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The Jackson Inauguration: King Mob or Champion of Democracy?
Students examine the inauguration of Andrew Jackson in 1828 and identify the ways Jackson's election signaled important changes in the American political landscape.
By using the activities of this lesson, the students will:
The election of Andrew Jackson was seen by many as a victory for the common citizen in much the same way as Jefferson brought an end to the Federalist aristocracy. He was the first president elected from a state that was not one of the original thirteen colonies, and he represented the interests of the rural western frontier rather than the industrial northeast.
Although Jackson is said to have slipped quietly into the Capitol in February 1829, his inauguration seemed to predict the tone of his administration. The usually uninhabited town of Washington, D.C., was packed with inaugural onlookers who saw Jackson as a savior. Cheering was heard when Jackson emerged on the steps of the capitol to take the presidential oath, muffling the oath as well as the inaugural address. The throng crowded the new president as he made his way to the White House.
The inaugural ball has been recorded by history as a raucous event that showed little discipline or culture. Participants in the festivities ranged from the highest members of the American political elite to the mud-covered agrarian element so strongly represented by the Jeffersonian ideal. The crowd became so rowdy that Jackson was forced to slip out of the White House secretly. As the party was moved outside, many of the guests used all exits, including windows, to be present for the ice cream and wine. Even though his inauguration seemed to symbolize the excesses of democracy, to many of his day, it was a refreshing wind that removed the corruption and incompetence of an antiquated system and installed a new era of rule by the people.
The lesson may be evaluated through the following measures: