The Age of Jackson
Jackson and Van Buren years
Eaton Affair
• Peggy Eaton
– Daughter of tavern keeper
– 1st husband may have committed suicide
• Allegedly over her affair with TN senator John Eaton
• Married him
– He became sec of war
– Reminds Jackson of gossip about beloved Rachel
• He believes it killed her
– Wives of cabinet members snub Peggy
• Van Buren: charming, accompanies her to functions
• Floride Calhoun: biggest snob in Eaton Malaria
Eaton (2)
• Jackson thought Calhoun trying to coerce him
to abandon John Eaton
– To disgrace AJ for having appointed him
– Van Buren leaked info:
• Sec St Calhoun, (then sec war under Monroe) favored
censuring AJ for 1818 raid into FL
– AJ feels betrayed!
Egalitarianism Jackson style
• =ty not for blacks, Indians or women
– Partly due to freed blacks heading north, taking jobs
• Segregation for freed blacks- the rule, w/ persecution, anti
black riots
– Justified: preventing blacks & abolitionists breaking down color barrier
(poor whites would sink further)
– Jackson coalition depended on shared white racism & ability to avoid
slave issue
– Believed indians = barbaric impediments to progress, expansion.
• Just & humane policy: moving them west to area of horned
toads & rattlesnakes
• 1830: Indian Removal Act
Indian Removal
• 1825: GA’s fraudulent treaty ceded most Creek land to
– Adams denounced
– GA based Rt to land grab on ‘unviability of State’s Rights’
• JQA backed down 2 avoid armed conflict
• 1828: GA moves against Cherokees
– To avoid Creek’s fate, Cherokee adopt Constitution 1827
Declared selves sep nation w/ sovereignty over land
– GA put Cherokee under state law & nullified cons
Prohibited Indian testimony against whites
Gold discovered
Indian Removal Act 1830
• Appropriated: $500,000 for removal
– 1830: GA law- whites get residency there
– 1832: few are left
– 1838 Cherokee trail of Tears
• AJ forced treaty on them: gave up GA land for land in
• 5 mill for moving them
• 12,000 walked the thousand mile trail of tears
– Victims of cruelty, scorn pilfering of whites along way
• ¼ died en route, dead of winter
1832: Black Hawk’s War: Sauk & Fox
– IL & WI
• Frantic attempt of Inds to reach W bank MS
• Ends in slaughter of 500 men, women, children by
white troops w/ Sioux allies
– Participants:
» Lincoln
» Jeff Davis
• Held out in swamps of FL
– 7 yrs
– 1835-42: longest Indian war in US history
– Leader: Osceola captured under flag of truce
• During negotiations
• Resistance continued
Opposition to Jackson’s removal policy
• Eastern reformers
• Protestant missionaries
• Came w/n 3 votes of defeating Removal bill in
Cherokee Nation v. GA 1831
Worcester v GA 1832
• Ct rules: GA violated US Const in extending
jurisdiction over Cherokees
• Marshall defines Indian tribes as dependent
domestic nations
– Subject only to authority of federal gov
– Supreme Ct is powerless to enforce rulings
– Jackson ignores: takes states rights position
• Mutters: courts can try to enforce that…
• Most sensitive issue involving power of national gov:
– Tariffs
– Issue: majority rule, Jackson is a Nationalist
• Cost: some southern support for Dems
– Tariffs: 1st 1816
• 1824 up
• 1828 up 50% (tariff of abominations)
– Contrived to win northern support for Jackson?
• Loudest outcry: SC: Old cotton state
– Loosing pop to west in 1820s
– Cotton prices still low s. panic 1819
» Tariffs seen as unconst extension of national power over states
» Prelude to enforced emancipation?
