How Democratic was Andrew Jackson?
How Democratic was Andrew Jackson? Democracy is defined as rule by the people, either exercised directly or through elected representatives. Politically, being a democracy basically means the people have a say in government. A democratic person would typically believe in voting rights for all adults, the right to run for political office, freedom of speech, majority rule, and so on. Andrew Jackson is the main political leader connected so often with this type of government, and he’s said to be the founder of the Democratic Party, but he certainly was not democratic in all circumstances.
The political and economic aspects were fairly democratic, although could be undemocratic as well, but his Native American policies did not show democracy whatsoever. Politically, Jackson had many true democratic beliefs, such as universal male suffrage. He had lowered the voting qualifications so all white males, regardless of property ownership, could vote. Also, as shown In the Methods of Electing Presidential Electors chart (Document 1).
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the number of states using voting from the people were rising compared to the number who used the legislature. In 1816, before
Jackson’s influence, all admitted states had selected electors through the legislature, and nearing the end of Jackson’s presidency In 1836, all states but one used selection by the people. Another example of Jackson’s democratic beliefs would be The Spoils System he established, which replaced corrupt federal employees with supporters in public office. Jackson says in his letter to Congress (Document 6) “The duties of all public offices are… so plain and simple that men of Intelligence may readily qualify… no one man has any more… right to (government Jobs) than another. This was meant o give all men the right to run for offce, which is a basic democratic idea, but the opposing side should also be recognized that it could be undemocratic if uncontrolled. overall, even though some of his Ideas could be Interpreted as undemocratic, he was mainly democratic in a political sense. Andrew Jackson had mainly democratic ideas when It came to economics, although there were some problems that could have been undemocratic too. He was in opposition to the US National Bank because he felt it was dangerous, unconstitutional, and they had too much unregulated power as he points out In his
Bank Veto Message to Congress (Document 4). He says “It appears that more than a fourth part of the stock is held by foreigners and the rest is held… chiefly of the richest class. ” Jackson strongly opposed this power because “It (was) easy to conceive that great evils to our country… mlght flow from such a concentration of power in the hands of a few men Irresponsible to the people. ” He wanted the power to be shared among common men, which goes back to the main ideas of democracy: the power is in the people.
Though Jackson had mostly democratic ideas in economics, he did ake mistakes, such as with the Swartwout case (Document 7). He made an executive decision, which he tended to take advantage of at times Van Buren had warned him about Swartwout’s criminal tendencies, and Jackson refused to listen, which was actually a fault that affected him economically and politically. Generally, even though ‘Of2 tnere were exceptlons, Andrew Jackson’s economlc Ideas were oasea upon democratic principles. Lastly, although Jackson was mainly democratic concerning economics and politics, he failed to do so in Native Relations.
Jackson passed the Indian Removal Act in 1830, o almost force the Indians out of their land because he claimed it was necessary we have it for white farmers’ expansion purposes. He surreptitiously made it seem justified in his message to Congress (Document 8) when he explains the situation. He says “By persuasion and force they have been made to retire… Humanity and honor demand that every effort should be made to avert so great a calamity… ‘ suggest for your consideration… setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi… to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes as long as they shall occupy it…
Even though Jackson basically forced them out of the land, he claims “This emigration should be voluntary… ” and he threatens that “if they remain within the limits of the states they must be subject to their laws. ” Approximately 60,000 Natives were forced to migrate, and many even died along the way. All men should be equal in a democratic society, and this clearly shows that Jackson has no respect or care for the Natives, and they are not equal to him. Indians have their own religions and teachings, and their land is very sacred to them, as shown in Document 9.
We wish to remain on the land of our fathers. We have a perfect and original right to remain without interruption or molestation… on the soil which contains the ashes of our beloved men we wish to live- on this soil we wish to die… ” This conveys the Natives strong feelings towards their land which Jackson took much of. Document 10, the Indian Removal map, shows how the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Creek Indians were all kicked way out west into a small territory, simply because Jackson did not respect or care about them, and that aspect is very undemocratic of him.