The Age of Andrew Jackson

From Tindall and Shi: "The election of Andrew Jackson initiated a new era in American politics and social development. He was the first president not to come from a prominent colonial family. As a self-made soldier-politician-land speculator from the backcountry, he symbolized a sea change in the social temper. The nation he prepared to govern was vastly different from that led by Washington and Jefferson. In 1828, the United States boasted twenty-four states and nearly 13 million people, many of them recent arrivals from Germany and Ireland. An incredible surge in foreign demand for cotton and other goods, along with British investment in American enterprises, helped fuel a revolution in transportation and an economic boom. Textile factories sprouted like mushrooms across the New England countryside, their ravenous spinning looms fed by cotton grown in the newly cultivated lands of Alabama and Mississippi. This fluid new economic environment fostered a mad scramble for material gain and political advantage. People of all ranks and backgrounds engaged in a frenzied effort to acquire wealth and thereby gain social status and prestige."

(Source:  America: A Narrative History, by Tindall and Shi)

Also from Tindall and Shi: "The Jacksonians sought to democratize economic opportunity and political participation. Yet to call the Jacksonian Era the "age of the common man" as many historians have done, is misleading. While political participation increased during the Jacksonian era, most of the common folk remained common folk. The period never produced true economic and social equality. Power and privilege, for the most part, remained in the hands of an "uncommon" elite. Jacksonians in power proved to be as opportunistic and manipulative as the patricians they displaced. And they never embraced the principle of material equality. "Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government," Andrew Jackson observed. "Equality of talents, or education, or of wealth cannot be produced by human institutions." He and other Jacksonians wanted every American to have an equal chance to compete in the economic marketplace and political arena, but they never sanctioned equality of results. "True republicanism" one commentator declared, "requires that every man shall have an equal chance—that every man shall be free to become as unequal as he can." But in the afterglow of Jackson’s election victory, few observers troubled with such distinctions. It was time to celebrate the commoner’s ascension to the presidency."

Inauguration: Jackson wore black to his inauguration because of the death of his wife in December. (Inauguration was in March). Jackson was sick with a cough and severe headaches, and could barely be heard when he delivered his speech. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice John Marshall.  Over 15,000 people were present.

His cough was really caused by the musket ball in his chest that was never removed. It ultimately hastened his death, and kept him in ill health the entire time he was president.

Jackson said little in his inauguration speech of consequence (his advisors had eliminated any reference to controversial issues, such as the tariff, internal improvements or the Bank of the U.S.); but he did give some indication of his ideas of government:

After Inauguration, a reception was held at the White House. In keeping with his image of a "man of the people," all were invited. It turned out to be a "rabble rout, " with people breaking china and crystal, climbing on expensive furniture with muddy boots, tearing down curtains and drapes, all trying to get to shake Jackson’s hand, or at least see him. He left and went back to his hotel, but the crowd stayed. They were only moved away when refreshments (a spiked "orange punch") was moved outside.

Appointments and Political Rivalries: Many of those in the crowd at Jackson’s inauguration had hoped to gain office under him, and were there to solicit for it, based on Jackson’s promise to "turn the rascals out."  Jackson’s idea was that one should serve a term in office and then return to life as a private citizen. He himself originally planned to serve only one term. Many of his appointments were people personally loyal to him rather than proven government experts. This led to accusation of a "spoils system," based on the statement by William L. Macy, Democratic Senator from New York that "to the victor belong the spoils." Jackson was accused of placing those loyal to him in office. 

In fact, the turnover in Jackson’s term was not as great as one might think. Over his entire term, he replaced fewer than 20 percent of office holders.

In part because of his sadness over the death of his wife, Jackson tended to rely on unofficial advisors rather than his cabinet. This group, which included his nephew, became known as the "kitchen cabinet," ostensibly because they entered the White House through the Kitchen.

 A Divided Administration: Jackson’s administration was largely impacted by the rivalry between his Vice President, John C. Calhoun, and his Secretary of State, Martin Van Buren. Van Buren had the advantage: He was very skilled at timing and tactics, which led to his nickname of the "little magician," which was not meant to be a compliment. Jackson was new to politics and relied heavily on him. Van Buren’s base in New York was more secure than Calhoun’s in South Carolina, so he had more room to maneuver. He helped to calm those who did not get a public office when they thought they deserved it. Calhoun could not be underestimated, however. He was determined to defend the South against northern industrialization and abolitionism.

