The Early American Republic The Growth of America

USI.23 - Analyze the rising levels of political participation and the expansion of the suffrage in antebellum America.
USI.24 - Describe the election of 1828, the importance of Jacksonian democracy, and Jackson’s actions as President.
  1. USI.24.A - the spoils system
  2. USI.24.B - Jackson’s veto of the National Bank
  3. USI.24.C - Jackson’s policy of Indian Removal
Andrew Jackson Timeline

Political Participation

Look Below, together as a class we will answer the questions on the painting.

-George Caleb Bingham, The County Election, oil on canvas, 1851–1852
  1. According to The County Election (picture above), who participated in elections? Who was excluded?
  2. How did Bingham (the painter) explain the enormous popular participation in politics? What drew so many people into politics?
  3. Why might elections in rural areas have become important social gatherings?
  4. How important were political candidates, issues, and party loyalties?
  5. How engaged are the voters?
  6. Who are the men in the top hats? What are they doing? How does Bingham portray them? How do they relate to ordinary voters?
  7. What do you think Bingham’s attitude toward elections was?
  8. Did he see them as serious exercises of democracy, as farce (fake), or as something in between?
  9. What was his attitude toward the electorate? Did he see voters as serious well informed men or as manipulated dupes?
  10. What does the painting say about elections in a democracy in which common people can cast ballots?

Election of 1828

  • United States presidential election of 1828, American presidential election held in 1828, in which Democrat Andrew Jackson defeated National Republican John Quincy Adams.
  • The election of 1828 was arguably one of the most significant in United States history, ushering in the era of political campaigns and paving the way for the solidification of political parties. The previous election, of 1824, had seen John Quincy Adams become president although his opponent Andrew Jackson had earned the most electoral votes.
  • Because no candidate won a majority of the electoral vote, however, that election was decided by the House of Representatives in Adams’s favor after fellow candidate and Speaker of the House Henry Clay (who finished fourth) threw his support behind Adams.
  • Adams subsequently appointed Clay his secretary of state, giving merit to rumors of a “corrupt bargain” in the eyes of Jackson supporters.
  • During the contested election of 1824, followers of Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams began calling themselves National Republicans, and supporters of Andrew Jackson emerged as Democratic Republicans.
  • By the election of 1828, the Jacksonians had become known simply as the Democrats. Unlike previous elections, in which the parties’ congressional delegations would generally gather to nominate a candidate (this had failed to coalesce support around a single candidate among the Democratic-Republicans in 1824), this election was the first in which a majority of states held conventions to endorse a candidate.
  • By 1828 selection of presidential electors was being decided by the voters in all but two states, and public opinion was becoming more important than ever before. Jackson’s supporters established pro-Jackson newspapers and helped to distribute information and election material. Both sides organized rallies, parades, and other public events to promote their chosen candidate.
  • The mudslinging was fierce from Jackson’s supporters, portraying Adams not only as a “corrupt bargainer” but also as an unscrupulous aristocrat who had misappropriated tax dollars.
  • In the end, with 178 electoral votes to Adams’s 83, Jackson became the first president to gain office by a direct appeal to the mass of voters rather than through the support of a recognized political organization.

The Bank War and Jackson's Veto

Andrew Jackson and his distrust of banks
  • The Bank War was the struggle between President Andrew Jackson and Nicholas Biddle, president of the Bank of the United States, over the continued existence of the only national banking institution in the nation during the second quarter of the 19th century.
  • In 1829 and again in 1830 Jackson made clear his constitutional objections and personal hatred toward the bank. He believed it concentrated too much economic power in the hands of a small monied elite beyond the public’s control.
  • For support, Biddle turned to the National Republicans—especially Henry Clay and Daniel Webster—turning the issue into a political battle. On their advice, Biddle applied for a new charter even though the old charter did not expire until 1836.
  • The recharter bill easily passed both houses of Congress in 1832. Saying “The bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it,” Jackson issued a potent veto message. The fate of the bank then became the central issue of the presidential election of 1832 between Jackson and Clay.
  • Jackson concluded from his victory in that election that he had a mandate not only to refuse the bank a new charter but to destroy as soon as possible what he called a “hydra of corruption.” (Many of his political enemies had loans from the bank or were on its payroll.)
  • Jackson ordered that no more government funds be deposited in the bank. Existing deposits were consumed paying off expenses, while new revenues were placed in 89 state “pet banks.”
  • Biddle responded by calling in loans and thus precipitating a credit shortage and business downturn. Clay in 1834 pushed a resolution through the Senate censuring Jackson for removing the deposits.

Credits:

Created with images by dbking - ""Battle of New Orleans" by Ethel Magafan" • Kentuckyguard - "battle_of_lake_erie_full_size" • CircaSassy - "A short history of the United States; for school use (1900)" • Boston Public Library - "The kitchen cabinet, or political money changers removing the deposits"

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