» SC: only state w/ Af-Am majority
Nullification, (2)
– Slave concentrations in marshes, tidal flats s. of
• Low country district of huge rice plantations
• Summer months blacks outnumber whites 10:1
– Slave rebellions: narrowly averted 1822 + 1829
– Planters fear agitation fed by N. abolitionists
• 1831 Nat Turner Revolt
– VA 55 whites slain before Turner caught
– Nullification: safety valve
Anti tariff Nullies
• Roots: 1828 SC Exposition & Protest
– Calhoun argues:
• State acting through pop elected convention has
sovereign power to declare act of nat gov null +
• Once a state nullifies a law: it’s unenforceable until ¾
states approve const. amendment delegating to
national gov power that was challenged
• If such passed, nullifying state could leave union
– Calhoun orchestrated SC convention nullification of Tariff of 1828 &
1832 (lower)
– Legislation elects R. Hayne Gov; Calhoun Sen
– Calhoun resigns as VP to take Senator spot
– GA, AL, MS all refuse to go along (too radical)
• Said customs duties NOT collected in SC after Feb 1, 33
• Defends doctrine as way of protecting minority rights in union dominated by
Tyrannical national majority
• AJ seems Calhoun as scheming disunionist
• AJ announced intention to enforce tariff
• Privately: threatens to hang Calhoun & all other traitors
• Later regrets he didn’t at least hang Calhoun
• Issued Nullification Proc: doctrine of Null = impractical absurdity
– AJ asks 4 (gets) Force Bill
• Sent Gen Winfield Scott to Charleston Harb w/ troops; can have 50k in SC in 40
– Worked to get new lower tariff passed (down by 50%) Compromise Tariff of 1833
– Lowered duties 20%
– Extends reductions over 20 yrs
Final Act of defiance
• Nullifiers nullify the Force Bill
– Calhoun retires to his plantation
– Significance:
• AJ estab’d principal of national supremacy grounded in
Will of the Majority
• States rights doctrines remain pop in South
• Many want to limit powers of Nat’l gov
• Triggers new anti-Jackson coalition in South
Webster-Hayne Debate
• SC disliked tariff but waits for election as Calhoun will
be VP
– New tariff policy likely then
• Late 1829: CT senator tried to restrict land sales in W
– Thomas Hart Benton, MO: (always calls for lower land
prices) denounced as sectional attack
• So E can keep cheap labor
– Rbt Hayne, SC takes Benton’s side
• Wants to strengthen W/S alliance
• If S supports cheap land in W; W will support lower tariffs
• Gov endangers Union by imposing hardship on one section to
benefit another!
Webster – Hayne (2)
• Webster, MA rebukes S’s who disparage Union
– Lures Hayne into defense of state rights, nullification
• Hayne defends SC Exposition
– Union = compact of states.
– Fed Gov, their agent, cannot judge its own powers
• Would make powers unltd
• Rather: states remain free to judge when gov oversteps const. auth.
– Rt of State Interposition: (states interpose authority over fed law to
thwart injustice)
• As full & complete now as before Const
Webster-Hayne (3)
• Webster: from beginning, Rev= crusade of united
colonies; not separate
– Sovereignty resides in whole people
• Fed gov, state govs = agents
• **if a single state could nullify a law of fed gov then Union wd be a rope
of sand
– Practical absurdity
– Instead: const created Sp Ct w/ final jurisdiction
• Judicial Review
– Practical outcome of nullification would be confrontation (CW)
– Liberty and Union! Now and Forever! One and Inseperable!
Jefferson’s B-day: 1830
• Toast
– Jackson: Our Union- it must be preserved!
– Calhoun: Union, next to Liberty, most dear.
Jackson – Calhoun rift
• May 12, 1830
– Jackson shown letter confirming Calhoun, Sec War
in 1818, proposed disciplining Jackson over FL
• Flurry of tense letters
• Jackson’s last note: Understanding you now. No further
communication w/ you on this subject is necessary.