Calhoun was a deep thinker. One man said, after a three-hour discussion with him, "I hate a man who makes me think so much…and I hate a man who makes me feel my own inferiority." Henry Clay described him as "tall, careworn, with furrowed brow, haggard and intensely gazing, looking as if he were dissecting the last abstraction which sprung from from a metaphysician's brain."

The Eaton Affair: Peggy Eaton was a Washington widow whose husband had committed suicide when he learned that she had presumably had an affair with Senator John Eaton of Tennessee. She married Eaton a very short time after her husband’s death, which raised eyebrows all over Washington. Eaton himself was named Jackson’s Secretary of War three months earlier. Calhoun’s wife Floride, thought the woman to be a brazen hussy, and snubbed her, as did the other Cabinet wives. Jackson had not forgotten the way his late wife had been treated, and deeply resented the way Ms. Eaton was treated as well as the gossip that prevailed about her. He pronounced her "chaste as a virgin."

Van Buren was able to play this to the hilt. He was a widower, and paid Ms. Eaton all the attention Jackson thought she deserved, while the married cabinet members were forced to snub her by their wives. Ms. Eaton did not stand the chill for long, and withdrew from society. Jackson became enraged over her treatment, and accused Calhoun of a conspiracy against her. The end result was that he drew even closer to Van Buren.

Internal Improvements/The Maysville Road: Jackson did not oppose road building, but he had the same problems with them as Jefferson and Madison. He was not sure that the Federal Government could Constitutionally local projects. Calhoun had been identified as a supporter of internal improvements legislation, and when a proposal for a federal roads program, it gave Jackson the opportunity to get even with Calhoun.

1830 – Congress passed the Maysville Road Bill. It authorized the government to buy stock in a road in Kentucky from Maysville to Louisville. The entire road was in Kentucky, Clay’s home state, and it gave Jackson a chance to strike a blow at Clay also, whom he had never forgiven for the 1824 election. Jackson vetoed the bill as unconstitutional. He said it was a purely local undertaking, although plans had been to link it to the National Road. Jackson did support interstate projects such as the national road, and road building in the territories.

This was on the eve of the railroad age, and set an important precedent in limiting federal aid for internal improvements: Railroads would be built without federal help, but rather would be build completely by state and private capital until at least 1850, twenty years later.

The Nullification Controversy

Conditions in South Carolina had caused Calhoun to change his position from a War Hawk nationalist into a States Rights sectionalist. (Ironically, this opened him to attack from both sides). Tariffs passed by Congress in 1816 and 1824 had hurt the South, which claimed they were passed to protect Northern Industry. (Here again, Sectionalism comes into play.) The tariffs raised the price of imported goods by as much as 50 per cent. South Carolina had lost 70,000 residents during the 1820's twice that number in the 1830's.  Although a severe agricultural depression was a factor, it was largely blamed on the tariff.

American Factory interests had grown. Manufacturing had replaced shipping as the dominant industry, and with it, the increased pressure for protective tariffs to protect American industry. This was directly contrary to the interests of the South, which shipped large quantities of agricultural products primarily cotton and sugar, in exchange for European goods. Charleston was the leading port, and leaders of Charleston to primary opponents to a tariff. South Carolina was particularly hard hit by the tariffs. The tariff discouraged the sale of foreign goods, and the effect was compounded because foreign merchants then had few dollars to buy Southern agricultural products. The end result was an agricultural depression, and the emigration of a substantial number of people, which hurt the state economically.

Foreign merchants, particularly British and French, would normally collect American dollars for the sale of their products in the U.S., and use those same dollars to purchase American products. When fewer foreign products were sold in the U.S., there were fewer dollars in foreign hands to buy U.S. products. This hit the South particularly hard.

The Slavery issue was also beginning to rear its ugly head. After the Missouri Compromise had finally been settled, there had been a slave revolt in Charleston. This was the Denmark Vesey revolt. The North increasingly criticized the institution of slavery, and the reaction in the South was increasingly defensive. Slavery was frequently criticized in Congress, and the South believed that this criticism actually incited Slave revolts. The Denmark Vesey revolt occurred after a heated Congressional debate, and seemed to confirm this idea.

Vesey was a former slave in South Carolina who had purchased his freedom. He was violently opposed to slavery, and often quoted Scripture to support his position. One of his favorite was God’s commandment to Joshua to kill every man, woman and child when Canaan was taken. Vesey planned a revolt in which every European-American slaveholder would be slaughtered. He had a very well organized structure, but one slave got cold feet, and spilled the beans. The revolt was stopped before it was ever launched, and Vesey with several others were hanged.

