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Andrew Jackson and the Rise of Liberal Capitalism

Andrew Jackson was not plainly a common man or an aristocrat, in fact a combination of the two. He came into popularity on the frontier and was not of aristocratic decent he is often considered to be a common man. From the beginning of his career in Tennessee, he considered himself an aristocrat. As a result his tastes, manners and life style were shaped accordingly. Although he considered himself, an aristocrat he was similar to the common man in that he could not spell and he lacked education and culture. Jackson was a self-made man, a blend of pioneer and aristocrat.

Jackson began his life as a commoner who after losing all of his family began studying law, and worked on building his own political reputation. The title Andrew Jackson and the Rise of Liberal Capitalism reflected Jackson life, political career, and also points out his views on democracy. Jackson was a wealthy man, who came from a wealthy family. However his views on government did not neglect classes, and favored the common man. People in the country looked at Jackson as strong leader, who proved himself worthy in war and in politics.

The common man looked up to Jackson, and this lead him to have a great influence in all things that he said. A transaction between Jacksonian’s and their generation must be found. “Although industrialization had begun to take root, this was still a nation of farms and towns”(Hofstadter, pg 73). The country was changing economically and Jackson, who was had great influence on the people, changed the way the country looked at its economy. Jackson’s hatred of the national bank began in 1796 with one incident that had a disastrous effect upon Jackson’s fortunes.

Defaulted notes from merchandise he had sold resulted in great debt that took him years to pay off. This event sewed in him his dislike of the paper money system. Then again, with the panic of 1819 his resentment towards the Eastern Money Power and national bank grew. During this time, an ensuing depression fell hard upon the people of the west and south, including Jackson who had regained his financial footing. The depression was the result of rapid expansion, speculation, and wildcat banking. In the west men had placed all their resources into reckless buying of land.

The banks were forced to press their debtors to repay their loans. Jackson who lived in the west saw what was happening and consequently his resentment towards the national bank grew. Jackson also loathed the national bank for economic as well as political reasons. He thought the law that had created the bank was unconstitutional. He criticized the bank for failing to establish a “uniform and sound” currency. Jackson favored a “hard money” policy that was based strictly on currency, or gold and silver. Jackson also attacked the bank as a monopoly.

He said too much power would threaten democratic government because it meddled in politics. All the events that Jackson experienced along with his personal feelings helped him to make the decision to veto the bill that would charter the national bank for an additional term. Jackson’s war against the national bank during his first administration, resulted in mostly negative effects. However, he did have one positive effect from his battle with the national bank. After pursuing the bank war to completion Jackson found defeat in victory.

During his second term, Jackson decided to remove all federal funds from the national bank. By destroying the national bank Jackson had removed the only restraint on the wildcatters, and by removing the funds he placed capital in the hands of inflationist. Jacksonian democracy glorified the equality of all adult white males, or the common man. It did not like other men who had advantages such as the rich and the elite. Jacksonians democracy was a revival of Jeffersonianism with modifications from new influences.

The agricultural aspect was moderated to because of heavy industrialization but the economic aspect regarding the laboring classes, human rights and control of industrialism was expanded. Jackson felt that too much government powers corrupted society; “there are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. “(Hofstadter pg 79). The common man was supposed to benefit from Jacksonian democracy. These included the farmer, the settlers, those who did not have much going for them and the only way was up.

They got voting rights because many states had abolished property requirements. The common people were mostly settlers of the west and southwest. Richard Hofstadter viewed Andrew Jackson as a people’s person, who the common man could relate to, one who did what was best for the masses. He favored all the classes, and gave no advantages in industry, stated, “ask only for fair play and open field”(Pg 86). He was looked at as a hero when he left office, and expanded opportunity through equality, and till the time he died in 1845, would leave a lasting mark on the nation.

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