The Rise of Popular Politics, 1820-1829 I.

Beginning in the late 1810s, one state after another revised its constitution to remove property qualifications for voting, laying the foundation for the rise of mass politics. The Decline of the Notables and the Ascent of the Parties I. In the former agricultural society, local notables controlled the political system. A. The notables dominated local elections by building up an “interest”: lending money to small farmers, buying supplies from shopkeepers and artisans, and treating their workers or tenants to rum at election time. II. The main assault on the old deferential order came in the newly settled states of the Midwest. A. As smallholding farmers and ambitious laborers settled the trans-Appalachian region, they broke free of the control by rhe gentry. B. The states Illinois, Indiana, and Alabama allowed all white men who paid taxes to vote. Armed w/the vote, ordinary citizens usually elected middling local men to local and state offices. C. Once in public office, men from modest backgrounds responded to the demands of their constituents by restricting imprisonment for debt, keeping taxes low, and making it easier for farmers to claim squatters’ rights on unoccupied land. III. To deter migration to the Midwest and unrest at home, the elites in most eastern states grudgingly accepted a broader franchise. Many states extended the vote to white men who paid taxes or served in the militia. A. The dramatic loosening of suffrage restrictions ushered in the era of democratic politics. IV. Popular pressure also brought major revisions in the state governments of CT, MA, and NY. B/w 1818-1821 popularly elected conventions in those states wrote legislatures on the basis of population—giving more votes to cities and towns—and instituted more democratic forms of local government, such as elections rather than appointments. V. The politics of democracy were more complex and contentious than the politics of deference. Newly powerful entrepreneurs and speculators demanded governmental assistance and protection for their businesses and used their wealth to elect friendly candidates and lobby for favorable legislation. A. Financiers sought state charters for their banking enterprises and opposed limits on interest rates; land speculators petitioned for roads and canals to enhance the value of their holdings and demanded the eviction of squatters. B. Other Americans entered the political arena for religious regions. Evangelical Presbyterians campaigned for town ordinances to restrict secular activities on Sunday. VI. The rise of the political party allowed the voices of ordinary voters to be heard. Political factions and parties had been condemned as antirepublican by the nation’s founders and were not mentioned in the state or federal constitutions. A. As the power of the nobles declined, the political party emerged as the central element in the American system of government. B. The new parties were disciplined organizations run by professional politicians from middle-class backgrounds. C. Martin Van Buren was the chief advocate and architect of the emerging system of party government. B/w 1817-1821 he created the 1st state-wide political machine, the Albany Regency. D. He organized the 1st nation-wide party, the Jacksonian Democrats. E. He repudiated republican principles that disparaged political parties as dangerous to the commonwealth. VII. One key to Van Buren’s success was his systematic use of the Albany Argus and other newspapers to promote a platform—a statement of party principles—and drum up the vote to support it. Patronage was more important. A. Van Buren insisted on party discipline, requiring state legislatures to follow the majority decisions of the party meeting. The Election of 1824 I. The advance of political democracy disrupted the traditional system of national politics that had been managed by leading nobles. A. By the 1820s the Federalist Party had disappeared and the Republican Party had broken up into competing factions. II. The 5 candidates introduced competition to national politics by seeking support from ordinary voters in various states. A. Clay had gradually developed the American System, a plan for economic development in which the national government would use the Second Bank of the US to regulate state banks and guide the nation’s financial affairs, and spend tariff revenues to subsidize internal

B. C. D.

improvements such as roads and canals. B/c it called for an activist central government, Clay’s program had evoked political controversy in Congress and various states. John Quincy Adams had resolved disputed borders w/Mexico and Canada and outlined a new foreign policy. William Crawford promised strong support for the rights of states, a position that enhanced his popularity in the South.


Jackson embodied the nationalistic pride that had swelled in the wake of 1812. His reputation as a man of civic virtue appealed to many voters and his rise from common origins fit the tenor of the new democratic age. E. No candidate received an absolute majority of electoral votes, making the House of Representatives choose the president among Jackson, Adams, and Crawford. This constitutionally mandated process hurt Jefferson b/c many congressmen didn’t like him. Clay resolved to use his powers of Speaker to thwart Jackson’s election. A. He put together a coalition of representatives from NE and the Ohio River Valley that voted Adams into the presidency.

B. IV.

Adams appointed Clay secretary of state.