Southerners became frightened; they had no idea of the deep hatred that slaves bore towards them and the institution. They further believed that God had saved them. The South quickly surmised that the tariff issue would soon result in a debate over the slavery issue. The end result is the transformation of Calhoun. He had earlier been a "War Hawk" nationalist; now he was becoming a champion of States’ Rights.

In 1828, Congress had passed another tariff with even higher rates. This became known as the Tariff of Abominations.  Note:  The tariff was passed during the J.Q. Adams administration; but its effects were felt well into the Jackson administration.

    Calhoun had no choice but to join those who opposed the Tariff, or lose support at home.  This again was part of his transformation from a nationalist to a sectionalist.

 In response to the Tariff, South Carolina’s legislature published the South Carolina Exhibition and Protest. Calhoun was its author. It said:

· States had right to declare if act of Congress was unconstitutional, if the state must act to protect its rights.

· State could call a convention which could declare such acts of Congress null and void within its borders.

· Determination would be binding on state and federal government.

Calhoun’s argument:

·  The individual States had become independent and sovereign at end of Revolution.

· The Constitution had been drafted by delegates acting as states; in fact, the Constitution had been ratified by states.

· The States had delegated some function to the federal government, but had not surrendered their ultimate sovereignty.

· The States possessed the final authority to interpret the Constitution. Note: Compare Jackson's view with that of John Marshall in the Marbury Case.

According to Calhoun, the central government was not a separate sovereignty, but simply an agent of the several States. Thus the people of each State, acting in special conventions, had the right to nullify federal law that exceeded the powers granted to Congress through the Constitution. If a popular convention declared a law unconstitutional, it would become null and void in a State. Congress could then either yield and repeal the law or propose a constitutional amendment expressly giving it the power in question. If the amendment was ratified by three-fourths of the States and added to the Constitution, the nullifying State would then be obligated to accept the provision as constitutional.

There is some argument that Calhoun’s position was at attempt to strike a balance short of extreme "states’ rights" advocates who might move towards secession. He had a bit of his old nationalism still at work, but could not afford to give up his base of support in the South if he hoped to be President. Calhoun wanted to preserve the Union, but at the same time, protect the interests of the South: agriculture and slave holding being two of those big issues. Calhoun’s position was not too far from Jackson’s but was complicated by growing animosity between Calhoun and Jackson, and Jackson’s determination not to allow any defiance of state law.

Calhoun obviously did not intend for nullification to be used with abandon; he intended for any act of nullification to be by conventions in the states; the very means by which states had ratified the constitution; thus embodying the "sovereign will of the people," and allowing that power to declare a Federal law null and void within the state’s borders because it violated the Constitution. Calhoun’s plan was that the Federal Government would then have to either abandon the law, or adopt a Constitutional Amendment. His argument was that the Tariff of 1828 was unconstitutional, because it was to protect Northern industry; and that the Constitution authorized tariffs only for purposes of raising revenue.

South Carolina took no action on the matter, as they hoped that, with Calhoun as Jackson's Vice President, the tariff issue might be resolved. It was still unresolved at the time of the great debate over the nature of the union, nationalism vs. sectionalism, in 1830: The Hayne-Webster Debate: 

The issue turned not on the tariff, but on public lands. A bill had been introduced by Sen. Samuel A. Foot of Connecticut to restrict sale of Government lands in the West.  Sen. Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri opposed the Resolution. Benton argued that the Resolution was a sectional attack designed to slow settlement in the West so that the Northeast might maintain a supply of cheap factory labor.  Restricting the sale of federal lands would encourage the workers needed in the North to move West. Benton considered this a typical manufacturer's trick. Sen. Robert Hayne of South Carolina also opposed the Foot Resolution.  Hayne hoped to strengthen the alliance between the South and the West. He hoped that if he supported cheap Western Lands, the Western states would support lower tariffs. 

Hayne’s Argument: any policy that caused hardship on one section of the country at the expense of another endangered the Union. He said the sale of the public lands as a source or revenue would create "a fund for corruption--fatal to the sovereignty and independence of the states."

Daniel Webster, now of Massachusetts, denied that the East had ever shown a restrictive policy towards the West, and managed to lure Hayne into a debate on States Rights. Webster was widely recognized as the foremost lawyer of his day, with a talent so broad that it was said he could beat the devil at argument. He was short, but with a large torso (one professor described him as being "5 x 5"), and had a thunderous voice that commanded attention. Webster rebuked the Southern representatives who "habitually speak of the Union in false terms of indifference, or even disparagement."  He said that Hayne had raised the issue of "Consolidation!--That perpetual cry, both of terror and delusion--consolidation!" 

