The Rise of a Mass Democracy
The Democrat party emerged in 1828.
The "Corrupt Bargain" of 1824
Well-organized parties had not yet emerged, and there were 4 main "Republican" candidates in the election of 1824: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, William Crawford, and Henry Clay.
No candidate won the majority of the electoral votes, so, according to the Constitution, the House of Representatives had to choose the winner out of the top 3 candidates. Henry Clay was eliminated because he received the 4th most votes. Being the Speaker of the House, though, he did have much say in who became president. Clay convinced the House to elect John Quincy Adams as president. Adams agreed to make Clay the Secretary of State for getting him into office. The public felt that a "corrupt bargain" had taken place because Andrew Jackson had received the popular vote.
A Yankee Misfit in the White House
John Quincy Adams was a strong nationalist and he supported the building of national roads and canals. He also supported education.
Going "Whole Hog" for Jackson in 1828
Before the election of 1824, two parties had formed: National Republicans and Democratic-Republicans (also referred to as just "Democrat"). Adams and Clay were the figures of the National Republicans and Jackson was with the Democratic-Republicans.
Andrew Jackson beat Adams to win the election of 1828. The majority of his support came from the South, while Adams's support came from the North.
"Old Hickory" as President
Jackson was the first president from the West and the second president without a college education.
The Spoils System
When the Democrats took control of the White House, they replaced most public officials with their own people (the common man). These people were illiterate and incompetent. This system of rewarding political supporters with jobs in the government was known as the "spoils system."
The Tricky "Tariff of Abominations"
In 1824, Congress significantly increased the tariff on imports.
The Tariff of 1828: called the "Black Tariff" or the "Tariff of Abominations"; also called the "Yankee Tariff". It was hated by Southerners because it was an extremely high tariff and they felt it discriminated against them. The South was having economic struggles and they used the tariff as a scapegoat for their problems.
In 1822, Denmark Vesey led a slave rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina.
The South Carolina Exposition, made by John C. Calhoun, was published in 1828. It was a pamphlet that denounced the Tariff of 1828 as unjust and unconstitutional.
"Nullies" in the South
In an attempt to meet the South's demands, Congress passed the Tariff of 1832, a slightly lower tariff compared to the Tariff of 1828. It fell short of the South's demands.
The state legislature of South Carolina called for the Columbia Convention. The delegates of the convention called for the tariff to be void in South Carolina. The convention threatened to take South Carolina out of the Union if the Federal government attempted to collect the customs duties by force.
Henry Clay introduced the Tariff of 1833. It gradually reduced the Tariff of 1832 by about 10% over 8 years. By 1842, the rates would be back at the level of 1816.
The compromise Tariff of 1833 ended the dispute over the Tariff of 1832 between the South and the White House. The compromise was supported by South Carolina but not much by the other southern states.
Prior to the compromise, Congress had passed the Force Bill, which authorized the Federal government to use force to collect the tariffs.
The Trail of Tears
Jackson's Democrats were committed to western expansion, but such expansion meant confrontation with the Indians who inhabited the land east of the Mississippi.
The Society for Propagating the Gospel Among Indians was founded in 1787 to Christianize Indians.
The "Five Civilized Tribes" were the Cherokees, Creeks, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles. These tribes made efforts to assimilate into white culture. President Jackson wanted to move the Indians so Americans could expand.
Despite Supreme Court rulings that consistently favored the Indians' land rights, Congress passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830. It moved more than 100,000 Indians living east of the Mississippi to reservations west of the Mississippi. Many Indians died on forced marches along the Trail of Tears.
Black Hawk led Indians to fight against the relocation in the Black Hawk War of 1832. The Indians were defeated.
The Seminoles in Florida retreated to the Everglades, fighting for several years until they retreated deeper into the Everglades or were moved to the Oklahoma area.
The Bank War
President Andrew Jackson despised the Bank of the United States because he felt it was very monopolistic.
The Bank of the United States was a private institution that was not accountable to the people; it was only accountable to its investors. The bank minted gold and silver coins. Nicholas Biddle, the president of the Bank of the United States, held an immense and possibly unconstitutional amount of power over the nation's financial affairs.
The Bank War erupted in 1832 when Daniel Webster and Henry Clay presented Congress with a bill to renew the Bank's charter. Clay wanted to make it an issue for the election of 1832. He felt that if Jackson signed off on the bill, then Jackson would alienate the people of the West who hated the Bank. If Jackson vetoed the bill, then he would alienate the wealthy class of the East who supported the Bank. Clay did not account for the fact that the wealthy class was now a minority. Jackson vetoed the bill, calling the Bank unconstitutional.