Clay’s appointment was a fatal mistake for both men. Calhoun accused Adams of thwarting the will of the people by using the power of patronage to select his successor. A. Jackson’s supporters in congress condemned Clay and vowed that he would never become president.

B. Martin Van Buren joined the Jacksonians and used his formidable political skills to oppose the policies advanced by Adams and Clay. The Presidency of John Quincy Adams 1825-1829 I. Adams called for bold leadership. He advocated legislation to promote the advancement of literature and the progress science. He called for the establishment of a national university in Washington, scientific explorations in the Far West, and the adoption of a uniform standard of weights and measures. A. He embraced key elements of Clay’s American System: 1) a protective tariff to stimulate manufacturing 2) federally subsidized internal improvements to aid commerce 3) continued support of the Bank of the United States. B. His policies favored his most loyal supporters—the business elite of the Northeast—and assisted entrepreneurs and commercial farmers in the Midwest. However, they won little support among planters in the South, who opposed high tariffs, and among smallholding farmers, who feared large banks. C. Other politicians objected to the American system on constitutional grounds. There was little public support for an active national government; most believed that state governments should assume primarily responsibility for economic development. D. Van Buren joined w/the Old Republicans in voting against federal subsidies for roads and canals, and proposed constitutional amendments to limit them. II. The most far-reaching battle of the Adams administration was fought over tariffs. A. In 1824 Congress had raised tariffs imposed on various imported manufacturers. B. When Van Buren and his Jacksonian allies took control of Congress after the 1826 elections, they also supported higher tariffs, but on different imports and for different regions. By raising tariffs on raw materials and agricultural imports, they hoped to help their supporters, many of whom were smallholding farmers. C. Van Buren’s main objective was to bolster Jackson’s prospects among the iron producers and farmers of the Middle Atlantic states. III.
Disregarding southern opposition, northern Jacksonians joined forces w/NE textile manufacturers to enact the Tariff of 1828, which raised duties on raw materials and manufacturers. A. Van Buren and his allies proposed tariffs on iron, flax, hemp, lead, molasses, and raw wool. To muster a majority in Congress to vote for those duties—which helped farmers, miners, and iron workers—they had to seek the support of NE representatives, who wanted to protect

the domestic textile industry. The new tariff enraged politicians and planters from the south, which gained nothing from the new legislation. As the world’s cheapest producer of raw cotton, the South did not need a tariff to protect its main industry, and by raising the price of British manufactures, the new legislation cost southern planters $100 million/year. C. To obtain cloth, ploughs, they would have to buy either high-cost American products, thereby enriching northeastern businesses and workers, or highly taxed British goods, thereby increasing tariff revenues and, in effect, placing the cost of the national government on the South. Adams and the Jeffersonians in the Election of 1828 I. Despite the role played by Van Buren and other Jacksonians in enacting the tariff, most southerners did not blame their woes on Jackson. Rather, they attacked Adams both b/c of his support for higher tariffs and b/c of his position on another important issue: the land rights of native Americans in southern states. A. In 1828 U.S. commissioners and a faction of the Creek people had concluded a treaty that relinquished Creek control over their remaining land in Georgia. B. When the Creek National Council repudiated the treaty as fraudulent, Adams supported the Indian’s position and ordered new negotiations. B.


Jackson’s message appealed to a variety of social groups. His hostility to special privileges for business corporations and to Clay’s American System won support among farmers and small property holders who resented state subsidies to those who were rich or had political clout. A. Jackson’s mistrust of banks drew votes from urban workers and artisans who felt threatened by industrialization and the spread of the market system. B. His hostility towards native Americans reassured white farmers who wanted to force Indians to leave their ancestral lands and move to the West. C. On the Tariff of 1828, Jackson benefited from the financial boost it gave to PA iron workers and western farmers, though appealed to southerners by suggesting that the current rates were too high. IV. The Democratic strategy of seeking votes from a variety of social and economic groups worked to perfection. A. The massive outpouring of popular support for Jackson frightened the northern business elite. The Presidency of Andrew Jackson, 1829-1837 I. Political democracy—a broad franchise, a disciplined political party, and policies tailored to specific social groups—had carried Jackson to the presidency. Jackson used that popular mandate to enhance his personal authority and the power of the chief executive. A. Invoking the sovereignty of the people, he attacked Clay’s American System and a proposed a different—and much more limited—role for