Webster's ploy was to lure Hayne away from the alliance with the West by forcing him to defend States rights and nullification. Hayne took the bait, and the ensuing debate is a classic debate on the nature of the Union.

Hayne's Position: He defended the South Carolina Exposition and Protest.

· Cited Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions and Hartford Convention, noting that New England had taken the same position against majority measures as South Carolina now had done. .

· Argued Union was a compact of the states

· Federal Government was "agent of the States; could not be the judge of its own powers; otherwise its powers would be unlimited.

· States remained free to judge when their agent overstepped the bounds of its constitutional authority.

· The right of the states to interpose authority was "as full and complete as it was before the Constitution was formed."

Webster Took a Nationalist Viewpoint in his rebuttal.

· Revolution had been one of United Colonies, rather than each one separately.

· Sovereignty rested with people as a whole—state and Federal Governments were agents of the people within their respective spheres.

· Constitution had created a Supreme Court to determine questions of constitutionality—if a single state could nullify a law, then the Union would be a "rope of sand."

· States could neither nullify a law nor secede from the Union—nullification would lead to civil war.

    Hayne had the better argument, but Webster's eloquence wowed every member of the Senate as well as those in the galleries listening. Hiss closing argument became an American Classic often quoted: When my eyes shall be turned to behold, for the last time, the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious union…Let their last feeble and lingering glance, rather, behold the glorious ensign of the republic…blazing on all its simple folds, as they float over the sea and over the land…Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable."

    Ultimately, the Foot Resolution was defeated. The debate over the nature of the union would soon more and more validate Webster's position.

Jackson had taken no position either way. Since he was from South Carolina, considered himself a Westerner, and also a slaveholder, he might be expected to take the side of the South in the debate. Jackson’s problem seemed to be on the issue of nullification; he was determined to preserve the Union.

April 13, 1830 – Jefferson Day Dinner--Calhoun’s people arranged the party; Jackson and Van Buren invited as a matter of protocol. Jackson and Van Buren had made an arrangement that Jackson would make a toast indicating his opposition to nullification. When he rose to toast, he pointedly stared at Calhoun, raised his glass, and said, "Our Union—It must be preserved!"

Calhoun’s toast was in reply.  According to Van Buren, his hand trembled so much that he spilled the wine in his glass. His response was:  "The Union, next to our liberty the most dear! May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights the States and distributing equally the benefit and the burden of the Union. Jackson’s toast indicated his opposition to nullification, so any plans of his support for states rights was gone, partly out of principle, partly out of his hatred of John C. Calhoun.

    The coup de grace came on March 12, 1830, when Jackson saw a letter which told him about Calhoun’s position as Secretary of War, that he {Jackson} should have been disciplined for his invasion of Florida. Calhoun sent a 53-page letter explaining his position, but managed to see that it was published, and this was too much for Jackson. He wrote Calhoun a note saying, "Understanding you now, no further communication with you on this subject is necessary." Thereafter, Jackson removed all Calhoun supporters from his cabinet. He named a new Cabinet of people entirely loyal to him.

Support for Calhoun led Jackson’s advisors to persuade him to run for a second term, which he had previously said he would not do. He had hoped to have Van Buren run as his successor in 1832; but Van Buren had made enemies; and had been accused of intrigues against Calhoun. Calhoun was still popular, and might just be elected President, so Jackson decided to run again.

Jackson had appointed Van Buren minister to Great Britain, but when it came up for a confirmation vote in the Senate, the vote was tied. Calhoun cast the tie-breaking vote against him and killed the nomination.

Calhoun told Thomas Hart Benton: "It will kill him, sir, kill him dead." Benton replied, "You have broken a minister, but elected a Vice President. Benton was right. Calhoun's vote against Van Buren was quite unpopular. Van Buren soon returned from London and was nominated for the Vice Presidency. Calhoun’s chances to be elected President were over. So he became the champion of the nullificationists.

    A group of South Carolinians considered tariff rates too high. Jackson agreed with the principle of using tariffs to protect manufacturing from foreign competition, but still called for Congress to modify the tariff and reduce duties on goods "which cannot come into competition with our own products."  This included items such as tea, coffee, salt, and molasses. This with the Maysville veto quieted some of the uproar in South Carolina. By 1831, Jackson called for further reductions in tariffs, and in the Tariff of 1832, proposed by John Quincy Adams (now a representative from Massachusetts) cut rates even lower, but rates were still high on cotton, wool, and iron. 

