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Democracy in america

Chapter 10


Democracy: A form of government in which people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choose governing officials to do so ("representative democracy")

The social bases for the flourishing democracy of the early mid-nineteenth century are the property-owning system, the right to vote, the Information Revolution and a racial based-on democracy

The major areas of conflict between nationalism and sectionalism were differences between the two notions. Nationalism is the love of the country and the willingness to sacrifice for it. Meanwhile sectionalism is loyalty to a region rather than a country.

Andrew Jackson

The Bank War

The triumph of democracy

Property qualifications for voting were eliminated by older states in 1860 but Rhode Island was an exception.

A movement in Rhode Island against property qualifications for voting was born. It’s called the Dorr War. The movement formed an extralegal constitutional convention for the state in October 1841 with a referendum and they elected Thomas Dorr as a governor, but was quashed by federal troops dispatched by President John Tyler. This new constitution gave the right to vote to all adult white men while eliminating full blacks. Dorr War demonstrated the passions aroused by the continuing exclusion of any group of white men from voting. By 1840 more than 90% of adult white men were eligible to vote. But the country lacked traditional nationality. Indeed, democratic political institutions came to define a nation's sense of its own identity.

There are two works, published in 1835 and 1840, by the French thinker Alexis de Tocqueville on the subject of American democracy. Tocqueville stressed the cultural nature of American democracy, and the importance and prevalence of equality in American life. Democracy was more than the right to vote or a particular set of political institutions. Democracy was a habit of the heart for him and was a culture that encouraged freedom but also individual initiative, belief in equality and active public sphere populated by numerous voluntary organizations.

The triumph of democracy

The market revolution during the political democracy produced an expansion of the public sphere and an explosion in printing, this process is called the "information revolution". Steam power helped the proliferation of the penny press and the reduction in printing costs also resulted in the creation of alternative newspapers in the 1820s and 1830s, such as the first native American newspaper called "The Liberator and Cherokee Phoenix". New York Sun and New York Herald are newspapers that introduced a new style of journalism, emphasizing sensationalism.

Since democracy was central to freedom and nationality, they needed to define boundaries. "Principle of universal suffrage" meant that "white males of age constituted the political nation", wrote the United States Magazine and Democratic Review in 1851. Gender and racial differences were understood as part of a single, natural hierarchy of innate endowments White males were inherently superior in character and abilities. As with the market revolution, women and blacks were barred from full democracy. They were denied on the basis of natural incapacity.

It was a racial democracy. Blacks were portrayed as stupid, dishonest, and ridiculous in theatrical presentations by whites in blackface. During the Revolutionary era : Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia were the only ones to explicitly confine vote to whites. Other states made voting difficult for blacks though. In 1800, no northern states barred blacks from voting. Every state that entered the union after 1800 (except Maine) limited the right to vote to white males. By 1860, blacks could only vote in 5 New England states (4% of the nation's free black population). In effect, race had replaced class as the boundary between free men who could vote. New white immigrant male could vote immediately upon immigration, free blacks who were residents for years could not.

Review question:
How did the expansion of white male democracy run counter to the ideals of the founders, who believed the government should be sheltered from excessive influence by ordinary people?

Nationalism and its discontents

The War of 1812 is a national pride. The Bank of the United States expired in 1811, the country lacked a uniform currency. They found it impossible to raise funds for the war effort. But a new manufacturing sector emerged from the War of 1812, and many believed that it was a necessary complement to the agricultural sector for national growth.

Unfortunately the transportation was still primitive : one shipment from New England took 75 days to reach New Orleans. But John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay believed infant industries deserved national protection. The American System is a program of internal improvements and protective tariffs promoted by Speaker of the House Henry Clay in his presidential campaign in 1824 ; his proposals formed the core of Whig ideology in the 1830s and 1840s. And it will become a blueprint for government promoted economic development. The plan rested on 3 pillars :
- New national bank
- A tariff on imported manufactured goods to protect American industry
- Federal financing of improved roads and canals that were important to unity.

