Initial postIn your opinion how would you rate Jackson as President (not before his presidency) on a scale of 1 lowest and 10 highest rank? Make sure you give evidence from the Week 10 Module to back your conclusions. Defend your position with specifics about President Jackson and his policies and impact. (use material only )
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Prof. Habers Content Comments Week 10
He was the first westerner to be President. He was born in a log cabin. Jackson
believed (because he did rise from nothing as a self made man) that he stood for
“common men”. His policies had the rhetoric of helping the common man; however in
reality what he stood for favored the rising bourgeoisie or middle classes vs. the old
An example is the spoils system. His rhetoric was helping the common man. The
“common man” didn’t get the jobs that were now changed. The jobs went to Jackson’s
friends or supporters which was a contrast to the old elites who had dominated the few
federal jobs since the nation’s founding.
Another example is the war against the Bank of the United States. For instance he
wasn’t against all banks–He wanted deregulation so state banks could make loans and
compete with the branch banks of the Bank of the U.S. He wanted opportunity for these
new groups as evidenced in Jackson’s policies such as the spoils system, bank war,
and Indian removal to make way for settlers. Also the Taney Supreme Court’s decisions
favored access to economic opportunity. Taney was a good friend of President Jackson.
You can even interpret Indian removal in the same way.
This is the interpretation of Jackson that I think makes the most sense with the most
historical evidence. Jackson believed (because he did rise from nothing as a self made
man) that he stood for “common men”. So, in my opinion good terms to describe
Jackson’s emphasis would be access or opportunity.
Rating Jackson- We judge Jackson by our own standards with our present day
perspective. We focus on his sins dueler, Indian fighter, Indian removal,
slaveholder. However from the perspective of settlers who wished to expand to the
West he was a hero. He also was seen as saving the nation at the Battle of New
Orleans. Also I don’t believe from my reading of his papers and speeches that he
thought of Indians as subhuman. He believed (however unrealistic) that he was
protecting the native peoples by getting them out of the way of the population who
wanted their lands. He assessed that they couldn’t be protected without removal outside
of where people would want their land (he was wrong–most didn’t predict the massive
movement and population growth to the West); Ironically the most numerous
tribe todayCherokee– were removed.
It is interesting that people of his day loved or hated him. Those who loved him loved
him for “saving the Union” in the Battle of New Orleans and his nationalism during the
nullification crisis. He had the strength to stare down Calhoun, his Vice President, during
the nullification crisis. He was a nationalist in that regard. He also believed that all white
men should be able to vote. Elites still looked down of the “masses”.
Jackson took in a young Creek during the Creek wars whose parents were killed. He
raised the boy as his own, Lyncoya.
Jackson and the Bank War
Biddle used his power to advance his own political ambitions and cities with branches of
the Bank had an advantage. However the bank did serve a purpose. It regulated the
money supply (as one function). As you saw when Jackson moved the “destroy” the
Bank, the state banks now were unregulated. They then printed money without the
specie to back it.
Jackson and the Specie Circular
Jackson was somewhat of a “hot head” although some historians speculate that he did
it for “effect” more like acting. He definitely overreacted with the Specie Circular and it
set the economy into a 6 year recession.
Jackson wanted more access to politics for other people and groups. Federalists had
dominated politics to 1800. After that other elites (Virginia) controlled the Presidency
(the Adams’ were the only exceptions) and thus made appointments. The Jacksonians did
open the process of getting people into government jobs. There was no civil service until
it began in 1883. Jackson wanted more access to politics for other people and groups to
government jobs which were mainly in the customs and postal service. Federalists had
dominated politics to 1800. So think of it more as rewarding your “cronies” and
supporters with government jobs.
2017 CSpan AmericanPresidents Survey ranks Jackson #18 of all the U.S. Presidents.
see the survey
Jacksons new biographer in Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times, H.W. Brands , claims
there are more place names such as street names and towns named Jackson than any
other. This was a way Dr. Brands used to access Jackson’s popularity. Even more than
Washington, there are place names–“Jackson”.
