Jacksonian Democracy


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Jacksonians proved to be both guardians and violators of the Constitution, political democracy, individual liberty, and economic opportunity.

Throughout the Jacksonian era the Jacksonians proved to be violators of the United States Constitution and not the guardians they believed themselves to be. Both the Jacksonians and President Jackson went against the Supreme Courts regarding cases that were said to be constitutional. An instance in which the Jacksonian Democrats violated the Constitution was in the "Trail of Tears". The Supreme Court stated that the Jacksonian Democrats' actions were unconstitutional because they had issued the "Indian Removal Act". By doing this, they were in violation of the treaty of New Echota. In the 1832 decision Worcester v. Georgia, Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the Cherokees had their own land and that they did not need to follow Georgia law in their own territory. This ruling of the Supreme Court did not stop Jacksonians from driving the Cherokees off of their land. Jackson used the Constitution to benefit himself when he vetoed the national bank, even after the Supreme Court had already ruled that the bank was constitutional. When South Carolina declared a reduced tariff void and threatened to secede, President Jackson responded in an unconstitutionally. He threatened to send militia to enforce the tariff and the Jacksonian Congress passed a bill approving this military force, if necessary. This was in direct violation of the Constitution. They continued to violate the Constitution by placing censors on the mail and intercepting abolitionist literature or mail into or from the south. This was an infringement on the Constitution because it violated the first amendment.

The Jacksonians and President Jackson proved to be both keepers and offenders of political democracy. Jacksonians did not protect political democracy for non-white men. The Cherokees and African Americans were persecuted almost entirely by the Jacksonian Democrats. They protected the interests of the poor and rich white-man; protecting the interests of farmers, mechanics, and laborers by keeping the rich from gaining too much power. Jackson and his democrats did a great deal to protect the common man. Universal Manhood Suffrage was also an important factor in the political democracy of the United States. By giving all white men the right to vote it helped lessen the power of the upper class.

Jacksonians protected the individual liberty for the white man. Again, the "Trail of Tears" and the "Indian Removal Act" are examples of times when Jacksonian Democrats were not protectors of individual liberty.

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Even though the courts ruled that the Indians had their own land and didn't need to follow the state laws in their territory, Jackson disregarded the Supreme Court ruling and forced them to move westward. This movement, known as the "Trail of Tears", had devastating and inhumane conditions for the Indians moving west. This violated the Indians' individual liberty to their land, as well as violating the Constitution. The Jacksonians set up a policy of rotation in office in order to give all white men the opportunity to hold public office. Since all men were equal, they believed all men were capable of holding public office. The Jacksonians and Jackson did not guard the individual liberty of women or non-white males. Women and blacks were excluded from most if not all of the individual liberties and freedoms held by white land-owning males. Also, they did not care at all about the rights of Native American Indians. In the Jacksonian era, women were hardly considered thinking people.

The Jacksonian democrats in fact protected economic opportunity. The picture of the Trail of Tears, where Indian tribes were forced to move to reservations, serves as an example of the Jacksonians being guardians of economic opportunity. By removing all Indians from their lands and placing them on reservations, lands opened up for farmers and the economic opportunity for men increased. This opened up many lands for farmers and working men. When dealing with the bank and the Supreme Court, Jackson and the Jacksonians seemed to be always guardians of economic opportunity. Andrew Jackson and the Jacksonian democrats believed that the US bank placed too much control into the hands of a wealthy few. Jackson vetoed the banks recharter in 1832. In an attempt to benefit the lower working classes, he placed the federal money in "pet" banks. Judge Tany, who was a supporter and a person who gave advice to Jackson and the Jacksonians, helped equal opportunity by killing the monopoly of the Charles River Bridge Corporation. This allowed others to compete with that corporation and allowed for economic opportunity to be increased.


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