In March 1817, on eve of retirement from office, President James Madison vetoed the bill. He changed his mind because allowing the government to exercise power not mentioned in the constitution would be dangerous to individual liberty and southern interests.

Two parts did become law :
- Tariff of 1816 which intended to protect certain American goods against foreign competition and was supported by southerners ;
- Bank of the United States : with a 21 year chapter from Congress.

Review question:
What were the components of the American System, and how were they designed to promote the national economy under the guidance of the federal government?

Nationalism and its discontents

The Second Bank was resented by the public, like the first bank it was a private, profit making corporation that acted as governments financial agent. With it, they issued paper money, collected taxes and paid government debts. It was also meant to make sure other banks issued money with real value. Local banks promoted economic growth by printing money. The value of paper currency fluctuated wildly. Paper money consisted of notes promising to pay back bearer on demand a specified amount of “specie”. Specie is a "hard money" which refers to gold and silver currency. They often printed more money than gold or silver in their vault. The Bank of United States was supposed to correct this by preventing over-issuance of money.

Instead of regulating the printing of money, the Bank of the United States participated in a speculative fever that swept the country after the end of War of 1812. Resumption of trade with Europe created a huge overseas market for cotton and grain and so a rapid expansion of settlement into the west. Therefore there were high loan demands for land purchases, especially in the South (the Cotton Kingdom was expanding) but banks were happy to lend so they printed more money. Early in 1819, as European demand for American farm products returned to normal levels, the economic bubble burst. Banks asked for repayments, farmers and businessmen declared bankruptcy and unemployment rose in eastern cities. The Panic of 1819 was a financial collapse brought on by sharply falling cotton prices, declining demand for American exports, and reckless western land speculation. States suspended collection of debts by creditors. But Kentucky established a state bank and flooded the state with money that creditors were required to accept in repayment of loans.

In conclusion, the Panic of 1819 eased burden on indebted farmers, hurt creditors, deepened American distrust in banks and made states retaliate against nation banks by taxing its local branches. McCulloch v. Maryland was an U.S. Supreme Court decision that happened in 1819 in which Chief Justice John Marshall, holding that Maryland could not tax the Second Bank of the United States, supported the authority of the federal government versus the states. The Bank of the United States was constitutional. It reasserted broad interpretation of governmental power and declared the Bank a legitimate exercise of congressional authority under the Constitution’s “necessary and proper” clause.

Nationalism and its discontents

In 1816, James Monroe defeated Federalists candidate Rufus King. It was the beginning of the Era of Good Feelings, a contemporary characterization of the administration of popular Republican president James Monroe. His two terms in office were a one-party government. It means that there was the absence of two-party competition and so politics was organized along lines of competing section interests.

The absence of political party disputes was replaced by sectional disputes. In 1819, Congress considered the request of Missouri to draft a Constitution in preparation for statehood. James Tallmadge a Republican congressman moved that further slave introduction should be prohibited and children of whose already in Missouri should be freed at 25 years old.

Tallmadge’s proposal sparked 2-year controversy and the Republican unity shattered along sectional lines. His restrictions passed House (supported by North) but debate arose over slavery. So the Missouri Compromise was adopted by Congress in 1820.

It was a deal proposed by Illinois Senator Jesse Thomas to resolve the slave/free imbalance in Congress that would result from Missouri's admission as a slave state and its draft of the Constitution without Tallmadge’s restriction ; Maine's admission as a free state offset Missouri, and slavery being prohibited in the remainder of the Louisiana Territory north of the southern border of Missouri. The Missouri debate highlighted that the westward expansion of slavery was apassionate topic and would prove to be a fatal issue.

Review question:
How did the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis demonstrate increasing sectional competition and disagreements over slavery?