IV. V.

Confronted by Georgia’s resistance and widespread sentiment in Congress to extinguish Creek land titles, Adams backed down. By 1828 most Creeks had left the state. Adams had alienated white planters w/o protecting native American land rights. Adams’s failure in this and other political battles stemmed in part from his deficiencies as a practical politician. As president, he acted like an aristocrat. A. Ignoring his waning popularity, he failed to use patronage to reward his supporters; he allowed hostile politicians to keep their positions. Beginning in 1827, Van Buren devised the first national campaign organization. By allying with leading Virginia politicians, he re-created the old Jeffersonian coalition, uniting farmers and artisans with the southern slaveholders. A. W/strong direction from above, state leaders orchestrated a newspaper campaign and mobilized local groups to run mass meetings, torchlight parades, and barbecues to excite public interest. B. Jackson’s supporters attacked Adams for the “corrupt bargain” w/Clay. In contrast, they exalted Jackson’s virtue, celebrating his frontier origins and rise to fame w/o the advantages of influential parents, extensive education, or political intrigue. Initially, the Jacksonians called themselves Democratic-Republicans, but as the campaign wore on they became Democrats.

the national government. Jackson’s Agenda: Patronage and Policy I. To decide policy, Jackson relied primarily on an informal group of advisors, his so-called Kitchen Cabinet. Following Van Buren’s practice in NY, Jackson used patronage to create a loyal and disciplined party. He insisted on rotation in office. Dismissing the argument that forced rotation would cause government service to suffer from lack of administrative expertise, Jackson claimed that many qualified to hold them. C. Using the policy of rotation as a spoils system, Jackson dispensed government jobs to loyal Democrats and to friends of influential members of Congress, thereby enhancing support for his legislative program. II. Jackson’s main priority was policy, not patronage. He wanted to block any legislation that would further Clay’s American System and to overthrow those laws that had already expanded the powers of the national government. A. Jackson rejected federal support for most internal improvements. He then turned his attention to 2 other parts of the American System: protective tariffs and the national bank. The Tariff and Nullification I. The Tariff of 1828 helped Jackson win the presidency, but it saddled him w/a serious political crisis. A. The fiercest opponents to the tariff were in South Carolina, where slaveholders suffered from chronic insecurity. South Carolina planters had long lived in the fear of slave rebellions. B. To reduce the risk of the abolition of slavery, South Carolina’s leaders wanted to limit the power of the federal government and chose the tariff as their target. The Crisis of 1832 I. The conflict over tariffs escalated in July 1832, when Congress ignored southern demands to repeal the Tariff of Abominations and enacted new tariff legislation that retained high duties on cloth and iron. A. Arguing that this policy unfairly aided the North at the expense of the South, leading planters and politicians in SC called a state convention, which on November 24 adopted an Ordinance of Nullification. B. The Ordinance declared the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null and void; forbade the collection of those duties in the state; and threatened secession from the Union if the federal government tried to collect them. II. SC’s act of nullification rested on the constitutional arguments developed in a tract published in 1828, The South Carolina Exposition and Protest. It challenged the proposition that majority rule lay at the heart of republican government. A. The Philadelphia Convention of 1787 had addressed these very issues. To limit the power of the new national government, it required the passage of legislation of both houses of Congress, gave a veto power to the president, and provided a broad scope to the judicial power of the Supreme Court. B. Calhoun rejected the founders’ “checks and balances” as inadequate, in part b/c of the appearance of party discipline and pronounced sectional differences over policy had increased the possibility of controversial and potentially oppressive legislation. C. To devise a mechanism by which to check congressional majorities, Calhoun turned to the arguments advanced by the Antifederalists of the 1780s and by Jefferson and Madison in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798. Developing a constitutional theory that advocates of states’ rights would use well into the 20th century, Calhoun maintained that sovereignty rested not in the American people as a whole but in citizens acting through their state governments. D. Consequently, he argued that a state convention could determine that a congressional law was unconstitutional and declare it null and void within the state’s borders. Jackson’s Defense of the Union

A. B.

It’s most influential members were Francis Preston Blair of Kentucky, Amos Kendall, Roger B. Taney of Maryland, and Martin Van Buren.