– Jackson names Van Buren as minister to London
• Announced plan to run in 32 w/ VB; likely successor in
• Senate had to approve; Calhoun led opposition
Bank War
Defining moment in shaping the Dem. Party
• 1832: draft resolution 4 charter renewal
– Distrust of banks:
• Shortage of gold/silver
• Absence of paper money issued, regulated by fed gov
– $ mostly notes: loans by private & state banks
– Fluctuate in value – based on reputation, credit of bank of
– Many wild cat (W) banks
» Quick profits- issue notes w/o specie to redeem
» Skipping town b4 being found out
Bank War (2)
– Farmers, workers want to be paid in real money
• Gold; silver
• Viewed bankers: parasites
– Manipulating $$ & getting rich
– Bank of US: New Pres- Nicholas Biddle, Phil. PA
• underwrote econ expansion of 1820s
• Charter good thru 36
Bank War (3)
• Campaign 32: Clay convinced Biddle to re-charter
– Sure of congress’ approval
– Jackson couldn’t veto in campaign year
• Enemy of sound banking?
• Bank = symbol of privileged monopoly
– Deprived Amers of chance to compete =ly
– July 10, 1832 AJ vetoed
– Took stand against all new grants of monopolies for
advancement of few at exp of many
Bank War (4)
• Business community lashed out at AJ
– AJ goes into election as champion of people against
banking aristoc
– Easily beat Clay: ‘Nat’l Repub Party’
– Found sec of treasury willing to sign order removing fed
deposits from bank ‘33
• Bank reduced to seeking charter from PA as private corp
• Gov deposited $$ into ‘pet banks’
– Result: too much credit triggered buying frenzy of W land
– Prices shot up
– 1836 Specie Circular:
» Gold & silver only for land, etc
– Hard times hit by 37 (Van Buren)
Speculative bubble
• Reached greatest extent by 1836
– Burst by Distribution Act• Distributed gov surplus to states
– Long time process (removes argument for cutting tariff)
– Much surplus comes from sale of W lands
» Alt: cut price on land? (W idea)
» Lower tariff? (S idea)
» Surplus used to pay off national debt by Jan 1835
• AJ opposed distribution; so surplus LOANED to states
As deposits, never demanded back
Distributions were taken out of state banks
State banks had to call in loans to cover transfers
Huge disarray
• Specie Circular issued to stop fraud, cut out big speculators, stop
extension of notes, credit
• Irony: few settlers had specie; now at mercy of speculators!
Boom & Bust of 1830s
• Causes:
– Mid decade inflation from increased specie payments from England, France,
• For investments, purchases, esp cotton
– Same time: Brit credits let Amers buy w/o exporting specie
– Also: flow of specie to China ↓
• They now take Brit credits to cover growing opium imports from Br India
• Therefore: specie reserves in US kept pace w/ ↑↑ in bank notes in spite of reckless
1836 Brit econ ↓
Brit investments ↓
Demand for cotton ↓
May 1837: VB in- NY banks suspend specie payment on notes
Fear of bankruptcies sets off bank runs
Brief recovery 38: bad wheat harvests in Eng
Good harvests return in 39- no imports needed; same year as bumper crop in US
Depression  mid 1840s
Van Buren 1836
• Dem’s 2nd Nat’l Convention
• Whigs have no conv
– Send up many candidates
• Webster, Hugh White (TN), Wm Harrison (IN)
• Issues: in S whigs argue: VB soft on anti-slavery
– Only White trusted
– VB takes 170 electoral Votes- Old Kinderhook
• Aka: Little Magician
• VB: no popular base
• Different style: reflective, weighed polit consequences
– Appeared indecisive
– Seemed to have no bold program
– Inherited financial panic
Panic 1837
• Gov land sales up from 4 mil (1833) to 20 million
– Decade of boom; business cycle increased
• EZ credit
• Land spec
• Amers pile up debt
– Key foreign trade & credit = England
• Late ‘36: Bank of E tightened credit on Br merchants in US
– Incr. interest rates, decreased credit lines (afraid of specie drain to
US) depression in E tips over US econ.