Nation, section, and party

From 1810 to 1822, Spain’s Latin American colonies rose in rebellion and established independent nations, including Mexico, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru. In 1822, Monroe's administration became the 1st government to extend diplomatic recognition to new Latin American republics. By 1825, Spain’s American empire was reduced to Islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico. The empire crisis in Spanish-American was the same as in British-America, there was trouble when trying to raise finance. Spanish local elites wanted the same power as residents in the United States. The Spanish-American declarations of Independence were borrowed directly from the US. The new Latin-American constitutions were more democratic than that of the US. They sought to create a single national “people” out of diverse populations that made up the Spanish empire. To do so, they extended the right to vote to free blacks and Indians. Blacks's participation in wars set in motion the abolition of slavery.

Fearing that Spain would try to regain its colonies, James Monroe's Secretary of State John Quincy Adams drafted the Monroe Doctrine. It was President James Monroe's declaration to Congress on December 2, 1823, which said that the American continents would be thenceforth closed to European colonization, and that the United States would not interfere in European affairs. John Quincy Adams was devoted to consolidating the power of the national government at home and abroad.

With the Monroe doctrine, US would oppose any further efforts at colonization by European powers in the Americas, US would abstain from involvement in wars of Europe and they warned European powers not to interfere with newly formed independent states of Latin America. It is sometimes called the “America’s diplomatic declaration of independence”. They then claimed the US as a dominant power in Western Hemisphere.

Review question:
What global changes prompted the Monroe Doctrine? What were its key provisions? How does it show America's growing international presence?

Nation, section, and party

A few words about the Election of 1824.

Andrew Jackson was the only candidate in the 1824 election to have a national appeal. None of the four candidates received a majority of the electoral votes. The election fell to the House of Representatives. Andrew Jackson was popular for military victories over the British at the Battle of New Orleans and over the Creek and Seminole Indians.

John Quincy Adams was a republican and the republican leaders insisted it was time for the South to relinquish presidency, so his support was concentrated in New England and North.

William H. Crawford (the Secretary of the Treasury of Georgia) wanted to create a party to reaffirm the principles of states’ rights and limited government, he represented South’s Old Republicans.

Lastly, Henry Clay (from Kentucky) was popular but his support laid primarily in West. He was soon eliminated but he gave his support to Adams believing Jackson’s election would hurt his own presidential ambitions.

Jackson won most votes but not a majority of all votes (because there were 4 candidates) so the choice among the other 3 fell to the House of Representative. Henry Clay, the Speaker of the House, convinced them to elect Adams rather than Jackson. But the corrupt bargain that occurred will follow him during all his career. Nonetheless, even if it was a bartering of votes, the House chose Adams, believing he was the most qualified and that he was most likely to promote the American System. This election laid groundwork for a new system of political parties. The supporters of Jackson and Crawford were from the Democratic Party and the supporters of Adams and Clay were from the Whig Party of 1830s.

Nation, section, and party

John Quincy Adams enjoyed one of the most distinguished pre-presidential careers
of any American president. At 8, he witnessed the Battle of Bunker Hill. At 14, he
worked as private secretary and French interpreter for an American envoy in Europe.
He served as ambassador to Prussia, the Netherlands, Britain, and Russia. And he
was also the Senator of Massachusetts.

Adams had a clear vision of national greatness, he supported the American System
of government-sponsored economic development. When he was abroad, he hoped
to encourage American commerce throughout the world (the Monroe Doctrine
illustrated this). He also wished to enhance American influence in the Western
Hemisphere. Adams viewed the federal government as very expansive but
nonetheless his plans included establishment of : national universities, astronomical
observatories and naval academies. He was a passionate expansionist and believed that the US would peacefully absorb Canada, Cuba, and part of Mexico.

He's the one who stated "Liberty is power”. His plans alarmed many because they considered him as a strict constitutionalist. His vision would not be fulfilled until the twentieth century even though he spent more time on internal improvements than all 5 predecessors combined. He also enacted a steep increase in tariff rates in 1828.

Adams’s program handed his political rivals a powerful weapon. Since the rallying cries of Jackson's supporters were for individual liberty, state’s rights, and limited government, they decided to organize for the election of 1828 as soon as possible.

