Jacksonian Democracy refers to the political philosophy of United States President Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson’s policies followed in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson. Jackson’s Democratic Party was resisted by the rival Whig Party. More broadly, the term refers to the period of the Second Party System (1824-1854) when Jacksonian philosophy was ascendant as well as the spirit of that era. It can be contrasted with the characteristics of Jeffersonian democracy, which dominated the previous political era. Jackson’s equal political policy became known as Jacksonian Democracy, subsequent to ending what he termed a “monopoly” of government. The Jacksonian era saw a great increase of respect and power for the common man, as the electorate expanded to include all white male adult citizens, rather than only land owners in that group.
In contrast to the Jeffersonian era, Jacksonian democracy promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public’s participation in government. Jacksonians believed in enfranchising all white men, rather than just the propertied class, and supported the patronage system that enabled politicians to appoint their supporters into administrative offices, arguing it would reduce the power of elites and prevent aristocracies from emerging. They demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms the Jacksonians favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of Manifest Destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided. The Jacksonian Era lasted roughly from Jackson’s 1828 election until the slavery issue became dominant after 1850 and the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics as the Third Party System emerged.