– Brit demand for cotton declined
» Price of cotton declined
» No new loans
» US expansion depended on Euro capital
Panic (1)
– US wheat crop failed; no exports
– Wildcat banks go under
• Gov lost 9 mil in pet banks
• Working class hard hit- fall 1837 1/3 unemp
Rest take 30%-50% pay cuts
Cost of food, clothes soars
Churches, voluntary societies: sole help for indegent
VB & advisors think healthy shake down of speculators, bankers: not
gov job to rescue farmers, businesses or provide relief
– To stabilize econ:
– Distribution of surplus postponed
– Indep treasury adopted
Panic (2)
• Cotton = main security for most US banks, mercantile firms
– Result: chain reaction; contracting credit, falling prices
– Investors rush to convert notes to specie
• Banks suspend payment
– Panic hits New Orleans, Mar. 37  NY banks by May
• Panic drags down whole econ
Bankruptcies are up investment capital down, business down
States stop all construction/ slash budgets
9 states in S & W defaulted on bonds
Unemployment up  mass protest meetings in E
• Fear of revolution
• Brief recovery 38; another round credit contraction -> depression  43
– N.E. unemp  20% (unheard of)
– Many farmers, planters fled W 2 avoid creditors
Election 36
• Dems charged w/ starting depression
• Opponents: Whigs- blame AJ’s destruction of bank
• Gov interference in econ
– Undermined business confidence
– AJ forcing pet banks to replace small denom bank notes w/
hard $: made it worse
– Issued Specie Circular large blocks land, only bt w/ specie
• to break spec frenzy
• May have helped spread panic by req transfer 2 W of
specie when E banks strapped
– Low reserves – can’t meet demand on bank notes
• Removing fed $ fm nat bank protects people
fm paper aristocrats in banking & business
– Policy contradicts Dem idea of ltd gov
• Shifted $ to state banks  had to regulate or be
accused of creating little monsters
• Only way out: break connection between gov &
Independent Treasury system
• The gov deals w/ NO banks
– Treasury does business in gold & silver only
– T stores reserves in regional vaults (sub treasury)
– Proposed 1837
• Approved 1840 after more bank failures
• Result: prolonged depression
– Specie locked in vaults= unavailable 4 loans, expansion of credit
– Reduced money supply
– Put ↓pressure on prices
– Repealed in 1 yr
– Restored 1846
Other issues of VB term
• Petitions to abolish slave trade in DC
• Canadian insurrection & Maine border dispute
• Malaise due to economy
Election 1840
• Log Cabin & Hard Cider campaign
– Whigish Jacksonian military hero: Wm H Harrison
Battle of Tippecanoe v Shawnees
Gov of IN
Anti-Masons like him
Tyler for VP brings in states rights wing
– Baltimore “Republican” printed: upon condition of his rec’vg
pension of $2k and a barrel of cider, Gen Harrison wd no
doubt consider to w/d pretentions…. Spend days in a log cabin
on banks of the OH
– Whigs seized symbols to show Harrison as man of modest
• One of first families of VA
– Lived in large farmhouse
– Log cabins rolled thru streets w/ barrels of cider
– Huge victory balls rolled through highways to symb
snowballing support
– Placards, emblems, campaign buttons, floats, effigies,
rallies & newspaper: The Log Cabin used Jacksonian
techniques to discredit VB
• Showed him as aristocrat (really had humble start)
• Van Van is a used up man
• From newspaper fad 1830s: creating comical abbreviations
GTDHD: give the devil his due
OW: oll wright
OK: oll correct
Dems picked up OK for Old Kinderhook; start OK clubs
Whigs said OK was AJ’s creative spelling; insist he marked state papers
this way
– Whig cider barrels get marked OK
Impact of Jackson Yrs
Voter turn out up from 26% 1824 to 78% in 1840
Whig historians say AJ created spoils system
Revisionists paint him as author of new democ
Post revisionists: frontier nabob
AJ & supporters intended to return to Jeffersonian
Repub of ltd gov; no alliances w/ bus (corruption)…
allow free enterprise
• How Jeffersonian was Jackson?
