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American history to 1865
week 4
HIS 203 Week 4 DQ 1 The Jackson Era

HIS 203 Week 4 DQ 1 The Jackson Era

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Few presidents have placed their stamp on a period of American history to the same degree as Andrew Jackson; indeed, the second quarter of the nineteenth century is often referred to as the Age of Jackson. Jackson’s legacy, however, is more complex than is often realized. Hailed as the champion of the “common man,” he was a wealthy slaveholder accustomed to getting his way and who presided during a time when citizenship and race became increasingly and explicitly intertwined. Jackson expanded executive powers at the expense of Congress in the name of democracy, even though the House of Representatives had been intended as a democratic check on the power of the president. He vetoed the Second Bank of the United States in the name of the Constitution, and then killed the bank by means in which two of his own cabinet appointees opposed as unconstitutional (see Feller, 2008, in the recommended readings for more about the “Bank War”). Jackson claimed to embody the nation because a majority of voters had elected him, yet few presidents have been so thoroughly despised by so many of their countrymen. To date, Jackson remains the only president to inspire the creation of a major political party formed primarily out of opposition to him.

Assess the accomplishments and failings of Jackson’s presidential career, with an eye toward the following questions: a. How did Jackson and his supporters transform the American political system? In other words, how did the Second Party System differ from the First? b. In what specific ways was Jackson more democratic than his predecessors? Did his view of democracy extend to all Americans? c. What were the most significant challenges Jackson faced during his presidency, and how did he address those challenges? d. Why did so many Americans so fiercely oppose Jackson?

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