Topic: Jacksonian Democrats viewed themselves as the guardians of the United States Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty, and equality of economic opportunity.
In light of the following documents and your knowledge of the 1820's and 1830's, to what extent do you agree with the Jacksonians' view of themselves?
Andrew Jackson began a whole new era in American history. Amongst his greatest accomplishments were evoking the "common man" to be interested in government and tailoring democracy to satisfy the same "common man's" needs. Of course, Jackson could not go about making such radical changes without supporters, but that never surfaced as a problem. Jacksonian Democrats, as they came to be called, were great in number during the 1820's and 1830's. They advocated all of the issues that President Jackson did, and did so with great vigor. They thought of themselves very highly because they recognized their responsibilities as American citizens. They realized that as political leaders they had a true purpose- to protect and serve the American people. The Jacksonians justified their view of themselves in their sincere attempts to guard the United States Constitution by both promoting equality of economic opportunity and increasing political democracy, but they had their downfalls with issues of individual liberties.
A main characteristic of the Jacksonian Era was the fight for the common man. As the United States grew in size and age, the stratification of society was inevitable. In the 1820's class distinctions became major issues, greatly due to an unchanging and small upper class. This greatly detracted from the American ideal of equality when it came to economic opportunities. The upper class used their status and government power to push themselves further from the lower classes, making the rich richer and the poor poorer. The Jacksonians arose from these issues and others, as is evidenced in writings of the time, such as "The Working Men's Declaration of Independence" by George Henry Evans. They began to call the public's attention to an oppression by the upper class through many different issues of the time, which was looked down upon by some, such as Daniel Webster in response to Jackson's bank veto. This dealt with the Bank War which was the primary economic dealing of the time in which President Jackson vetoed the recharter of the Bank of the United States. He did so because he found the bank unconstitutional and thought that it was a near-monopoly that only benefited the rich. This stirred public support and brought the class issue to the forefront for many people. Although some looked upon Jackson's decision on the Bank as a bad one, the Jacksonians supported him because they saw it as an attempt to support equality and eliminate a monopoly in the hands of the elite rich. Another such instance that dealt with monopoly and equality of economic opportunity was the Charles River Bridge v. Warren...