    The matter came to a head in South Carolina during state elections in which nullification was an issue. The state Legislature called for a Convention which repudiated the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 as unconstitutional and forbade collection of the duties within South Carolina after February 1, 1833. It also provided State Courts could award twice in damages any amount seized by Federal authorities who attempted to enforce the tariff. The legislature elected Hayne Governor and Calhoun as Senator. Calhoun resigned as Vice President to take the seat, and defend nullification in the Senate. Jackson was furious –privately he threatened to hang Calhoun and all other traitors; but later said he regretted that he had not at least hanged Calhoun.

December 10, 1833, Jackson issued his Nullification Proclamation:

· Nullification of a Federal Law by a State was "incompatible with the existence of the Union, contradicted expressly by the letter of the constitution, unauthorized by its spirit, inconsistent with every principle for which it was founded, and destructive of the great object for which it was formed."

· Appealed to people of South Carolina not to follow "false leaders." "The laws of the United States must be executed....Those who told you that you might peaceably prevent their execution deceived you; they could not have been deceived themselves....Their object is disunion."

· "Disunion by armed force is treason."

Jackson sent Federal Troops to South Carolina under General Winfield Scott to enforce tariff; South Carolina militia was prepared to resist. Jackson secured a Force Bill from Congress which gave him authority to enforce the tariff in South Carolina.  As chief executive, he already had the power, but this would strengthen his position.  At the same time, he supported a bill which substantially lowered the tariff within two years.  Nullifiers in South Carolina also postponed enforcement of the South Carolina ordinances in anticipation of a compromise, which finally came forth.

Henry Clay produced the compromise plan – Tariff would be gradually reduced; and as result South Carolina backed down. The Compromise Tariff was passed by Congress on March 1, 1833, and Jackson signed it and the Force Bill the next day. Of course, he no longer needed the Force Bill.  In South Carolina, the legislature declared the Force Bill null and void as a face-saving gesture.  Both sides came away claiming victory. Jackson had preserved the Union, and the South got a reduction in the tariff.

Calhoun was worn out by the Controversy. He retired to his Plantation at Clemson, and wrote, "The Struggle, so far from being over, is not more than fairly commenced." His words were prophetic. 

Jackson's Indian Policy

Next to the case of the black race within our bosom, that of the red {race} on our borders is the problem most baffling to the policy of our Country. – James Madison

The issue of Indians and white supremacy plagued the country; particularly as it grew larger. With European immigration, the U.S. was fast becoming a multicultural country, and if white supremacy was to be preserved, the Indian question would need to be addressed. 

Jackson saw no problem with the Indian question. He was a true Westerner; and considered them barbarians who were best put out of the way.

Since the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, the "final solution of the Indian problem" had been thought to be moving them out West to the "great American desert," where no white person wanted to live. By the time of his election, Jackson considered this to be a "just, humane, liberal policy towards Indians."

In 1830 Congress passed the Indian Removal Act at Jackson’s request. Over the life of his presidency, 94 Indian treaties were repudiated.

    In the North and Ohio Valley, Indians had gradually been pushed westward by the advance of white America. This had not happened in the South. White civilization in South and Southwest had virtually surrounded Cherokee, Choctaw, and Seminole Indian lands and tribes. Many of these tribes had taken on vestiges of white civilization. The Cherokee tribe even kept black slaves, farmed, adopted a written language, and attempted to settle down on the land as farmers. Cherokee Indians had settled in Northern Georgia, Western North Carolina, claiming rights under Treaty of 1791. Georgia later ceded lands to the government on condition that the Indian treaties be repudiated.

In 1827 the Cherokees adopted a Constitution, and claimed that they were a separate nation, not subject to any other law. Georgia responded in 1828 with law stating that state law extended over Cherokees within the state.

In 1829, Gold was discovered on Cherokee land, and whites began moving in. The Cherokees went to Court to protect their rights. Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia (1831) –John Marshall ruled the Court lacked jurisdiction because Indians were a "domestic dependent nation" rather than a foreign state under the Constitution. BUT, he further added that the Cherokee had an "unquestionable right" to their land until title was extinguished by "voluntary cession to the United States."

Later Georgia tried to force settlers in Cherokee territory to get a license to live there—this would be an admission that Georgia law applied. Two missionaries refused to get the licenses and were sentenced to jail for four years. This case also went to the Supreme Court. The case was Worcester vs. Georgia. In its decision, the Supreme Court said that Cherokee Nation was a "distinct political community" within which Georgia law had no force. The Georgia law was unconstitutional.

It was in response to this case that Jackson supposedly said, "Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it." Whether he said it or not,  Jackson did nothing to enforce the decision. In 1835, the Cherokees had no choice but to surrender land in exchange for lands west of Arkansas and $5 million, plus costs of transportation.