Although Jackson had come into office determined to limit the reach of national legislation, he was also a staunch supporter of the Union. In May 1832, after Calhoun had admitted his authorship of the Exposition, Jackson dropped him as the Democrats’ candidate for vice-president. He asserted that South Carolina’s Nullification Ordinance violated the constitution. In defending the Union, Jackson had not only the authority of his office and the power of the Democratic party behind him but also the weight of public opinion. A. Despite their complaints about the tariff or other policies, most Americans supported the governmental institutions created by the constitution of 1787. B. At Jackson’s request, Congress enacted a Force Bill in March 1833 that authorized the president to use the army and navy to compel obedience to national laws. Both to reward his southern supporters and to meet their long-expressed requests for tariff relief, the president also proposed new legislation providing for a reduction in duties. A. Under the terms of the Tariff Act of 1833, import taxes would gradually be cut; by 1842 they would revert to the modest levels set in 1816, and outcome that would not only please the South but also advance Jackson’s efforts to destroy Clay’s American System. B. The compromise worked. Having saved face on the tariff issue, the SC convention rescinded its nullification of the tariff.


The Bank War In the middle of the tariff crisis Jackson faced a serious challenge from the supporters of the Second Bank of the United States. The Second Bank stood at the center of the American financial system. It’s most important role was to stabilize the nation’s money supply. A. By collecting currency notes and regularly demanding specie, the Second Bank kept the state banks from issuing too many notes. II. During the 1820s, the bank maintained monetary stability and restrained expansion-minded banks in the West, forcing some to close. This policy was welcomed by bankers and entrepreneurs in Boston, NY, and Philadelphia, whose capital was underwriting economic development, but it aroused hostility among state bankers and the public at large. A. Most Americans did not understand the regulatory role of the Second Bank and feared its ability to force bank closures, which often left citizens holding worthless paper notes. B. Some wealthy Americans also resented the financial power wielded by the bank, especially its monopoly of government funds and its regulation of the nation’s credit. Thus some NY bankers, including supporters of Martin Van Buren, wanted federal monies deposited in their institutions; and expansionist-minded bankers in western cities wanted to escape supervision by a central bank. III. However, neither Jackson nor Van Buren was a strong advocate of state-charted banks. Jackson blamed banks for financial instability in general and for the money he had lost in investments. Van Buren had long opposed the expansion of the NY banking industry and had enacted a Safety Fund system imposing strict controls on bank investments and note insurance, and setting up a fund to reimburse the noteholders of failed banks. A. Despite their reservations about the Second Bank, the 2 leaders would not destroy it in order to assist state bankers. Jackson’s Veto and the Election of 1832 I. It was a political miscalculation by the supporters of the Second Bank that brought about its downfall.


A. B.

In 1832 Jackson’s opponents in congress, led by Clay and Webster, persuaded Biddle to request an early recharter of the Bank. They knew that many Democrats favored the bank and calculated that they had the votes to get the rechartering bill through congress. Their strategy was to lure Jackson into an unpopular veto that would split the democratic party just before the 1832 elections. Jackson turned the tables on Clay and Webster by vetoing the bill. He declared that congress had no constitutional authority to charter a national bank. He also employed the egalitarian republican rhetoric of the American Revolution, attacking the bank as dangerous to the liberties of the American people. He assailed the bank as the nest of a special privilege and monopoly power. He evoked popular support by pointing to the heavy


investments in the Bank’s stock made by British aristocrats. Jackson’s attack on the bank carried him to victory in the presidential election of 1832. He chose Martin Van Buren as his vice president.

Together they confronted Clay, who headed the National Republican ticket. Clay attacked Jackson for abusing patronage and the veto power and promoted a revitalization of the American System, including rechartering the Second Bank. B. Jackson’s most fervent supporters were farmers and workers whose lives had been disrupted by price fluctuations or falling wages. But many promoters of growth were also Jacksonians. Destruction of the Second Bank I. Immediately after his reelection Jackson launched an outright attack on the Second Bank. He decided to destroy it immediately by withdrawing the funds of the national government. A. To justify this act, Jackson claimed that the recent election had given him a mandate to destroy the Second Bank. It was the first time a president claimed that victory at the polls allowed him to act independently of congress. II. The bank war continued. Democrats in the House of Representatives defended Jackson, but in March 1834 his opponents passed a resolution, written by Clay, that censured the president and warned of despotism. A. Nicholas Biddle tried to bring down Jackson by sharply reducing loans by the Second Bank.