Nation, section, and party

Martin Van Buren, a NY senator began organizing Jackson’s support for the election of 1828.
Martin Van Buren viewed political party competition as a necessary and positive influence to
achieve national unity. He represented a new political era after the old politics' style of Adams
even though he was only the son of a tavern keeper.

Van Buren believed political parties were necessary and desirable, unlike the founding generation
who believed they were dangerous and diversive. Political parties for Van Buren offered voters a
real chance in elections, would counteract sectionalism and formed a bond of unity in a divided
nation. But he wanted most of all to set out to reconstruct Jeffersonian political alliance between
Southern planters and plain republic (farmers and urban workers) of the North.

By 1828, Van Buren had established the political apparatus of the Democratic Party. Local and
state party units were overseen by the national committee. Andrew Jackson campaigned against
John Adams in 1828. Network of local newspapers were devoted to Jackson's party and election.
There was a general commitment to limited government. Jackson’s campaign was based on more
manliness than intellect : Jackson could fight and Adams could write. Jackson's opponents
declared him a murderer for executing army deserters and killing men in duels. Jackson won by
landslide because he carried the South, the West and Pennsylvania. Jackson’s election was the 1st to demonstrate how the advent of universal white male voting, organized by national parties, had transformed American politics.

Review question:
According to Martin Van Buren, why were political parties a desirable element of public life? What did he do to build the party system?

Nation, section, and party

While the political situation was going on its own way, the social world was unfair.

The rejection of black people and women from the right to vote was seen as “natural”. But why exactly? In 1852, the New York Herald wrote, while talking about women: “By her nature, her sex, just as the negro is and always will be, to the end of time, inferior to the white race, and, therefore, doomed to subjection.”. This extract shows the inferiority of women and black people in the mind of the population.

Another point that explains this rejection of women in the political field is that they were supposed to be dangerous in politics since they were more prone to be swayed by passion (contrary to men who were supposedly governed by reason). Women were seen as too pure for the world of politics. During the nineteenth century, women were supposed to play their role in the house, and not anywhere else.

To sum it up, people believed that non-whites and women were inferior by nature and that it would never change.
Philadelphia memoralists insist on the fact that the Commission literally denied the part of the Constitution where it says “all men are born equally free”.

In both of these texts, political freedom is associated with citizenship. In the first one, people who don’t own enough property are denied the right to vote, putting them in the same place as women and black people. In the second one, it’s the right to vote of the black community that is being revoked without any apparent reason that leads to a protest about freedom and citizenship.

Voice of Freedom question:
What “obvious reasons” exclude women, children, non-citizens, and slaves from the right to vote?
How do the Philadelphia memorialists link their claims to the legacy of the American Revolution?
How similar are the definitions of political freedom in the two documents?

The Age of Jackson

Jackson proclaimed himself champion of the common man. But his vision of democracy not only excluded Indians, because he believed they should be pushed west of Mississippi River, but also Blacks, because he wants them to remain slaves or be freed and shipped abroad, and Strong nationalists were also excluded because he believed that states (not D.C.) should be a focal point of governmental activity.

Politics had become a spectacle with a series of political contests. Every year there were elections to some office (local, state, or national). Parades and rallies were made by political parties. And politicians were popular heroes with mass followings and nicknames : Jackson was called the Old Hickory, Clay was Harry of the West and Van Buren was called the Little Magician (or Sly Fox to critics).

Party machines headed by professional politicians emerged. It provided jobs to constituents and ensured voters went to polls. The Spoils System was born, it was a term that originated in Andrew Jackson's first term, and it basically meant the filling of federal government jobs with persons loyal to the party of the president.

Government posts should be open to the people, not reserved for a privileged class. That's why it introduced the principle of rotation in office (the spoils system). There were political innovations : like national conventions choosing the candidates. Also the fact that every town had its Democratic and Whig newspapers to present the party's position on political issues. Jackson’s kitchen cabinet (his informal group of advisors) consisted mostly of newspaper editors.

