Jacksonian Democrats

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In this paper I will be evaluating the interpretations and arguments set forth by three prominent historians regarding the Jacksonians and explain my own personal views. Throughout the Age of Jackson, a new political party started. Historians have many views of who the Jacksonians were. The three major historians that wrote on this topic where Arthur Schlesinger, Bray Hammond, and Edward Pessen. These men have different point of views from one another and some of their arguments are better than others.

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Arthur Schlesinger claims that the Jacksonians believed in the hard money policy.

Andrew Jackson hated the Bank. He believed that the bank allowed people to get rich without having to work. According to Schlesinger, “The hard-money policy was conceived … as a total alternative to the Hamiltonian system. Its central point was the exclusion of banks from control over the currency. …” The Jacksonians believed there was a conflict between the “producing” and “non-producing” classes. Schlesinger explained that the Jacksonians fought against business power. Lastly, Schlesinger believed that Jacksonian Democracy was like Jeffersonianism “The inspiration of Jeffersonianism was so all-pervading and fundamental for its every aspect that Jacksonian democracy can be properly regarded as a somewhat more hard-headed and determined version of Jeffersonian democracy” (Schlesinger). The Jacksonians have similar agricultural views of the Jeffersonians as well as economic equality and more for the laboring classes.

Edward Pessen state all during his article that the Jacksonian Democrats were wealthy people. He claims that the Jacksonians caused America to be a class society. He wrote, “In fact, rigid walls of separation divided the social classes from one another, with elite families choosing marital partners, neighbors, formal and informal social relationships, almost exclusively from among those of their own sort.” Pessen brings up the fact that there was huge inequality between the classes. He talks about how the wealthy get wealthier and the poor stay poor. According to Pessen, “…Jacksonian Democracy gave power not to Tom, Dick, and Harry but to shrewd, ambitious, wealthy, and able politicians who knew best how to flatter the” Pessen also argues that the Jacksonians were not truly democratic. He says that large amounts of people were denied the right to vote thus making the system not truly democratic. Pessen was big on arguing that the Age of Jackson did not really belong to him and that the age was improperly named. He wrote, “The age may have been named after the common man, but it did not belong to him because he had very little of whatever it was that counted for much.” He argues it was more of an age of “materialism and opportunism, reckless speculation and erratic growth, unabashed vulgarity, surprising inequality, whether of condition, opportunity, or status, and a politic, seeming deference to the common man by the uncommon men who actually ran things.

Bray Hammond writes about how the Jacksonians were big on laissez faire which is a policy or attitude of letting things take their own course without interfering. This is how the Jacksonians wanted to run the economy. Hammond wrote “That the [Democratic] party should have been so largely a party of business enterprise and that its leaders should have been men so devoted to the principle of laissez faire is not in itself to be reprehended, of course.” Hammond believes that the Jacksonians have an agrarian background. According to Hammond, “They democratized business under a great show of agrarian idealism and made the age of Jackson a festival of laissez faire prelusive to the age of Grant and the robber barons.” Hammond argues that the Jacksonians’ attack on the National Bank was in attempt to democratize business and “transfer of economic privacy from an old and conservative merchant class to a newer, more aggressive, and more numerous bodies of business men and speculators of all sorts.”

Now I will talk about the sides of the arguments that I liked and didn’t and how well they portrayed their arguments. First, I liked Bray Hammond’s arguments. They make sense and he backs them up well. He makes it clear that the Jacksonians share similar views with the Jeffersonians, and he gives support.

Next, I thought that Arthur Schlesinger’s arguments was the most convincing; because he was easy to follow. He mentioned a lot about the conflict between the producing class and the business class and not to mention he had plenty of information to support his claims. He also talked about how the Jacksonians hated the National Bank which many other sources support that claim and I found a lot on that when I needed to put information for our debate topic on our third debate.

However, I don’t like Edward Pessen arguments because to me they are hard to follow, and he doesn’t provide enough evidence. And that’s not just because I have dyslexia which of course also made most of reading this difficult. He just never gave a very sound argument I feel. All and all I felt Arthur Schlesinger had the best evidence to support himself through all this and to make his evidence sound.”

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Jacksonian Democrats. (2021, Aug 04). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/jacksonian-democrats/