    In 1838, over 12,000 Cherokee Indians departed on the "Trail of Tears," a forced march to Oklahoma. They were treated cruelly by soldiers who accompanied them as well as by whites along the way, who pillaged and stole from them. Twelve thousand left on the journey; only 8,000 survived the journey. Many did not survive there, as they were not plains people, not accustomed to the hunting, etc; plus there were Indians already there who were not overjoyed to see them infringe on their hunting. Many Cherokee were wiped out by the ordeal.

Some Seminole hid in the Everglades; some Cherokee hid in the mountains of North Carolina, got title to federal lands there, and became the "Eastern Band" of the Cherokees.

The Bank Controversy 

The Second Bank of the United States had been the overriding issue in the 1832 campaign. Jackson made no public commitment on the bank issue during the campaign, but his opinion was already set in stone. Banks had not been popular since the Panic of 1819 –speculation by banks had largely contributed to the mania leading to the Panic.

Jackson’s opinion:

· The Bank was unconstitutional, regardless of what Marshall might say in McCulloch vs. Maryland.

· Was suspicious of all banks.

· Preferred hard money policy (specie)

Jackson reputedly told Nicholas Biddle, "I feel it right to be perfectly frank with you. I do not dislike your bank any more than all banks."  In fact, Jackson had a specific distaste for paper money.

Bank had prospered under leadership of Nicholas Biddle. Under Biddle the Bank had:

· Forced state banks to maintain specie reserve (gold or silver) and thereby stabilized the currency.

· Acted as collecting and disbursing agent for the government. Also, the government held one fifth of the banks capital stock of $35 million.

· Size enabled it to determine amount of available credit in the U.S. –it acted almost as the Federal Reserve. This alone made enemies for the bank. 

Enemies of the Bank:

· State and local banks who had to reduce volume of paper money.

· Debtors who suffered from reduction in money supply.

· Businessmen and speculators who wanted easier credit.

· State’s rights groups who questioned its constitutionality. (Calhoun was not among them.)

· Wall Street Financiers who resented the banks power.

A big problem was that the bank was only 1/5 owned by the government. The other 4/5 was private investors. This created something of a monopoly, and many Westerners felt as did Thomas Hart Benton, that the Bank was a "monster." It was controlled by a few wealthy people, with power that was irreconcilable with a democracy.

The Bank had in fact done a good job of stabilizing the currency; but Jackson’s instincts about too much power in the hands of a very few wealthy people was perhaps correct—it certainly flew in the face of the idea of democracy, and rule of the "common man."

Biddle tried to pacify Jackson by putting Jackson men as officers at several bank branches; but it didn’t work. Jackson, in a message to Congress, questioned the bank's constitutionality, and spoke of a bank completely owned by the government with operations confined to government deposits; but he never would commit to this.

Biddle Attempts to Recharter the Bank:The Bank charter expired in 1836; but Biddle couldn’t wait that long. He needed to settle the issue right away. Daniel Webster and Henry Clay advised him to pursue it before the election of 1832. Webster was the Bank’s legal counsel, and Clay had been nominated as the candidate for the National Republican Party. A majority in Congress were friendly to the bank, and Jackson would not dare veto a renewal if he thought it might be overridden. Clay decided to make the Bank an issue in the campaign. They had no idea of the depth of Jackson’s hatred for the bank, and the popular prejudice against it. They only succeeded in giving Jackson a popular campaign issue.

Jackson told Van Buren, "The Bank, Mr. Van Buren, is trying to destroy me; but I will destroy it."

Both houses passed the Bank Bill to renew the Charter, but without the 2/3 needed to override a veto. July 10, 1832, Jackson vetoed the Bank Bill. In his veto message, he said that the bank was unconstitutional, regardless of what the courts or congress said. He asserted the independence of the Presidency to make that determination.

Said Jackson in his veto message: The opinion of the judges has no more authority over Congress than the opinion of Congress over the judges, and on that point the President is independent of both. He also noted that foreign stockholders in the bank exercised undue influence, and that the bank had not only shown favors to members of Congress, it had also exercised undue influence over state banks.

The Senate failed to override the veto. A financial crisis was at hand.

1832 Election: Third party appeared, the Anti-Masonic Party.

`The party formed on the basis of the presumed kidnapping and murder of a New Yorker for revealing the secrets of masonry. The result of this, and the sweep of democracy, had been a strong distrust of secret fraternal organizations.

