Jeffersonian Vs. Jacksonian Democracy in the US

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How might we distinguish ‘Jacksonian democracy’ from ‘Jeffersonian democracy’?

A period of nearly 30 years are associated with the Presidency of Jefferson, his successors and his ‘democracy’ from 1801 until Andrew Jackson’s election in 1828. A vision of a united, equal America, limited government and natural aristocracy ruled the Jeffersonian style of democracy. However, with the election of Andrew Jackson in 1828, a new form of democracy, differentiating in multiply ways to the Jeffersonian America, engulfed the American political and social scene. Jacksonian Democracy, a dream of the common man, the use of the Presidential veto, and Anglo-Saxonism as well other elements dominated this form of democracy and era. Despite this, many historians such as Glyndon G. Van Deusen, have argued that the two democracies are similar in a number of ways, suggesting that the “Jeffersonian concept of a simple government, narrowly restricted by frugality and by strict construction of the Constitution, was generally accepted as the ideal political system” backed by Jackson himself stating to be a champion of “good old jeffersonian democratic principles”. Contrastingly, this paper will seek to distinguish the ways in which the two democracies differed on topics such as race and internationalism, through the use of key texts on the period, such as Edward Pessen’s Jacksonian America and Charles Wiltse’s The Jeffersonian Tradition in American Democracy.
One of the key ways of distinguishing the two democracies is that of Jefferson’s vision of a Natural Aristocracy and Jackson’s of the common man. The natural aristocracy, a view that is essentially elitist, stemmed from the idea that intellectual men of good and virtuous character such as frontiersme...

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- Pessen, E., Jacksonian America; Society, Personality, and Politics. Revised Edition, (Homewood: Ill Dorsey, 1978)
- Reynolds, R., America; Empire of Liberty, (London: Penguin, 2010)
- Smelser, M., The Democratic Republic: 1801-1815, (Prospect Heights: Ill Waveland Press, 1992)
- Van Deusen. G.G., The Jacksonian Era, (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1959)
- Van Deusen, G.G., The Rise and Decline of Jacksonian Democracy, (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970)
- Wilentz, S., ‘Striving for democracy’, Wilson Quarterly, Vol.32 No.2, (Spring 1999)
- Accessed on 16/03/2014
- Accessed on 08/05/14

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