Review question:
How did Andrew Jackson represent the major developments of the era : westward movement, the market revolution, and the expansion of democracy for some alongside the limits on it for others?

The Age of Jackson

Politics revolved around issues spawned by market revolution and tension between national and sectional loyalties. Democrats and Whigs approached issues that emerged from the market revolution differently. Democrats favored no government intervention in the economy and Whigs supported government promotion of the economy.

The Democratic Party Issues were made by Jackson's supporters. They were alarmed by the widening gap between social classes, they warned “nonproducers” (merchants, bankers, speculators) were seeking to use connections with government to enhance wealth to the disadvantage of the “producing class” (farmers, artisans, laborers), they thought government should be hands-off toward economy and they wanted to enable the ordinary to fair competition of self-regulating market. These issues attracted : entrepreneurs, farmers, city workingmen and slaveholders.

The Whigs Party Issues on the other hand was united behind the American System believing it could guide economic development with : protective tariff, national bank and aid to internal improvements. They were the strongest in the Northeast and they wanted government-supported economic growth. They established businessmen, bankers, farmers in regions near rivers, canals, and the Great Lakes, and largest Southern planters.

The party battles of the Jacksonian era reflected the clash between public and private definitions of American freedom and their relationship to governmental power.
Democrats supported a weak federal government, championing individual and states’ rights and thought governmental power was a threat to liberty. During Jackson’s presidency, Democrats : reduced expenditures, lowered the tariff, abolished the national bank and refused pleas for federal aid to internal improvements. Liberty for them meant the absence of government from private affairs. Democrats opposed attempts to impose a unified moral vision on society. Whigs believed that a strong federal government was necessary to promote liberty. Whigs argued that the role of government was to promote the welfare of the people. Whigs thought an activist national government would : enhance the realm of freedom, create conditions for balanced and regulated economic development and so lead to a general prosperity. They rejected the idea that the government must not interfere with private life. Freedom to them required moral agents and certain character traits. Whigs were supported by Evangelical Protestants because they believed that “principles of morality" could be instilled with public education, the building of schools and asylums, the temperance legislation which restricted or outlawed production and sale of liquor and added laws prohibiting various types of entertainment on Sundays.

To sum it up, local Whig authorities, to shape public morals (during Jacksonian Era) : banned prostitution, banned alcohol consumption and regulated personal behavior. Nonetheless by 1835, Jackson managed to pay off the nation's debt, it resulted in states replacing the federal government as the country's main economic influencer and planned systems of canals and roads, chartering banks and other corporations.

Review question:
What were the key issues that divided the Democratic and Whig parties? Where did each party stand on those issues?

The Age of Jackson

Despite Jackson’s commitment to state’s rights, his first term was dominated by a battle to uphold the supremacy of federal over state law.

The tariff of Abominations as called in South Carolina was passed in 1828 by Parliament to tax imported goods at a very high rate and it had aroused strong opposition in the South. South Carolina threatened to nullify it because they believed tariff put North at an advantage and because they wanted to weaken the federal govnerment before taking anti-slavery actions.

South Carolina declared the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void and forbade the collection of those duties. That's what is called the Ordinance of Nullification.

Review question:
How did Andrew Jackson represent the major developments of the era : westward movement, the market revolution, and the expansion of democracy for some alongside the limits on it for others?

The Age of Jackson

John C. Calhoun, the Vice President of South Carolina, emerged as the leading theorist of nullification. Exposition and Protest was the document he wrote in 1828 to protest the so-called Tariff of Abominations, which seemed to favor northern industry. He introduced the concept of state interposition and became the basis for South Carolina's Nullification Doctrine of 1833.

For Daniel Webster the people were the one who can create the Constitution. It created the Webster-Hayne Debate. It's an U.S. Senate debate of January 1830 between Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Robert Hayne of South Carolina over nullification and states' rights. The South ended going from being nationalists to the defender of southern sectionalism.