The Anti-Masonic Party is only important for several innovations it introduced to the electoral system.  It was the first to hold a National Convention, and first to announce a party platform. The other parties also held conventions to nominate their candidates, but did not adopt platforms; they relied more on hoopla and the popularity of their candidates. It nominated William Wirt of Maryland for President.  Other nominees:

Jackson won re-election, carried all states but Vermont and South Carolina (South Carolina was preparing for nullification, and gave its votes to the Governor of Virginia.)

Jackson interpreted his victory as a mandate to proceed against the bank. He asked Congress to investigate the safety of Government deposits in the bank; and although Congress (led by Clay and Calhoun) determined that the deposits were safe, Jackson determined to remove Government deposits from the Bank. He referred to it as a "hydra of corruption." Although it had four years left on its charter, he Jackson determined to destroy it. When Jackson had two consecutive Secretaries of the Treasury refuse to remove Bank deposits, he removed them from office, until he found a man willing to do so. He was determined to destroy the bank. The person who did so was Roger Taney, then Attorney General. Taney would later become Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Taney withdrew government deposits from the Bank over time, and deposited them in State banks, known as "Pet banks." Over 23 state banks benefited.

This action was highly questionable, and the Senate voted to censure Jackson for it. The Censure of Jackson was often mentioned in the Clinton impeachment as a proposal for a middle solution—a censure of Clinton. Those who opposed it said it would in effect be a Bill of Attainder, not permitted under the Constitution.

Biddle did not give up lightly.

Said he of Jackson: This worthy President thinks that because he has scalped Indians and imprisoned Judges he is to have his way with the Bank. He is mistaken.

Biddle curtailed credit sharply, and ordered all notes to be redeemed from state banks immediately. His plan was to stop the economy, create a depression, and thus demonstrate how important the bank really was. Biddle’s policy backfired. When he tightened credit, the state banks loaned money with abandon; based on the government deposits in the "pet banks." Many had no such deposits, but took advantage of the opportunity to lend recklessly. Many of them made loans with abandon; they became known as "wildcat" banks.

The term "wildcat" came from a Bank in Michigan, a real fly-by-night bunch, which put the image of a wildcat (panther) on its bank notes, which were worthless.

Many of the bank loans were for land speculation and building projects such as canals. The states sank further and further into debt. It was somewhat ironic that Jackson’s attack on the bank actually created the type of speculation that he had hoped to stop.

Fiscal Measures: In 1836, Money supply deflated. Stopped the deluge of cheap money.

· Distribution Act: Treasury had paid off the national debt, and had a surplus. Henry Clay proposed distributing the money to the states. He planned to do this to eliminate the surplus and thereby remove one of the major arguments for removing the tariff (that the government didn't need the money.) Jackson had constitutional problems with this. A compromise was worked out whereby the money was "loaned" to the states by means of "deposits." In reality, no demand was ever made for repayment. Distribution was based on the representation of each state in both houses of Congress, and paid in Quarterly installments.

· Specie Circular: Order issued by the Treasury at Jackson’s order. Government would accept only gold and silver for payment on sale of public lands. The idea was to stop speculators and others who were extending worthless bank notes. The Specie Circular plan also backfired. Few settlers could raise that much gold and silver, and that put them at the mercy of the speculators who had already purchased land and now had it up for sale. Also, the requirement that only specie be paid for government land put a strain on the supply of gold and silver.

Boom and Bust: Banks kept up with specie requirements for a while, primarily due to gold and silver flowing into the country from England, France, and Mexico for American cotton.  This enabled banks to issue more and more paper money backed by specie. But, in 1837, British demand for cotton and investments in the U.S. declined rapidly at a time when American cotton production was increasing rapidly. As a result, less specie came into the country.  The result was the Panic of 1837.  New York banks suspended specie payments on notes ; runs on banks began, particularly on banks that were overextended.

Banks were not to issue notes for more than they could cover in specie; but many did it anyway, betting on repayment, etc. When they extended too much, they became overextended, and couldn’t meet their deposits in specie. Sort of like spending money someone loaned to you and then you can’t pay it back.

The cotton crop continued to increase; but there was no market for it, and a depression resulted which lasted until 1849. Jackson was fortunate. He left office early in 1837, and left it to Van Buren to deal with the financial crisis, although neither would have had any control over it.

Jackson had been wildly popular with the people, primarily for his defeat of nullification and the Bank issue. Economic problems had created hard times, but people blamed Biddle and the bank, not Jackson.

Jackson commented: "I have obtained a glorious triumph…and put to death that mammoth of corruption 

Van Buren and the New Party System 

Jackson’s demeanor had earned him the not-so-complementary nickname of King Andrew I. From that, analogies were drawn, so that his supporters were Tories, and those who opposed him were Whigs. The Whigs planned for the name to link them to the patriots of the American Revolution.