Jefferson & Jackson
Compared (Hofstatder)
VA aristocracy
– Mom: Jane Randolph
– Father died when TJ 14
– Inherits 2700 acres
• Bondsmen
• As adult: 10K acres, 100-200 slaves
Ed: William & Mary, excelled
VA Gentry, requisite 4 politics
24: admitted to bar
26 House of Burgesses (6 yrs)
29 married
Studied whole life: sciences, religions,
languages, agri, mechanics,
Born in Carolinas to widow
Dad died few months before
13: enlisted in Rev War
14: captured, tortured by Brits
Lost family in warBro killed in action
Mother died of prison fever (typhus)
Inherited farm sized plot of land NC
Education: sparse
Apprentice to saddle maker 6 mo
School teacher 6 mo
Inherits 300£ from Irish relative
Moved to Charleston- gambled, studied law
@20: admitted to bar NC
Moved to Nashville
Rep’d creditors, helped collect debts
Other lawyer in town rep’d debtors
• Wked up to local aristoc, land, slaves
POV before presidency
• War gov VA during Rev till age 38
• Retired; death of wife drove him
back to work
• 1785-89: min to France (post
• Belief in code duello
– Bcms anti-industrialist
– Angered by Eng’s exploit. Of
workers; France’s of peasants
– Confirms Republican views
– Pro agrarian head of pop faction
• For propertied intersts
– Response to insult of honor: call
• Duelled w/ Charles Dickinson
over horse race
• D missed J’s heart by inches bc
of greatcoat
– Bullet lodged in ribs
– J fired; gun wouldn’t go off
– Fired again, stayed on feet till
D pronounced dead
• Duel w/ Sen B Hart- later friends
– Tried to return bullet- running
POV before pres (2)
– Wants Amer econ to be agri based
– Minimize factories, cities, workers
– Believes majority of men rise to top
for profit, power
– Believes checks & balances vital to
survival of gov
– Considered Federalist best work of
practical principals of gov written
– Objections to const:
• No Bill of Rts
• Allowance of more than one term for
– Saw future founded on propertied
class in propertied nation
Known for firey temper; quick loud
Fit Frederick Jackson Turner’s ideal of
fronteir society self made man
Solicitor at 22
@23: US Atty
29: congressman
30: senator
31: justice of Sp Ct of Tn
Jobs = symbol of status to AJ
Active in militia, rep as Indian fighter
Land speculator
Nat hero B. of New Orleans
Rode national wave of increased suffrage
On banks
• Anti banks as support
for merchant class
and industry
Disapproved of pop demand in Panic 1819 for
laws to prevent imprisonment for debt
Lost land & fortune mortgaged – to national
Opposed banks, public debts, paper money,
high tariffs, fed. Internal improvmts
1796: sold thousands acres to merchant,
speculator for ‘notes’;
Used to supply new general store
he went under; defaulted on notes, left AJ
liable for all debts
Had to sell off estate, slaves
Business failed, sold to partners
Took 19 yrs to pay off debts- till 1815
Saved 22k, bought new estate: panic hit
Opposed 2 yr suspension of debt repayment then pop
By 1824: prosperity- issues: caucus, Battle of New
Fear of his atheism unfounded
Tried to pay off Hamilton based debts
in 16 yrs; kept system
Reduced gov expenses
Abolished excise duties
Attacked judiciary, esp through Burr
trial; no real effect on it
Thru LA purchase, widened agri
No attempt to open up male suffrage
Tried to heal rift in parties
Laissez-Faire policy toward
Pacifist: stayed out of Napoleonic
Used economic sanctions: embargo
Expansion of democ & liberated
captialism  rise of industrialism in E
Opposed to Biddle’s bank:
Small businessmen in E
State banks
Land speculators
AJ vetoed bank recharter- said bank
was not constitutional: gave industry
a monopoly
& settlement of W
Typical American now a capitalist
Re-elected, w/d gov $ from banks
Wild cat banking grew
Principle of business w/o privilege
Hero to middle class: want unltd
expanding opportunity
After Presidency
• Resumed State’s Rights pov
– Regrets Federalist turn
Republican party took
• Returned to private life w/
• Stayed pro-expansion of
small businessmen

The Age of Jackson - Susan Averre Portraits