B. Although this contraction in the supply of credit caused a brief economic recession, Jackson and Taney refused to recharter the Bank. Indian Removal I. The status of the native American peoples was as problematic as the tariff and the Second Bank, and it also raised issues of federal vs. state power. A. By the 1820s white voices throughout the trans-Appalachian West were calling for the removal of Indians and their resettlement west of the Mississippi river. B. Removal was also favored by many eastern whites, including those who were sympathetic to native Americans. Political and Legal Maneuvers I. Jackson endorsed Indian removal in his first inaugural address in 1829 and soon began to implement it, especially in the Old Southwest. This region was home to the so-called Five Civilized Tribes: the Cherokee, Creeks, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Seminole. A. Indian peoples still controlled vast tracks of land in the region, and some of them had adopted European practices and values. B. This assimilation to white culture was especially apparent among the Cherokee. They had organized an unusually centralized political system to resist the advancing white settlers, who wanted Indian lands for growing cotton. A national council headed by 2 respected chiefs oversaw members of the tribe w/respect to certain activities. Reflecting European ideas, the council declared that inheritances should pass from father to son. C. These innovations were primarily the work of a small faction of Christian Cherokee mixed-bloods, mostly the offspring of white fur traders and Indian women. They learned the language and political ways of whites, and some emulated the life-style of southern planters. D. To protect their land and that of the tribe, the mixed-bloods attempted to forge a strong national identity. Full-blooded Cherokee, who made up 90% of the tribe, resisted many of the mixed-bloods’ cultural and political innovations II. Cherokee preferences carried no weight w/Jackson, who was a committed Indian fighter, or w/the political leaders of Georgia. A. B.
When the Cherokee adopted their new constitution and proclaimed themselves a separate nation within the US, the Georgia legislature rejected their claim. It declared that they were merely a collection of individuals who were tenants of state-owned land. Upon becoming president, Jackson threw his support to Georgia. He then pushed through congress the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which offered Native Americans land west of the Mississippi in exchange for their ancestral holdings in the east. To encourage native Americans to accept these terms, Jackson instructed his agents to promise that in the trans-Mississippi West, there would be no white claims on land.

Unwilling to fight against well-armed federal troops and land-hungry American settlers, some 70 peoples negotiated treaties w/the US government. III. As Jackson determinedly pursued the Indian removal, mixed-blood Cherokee carried their case to the Supreme Court claiming that they were a foreign nation. A. In Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, John Marshall denied the Indians’ claim of national independence. He declared that the Indian peoples enjoyed only partial autonomy and defined them as “domestic dependent nations.” B. In Worcester v. Georgia, Marshall sided w/the Cherokee, voiding Georgia’s extension of state law over the tribe and holding that Indian nations were “distinct political communities.” Indian Wars and the Trail of Tears I. Ignoring the court, Jackson pressed ahead w/his removal policy. In 1832 he dispatched US troops to dislodge chief Black Hawk and his Sauk and Fox followers from their ancestral villages in rich farmland along the Mississippi River in western Illinois. A. After a series of clashes, the American forces rejected Black Hawk’s offer to surrender and pursued him into the Wisconsin territory. The clash ended in the Bad Ax Massacre. B. During the next 5 years a combination of diplomatic pressure and military power forced virtually all the remaining Indian peoples to move west of the Mississippi. II. The greatest Indian resistance continued to occur in the Old Southwest. Despite mounting opposition to forced removal in Congress, Martin Van Buren, who had followed Jackson as president, refused to compromise. A. When the Cherokee repudiated a treaty that had been signed by a minority faction and had not left their lands by the May 1838 deadline, the president ordered General Winfield Scott’s to remove them. B. His army rounded up 14,000 Cherokee and forcibly marched them 1, 200 miles to the new Indian Territory. C. Using military power, the national government had asserted its control over the Indian peoples and forced their removal to the West. The Jacksonian Legacy I. During his presidency Jackson had destroyed both national banking and the American System of protective tariffs and internal improvements. The result was a significant constriction in the economic powers and policies of the national government. II. During the nullification crisis, Jackson stood firmly for the union, denying the right of succession and threatening to use military force. His policy of Indian removal enhanced the scope of federal power over Native Americans. A. He greatly expanded the power of nation’s chief executive. III. As Jackson and his followers came to dominate American politics, they used their new power to infuse many American institutions w/their principles. A. After Marshall’s death, Roger Taney became chief justice of the supreme court. He persuaded the court to reverse or modify many of his predecessor’s decisions. He court bestowed constitutional legitimacy on Jackson’s policies of antimonopoly and states’ rights. B. In the case Charles River Bridge Co. v. Warren Bridge Company, Taney undermined the legal position of chartered monopolies by ruling that the charter issued to the Charles River Bridge Company did not convey an exclusive, monopolistic right to convey an exclusive, monopolistic right to carry goods and people over the river b/c no such right was explicitly stated by the MA legislature. Consequently, Taney ruled, the legislature retained the right to charter a competing bridge company to serve the public. C. Taney’s decision in the Charles River Bridge case qualified John Marhshall’s interpretation of the contract clause in such cases as Dartmouth College v. Woodward. It also encouraged competitive enterprise, opening the way for legislatures to charter railroads that could compete w/existing canal and turnpike companies w/o the fear of lawsuits. IV. Other decisions by the Taney Court retreated from Marshall’s nationalist interpretation of the commerce clause and enhanced the regulatory role of state governments.