As we saw earlier, Daniel Webster argued that the people, not the states, created the Constitution. Calhoun and Jackson disagreed about the meaning of liberty, union and nullification. Then happened the Nullification Crisis, that is the 1832 attempt by the State of South Carolina to nullify, or invalidate within its borders, the 1832 federal tariff law.

President Jackson responded with the Force Act of 1833, that authorized the president's use of the army to compel states to comply with federal law. Calhoun left the Democratic Party for the Whigs and South Carolina revoked nullification of tariff.

Review question:
How did the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis demonstrate increasing sectional competition and disagreements over slavery?

The Age of Jackson

The slave states's onward march of cotton cultivation pressured remaining Indian holdings. So basically, the expansion of cotton and slavery forced the relocation of Indians. The Indian Removal Act was a 1830 law signed by President Andrew Jackson that permitted the negotiation of treaties to obtain the Indians' (or the Natives) lands in exchange for their relocation to what would become Oklahoma.

There were funds provided for the uprooting Five civilized tribes : Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole that were living in North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. They were considered civilized by whites because they followed many of their practices, such as establishing schools, adopting written laws, having constitution modeled after US's one, becoming successful farmers and owning slaves. The law marked a repudiation of the Jeffersonian idea that civilized Indians could be assimilated into the American population. Cherokee had already established laws that were nullified by Jackson. Indians went to court to protect their rights guaranteed in treaties with the federal government. And they forced the Supreme Court to clarify the status of American-Indians.

In 1823 happened the Johnson v. M’Intosh, the Court proclaimed that Indians were not in fact owners of their land, but merely had a "right of occupancy.". Firstly the Cherokees went to court to protect their rights. Cherokee Nation v. Georgia happened in 1831. The Cherokees argued that they were a separate nation and therefore not under Georgia's jurisdiction. Chief Justice John Marshall claimed in the early colonial era, Indians were nomads and hunters, not farmers. Marshall described Indians as the “wards” of the federal government. They deserved paternal regard and protection but not citizens (which would have forced the Supreme Court to enforce their rights). Justices could not block Georgia’s effort to extend jurisdiction over the tribe. So in 1832 during Worcester v. Georgia happened a Supreme Court case that held that the Indian nations were distinct peoples who could not be dealt with by the states—instead, only the federal government could negotiate with them. President Jackson refused to enforce the ruling. Georgia’s actions violated the Cherokee treaty with Washington. Jackson refused to enforce it and dared John Marshall to do it.

William Apess appealed for harmony between white Americans and Indians and John Ross led Cherokee resistance. They called their resistance the Trail of Tears. It was Cherokees' own term for their forced removal that happened between 1838-1839, from the Southeast to Indian lands (later Oklahoma); 4,000 died on the way. The Seminoles fought a war against removal between 1835 and 1842 in Florida. It ended with Indians being forced to move west. The removal of Indians reinforced racial definition of American nationhood and freedom.

Review question:
What were the major economic, humanitarian, political, and social arguments for and against Indian removal?

The Bank War and after

The central political struggle of Jackson was the war on the Bank of the United States. It was called the Bank War, and was a political struggle in the early 1830s between President Jackson and financier Nicholas Biddle over the renewing of the Second Bank's charter. The bank symbolized hopes and fears of market revolution. The expansion of banking helped finance national economic development. Many (including Jackson) distrusted bankers and “nonproducers” that contributed nothing to nations wealth but profited from the labor of others. The tendency to overissue paper money made a reduction in real income of wage earners.

Nicolas Biddle of Pennsylvania was the Bank head. In the 1820s, Biddle used institutional power to stop over issuing of money by local banks and to create a stable national currency. In 1832, he told Congress that his bank could destroy any state bank. Democrats therefore questioned if any institution (public or private) could hold such power. He called his bank the “Monster Bank" and it was an illegitimate union of political authority and entrenched economic privilege.

In 1832, Biddle’s allies persuaded Congress to approve a 20 year extension for the bill that was originally set to expire in 36’. Jackson saw this as a blackmail : if he didn’t sign the bill, the bank would use resources to oppose his reelection. So Jackson vetoed the bill. It was unacceptable in a democratic government, for Congress to create a source of concentrated power and economic privilege unaccountable to the people. And Jackson was the defender of “humble” Americans.