Whigs centered around National Republicans, Clay, Webster, Quincy Adams. The Anti-Masons and disgruntled democrats also joined, and the Whig Party became a viable political party by 1836. Whigs were primarily supporters of Clay’s type of nationalism. They were mostly protestant evangelicals, promoters of social reform such as abolitionism and temperance.

Election of 1836: By election, a two-party system was firmly in place, Whigs and Democrats.

Democrats held convention, and nominated Martin Van Buren, Jackson’s hand-picked successor. Whigs held no convention, but nominated a number of candidates. They were hoping to throw the race into the House of Representatives. The plan didn’t work, and Van Buren won handily.

Van Buren was from Kinderhook, New York. He was eighth President, and the first born as an American Citizen (after Independence). He had practiced law a bit, but was primarily a politician. He was very skilled in maneuvering (as evidenced by his success with Jackson) which earned him the nickname of the "little Magician."

Van Buren had the misfortune to inherit the Panic of 1837 from Jackson.

· Depression in England caused English merchants to cut back on purchases of cotton—prices fell from 17.5 ¢ to 13.5 ¢ per pound. English bankers also refused extensions on loans.

· Wheat crop failed; Country depended on wheat crop to offset balance of payments abroad.

· Creditors foreclosed; states cancelled road and canal plans, and repudiated debts.

· Many wildcat banks failed. Government itself lost over $9 million in money deposited in pet banks that failed.

· One third of workforce was jobless; those with jobs had wages cut as much as 50 %; while prices for food and clothing skyrocketed. No government support was in place then, those without food and shelter had to depend on charities.

Van Buren believed he had an obligation to keep the government healthy, but had no obligation to farmers and others, so he was not interested in any type public relief. He was afraid the government might lose money deposited in risky banks, so he set up an independent United States Treasury. Government would keep money in its own vaults, and do business only in hard money. Van Buren’s position was typically Jacksonian: Less involvement of government in private pursuits, the better.

Whigs, represented by Daniel Webster, said that the government had apparently abandoned the common man. Webster objected to plans "for the convenience of government only, and leaving the common people to shift for themselves." The Whigs probably would have preferred a program very similar to Hamilton’s—tariffs, economic development, etc., to get the Country going again.

Van Buren had other problems:

· Petitions to abolish slavery and stop the slave trade in D.C. were flooding in.

· Border disputes with British due to insurrections in Canada and a dispute over the Maine border.

Van Buren and administration were blamed for hard times –he was re-nominated, but the party could not agree on a V. Presidential candidate. They left this to their electors.

The "Log Cabin and Hard Cider Campaign:" Clay, now a Whig, thought he was a shoo-in, so he soft-pedaled his "American system." He got surprised.

The convention wanted a "Whig Jackson," someone with all of Jackson’s appeal – a war hero with few known political convictions or enemies. They settled on William Henry Harrison, the hero of Tippecanoe. Clay’s close friend, John Tyler, was nominated as Vice President, to satisfy the states’ rights crowd.

Whigs had no platform, they didn’t want to alienate anyone. But the Democrats obliged them with a slogan: A Democratic Newspaper referred to Harrison as "old Tip," and suggested that he was senile. (Harrison was 67 at the time). He commented that "upon condition of his receiving a pension of $2,000.00 and a barrel of cider, General Harrison would no doubt consent to withdraw his pretensions, and spend his days in a log cabin on the banks of the Ohio." This played directly into the hands of the Whigs. They could present Harrison as a commoner, plain sort, just like Jackson; and a war hero to boot. The campaign quickly became known as the "Log Cabin and Hard Cider" campaign. A Whig Newspaper was printed entitled the "Log Cabin." During campaign parades, portable log cabins were rolled down the streets with barrels of cider.

At the same time, the Whigs portrayed Van Buren as an aristocrat—very similar to the way Jackson’s people had portrayed John Quincy Adams. A campaign song soon circulated:

Let Van from his coolers of silver wine drink

And lounge on his cushioned settee;

Our man on a buckeye bench can recline;

Content with hard cider is he.

Actually, all of this was completely backwards, because Harrison had been born to a well to do family; had been college educated, and lived comfortably before getting into Politics. It was Van Buren who was the self-made man who had pulled himself up by his bootstraps.

Harrison defeated Van Buren in the election. The popular vote was close; less than 150,000 votes, but in the electoral college, it was a stomp: Harrison got 234, Van Buren 60.