A. B. V.

In Mayor of New York v. Miln, the Taney court ruled that the absence of federal regulations, NY state could use its “police power” to inspect the health of arriving immigrants. The Taney court also restored to the states some of the economic powers they had exercised before 1787.

Jacksonian Democrats in various states mounted their own constitutional revolutions. B/w 1830 and 1860 20 states called conventions that fundamentally revised their constitutions and greatly enhanced their democratic aspects. A. Most states expanded the vote to all white men and reapportioned their legislatures on the basis of population. They also brought government “near to the people” by cutting the number of appointed posts and mandating the election of most officials, including sheriffs, justices of the peace, and judges. B. Most constitutions likewise implemented Jacksonian economic ideals by prohibiting states from granting special charters to corporations or extending loans or credit guarantees to private businesses. C. Jacksonian constitutions protected tax payers setting strict limits on state indebtedness and encouraging judges to enforce them. Just as Jackson had undermined the American System of government subsidies on the national level, his disciples in the states subverted the commonwealth philosophy of economic development that depended on charted monopolies and state subsidies. Jacksonian Democrats embraced a small-government outlook, rejecting regulation of the economy and society in favor of a laissez-faire policy that allowed more decisions to be made by ordinary people acting in the marketplace. Class, Culture, and Second Party System I. The rise of the Democrats and Jackson’s tumultuous presidency sparked the creation in the mid-1830s of a 2nd national party—the Whigs. For the next 2 decades, Whigs and Democrats dominated American politics, forming the Second Party System. A. Many evangelical Protestants became Whigs. Whereas most Catholics and non-evangelical Protestants joined the Democrats. B. The 2 parties competed fiercely for votes, debating issues of economic policy, class power, and moral reform and offering Americans a clear choice b/w political programs. The Whigs and Their Outlook I. The Whig Party began in 1834, when opponents of Jackson banded together to protest his policies and high-handed actions. They accused Jackson of acting like an American monarch and violating the Constitution. A. Initially, the congressional Whigs were led by senators Webster, Clay, and Calhoun, who were united primarily by their opposition to Jackson. Whig Ideology I. During the election of 1836 the Whigs elaborated their plan for the nation’s future, formulating a party platform and seeking votes among evangelical Protestants and upwardly mobile middle- and working-class citizens in the North. A. Their philosophy took issue w/the assumption of many Jacksonians and radical reformers who believed that all men were born equal and therefore condemned most distinctions of wealth and status. B. Like the Federalists, they believed that it was natural for individuals to have different abilities and acquire different amounts of wealth. To reconcile the resulting economic hierarchy w/republicanism, they exalted the equality of opportunity; unlike the Federalists, Whigs wanted an elite selected on the basis of talent, not birth. II. The Whigs also justified elite rule by celebrating the role played by enterprising entrepreneurs and activist governments in increasing the nation’s wealth. Suggesting that industrialization had increased social harmony, Whig leaders welcomed the investments of “moneyed capitalists” as increasing the chances of improvement for those with less. A. Many workers agreed, especially those holding jobs in the NE textile factories and PA iron mills that benefited from state subsidies and protective tariffs. B. To continue economic progress, Everett and northern Whigs called for a return to the American System of Henry Clay and John Quicny


Adams. Southern Whigs like Calhoun had a different perspective. They advocated rapid economic development, though they opposed high tariffs and social fluidity. A. Calhoun argued that the northern Whig ideal of equal opportunity was contradicted not only by slavery, which he considered a fundamental American institution, but also by the wage labor system of industrial capitalism. B. Many northern Whigs rejected Calhoun’s class-conscious vision.

