Chapter 13 The Rise of a Mass Democracy Chapter 13 The Rise of Mass Democracy Chapter summary Beginning in the 1820s, a powerful movement celebrating the common person and promoting the “New Democracy” transformed the earlier elitist character of American politics. The controversial election of the Yankee sophisticate John Quincy Adams in 1824 angered the followers of Andrew Jackson. ?Jackson’s sweeping presidential victory in 1828 represented the political triumph of the New Democracy, including the spoils-rich political machines that thrived in the new environment.Jackson’s simple, popular ideas and rough-hewn style reinforced the growing belief that any ordinary person could hold public office. The “Tariff of Abominations” and the nullification crisis with South Carolina revealed a growing sectionalism and anxiety about slavery that ran up against Jackson’s fierce nationalism. ?Jackson exercised the powers of the presidency against his opponents, particularly Calhoun and Clay.
He made the Bank of the United States a symbol of evil financial power and killed it after a bitter political fight.Destroying the bank reinforced Jacksonians’ hostility to concentrated and elite-dominated financial power, but also left the United States without any effective financial system. ?Jackson’s presidency also focused on issues of westward expansion. Pursuing paths of “civilization,” Native Americans of the Southeast engaged in extensive agricultural and educational development.
But pressure from white settlers and from the state governments proved overwhelming, and Jackson finally supported the forced removal of all southeastern Indians to Oklahoma along the “Trail of Tears. ? In Texas, American settlers successfully rebelled against Mexico and declared their independence. Jackson recognized the Texas Republic but, because of the slavery controversy, he refused its application for annexation to the United States. ?Jackson’s political foes soon formed themselves into the Whig party, but in 1836 they lost to his handpicked successor, Van Buren. Jackson’s ill-considered economic policies came home to roost under the unlucky Van Buren, as the country plunged into a serious depression following the panic of 1837.
The Whigs used these economic troubles and the political hoopla of the new mass democratic process to elect their own hero in 1840, following the path of making a western aristocrat into a democratic symbol. The Whig victory signaled the emergence of a new two-party system, in which the two parties’ genuine philosophical differences and somewhat different constituencies proved less important than their widespread popularity and shared roots in the new American democratic spirit. CHAPTER THEMETheme: The election to the presidency of the frontier aristocrat and common person’s hero, Andrew Jackson, signaled the end of the older elitist political leadership represented by John Quincy Adams. A new spirit of mass democracy and popular involvement swept through American society, bringing new energy as well as conflict and corruption to public life. Theme: Jackson successfully mobilized the techniques of the New Democracy and presidential power to win a series of dramatic political battles against his enemies.But by the late 1830s, his Whig opponents had learned to use the same popular political weapons against the Democrats, signaling the emergence of the second American party system.
Theme: Amidst the whirl of democratic politics, issues of tariffs, financial instability, Indian policy, and possible expansion in Texas indicated that difficult sectional and economic problems were festering beneath the surface and not being very successfully addressed.