Andrew Jackson and Policies for ‘Common Man’
Since the founding of the Constitution, the leaders of the U.S. had kept the power of the federal government over local governments. However, during the 1820s and 1830s, the tide turned with Andrew Jackson. Followers of Andrew Jackson believed they were the preservers of the constitution and used it to protect state’s rights. Their policies were aimed at the “common man” and went out of the way to bring individual liberties to those people. Jackson himself had a humble upbringing as an orphan. Perhaps this led him to emphasize the common man’s importance in society and bringing in opportunity. Jackson believed that “democracy meant that all branches of the government- the president, Congress, National Bank, even the Supreme Court- must listen to and follow the wishes of the People”.
Although true, while pushing forth the power of the people, he is also increasing his own personal strength. In doing so, the image he is trying to convey is being the voice of the people, whereas, underneath the layers, he is not sincerely democratic. The unfair treatment of Native Americans, the veto of the National Bank, and the Tariff Crisis all were undemocratic actions and ideas that Jackson pushed forward. The force of Native Americans from their deserved land is an example of Andrew Jackson’s undemocratic actions and abuse of power. The Native Americans had secured a victory in the Supreme Court that seemingly guaranteed them certain lands.
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In the 1832 Worcester v. Georgia case, the court declared the Native Americans living in Georgia a separate nation entitled to its land inside the state. President Jackson refused to honor this decision, instead of enforcing the 1830 Indian Removal Act. The Natives respond to Jackson’s message by stating that they do not want to leave their homeland and they wish to peacefully live with the Christian people. “We wish to remain on the land of our fathers. We have a perfect and original right to remain without interruption or molestation…” (Doc 9). Their response shows how sophisticated they are rather than how more civilized people view them. Document 10 is a map of Indian removal from 1831 to the 1840s, showing Native American tribes moving to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma. This represents the natives ultimately being forced off their land to their new territory. “This emigration shall be voluntary… (but) if they remain within the limits of the states they must be subject to their laws” (Document 8).
This quote shows the way Jackson is manipulating the people and revising his words to make him seem more sensitive and forgiving to the fact they want to stay. Although the first part of the sentence follows these descriptions, the “but” shows the circumstance that will be tested. Even though he says it’s a choice, it isn’t really one. As a man who states democracy as listening and following the wishes of the People, he seems to be hypocritical as he is repetitively taking away the voice of the Native Americans. This overuse of power can be seen in Jackson’s veto of the National Bank. In getting rid of the National Bank, Jackson selfishly broadened his power as president and disregarded the majority’s desires. Because Jackson caused the fall of the National Bank, the United States struggled to manage money and loans and this consequently led to the Panic of 1837. In Andrew Jackson’s letter to Congress, he asks for their consideration of, “(a) law which limits appointments to four years,” (Doc 6).
He destroyed the Bank of the United States by abusing his veto power. Seen as a “king” by a majority of the population at the time, Jackson ruled the country the way he saw fit and oftentimes ignored the Senate through his abuse of veto. The bank’s main goal was to fulfill the country’s financial needs. He vetoed the bank because he thought it had too much power and he didn’t trust it because he thought people like Henry Clay would be corrupt and rebellious. In 1833, Jackson finally opposed the bank by vetoing its constitution. He also threatened to withdraw the U.S. funds towards the bank. By doing this, he destroyed the national bank for personal issues, quoting, “It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes”(Doc 4b). Once again he overstepped his boundaries and broke constitutional law in his own personal benefit and at the dismay of the American people. Alike with this action, the Tarriff Crisis was also pushed by Andrew Jackson by his abuse of power in an undemocratic state. The Tariff Crisis was also an example of how undemocratic Jackson was.
Although he had shown proof of him wanting the best for the common man, he used selfish reasoning to pressure South Carolina to pay and give in, as seen by the Force Bill. In Doc 3, it states, “The Force Bill gives the president the power to use the army to collect the tariff if South Carolina does not comply”. This shows the overuse of power that Jackson brings to the table, as he is threatening people in his own country if they do not oblige to what he wants. If he truly had a democracy in mind, he would compromise and do what is best for the people, rather than what is best for him. His view and actions regarding the Crisis are no more than undemocratic and unfair to the People of the country and to South Carolina. Tying in with his veto of the bank and unfair treatment of the Native Americans, the Tariff Crisis overall shows his intentions underneath the surface. Jackson is undemocratic as he does not listen to his own definition, taking away the voices of the people.
Although it seems like he is using his power for the good of the minorities and for the overall standpoint, he is truly just using his power for himself. Having the side of the People, he breaks past morals and anything to get what he himself wants. Having viewed his actions regarding the unfair treatment of Native Americans, the veto of the National Bank, and the Tariff Crisis, Jackson is an undemocratic president and person. If he wanted the best for the people, he would feel pride in his duties for its effect on the overall population and the poor, not just his own pride.