This whole Bank War reflected how Jackson enhanced the power of presidency over 8 years in office and how he proclaimed himself the representative of all the people. Indeed he was the 1st president to use veto power as a weapon and to appeal directly to the public for support over Congress. Jackson won the reelection in 1832 over the Whig candidate Henry Clay. His victory ensured the death of the Bank of the United States.

Review question:
Explain the causes and effects of the Panic of 1837.

The Bank War and after

By 1836 gold or silver was required by the American government and the Bank of England for payments. With cotton exports declining, the United States suffered a panic in 1837 and a depression until 1843. Two different groups supported Jackson’s veto : on one hand the advocates who wished to free themselves from Biddle’s regulations. They used soft money, which means the paper currency issued by banks. And on the other hand the people who were opposed to all banks and used hard money, it means gold and silver currency (called specie) as the only reliable form of currency. Jackson didn’t want to wait for the Bank of US to expire in 1836. So he authorized the removal of federal funds from vaults and deposits into local banks. These local banks were called the pet banks, they received deposits while the charter of the Bank of the United States was about to expire in 1836. The choice of these banks was influenced by political and personal connections. Two secretaries of the Treasury refused to make the transfer because a law that created the bank specified that government funds could not be removed except for a good cause as communicated to Congress.

Then Jackson appointed Attorney General Roger B. Taney ( a loyal Maryland Democrat) to the Treasury post. He carried out his orders, so as a reward in 1835, Jackson appointed Taney to Chief Justice. But there were consequences of the removal of federal deposits. The US lost ability to regulate activity of state banks, the prices rose dramatically, the real wages (actual value of workers pay) declined, the labor unions emerged as an attempt to protect earnings of urban workers and speculators bought huge blocks of land and resold them to farmers or eastern purchasers.

Martin Van Buren in reaction to this Panic, approved the Independent Treasury to deal with the crisis. Van Buren was forced to deal with depression. Under Van Buren, the hard-money anti-bank wing of the Democratic party came to power but the Independent Treasury splitted the Democratic party. Between 1837 and 1840 the Independent treasury moved federal funds from pet banks to the Treasury Department. It would be repealed by Whigs in 1841 and reinstated in 1846 by James K. Polk. At the same time, Calhoun went back to the Democrats as Van Buren's old nemesis.

Review question:
Explain the causes and effects of the Panic of 1837.

The Bank War and after

Van Buren could not hold democratic party without Jackson's popularity. During the Election of 1840, Whigs nominated William Henry Harrison for president because he was a common man and a war hero. The Whigs lied about him, saying he lived in a log cabin and sat on his front porch and drank hard cider.

The election was considered the first modern presidential campaign because all the advertising was done for him. Harrison's presidential administration was the shortest because he caught pneumonia during his long inauguration speech and died after one month of being president.

John Tyler took over as his running mate on the Election. Tyler vetoed the majority of bills and measures to enact the American System. Most of his cabinet resigned and parties wanted no association with him, but without a party behind him the president could not govern.


This period was politically, economically, and socially complex : the Whigs and the Democrats fought each other with different elections, and the arrival of Andrew Jackson as president changed a lot of things ; his use of the veto, for example, was extraordinary.
Economically, the Second Bank of the United States had mixed results : the Panics of 1819 and 1837 show the fragility of the economic aspect of the USA, even though the tariff on manufactured goods, for example, was supposed to consolidate the economy and make the United States a more independent country.

Socially speaking, the rights of women, black people and Indians were still not recognized. Even though black people had the right to vote in five states, it only represented a very small percentage of the population. The Indian Removal didn’t even take into account the Indians who truly became part of their society, and going from “owners of the land” to a simple “right of occupancy” changed a lot for Indians up to the point where they were forced to move to the West.

The situation of the United States is clearer in the political domain, but the rights of certain people were sadly still discussed at this period.