Development Of American Society During Andrew Jackson's Presidency

908 words - 4 pages

Following the transformation of the American society after the War of 1812 and preceding the Civil War, the two terms of President Andrew Jackson proved to be a crucial time in the development of American society. Jackson and his supporters convinced themselves, and many Americans, that they were, in fact, protectors of American ideals. In their eyes, they remained true to the roots and foundations of the United States. But, in reality, the Democratic party of the 1820s and 1830s did quite the opposite, limiting state’s rights by denouncing nullification, infringing upon the liberties of numerous individuals, including thousands of Native Americans, and instituting social and economic unrest through the institution of high tariffs and the manipulation of class mentality. It is not a stretch to assert that many of the government’s decisions during Jackson’s presidency greatly contributed to the bloody Civil War that would ensue just thirty years later.
Possibly one of the largest debates (apart from the bank controversy) of the Jackson era was the controversy over nullification. President Jackson and John C. Calhoun, his vice-president, locked horns over the idea that each state possessed the right to nullify, within its borders, federals laws it deemed unconstitutional. The issue was spurred by the Tariff of 1828 which imposed a high protective duty that favored western agriculture and northern manufacturing but forced Southerners to pay more for manufactured goods. Moreover, the tariff threatened to reduce the sale of British textile products to the U.S. and, in turn, lower British demand for cotton. Calhoun encouraged Southern states to nullify the tariff within their borders as, he believed, only tariffs that raised revenue for common governmental purposes like military defense were constitutional. Jackson, outraged by the acts of South Carolina in voting for nullification, signed into law the Force Bill which authorized him to use arms to collect custom duties. Jackson’s act of implementing military force in defending his position against state’s rights, revealed the inconsistencies of his character due to the fact that, earlier in his term, he had taken a stand that favored state’s liberties.
What could be argued as the most infamous line from the Declaration of Independence – “all men are created equal” – immediately comes to mind when perceiving the actions of President Jackson and his Democratic supporters in regard to Native and African Americans. Asserting to be guardians of the Constitution and, subsequently, personal liberties, Jackson exposed the hypocrisy of his creed in both his previous ownership of a plantation full of slaves and his passing of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Partly fueled by Jackson’s hatred of independent Indian nations and partly fueled by his abhorrence of Supreme...

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