Jeffersonian & Jacksonian Democracies Jeffersonian Term Paper

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.." And with that that party "controls the spoils of office" by appointing people friendly to the president's election to positions of influence and by keeping the party's masses happy by giving them what they asked for.

In defining HOW and WHY, and UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS the CHANGE CAME on the national political scene that vaulted Andrew Jackson (a roughneck frontier and war hero with little sophistication vis-a-vis national politics and diplomatic elitism) - i.e., Jacksonian Democracy - into the White House, University of Chicago social science professor Marvin Meyers writes in American Quarterly (Meyers 1953) that there are three distinct phases to examine. Put in the context of published volumes that would cover these three phases, Meyers lays it out: one, "the revolt of the urban masses against a business aristocracy"; two, "simple farming folk rise against the chicanery of capitalist slickers"; and three, "...tense with the struggle of the fresh forest democracy for liberation from an effete East." There would be another volume to add to those rather creative descriptions, and that would be the creation (under Jackson) of the "party machine," which helped (and helps today) to produce votes from a "mass electorate" through the careful and clever manipulation of themes mentioned earlier in this paragraph.

Jackson also benefited from the great debate over the renewal of the charter of the Bank of the United States; Jackson managed to paint a picture of himself as the protector of the "great body of citizens, demanding only an equal chance"; while the other side was "a small greedy aristocracy, full of tricks and frauds." Jackson was against renewing the bank's charter, and he urged his adopted son (quoted in Meyers' research) to "Keep clear of Banks and indebtedness...and you will live a freeman." Jackson later vetoed the legislation renewing the bank's charter, saying that "It is time to pause in our career to review our principles, and if possible revive that devoted patriotism and spirit of compromise which distinguished the sages of the Revolution ad the fathers of our Union" (quoted by Naomi Wulf in ATQ)

All that having been said, Jacksonian Democracy cannot be linked with the "rise of abolitionism" or with such issues as "the temperance movement, school reform, religious enthusiasm or theological liberalism" (Meyers 4). In short, Jackson did not get known as a politician who leaned on popular moral or ethical issues for support. The fact is that Jackson rose to a national position "on the strength of reputed personal qualities," Meyers writes (5). And those qualities that the new voter and the disenfranchised former Jeffersonian voter appreciated were "the blunt, tough, courageous 'Old Hero' of New Orleans." Andrew Jackson was "honest and plain"; he was "Old Hickory" and in this case, Meyers goes on, "old" refers to "old-style," a throwback to the ways of "our fathers." Jackson matched up well with Revolutionary heroes, Meyers writes, and the kind of world that was revealed in the rhetoric of Jackson was much like the public image of the man, Meyers explains: "strikingly personal and dramatic, built upon the great struggle of people vs. aristocracy for mastery of the public."

Meyers says that Jackson's appeal - and what really stole the reins of power from the Jeffersonian style of leadership - was brought about by the need for "...a restoration of old virtues and a (perhaps imaginary) old republican way of life" (6). Jacksonian appeal, in Meyers' view, was the image of a "calm and stable order of republican simplicity, content with the modest rewards of useful toil." Moreover, Jacksonian appeal offered all those new voters "a powerful strain of restorationism" and, Meyers continues, "a stiffening of republican backs against the busy tinkerings" and against "...the restless projects of innovation and reform." Jackson stood - at least in the public image he put forward to the masses that elected him - firmly against "...greed and extravagance, rapid motion and complex dealings."


Politicians today and throughout American political history have learned from Jacksonian strategies; one way this learning has been passed down is by understanding that the rhetoric that gets votes is that which invokes "the American people" as the real issue at hand. Jackson used "people" very often in his speeches. The rhetoric that wins the hearts and minds of ordinary working people is that politics in Washington D.C. is evil, out of control, and the big-wigs back there are just looking out for themselves and not the working class. Plain-spoken people like Ronald Reagan, who, like Jackson, was an "outsider" that vowed to reform Washington, have learned from the Jacksonian tradition. What Jackson also created, as mentioned earlier, is the power that a strong political party can bring to bear on election day; especially when that party has grassroots in every urban community, and good state-wide organizations. The principal that the "party was to be 'above' the men in it" (Aldrich 266) can also be traced back to Jackson. Parties have DIFFERED from the Jacksonian style too because now that modern technology makes it possible for an individual to run for national office, the party machinery is not really needed. The party "used to have virtual monopoly over the campaign," Aldrich writes (267); but "television...high speed travel, and eventually computerization...have made it possible for the individual politician to contact the large enough numbers" to have an effective campaign. Another addition to the modern campaign's success is the public relations expert, or as Eldersveld & Walton write, "media specialists" - the experts that carve out the "nature, scope, and type of relationship the candidate will have with the public" (Eldersveld et al., 315).

WHY DID JEFFERSONIAN DEMOCRACY NOT PREVAIL? It appears that those in the Jeffersonian milieu lost touch with the great bulk of voters spreading out across the nation. It was easy back then to become Washington-centered and forget the little farmer and the factory worker who was looking for a plain-spoken leader to identify with. Three presidents carried the Jeffersonian banner but when Andrew Jackson, folk hero, man of simple messages, came along, there had been sufficient growth in the American electorate - and sufficient yearning for change - to put him over the top. and, in effect, that spelled defeat for Jeffersonian democracy, and a victory for Jacksonian democracy.

Works Cited

Aldrich, John H. Why Parties? Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Brown, David. "Jeffersonian Ideology and the Second Party System." Historian 62.1 (1999):

Eldersveld, Samuel J.; & Walton, Hanes. Political Parties in American Society. Boston: Bedford/

St. Martin's,

Flanigan, William H.; & Zingale, Nancy H. Political Behavior of the American Electorate.

Washington, D.C.: CQ Press (a Division of Congressional Quarterly), 1998.

Kohl, Lawrence Frederick. "The Politics of Long Division: The birth of the Second Party

System." American…

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