wildcat banks in the west had begun to issue their own currency. But this "wildcat" currency was extremely unreliable because its value was based upon the value of the bank it was issued from. In 1836, "wildcat" currency had become so unreliable that Jackson told the Treasury to issue a Specie Circular- a decree that required all public lands to be purchased with metallic money. This drastic step contributed greatly to the financial panic of 1837.
The Birth of the Whigs
The Whigs were conservatives who supported government programs, reforms, and public schools. They called for internal improvements like canals, railroads, and telegraph lines.
The Whigs claimed to be defenders of the common man and declared the Democrats the party of corruption.
The Election of 1836
Martin Van Buren was Andrew Jackson's choice as his successor in the election of 1836. General William Henry Harrison was one of the Whig's many presidential nominees. The Whigs did not win because they did not unite behind just one candidate.
Depression Doldrums and the Independent Treasury
The basic cause of the panic of 1837 was the rampant speculation prompted by a get-rich scheme. Gamblers in western lands were doing a "land-office business" on borrowed capital. The speculative craze spread to canals, roads, railroads, and slaves. Jacksonian finance also helped to cause the panic. In 1836, the failure of two British banks caused the British investors to call in foreign loans. These loans were the beginnings of the panic.
The panic of 1837 caused many banks to collapse, commodity prices to drop, sales of public to fall, and the loss of jobs.
Van Buren proposed the Divorce Bill. Not passed by Congress, it called for the dividing of the government and banking altogether.
The Independent Treasury Bill was passed in 1840. An independent treasury would be established and government funds would be locked in vaults.
Gone to Texas
Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1823. Mexico gave a huge chunk of land to Stephen Austin who would bring families into Texas.
The Texans had many differences with the Mexicans. Mexicans were against slavery, while the Texans supported it.
Santa Anna- president of Mexico who, in 1835, wiped out all local rights and started to raise army to suppress the upstart Texans.
The Lone Star Rebellion
Texas declared its independence in 1836. Sam Houston- commander in chief for Texas.
General Houston forced Santa Anna to sign a treaty in 1836 after Houston had captured Santa Anna in the Battle of San Jacinto.
The Texans wanted to become a state in the United States but the northerners did not want them to because of the issue of slavery. Admitting Texas would mean one more slave state.
Log Cabins and Hard Cider of 1840
William Henry Harrison defeated Van Buren to win the election of 1840 for the Whigs. The Whig's campaign included pictures of log cabins and cider.
Politics for the People
There were 2 major changes in politics after the Era of Good Feelings:
1. Politicians who were too clean, too well dressed, too grammatical, and too intellectual were not liked. Aristocracy was not liked by the American people. The common man was moving to the center of the national political stage.
The Two-Party System
2. There was a formation of a two-party system. The two parties consisted of the Democrats and the Whigs (the National Republican Party had died out). Jacksonian Democrats glorified the liberty of the individual. They supported states' rights and federal restraint in social and economic affairs. The Whigs supported the natural harmony of society and the value of community. They favored a renewed national bank, protective tariffs, internal improvements, public schools, and moral reforms, such as the prohibition of liquor and the abolition of slavery.