Martin Van Buren
He had the sorry fate of being President in a severe economic downturn–not of his
making. P.S. Do you know Van Buren grew up speaking Dutch? He also criticized for
bathing everyday and for using finger bowls. Running against the war hero of
Tippecanoe and the new campaign tactics of the Whigs didn’t help Van Buren get reelected.
Tyler and the Whigs
The Whigs thought he would make an appropriate VP as he hated Jackson;
however his politics were not Whig politics. When he became President after Harrisons
death, Tyler vetoed Whig legislation and they in turn called him Judas for betraying the
Whigs and Democrats
The Democrats and Whigs were very different in the way that they believed about the
economy, government, the people that support them and the religious groups that
followed them. The Whigs believed that economy should be consolidated. They
believed in encouraging industrial and commercial development. Whigs were for
expanding it with internal improvements, banking and passing laws that reflected the
evangelical faith of many Whigs. On the other hand, Democrats “envisioned a future of
steadily expanding economic and political opportunities for white males” (Brinkley 253).
Democrats believed that the federal government should be limited and Whigs believed
that it should expand. The two different groups had very different followers. The Whigs
found supporters with the merchants and manufactures in the Northeast, the wealthier
planters in the South and the ambitious farmers and rising commercial class of the West
(Brinkley 253). The Democrats were supported by the smaller merchants and the
workingmen of the Northeast, from southern planters suspicious of industrial growth,
and from westerns who favored a predominantly agrarian economy. “Whigs tended to
be wealthier than Democrats, to have more aristocratic backgrounds, and to be more
commercially ambitious (Brinkley 253). They two parties also had very different
religious followers. The Democrats had support from the Irish and German Catholics
and the Whigs drew their support from the Evangelical Protestants. Most reformers
were in the Whig party. They wanted to governments to pass maximum hours
legislation, pass laws related to temperance, pass laws funding public schools, and
pass laws abolishing slavery.
Remember the law that South Carolina nullified was the tariff which is a tax on imports.
The South and the West (Democratic strongholds) want a low tariff since they don’t
have a diversified economy and depend on purchasing manufactured goods from
outside their region. The North and the Northwest tended to want a higher tariff as they
manufactured goods and they wanted their goods protected from foreign competition.
Jackson responded strongly to the nullification crisis on the side of the nation not
state’s rights. His Proclamation to the People of South Carolina says that if a state can
veto any laws it dislikes it would dissolve the Union in effect.
William Henry Harrison took ill and died one month after being inaugurated. Tyler was
a southern Whig but a Whig in name only. He was the first person to succeed to the
Presidency. He called His Accidency and a Man without a party; also called Judas
Iscariot: after Judas who betrayed Christ. He was the President when Texas was
annexed. He went against the Whig program and most of his cabinet resigned.
It is ironic that part of the impetus for investors to invest in the first factories–mills–did
so because of the boycott against imported products during Jefferson’s Embargo
Act. The ability to manufacture cloth under one roof revolutionized not only American
exports, but wearing apparel too.
I was really surprised how nice the boardinghouses were when I visited Lowell Historic
Park. It was the working conditions that deteriorated over time as more workers were
available and the mill owners had more competition from the expansion of other
mills. Also the boardinghouses had rules. Farmers had to be convinced that they would
be cared for and protected in a wholesome environment (remember the time and
culture) to allow young girls to leave home as single young women. They didn’t “have”
to work at Lowell in the early years. There was a labor shortage so the Lowell factory
owners used female workers due to the labor shortage. By the 1830s immigrants
competed for jobs at Lowell with the women. See immigration bar chart on pages 265,
268 13th ed. Take a look at the photographs that I took of Slaters Mill (began before
Lowell) and Lowell which is now a historic park.
As the text points out the immigrants were disliked because they took jobs (see what
happened to Lowell as example). The new immigrants took jobs in the textile mills and
displaced the female workers. The swelled labor supply caused wages to decrease as
there were immigrants who would take the jobs for lower pay. The new immigrants were
from Germany and Ireland. These groups tended to be Roman Catholic in a majority
Protestant country. Even though both of the latter groups were Christians there had
been religious persecution on both sides in Europe from which they fled. Both
sides were suspicious of each other. Protestants believed that Catholics might be more
loyal to the Pope than the the U.S. They also feared they weren’t fit for democracy
since they came from a more hierarchal authoritarian church. Perhaps they would bring
radical ideas from their home countries with them to America. The good news is that
these groups were eventually integrated into American life. For example, the Irish, once
hated and attacked, became the foundation of New York politics controlling most of the
city and state government.