The veto showed that Jackson felt that the Executive Branch had more power than the Judicial Branch in determining the Constitutionality of the Bank of the United States. This was despite the fact that the Supreme Court had already ruled that the Bank was constitutional in McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819).
"Old Hickory" Wallops Clay in 1833
A third party entered the election in the election of 1832: The Anti-Masonic party. The party hated the Masonic Order, a secret society, because it thought the Order was comprised of privileged, elite people. Although Jackson was supported egalitarianism and "the common man", he was a Mason himself; therefore the Anti-Masons were an anti-Jackson party. It gained support from evangelical Protestant groups.
The Jacksonians (Democrats) were opposed to government involvement in social and economic life.
Andrew Jackson was reelected in 1832.
Burying Biddle's Bank
The Bank of the United States's charter expired in 1836. Jackson wanted to make sure that the Bank was destroyed.
In 1833, 3 years before the Bank's charter expired, Jackson decided to remove federal deposits from its vaults. Jackson proposed depositing no more funds in the bank and he gradually shrunk existing deposits by using the funds to pay for day-to-day expenditures of the government.
The death of the Bank of the United States left a financial vacuum in the American economy. Surplus federal funds were placed in several dozen state banks that were politically supportive of Jackson ("pet banks").
Smaller, wildcat banks in the west had begun to issue their own currency. But this "wildcat" currency was extremely unreliable because its value was based upon the value of the bank from which it was issued. In 1836, "wildcat" currency had become so unreliable that Jackson told the Treasury to issue a Specie Circular, a decree that required all public lands to be purchased with metallic money. This drastic step contributed greatly to the financial panic of 1837.
The Birth of the Whigs
The Whigs were conservatives who supported government programs, reforms, and public schools. They called for internal improvements like canals, railroads, and telegraph lines.
The Whigs claimed to be defenders of the common man and declared the Democrats the party of corruption. They absorbed the Anti-Masonic Party.
The Election of 1836
Martin Van Buren was Andrew Jackson's choice as his successor in the election of 1836. He won the election. General William Henry Harrison was one of the Whig's many presidential nominees. The Whigs did not win because they did not unite behind just one candidate.
Depression Doldrums and the Independent Treasury
The basic cause of the panic of 1837 was rampant speculation by banks. (Banks gave a lot of loans to people/businesses who, in the end, could not afford to repay the loans.) Jacksonian's financial policies also contributed to the panic. In 1836, the failure of two British banks caused British investors to call in foreign loans. These loans were the beginning of the panic.
The panic of 1837 caused hundreds of banks to collapse, commodity prices to drop, sales of public to fall, and the loss of jobs.
The Whigs proposed government policies to fix the economic downturn: expansion of bank credit, higher tariffs, subsidies for internal improvement. Van Buren rejected these proposals because he wanted to keep government involvement out of the economy.
Van Buren proposed the Divorce Bill. Not passed by Congress, it called for separating the government and banking.
The Independent Treasury Bill was passed in 1840. An independent treasury would be established and government funds would be locked in vaults.
Gone to Texas
Mexico won its independence from Spain in 1821. Because of this, ownership of Texas passed from Spain to Mexico. Mexico gave a large chunk of Texas land to Stephen Austin, who promised to bring families into Texas.
Texans differed in many ways from the Mexicans, including the fact that Mexicans were against slavery, while the Texans supported it.
Santa Anna: dictator of Mexico; in 1835, he removed Texans' local rights and started to raise army to suppress the rebelling Texans.
The Lone Star Rebellion
Texas declared its independence in 1836. Sam Houston: commander in chief for Texas army.
General Houston forced Santa Anna to sign a treaty in 1836 after Houston had captured Santa Anna in the Battle of San Jacinto. The treaty defined the Rio Grande as the southwestern boundary of an independent Texas.
The Texans wanted to become a state in the United States, but the northerners did not want this because of the issue of slavery: admitting Texas would mean one more slave state.
Log Cabins and Hard Cider of 1840
William Henry Harrison defeated Van Buren to win the election of 1840 for the Whigs.
Politics for the People
There were 2 major changes in politics after the Era of Good Feelings that were highlighted by the election of 1840:
1) Politicians who were too clean, too well dressed, too grammatical, and too intellectual were not liked. Aristocracy was not liked by the American people. The common man was moving to the center of the national political stage.
The Two-Party System
2) There was a formation of a two-party system. The two parties consisted of the Democrats and the Whigs (the National Republican Party had died out). Jacksonian Democrats supported individual liberties, states' rights, and federal restraint in social and economic affairs. The Whigs supported the natural harmony of society and the value of community, a renewed national bank, protective tariffs, internal improvements, public schools, and moral reforms, such as the prohibition of liquor and the abolition of slavery.