Webster and other Whigs counted on the growing size and prosperity of the northern middle class, which had become the backbone of their party. A. In the election of 1834 the Whigs won a majority in the HOR by appealing to prosperous farmers, smalltown merchants, and skilled industrial workers in NE, NY, and the new communities along the Great Lakes. Those voters were particularly attracted to the Whig’s ideology of individual social mobility. The Influence of Anti-Masonry I. Many Whig voters were former Anti-Masons, members of a short-lived but powerful political movement directed against the secret Order of Freemasonry. Many Americans feared that Masons formed an aristocracy fraternity whose members unfairly used their influence to assist one another. A. In 1826 this resentment turned into anger following the kidnapping and murder of William Morgan, who had threatened to reveal the secrets of the group. B. By 1830 Anti-Masonic agitation had spread through many states in the North and Midwest, and the party held a national convention. Many Anti-Masons were strongly religious migrants from NE or those who shared their Yankee faith in moral discipline and selfimprovement. II. Once the Anti-Masons had driven their Mason enemies from local and state offices, their movement collapsed. Many gravitated to the new Whig Party. A. Picking up on Anti-Masonic themes—temperance, equality of opportunity, evangelical religious values—Whigs developed a political program that was far broader than congressional opposition to Jacksons “usurpations” had been. B. On the state and local levels Whigs revived the program of moral reform of the Benevolent Empire, advocating legal restrictions on the sale of alcohol and bylaws that preserved Sunday as a day of worship. C. Thanks to the influx of Anti-Masons, the Whigs became the party of evangelical religion and social reform as well as of nationalistic economic principles. Whigs and the Election of 1836 I. Henry Clay carried the Whig message into the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys, where it appealed to farmers, bankers, and shopkeepers who favored public investment in roads, canals, and bridges. In the South, support for the Whigs was much more fragmentary and rested more on the appeal of specific policies than on agreement w/the Whig’s social vision. A. Many nonslaveholding whites in the backcountry voted Whig to break the grip over state politics held by rich planters, most of whom were Democrats. B. A significant of wealthy planters became Whigs, especially those who had invested in railroads, banks, and factories and had close ties to northern markets. C. Some states’ rights Democrats in Virginia and SC shared Calhoun’s anger at Jackson’s forceful suppression of nullification and joined the Whigs in protest. II. In the election of 1836 the Whigs faced Martin Van Buren, who emphasized his opposition to the American System and support of “equal



rights.” He also promised to preserve American “liberty.” A. He warned that the Whigs would use national laws and subsidies to encourage economic development, undermining the rights of the states and creating an oppressive government. B. Positioning himself as the defender of individual rights, VB opposed the plans of Whigs and moral reformers to use legal means to impose temperance, evangelical religious values, or abolition of slavery. III. To oppose VB, the Whigs put forward 4 candidates, each of whom had a strong regional base. Party leaders counted on their candidates getting enough electoral votes to throw the contest into the HOR, which they controlled. While this plan failed, the size of the popular vote for the Whig candidates showed that the party’s message of economic improvement and moral uplift had appealed to many people of different backgrounds. Later Politics and the Depression of 1837-1843 I. The prolonged and steady expansion of the economy from 1821-1836 had led many Americans to consider prosperity a permanent feature of life. Working Men’s Parties and the Employers’ Response I. The new political movement of forming Working Mens’ parties was partly a response to the inequities of early capitalist industrialization. A rapid rise in prices brought new recruits into the Working Men’s movement. Rising prices and stagnant wages had lowered the standard of living of many urban artisans and wage earners. III. The ideology underlying the Working Men’s parties was artisan republicanism. They called for a society in which all men would work for themselves. They demanded equal rights for all Americans and the abolition of private banks and chartered monopolies. A. At first these parties did well in urban areas, but divisions over policy and voter apathy soon took a toll. By the 1830s most politically active members had joined the Democratic party. B. They also condemned protective tariffs and supported legislation placing taxes on the personal property of the wealthy: stocks, bonds, machinery, and furniture. IV. Many labor activists continued to focus on the workplace, encouraging artisans to take advantage of the shortage of skilled labor and bargain w/their employers. They organized new unions in small cities and General Trade Union federations in NYC and Philadelphia. A. Employers responded by attacking the union movement. B. Employers brought a series of lawsuits to overturn closed shop agreements that required them to hire only union members. They argued that such contracts violated the common law. The Panic of 1837 and Labor’s Decline I. The Panic of 1837 threw the American economy into disarray. A. It began in 1837 when the Bank of England, needing to increase the domestic supply of specie to bolster the British economy, sharply curtailed the flow of money and credit to America. B. Deprived of British funds, American planters, merchants, and canal corporations had to withdraw specie from domestic banks to pay their foreign loans and commercial debts. This drain of funds set off a general financial crisis. II. Lacking access to new bank loans, many businesses had to cut production, and trade, manufacturing, and farming quickly slid into decline. Soon the crisis engulfed state governments as tax revenues and canal tolls fell. A. 9 states defaulted on the bonds they had issued to finance canal building; others declared a moratorium on debt payments, undermining British confidence in the American economy and cutting the flow of new investment. III. The American economy fell into a deep depression. A. The canal construction rate fell by 90% and the general price level by 50%. The rate of unemployment rose. B. By creating a surplus of skilled workers, the depression killed the labor movement. By 1843 most local unions and all the national labor organizations had disappeared. IV. During the depression 2 events improved the long-term prospects of the labor movement. One was a major legal decision that gave legality to