Other states did engage in canal construction–most with private money. See the map
on page 274 13th edition.. The Erie Canal was a huge success. As part of the pay they
were given whiskey per day as well to work on the canal. We will discuss alcohol and
the culture in Chapter 12. Before the Erie Canal it used to be less expensive to ship a
ton of wheat to Europe from New York then to New Orleans. Now that the Erie Canal
was completed transportation costs were cheaper and faster. It made New York City the
commercial gateway to the West.
This is a wonderful website from the Univ. of Virginia. It has links not only to the history
of steamboats but also links about roads, canals and rail. Let me know if this helped
you understand the transportation revolution.
Taney Court v. Marshall Court
Taney was Jackson’s friend and a Maryland banker. Note in the Charles River Bridge
Case the Court concentrated on the good of the community–“happiness” as you
wrote. The Marshall court had its focus on property rights and right of contract. It didn’t
even touch on the issue of the contract rights of the Charles River Bridge Co. (the first
bridge) who lost in this case.
With the expanding electorate (see beginning of Chapter 9) politicians would now go to
the voters to make their appeal for their votes.
Women and Education
Some students tend to exaggerate the extent of feminism in the period before the Civil
War. Students also tend to confuse the information on women’s roles, changing family
and the Cult of Domesticity. There were 10 coed colleges operating before the Civil War.
The text also misrepresents middle class women working before the 1830s and
1840s. The ideal was always that women should work in the home or in home based
business alongside a husband or male relative. The difference in this time period in the
industrializing sections of the Midwest and North was that jobs moved away from the
farm and home. This isolated women. The vast majority of women did not feel
“oppressed” by the cult of domesticity. Moreover the majority of women did not to
challenge the idea that their main role was in the home. Most did not think it appropriate
or desirable to go outside the home and compete with men. Women who were poor had
to work to support themselves outside the home. There were those like the Beecher
sisters who although not feminists believed women should have more power and
choices within the home. It’s easy to judge those in the past by our concerns and
standards. Try to avoid this.
Educational reform and women:
Teachers in rural areas could get jobs with high school education or less education;
however in urban schools there were more teachers available so the qualification was
that teachers had to have college education. Many of these urban districts where
women could get teaching jobs encompassed less affluent and even rural areas or
zones. By the end of the 19th century women made up at least 2/3 of the elementary
school teachers. Women it was argued by education reformers (both male and female)
would be an appropriate fit for teaching as they taught children of their own in the home
and therefore could teach others’ children as well.
Women– it was believed– had characteristics of nurturers, giving as well as morality
and piety by virtue of their sex. Therefore, teaching was a “fit” as a women’s
profession. Note that teaching was only seen as appropriate work for unmarried women.
Married women were ideally to be home as keepers of the home and hearth as per the
cult of domesticity.
Cult of domesticity
A good way to think about it is the development of a “women’s culture” was heightened
by the new expanding urbanization and industrialization. In the NE and NW more men
worked outside of agriculture and outside the home leaving the “home” as the sphere or
domain of women. Women were to be keepers of the home–not workers outside of it,
especially if they were married. One area where they could be involved in public life was
in reform and charity work.
Rising Middle Classes
Birth control was rhythm method or animal skin condoms (which did not work well at
all). What was used by the rising middle classes was abstinence which Brinkley
mentioned. Abstinence within marriage was seen as a form of good character and self
Log Cabin Campaign
One historian said the Whigs outdemocrated the Democrats in this campaign. The
Whigs adopted Democratic Party campaign practices of making campaign promises to
appeal to voters, and inventing a humble past for William Henry Harrison. They also
appealed to the voters by parades, rallies, and distributing food and alcohol. They used
print media with slogans, songs, and symbols to package Harrison as a man of the
Have a good week!! Prof. Haber
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