I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me.
The Abolitionist movement was dedicated to outlawing (or "abolishing") the institution of slavery in the United States. Abolitionist societies and publications began appearing in the North in the early 1830's, during Jackson's first presidential term. Opponents of slavery had long existed in the United States. Abolitionists, however, called for an immediate end for slavery, without compensating slaveowners or providing for the colonization of freed blacks following emancipation. Women played a particularly active role in many Northern abolitionist societies, as did free blacks, such as Frederick Douglass.
Inspired by Alexander Hamilton, Henry Clay advocated an "American System" for modernizing the nation's economy. At the center of this system was Clay's call for tariff duties high enough to protect fledgling manufacturing interests from foreign competition. Clay also thought that the federal government should fund and help construct a national system of "internal improvements," or transportation facilities, which would help bind the different segments of the American economy more closely together. President Jackson opposed and in fact vetoed many of the legislative elements of Clay's "American System."
Andrew Jackson believed that the Second Bank of the United States was unconstitutional and that it posed a serious threat to the American economy and its democratic political institutions. Though its charter was not set to expire until 1836, BUS president Nicholas Biddle requested and received a congressional recharter in 1832. Jackson decided to veto the bill. Jackson escalated this so-called "Bank War" in 1833 when he removed federal government funds that were on deposit with the BUS and distributed them to loyal state banks.
During the Creek War of 1813-1814 General Andrew Jackson led the main contingent of American forces against the Creek Indians known as "Red Sticks." His army included Creek Indians as well as a sizeable Cherokee regiment. On March 27, 1814, Jackson attacked a large Red Sticks force at their heavily fortified position in a bend of the Tallapoosa River. The so-called "Battle of Horseshoe Bend" began with a bombardment by Jackson's canon, which had no effect on the stoutly built barricade. The tide turned when Cherokee warriors crossed the river and attacked the rear of the Creeks' encampment and set fire to it. Jackson's regular forces then launched a frontal assault, which lead to a lopsided victory for the Americans in which by Jackson's own count no less than 850 Indians died defending their homeland. Jackson's triumph over the "Red Sticks" effectively ended the Creek War, and inaugurated Jackson's national reputation as a military hero.
The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815, after the Treaty of Ghent ending the War of 1812 was signed in Europe but before it arrived in the United States. Andrew Jackson won a stunning victory against seasoned British regulars, sustaining only 71 casualties, compared to the 2,037 casualties inflicted on the British. Jackson's victory secured the mouth of the Mississippi, instilled Americans with a new sense of national pride, and created a new American hero in General Andrew Jackson.
In 1827 the Cherokee National Council adopted a written constitution outlining the manner in which it would govern itself. Led by the Cherokee Chief John Ross, the convention drew upon the United States Constitution and state constitutions in forging their document. Written and first published in the Cherokee language, the 1827 constitution established a representative form of government and specifically stated the territorial boundaries of the Cherokee Nation. The constitution reflected the desire of the Cherokee to protect the land they owned in common as well as growing Cherokee nationalism and commitment toward centralized as opposed to town government.
In February 1828, months after the Cherokee Nation established its constitution in 1827, the first American Indian newspaper, the Cherokee Phoenix, appeared. It was edited by the Cherokee Elias Boudinot and was published in the Cherokee capital of New Echota in what is now Georgia. It featured articles written in both the English and Cherokee languages. Most items addressed the topic of Indian relations with the state and federal governments, but these were supplemented by articles on religion and foreign relations. While serving as the voice of the Cherokee Nation in particular, it also addressed major issues faced by all Indians.
A corporation is a business enterprise whose lifespan and liabilities are legally separate from the individuals who operate it. During the Jacksonian Era, corporations, in order to enjoy these benefits, required a charter issued by a legislature. Andrew Jackson and most of his Democratic followers feared the growing economic and political power exercised by these corporations. Their ability to amass wealth, through banking and manufacturing operations, and to influence and even coerce individual citizens, posed a threat to the Jeffersonian ideals that Jackson held dear.
By 1828, those who supported Jackson's bid for the presidency constituted a well- organized, national political party. Initially called simply the "Jackson Party," during Jackson's presidency it was more and more referred to by its members as the "Democratic Party." The Democratic Party claimed to revive and represent the principles of Thomas Jefferson and his "Democratic-Republican" followers. Many of these Democrats challenged the assumption of the founding fathers that political parties were inherently evil. Parties, they argued, empowered the masses, provided opportunities for popular participation in government, and enabled like-minded voters and politicians to rally behind candidates who shared their principles. In 1832 the Democratic Party held a national delegate convention in Baltimore, nominated Martin Van Buren for vice-president, and launched Jackson's successful reelection bid.