the labor movement. A. In Commonwealth v. Hunt, the Supreme Court upheld the rights of workers to form unions and enforce a closed shop. The head of the Supreme Court of MA, Shaw, overturned common-law precedents by making 2 critical rulings: 1) a union was not an inherently illegal organization 2) union members could legally try to enforce a closed shop, even by striking. C. Labor’s 2nd success was political. In 1840 VB signed an executive order establishing 10-hour workdays for federal employees. This achievement came after the unions had lost their power in the marketplace, underlining the fact that the struggle b/w labor and capital had moved to the political arena. Tippecanoe and Tyler Too I. The depression had a significant impact on American politics. B/c few people understood the workings of the international economy, many Americans blamed the Democrats for their financial woes. In particular, they derided Jackson for destroying the Second Bank and for issuing the Specie Circular of 1836, which required western settlers to use bullion instead of notes issued by private banks to pay for land purchases. II. The public then turned its anger on VB. He had refused to revoke the Specie Circular or take actions to reverse the economic downturn. As the depression continued, the laissez-faire outlook commanded less and less political support. VB’s major piece of economic legislation, the Independent Treasury Act of 1840, delayed the process of recovery. The act pulled federal specie out of Jackson’s “pet banks” and placed it in government vaults. The Election of 1840 I. Determined to exploit VB’s weakness, the Whigs organized their first national convention in 1840 and nominated William Henry Harrison for the presidency and John Tyler for vice-president. A. Harrison had little political experience, but the Whig leaders in Congress, Clay and Webster, did not want a strong president; they planed to have Harrison rubber-stamp their program for protective tariffs and a national bank. II. This was the 1st time 2 well-organized parties competed for loyalties of a mass electorate. One result was a new political style of festive celebrations. A. Each party relied on newspapers to carry its message. B. The Democrats relied on party discipline to bring out their supporters, and the Whigs drew on the wealth of the business elite. The Tyler Administration I. The Whig triumph was short-lived. Tyler took over after Harrison’s death.





Like Calhoun, Tyler was a former Democrat who had joined the Whig Party primarily in opposition to Jackson’s stance against nullification. On economic issues Tyler followed many of Jackson’s views. B. Favoring rapid settlement of the west, he signed the Preemption Act passed by the Whig-controlled Congress in 1841. The act allowed American citizens and immigrants to claim up to 160 acres of federal land, and, if they built a house on the property and improved the land, to purchase it later. C. Tyler opposed other aspects of Clay’s American System and betrayed the Whig voters who had elected him to office. He vetoed bills that would have created a new national bank and significantly raised tariffs. The split b/w Tyler and the Whigs gave the Democrats time to regroup. By opposing Whig measures on a state level that favored bankers and manufacturers, the Democrats won support among subsistence farmers in the North. They also recruited planters by continuing to support low tariffs. A. The Democrats were partially successful in winning the votes of the Irish-Catholic and German immigrants, who now formed a substantial minority in many cities in the North and Midwest. B. Supporting the immigrant’s demands for religious and cultural freedom, they opposed Whig proposals to use the Protestant Bible in public


schools and to regulate saloons and the consumption of alcohol. In most parts of the nation, their policy of “equal rights” states’ rights, and cultural liberty was more attractive than the Whig platform of economic nationalism, moral reform, and individual mobility.

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