Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy
Length: 1470 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)
Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy are the same in just about every regard. Their views and goals as presidents are the same. Both are in favor of the common man and feel that it is the common people who should have the biggest influence on government, not the wealthy aristocrats. They also support states rights and feel that the federal government should not get involved with the states affairs. Both men's actions clearly show that the common man does not include minorities. Both Jackson's and Jefferson's actions and words are very similar and support the same beliefs.
Thomas Jefferson was a strong supporter and spokesman for the common man and self-government. He strongly believed that the purpose of American government is to look after and support the common interests of the people. He was against anything that he felt would hurt the common man such as the Bank of the U.S. and big government. Jefferson believed the Bank was hurting the common man and became a damaging monopoly. "It would swallow up all the delegated powers [of the states], and reduce the whole to one power..."-Jefferson referring to the Bank. He was strongly against big government and felt it would oppress the common man. "I am not a friend of a very energetic government...it places the governors indeed more at their ease, at the expense of the people." Jefferson was also a strong supporter of the Bill of Rights, which protected the rights of the people. "A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to..." He felt the Bill of Rights would clearly state and protect people's rights, "freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction of monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trial by jury...." It was based on Jefferson's suggestions that Madison proposed a Bill of Rights. Jefferson did everything he could to help the common man.
Andrew Jackson was undoubtedly a man of the people. He was the first president to be chosen by the people and his background was not that of a typical president. He was not born into a rich family. Jackson's favored the general public rather than the wealthy. His election shifted the balance of power from the wealthy East Coast, to farmers and small businesspeople in the west. Jackson vetoed more bills than all previous presidents did in an attempt to help the common man.
Jackson also created the spoils system. This basically was a way for Jackson to get rid of the current people in government, and replace them with people that had supported him over the years. While this may seem wrong, it actually brought a balance in the government and served to help the common man. Jackson strongly opposed the Bank of the U.S. He felt the bank was a "monster institution" that would do nothing but make the wealthy wealthier at the expense of the working class. He did everything he could to get rid of the Bank. To accomplish this, Jackson decided to take government money from the bank to pay expenses and put in future government profits in selected state banks. He also refused to let the bank renew their charter. The Bank of the U.S. disappeared when its charter expired in 1836. Jackson was very similar to Jefferson, and did everything he could to help the common man.
Thomas Jefferson felt passionately that state rights are very important and that the federal government should only intervene with foreign affairs. Jefferson felt that states should govern their own affairs for the most part. "If ever this vast country is brought under a single government, it will be one of the most extensive corruption...Our country is too large to have all it's affairs directed by a single government." Jefferson was very clear with what he felt the role of the federal government was. "...States are independent as to everything within themselves, and united as to everything respecting foreign nations. Let the general government be reduced to foreign concerns only, and let our affairs be disentangled from those of all other nations, except as to commerce, which the merchants will manage the better, the more they are left free to manage themselves." When the Alien and Sedition Acts passed in 1798, Jefferson (Vice President at the time) strongly opposed them and felt they violated the rights of the states. The Alien and Sedition Acts was actually a series of 4 acts. The first 3 acts basically were focused on foreigners (aliens) and allowed the president to arrest and deport any alien he considered dangerous, the Sedition Act made it a criminal offense to print or publish false, malicious, or scandalous statements directed against the U.S. government, the president, or Congress. Jefferson felt this was violating the states First Amendment right of free speech and press. To counteract these Act Jefferson drafted the Kentucky Resolutions, which stated that federal powers are limited to what is stated in the constitution, and that the states have the right to decide if an act is constitutional and if they have to follow it. Jefferson greatly supported and protected the states rights.
Jackson in many ways supported states rights. In his first Inaugural message the first thing he said referred to the protection of states rights. "The Federal Constitution must be obeyed, states rights preserved, our national debt must be paid, direct taxes and loans avoided, and the Federal Union preserved. These are the objects I have in view, and regardless of all consequences, will carry into effect." Although Jackson was not as passionate about state rights as Jefferson was, he still supported the states. Excluding the Nullification Crisis (South Carolina basically ignores tariff and threatens to leave the Union), Jackson was a supporter of the states right to choose what it wishes to do. Also the Nullification Crisis was more an issue of North and South conflict rather than states rights. Jackson really wanted to leave the question of internal improvements to the states. Jackson's ideal role of the government was identical to Jefferson's. Both wanted central government to play a minimal role in the states affairs.
Both Jefferson and Jackson shared almost identical views on minorities. Although they may of said and hoped for equality for minorities, actions speak louder than words. No matter how they truly felt about minorities, Blacks and Native Americans were clearly not included in the "common man" they both sought out to help. They both were, or at least in their actions showed signs of racism. Their treatment of Blacks, especially Native Americans were very unfair and racist. Jefferson as well as Jackson owned many slaves. Both men supported the idea of moving Native Americans from their home, taking their lands and moving them to a different part of the country. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, President Thomas Jefferson had suggested that tracts of land in this vast new territory could be given to native peoples if they agreed to give up their lands in the eastern part of the country. Jackson supported The Indian Removal Act of 1830, which forced eastern Indians to move west of the Mississippi. He also supported Georgia in its effort to rob the Cherokee nation of its land. Jackson claimed that he had "no power to oppose the exercise of sovereignty of any state over all who may be within its limits." The Cherokee appealed to the Supreme Court, and in Worcester v. Georgia, Chief Justice John Marshall ruled against Georgia. Marshall stated that the federal government had rule over Native American lands and Georgia could not take the Cherokee lands. To this Jackson replied, "John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it." The decision was ignored. In 1837 and 1838 the U.S. Army gathered about 15,000 Cherokee and forced them to move. During this journey "Trail of Tears" about one out of every four Cherokee died.
The U.S. even charged the Cherokee six million dollars for the forced removal. Jackson did nothing to stop this. Both Jefferson and Jackson should be considered racists. They shared the same beliefs as the majority of people did in regards to minorities. In a way their views of minorities show how they supported the common people.
As you could see from Jefferson's and Jackson's words and actions, their views are almost identical. Their opinion of the Bank of the U.S. and how it will hurt the common man is almost exactly the same. They both support states rights, and agree on the role of the Federal Government. Their views and their actions are also the same concerning Blacks and Native Americans. With all the similarities in their policies, actions, and goals as president, you can see how Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy are the same.