The "Eaton Affair" (also called the "Petticoat Affair") was a scandal that took place during Jackson's first term centering around Margaret ("Peggy") Eaton, the beautiful wife of Jackson's Secretary of War, John H. Eaton. Following Jackson's inauguration, many Washington socialites, among them wives of members of Jackson's cabinet, refused to associate with Peggy, because they thought she was sexually promiscuous. It was alleged that she had had illicit relations with Eaton while still married to her first husband, John B. Timberlake, who died in 1828. Jackson was convinced that Peggy was innocent, and tried in vain to trace the various rumors against Peggy to their source and to persuade his cabinet members and their wives to socialize with the Eatons. Tensions over the "Eaton Affair" eventually resulted in the resignation of all but one member of Jackson's cabinet in 1831.
Rather than entrust the election of the president directly with the people themselves, the framers of the Constitution assigned that task to an "Electoral College." Each state was entitled to as many "electors" as it had congressman and senators. (No state, therefore, could have fewer than three electors). The Constitution left it up to the individual states to decide how it selected its electors. In the ten presidential elections before 1828, many states allowed state legislators to appoint electors on behalf of their constituents. In 1824 this practice became controversial, when several states either threatened or succeeded in naming electors devoted unpopular presidential candidates. Starting in 1828 and continuing ever since, most all states choose electors through one or another method of public balloting.
Alexander Hamilton served as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, from 1789 to 1795. Hamilton wanted the American economy to expand, modernize and industrialize. This would only happen, he believed, if the federal government played an active role in guiding and overseeing its development. Hamilton effected the creation of a national bank and persuaded Congress to pay off not only the federal government's debt but the debts of the individual states. He hoped that these measures would give wealthy financiers and businessmen a stake in the success of the new federal government. Hamilton believed that the Constitution granted the president and Congress the expansive powers they needed to regulate and guide the American economy.
"The Hermitage" is the name Jackson gave to the estate, located outside of Nashville, Tennessee, that he purchased in 1804. Throughout Jackson's military and political career, the Hermitage remained a functioning farm. Some 140 slaves worked the plantation, which consisted of over a thousand acres of land at the time of Jackson's death. Today, the Hermitage is open to the public as a museum commemorating the life of Andrew Jackson. Both Jackson and his wife Rachel are buried on the property.
The Indian Removal Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by Jackson in May 1830. This piece of legislation-its official name was "An Act to provide for an exchange of lands with the Indians . . . and for their removal west of the river Mississippi"-empowered the president to negotiate and sign removal treaties in which Indian nations abandoned lands east of the Mississippi in return for unsettled, federal lands west of the Mississippi. The legislation was hotly contested in Congress and it narrowly passed. Once enacted, Jackson and the treaty negotiators he appointed persuaded, manipulated, and in some cases coerced dozens of tribes to sign removal treaties.
Thomas Jefferson believed that the United States should be ideally composed of farms presided over by an independent yeomanry. The agricultural lifestyle, Jefferson contended, was the key to keeping American citizens virtuous, free, and self-reliant. He worried that America's economy might come to resemble that of Britain's, whose factory workers were little better than white slaves, completely unfit for democratic government. Jefferson also saw a limited role for government, and emphasized the supremacy of the states over all matters not explicitly assigned to the federal government by the constitution.
During his presidency, Jackson was thought to have relied more on informal advisors than on the members of his official Cabinet. Most of these advisors, whom critics dubbed a "Kitchen Cabinet," were either newspaper editors or personal friends of Jackson from Tennessee. The term continues to be used to describe unofficial advisors to the president.
The political party referred to as the "National Republican Party" consisted mostly of voters and politicians who had supported the administration of John Quincy Adams, which came to an end in 1828 with Jackson's election to the presidency. Led by the Kentuckian Henry Clay, the National Republicans opposed Jackson and his policies at every step. Most of them advocated a protective tariff and a federally-funded national transportation system. In the 1832 the National Republicans unsuccessfully ran Henry Clay for the presidency.
"Nullification" is the theory that an individual state can void (or "nullify") a federal law if it believes that it violates the U. S. Constitution. Southerners like John C. Calhoun articulated the theory of nullification after 1828 as a justification for voiding the "Tariff of Abominations," which they felt was unconstitutional and injurious to Southern economic interests. Nullifiers claimed their constitutional ideas had a long lineage and derived from Thomas Jefferson. In 1798 the followers of Thomas Jefferson advocated something similar to nullification when they passed resolutions in the Virginia and Kentucky legislatures that denounced and declared unconstitutional the Alien & Sedition laws passed by Federalists in Congress.
In 1813, in the early stages of the War of 1812, the War Department dispatched Jackson and the Tennessee militia he commanded southwards to defend New Orleans, which was thought to be endangered. Before reaching New Orleans, however, near Natchez, Jackson received orders to abort his mission and disband his troops on the spot. Jackson refused outright to abandon his troops two thousand miles from their homes. Jackson guided the men back home himself, sharing their hardships, even giving up his horse for the wounded and sick. The strength of character Jackson displayed during this episode earned him from his troops the nickname of "Old Hickory."
