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Andrew Jackson: Accomplishments & Historical Significance

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  • 0:04 Andrew Jackson Background
  • 0:46 Jackson & the Democratic Party
  • 1:52 Jackson & the…
  • 2:54 Jackson & the Bank of the U.S.
  • 4:04 Jackson & the Indian…
  • 5:28 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Harley Davidson

Harley has taught university-level History classes and has a Ph.D. in History

Andrew Jackson was a war hero and political firebrand. This lesson explores Jackson's achievements and populist political philosophy, including his controversial Native American Removal Act.

Andrew Jackson Background

Andrew Jackson, born in 1767 to a poor family in the Carolina region, would rise to become one of the United States' most polarizing presidents. Before becoming president, he served in both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. In January 1815, Jackson led a force of mostly inexperienced volunteers against overwhelming British forces in the Battle of New Orleans. Jackson's stunning victory in the battle made him a national hero and set the stage for his successful campaigns in the United States Senate and for the presidency. As president between 1829 and 1837, Jackson fundamentally altered United States politics.

Jackson & the Democratic Party

Andrew Jackson was the first president to represent the Democratic Party. The Jeffersonian Democratic-Republican Party split into two new parties who each ran in the election of 1828: Jackson's Democratic Party and John Quincy Adam's National Republican Party. Though its ideology and political tenets have greatly shifted since Jackson's presidency, the Democratic Party has endured into the present day. Similarly, the two-party system seen in the election of 1828 has stayed in place in United States politics through modern times.

Jackson was a political populist, believing the executive branch should be empowered to combat a corrupt and out of touch Congress. He favored a Jeffersonian, laissez-faire approach to government where agricultural farmers could expand onto new lands and thrive. He espoused states' rights - but not at the expense of certain federal powers. While Jackson and his supporters believed he best spoke for the common people, Jackson's critics characterized him as 'King Andrew,' a tyrant who could wield the passions of the public against democratic institutions.

Jackson & the Nullification Crisis

Jackson's responses to two episodes are representative of his political philosophy. The first was 1832's Nullification Crisis. This was a crisis that occurred because of the high tension between North and South since the end of the Revolutionary War, particularly concerning tariffs. When Congress passed high tariffs on manufactured goods in 1828 and 1832, the agricultural Southern states were outraged. South Carolina, in particular, responded by threatening to leave the Union with the Ordinance of Nullification. This Ordinance of Nullification declared the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 null within South Carolina. Jackson deemed South Carolina's actions treacherous and asked Congress for a Force Bill which would allow the federal government to use force to require states to follow federal law. The Force Bill passed, but so did a compromise tariff, which halted the crisis. Nevertheless, tensions between North and South remained high and would ultimately lead to the Civil War three decades later.

Jackson & the Bank of the U.S.

Jackson asserted the power of the federal government in response to the Nullification Crisis, but Jackson pushed for the decentralization of federal economic power in his conflict with the Bank of the United States. The first Bank of the United States came into existence in 1791, despite heavy criticism from Southerners and Thomas Jefferson in particular. Jefferson and his supporters believed the Bank favored Northern interests over Southern. After a protracted political struggle and the War of 1812, the second Bank of the United States received a new charter in 1816.

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