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Andrew Jackson’s Presidency and PoliciesIn American history many acts of cruelty and or unjustified beliefs were acted upon. Some of these events were led by citizens and in some cases, such as the case of Andrew Jackson, led by presidents.
Andrew Jackson was the seventh president of the United States of America from 1829-1837.1 His presidency and policies, such as the Indian Removal Act, and his part in The Second Bank of the U.S and South Carolina’s Tariff, will be remembered for years. They consisted of such personal opinion and were so controversial few will ever forget.Andrew Jackson first ran for president in 1824. His original attempt failed due to the popularity and victory of his opponent John Adams. He later claimed his own presidential victory in the election of 1829, gaining a majority of votes from the west and the south who were his great supporters.
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Jackson was first considered a president of the people because he supported the common man and nationalism.1Jackson proved this belief through particular times in his presidency. He firmly believed that the Government should be restricted and become the ‘simple machine in which the constitution created’;.
1 He had a strong yet stubborn personality and for the most part began his presidential career as a well liked man. However, some Jackson supporters were not fully aware of his views and intentions. He was known for ignoring Supreme Court decisions and he vetoed twelve bills while in his two terms as U.S. President.
2Jackson did not fear the use and enforcement of violence to prove his points and acquire what he thought necessary. Public opinion was not a large concern of the seventh president either. Jackson usually sought to implement what he wanted personally rather than what may have been more beneficial for the country. For example, he was a slave owner. He also supported the ban of anti-slavery pamphlets in the mail.
2Many actions taken by Jackson did reinforce the new Jacksonian Democracy (an increase in popular participation in government).1 He also displayed strong goals for a strengthened national government and his actions were those of a great leader. He had no affliction with vetoing bills he did not like and was not afraid to threaten the use of national troops in South Carolina to enforce his tariff.2South Carolina’s tariff was a major controversy in the United States during Jackson’s presidency.
He promised the south a reduction in the taxes and duties they were enduring to the levels first established in1828. These set levels were acceptable to the southerners as opposed to the higher rates enforced since then. In 1832 Jackson reduced these rates by a small margin, not nearly as much as his original promise. Regardless of South Carolina upset, in 1833 Jackson passed the Force Bill. This coerced them into paying the tariff no matter what.
4 South Carolina retaliated against this insulting lack of concern for their voice in U.S. government. South Carolina then opted to act upon the Doctrine of Nullification and they threatened to break away from the union.2 Within this doctrine, South Carolina would preserve the right to null and void a law if they felt it was unconstitutional. South Carolina was then able to declare the laws of 1828 and 1832 invalid, and prohibited the collection of the tariffs after February of 1833.
4Jackson’s response to the S.C. doctrine was explained with the creation of his Nullification Proclamation, on December 10,1832.
He declared his vigorous intent to reinforce the law and was willing to seek an agreement that would eventually lower the unsatisfactory tariffs. In 1833 congress passed a comprise bill which would set a new tariff. When this new deal was accepted by all other southern states the fear of the succession of South Carolina was brought to a happy end for Jackson.4This was not Andrew Jackson’s only conflict with the people.
He also opposed the establishment of the Second bank of the U.S. The Bank was believed by most to favor the United States by thirty-five million dollars. It would also issue bank notes and be able to hold government funds and restrain the policy of the states.
9 With these perks in mind Jackson proceeded to believe the bank, which was not a government bank but was chartered by it in 1826, unconstitutional. He noticed that the bank favored northern states and rarely gave loans to southern states. The bank felt that southern states were a higher risk and they did not want to make that gamble with their money.
9 When the issue for a re-charter arose in1836 Jackson’s political enemies pushed a bill through Congress, against his will to grant a re-charter. To no surprise Jackson vetoed that bill as well. In Jackson’s re-election campaign of 1832, the second bank accounted for a great concern from the public, yet Jackson again remained victorious. Jackson proceeded with his attempt to kill the bank by deciding to remove federal deposits from the second bank and deposit them into pet-banks. This virtually took the power away from Nicholas Biddle, the president of the second bank.9This left many anti-Jackson advocates in rage and they accused him of using his presidential powers abusively.
This accusation eventually led to the first process of impeachment and eventually to a censure. The increase in loans by state banks caused an uprise in the use of paper currency. Jackson prohibited the use of this currency for the purchase of federal land and to pay federal debts. This created a large demand for coined money called specie and lead to the failure of the pet-banks in the panic of 1837. The reason being, pet banks would issue paper currency without the specie to back it up leading the bank into debt.
1The most controversial decision made by Andrew Jackson during his presidency was his role in the Indian Removal Act. In May of 1830 the U.S. Congress voted in favor of this act.