In the years immediately after the War of 1812, the United States experienced significant economic growth. With little government regulation, state banks loaned money to land speculators in quantities that surpassed their financial capacity. Added to this financial strain were the debts incurred by United States for the Louisiana Purchase and the War of 1812. In an attempt to avert an economic crisis, the newly rechartered Second bank of the United States introduced a series of reforms to help curb inflation. These policies included a requirement that state banks immediately recall loans. The results included foreclosures, bank closing, increased unemployment, a dramatic drop in cotton prices, and a reduction of the amount of money in circulation. While the recession was short lived, many of those hit hardest by the Panic of 1819 blamed the Bank of the United States. Andrew Jackson used this event to illustrate the Banks inability to regulate the economy.
The Bank War between President Jackson and Bank President Nicholas Biddle had serious economic consequences. Jackson fundamentally opposed the nature of the Bank of the United States and distrusted credit. After vetoing a bill that would have extended the charter of the Bank in 1832, he withdrew federal funds and placed them into state banks. With fewer regulations, these banks liberally lent money to land speculators and other investors. Jackson attempted to curtail these actions and the accompanying inflation by issuing the Specie Circular that required investors purchasing federal land to pay with gold or silver. The emphasis on species resulted in a rush to convert paper money and an economic depression. President Martin Van Buren inherited Jackson's fiscal miscues and was blamed for the nation's economic woes. Over the next seven years the United States would suffer bank closings, increased food prices, decreased wages, and high unemployment.
The Second Bank of the United States was chartered by Congress in 1816. The BUS was essentially a private corporation, but the federal government appointed some of its directors and used it as its fiscal agent, for storing revenue and paying off debt. Mismanagement and corruption caused some to lose faith in the bank after the Panic of 1819. Once Nicholas Biddle took control of the institution in 1823, it practiced conservative monetary policies that helped stabilize the American economy. President Jackson believed the bank to be unconstitutional and in 1832 vetoed a bill that would have expired extended its charter. Its twenty-year charter was allowed to expire in 1836.
The term "spoils system" was used by Jackson's opponents to describe Jackson's policy of removing political opponents from federal offices and replacing them with party loyalists. Jackson's predecessors had removed federal officeholders on a limited scale, but not nearly as extensively as did President Jackson starting in 1829. To Jackson (and all presidents that followed him), partisan loyalty was a more important job-qualification than competence or merit. A merit-based civil service system would not be implemented by the federal government until the 1880s.
Passed by President John Quincy Adams, the Tariff of 1828 protected American industry in the North from European competitors. Called Tariff of Abomination, Southern states voiced strong objections to the law they claimed unfairly favored the North. To many in the South, it was an attempt to undermine states rights and their perceived right to maintain slavery indefinitely. Led by former Vice President John C. Calhoun, South Carolina claimed the right to nullify harmful federal laws. The ensuing Nullification showdown between President Jackson and South Carolina illustrated the deep sectional differences. The compromise Tariff of 1832 defused the immediate crisis.
In 1838 the United States government enforced the questionable Treaty of New Echota with the Cherokee Indians, forcibly evicting about 17,000 Cherokees from their ancestral homeland. It is estimated that almost 4,000 of the Cherokees who were evicted died in poorly managed holding camps and during their forced march to their new lands in present-day Oklahoma.
The Constitution allows the president to strike down legislation passed by Congress (though it also allows Congress to override presidential vetoes if it can re-pass stricken-down laws by a two-thirds majority). Jackson's predecessors used the veto sparingly. Jackson used it twelve times during his two terms in office. Jackson's first significant veto came in 1830 when he struck down a law funding the construction of a road in the state of Kentucky. His most famous veto came in 1832 when he killed the bill rechartering the Second Bank of the United States.
Diplomatic relations between the United States and Great Britain deteriorated after 1807, mostly as a result of British efforts to prevent Americans from trading with her enemies. In June of 1812 Congress declared war on Britain, citing as justification British impressments of American sailors and Britain's provocation of Native Americans against American settlers on the frontier. The war was formally ended in late 1814 with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.
As Jackson's followers gelled into a national, well-organized political party, so too did Jackson's political opponents. By the mid-1830's, followers of Henry Clay called "National Republicans" joined forces with nullifiers, anti-masons and other political groups opposed to Jackson's policies. Most Whigs embraced Henry Clay's "American System," though some Whigs were Southern extremists who left the Democratic Party during the nullification crisis. All Whigs, though, shared a dislike for Andrew Jackson and for what they considered his high-handed and tyrannical conduct as president. The terms "Whigs" harkened back to the Whigs of the American Revolution who opposed the tyrannical British King.