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Content Reading: The Antebellum Era (1781-1860): The Rise of Jacksonian Democracy Part 2
President Andrew Jackson wanted common men to participate in the government. Through the Spoils System, Jackson hired supporters in his administration who had helped him to become President. This meant he gave jobs to loyal supporters of his campaign for the presidency.
Jackson was a huge supporter of The Indian Removal Act. In 1830, Congress passed this law to force Native Americans west and give their land to white Americans in the South. The Supreme Court actually ruled, in 1832, that the government could not force the Cherokee and others to leave. Jackson ignored the Supreme Court. The Indian Removal Act commenced and began to relocate many Native Americans. In 1838, this led to the horrific Trail of Tears in which many Native Americans died in the transition. The journey was over 800 miles long.
In 1824, many in the South were angry because of a tariff that they felt was hurting the cotton trade. A tariff is when a government taxes foreign goods to help local business not have to complete with the foreign businesses. However, this aggravated Britain and caused them to start buying less cotton due the economic barriers. A politician from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, suggested that individual states should declare a state of nullification against the tariff, meaning they would not follow it. South Carolina threatened to leave the Union and Jackson promised military action if they tried to do so. This was called the Nullification Crisis. In 1833, Henry Clay created a compromise in which the tariffs would decrease over a 10 year period.
Jackson felt the Second Federal Bank benefited the super-rich and was too powerful. Jackson wanted the Federal Bank to be abolished because it seemed to benefit only the rich. He put money in separate “pet banks” and reduced the Federal Bank’s power. Jackson had many complaints against the Federal Bank. He claimed the bank focused the nation's financial strength into a single institution and served mainly to make the rich wealthier. Jackson asserted the bank manipulated and controlled members of Congress. Jackson stressed the bank’s actions favored Northern industrial businesses and did not help Southern agrarian farmers.
In the era following Jackson, the economy quickly downturned and this led to the Panic of 1837. The “pet banks” were placed in several states and radically increased the use of credit. Many felt the “pet banks” had failed and hurt the economy. In 1838, Martin van Buren, Jackson’s Vice-President, became President. In 1840, a splinter group from the Democrats, who felt Jackson was too powerful, called the Whig Party, nominated William Henry Harrison and he won the presidency due to the poor economy that came about while Martin Van Buren was President. William Henry Harrison died while in office and his Vice-President, John Tyler, became President in 1841.
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