The removal of Natives from their lands in the east to Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) became an important part of national Indian policy. During the1830s and 1840s the U.S. Army forced thousands of natives and their families to leave their belongings and move west of the Mississippi to present day Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.6Southern tribes removed included Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminal. In the north, Delaware and Miami, the Ottawa, Peona, Potawatomi, Souk and Fox tribes were removed. The law was signed by Andrew Jackson in1830, and he demanded that the natives resettle west of the Mississippi.
6The act of 1830 gave the president authority to designate specific lands for natives, and in1834 Congress formally approved this choice. The new territory consisted of specific boundaries that restricted the Indians free will. The Cherokee Indians of northwestern Georgia created their own constitution that attempted to save their tribe.
Within the document the Cherokees where said to be sovereign and not subject to Georgia law. This was a peaceful attempt to protect against removal.8The Cherokees sought help from Congress. Congress in turn urged them to continue with the move, with Andrew Jackson’s support.
The next step taken by the natives was the Supreme Court. In the case of Worchester vs. Georgia, the court ruled in favor of the natives.
Jackson, however, refused to enforce that decision and continued to persuade the tribe to sacrifice their Georgia land.3When resistance against government enforcement became a problem, Jackson had no fear using threats and violence to force them off their land. This involved the use of army troops and weapons. Some tribes, such as the Seminoles, were so resistant that government efforts then included peace treaties.
Although the treaties were negotiated, Jackson disagreed with the action. Jackson perceived Indians as subjects of the U.S. and he felt he should not have to negotiate treaties.
Taking land should be the right of a master (U.S.) vs.
slave (natives). This bluntly proved Jackson’s irreverence toward other ethnic backgrounds.7Jackson expressed his intentions for Indian Removal as simply leading natives into a greater degree of civilization. This would only allow them to achieve lifestyles as cultivators and herdsmen rather than remaining hunters and savages. Aside from all the attempts made by the Indians including self- government and sovereignty, Georgia passed an Indian Code. With this Code the state abolished all the natives efforts. This code also made it against the law to speak against a white person in a court of law.
5Jackson’s reasons for the removal of tribes was also sinister. In his speech to Congress on December 8,1930, Jackson publicized his goal for western expansion . However, his primary and underlying reason was to obtain land known for the discovery of gold. A law against natives removing gold from Georgia soil also took effect, and gold fields were seized.5This left the majority of tribes with no hope and Jackson claimed his policy a victory. One of the most memorable repercussions of the Indian Removal Act was the infamous ‘Trail of Tears’;. The route stretched across land from Georgia to Alabama and continued upward through Kentucky and Missouri, then across to Arkansas and Oklahoma.
It consisted of an estimated total of eight-hundred miles, trudging to the west in groups of approximately one-thousand.7Conditions were horrid and mud made the roads virtually impassible. Families were separated and at times the sick and elderly were forced by gun point. The traveling sometimes included the use of boats and wagons, however the majority of the travel was done on foot.7Thousands of Indians died along the way due to massive overcrowding and lack of sanitation. In the summer, drought posed a problem. In the winter, frostbite and pneunomia were the main enemy.
The journey took an average of five months of continuous travel and was recalled by an aging Chief Junaluska as, ‘An endless journey to a meaningless land. If I had known Jackson would drive us from our homes I would have killed him that day at Horse Shoe.’; 3Andrew Jackson was a man of split popularity. Many obviously felt he was a cruel and selfish fool.
6 Others felt he was a dignified and courteous leader with a strong devotion to the ‘gentleman’s code.’; 1 At any rate, Jackson eventually retired to his hermitage and lived his life there. Still despised by some, he led his first choice for the presidential election of 1836, Martin Van Buren, to victory and his Jacksonian Democracy and polices will forever be remembered.FOOTNOTES1. Byrd, C.
The Senate 1789-1989: The Senate Comes of Age 1829-1833.U.S. History, 9/1/902. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition 1/1/93, Andrew Jackson.Columbia University Press3.
Benedict, M.L. 1978, History : A Review Of the Indians, Magazine of History 74: 48-684. Pessen, E 1949. Jackson’s Supporters? The South Carolina Story.Harper and Rowe 34-385. How The Tribal Land Was Won , Life 4/5/93 pp.
8. Time Inc.6. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Fifth Edition,Five civilized Tribes, 1/1/937. Tribal Lands Today, Indian Country, Lokota Times6/15/98 pp. C-58. The Indian Removal Act, The Columbia Encyclopaedia ,Columbia University Press.
1/1/939. Brandes, R. The Second Bank of the U.S. vol.
148Town and Country Monthly 4/1/94 pp.92