Throughout time changes have been made to our country’s government in hopes of improving it, and reducing the flaws it has. Andrew Jackson made changes to our country in hopes of increasing its chances of longevity; however his methods in doing so are to this day very controversial. While Andrew Jackson was known as “the people’s president” his methods for improving America were quite ambiguous, and the concept of Jacksonian democracy is highly criticized. Andrew Jackson made contributions to our country while holding office; however his tactics were anything but democratic. Growing up on the frontier Andrew Jackson was the first president to not grow up wealthy, later in his life it proved to be useful in trying to appeal to voters, which proved to be successful.
Yet in the race for presidency, even though he had won the votes, he did not win the election; John Quincy Adams, with the help of Jackson’s enemy Henry Clay, became president. In the next election to come Andrew Jackson had proved to be more successful, in acquiring the role of the president, both Jackson, and his ally Martin Van Buren, created a political organization, in what is now known as the democratic party. All seemed well, and politically Andrew Jackson had not made a mistake yet, However although he was known as a man of the people, Jackson believed in and promoted slavery. Jackson owned a plantation named The Hermitage. The Hermitage was a huge self-sufficient plantation that raised cotton and relied on the labor of African American men, women, and children. On his plantation there was rigorous labor that his slaves preformed daily. Due to the hard work of Jackson’s slaves, he continued to profit, and allowed him to acquire more land, thus he bought more men women and children to work his land, and help continue prosperity the Jackson family.
Moreover, Andrew Jackson was skilled in military tactics; however he used his knowledge to take millions of acres of land from Native Americans. In 1814 he commanded the U.S. military forces that defeated a faction of the Creek nation. In their defeat, the Creeks lost 22 million acres of land in southern Georgia and central Alabama. As president, he continued to try and acquire more Indian land for white settlers who wanted to grow cotton, much like him. In 1830 Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act which allowed the government to move the Indians out of cotton rich land, and into Indian reservations out west. This travel took a toll on many of the tribes, and the journey the Indians took came to be known as the “Trail of Tears”. In addition, there was the Supreme Court case of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, where the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Cherokee Nation.
This ruling of the Supreme Court did not stop Jackson and his followers from driving the Cherokees off of their land, which people viewed unconstitional from Jackson’s part. Furthermore, Jackson was also known for many “injustices” while holding office, and criticized for expanding the power of the presidency. He was also known for rewarding his political supporters with government jobs. When it was brought up to his attention, he responded by claiming he was replacing aristocrats with the common man.
Jackson stated “To the victor go the spoils,” and thus created the spoils system in government. Lastly, Jackson was portrayed as a sort of tyrant by his enemies, they even named him “King Andrew the First,” this was due to Jackson having the most vetoes out of all the presidents that came before him. With so many vetoes on Jackson’s part sometimes it seemed difficult to get anything done. His denial of a bill to re-charter a Second Bank of the United States was a significant event in Jackson’s term.
To conclude, While Andrew Jackson did have a few positive outcomes for our country while he was president, it doesn’t ensure that he was completely democratic. In fact, his actions were quite opposite of democratic views. He did not respect Native Americans or African Americans. He used His military background to assist in the removal of Indians from their land, so that white Americans can raise cotton, while the Indians were moved westward so that they would not make obstacles for white colonists who wanted to expand. And he contributed in the creation of the spoils system. Andrew Jackson did strengthen the two-party system, he was not completely democratic.
“Jacksonian democracy and modern America” USHistory.org 06 Nov 2014 < http://www.ushistory.org/us/23f.asp>
“Slavery at the Hermitage” Thehermitage.com 06 Nov 2014
“Trail of Tears” History.com 06 Nov 2014
“Jacksonian Democracy” History.com 06 Nov 2014