Andrew Jackson was the most instrumental personality who transformed the course of democracy in America. He was credited as the only US president who championed democracy by expanding the democratic space for those who had been politically disenfranchised. For a long time, the American culture had been politically segregated since the common folks could not democratically participate in electoral process.
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From 1820s up to mid 1850s, there was improved organization of political parties. The latter were used as instruments for airing the voices of the people. In addition, the right to participate in electoral processes was expanded among the white males. These two factors changed the American democratic system. Between 1820s and 1850s, more white males won the right to vote.
Besides, political parties became more organized. As a result, the face of American democracy changed. The national political parties were recognized more during this period. These parties also started taking part in partisan politics with limited restriction of their activities. It should be understood that before the onset of the 19th century, property ownership was used as the main qualification to take part in political engagements such as voting.
While the whites were enjoying an expanded political space, the African Americans were significantly excluded from participating in political processes bearing in mind that politics was made more restrictive.
However, the continued agitation for better democratic space led to improved active participation of both the white males and African Americans. By the end of 1840, white males had been permitted to vote in almost all the states except Louisiana, Virginia, and Rhode Island.
For the African Americans, they were excluded from voting in five states only. However, women were still not allowed to vote. During President Andrew Jackson’s reign, the two-party conflict was revived by political leaders. This conflict was a common feature during the era of Jeffersonian Republicans and the Federalists. The party politics and the associated conflicts became dominant especially when Andrew Jackson led his presidential campaign in 828.
New form of democracy was not merely created by the Whigs, National Republicans or the Democrats. There were several other smaller political parties that conducted their affairs in the most unique way. For instance, the Workingmen’s party took advantage of the urban centers located in New England and northeastern regions. This party also marketed itself as a labor movement and hence, it comprised of most of the craftsmen who were already skilled in various artistic works.
The party was keen in drawing the attention of workers who were facing the hard times of industrial revolution. Moreover, religion played a critical role in advancing the political space through reform agenda based on rights for women, abolishment of slavery, terminating prostitution and advocating for temperance. Religion was a major channel used by politicians to agitate for fairness in society.
Although religion was not supposed to be part and parcel of political and democratic reforms needed in America, the political class could not avoid passing their campaigns in political gatherings since such forums provided large numbers of people who could be addressed within a short time. Such democratic transformations continued even after the reign of President Andrew Jackson.
In spite of the contribution made by Andrew Jackson in the transformation of American culture towards democracy, the modern historians do not consider him worthwhile at all in the development of American democracy. They have indeed descried Jackson as a mere raging fanatic who only pursued personal political ambitions at the expense of advancing American democracy.
He has been bashed by the modern historical scholars. Some historians argue that Andrew Jackson created a trail of tears when he interfered with the original settlement of the Native Americans. This is the same experience which Jefferson went through in spite of his significant contribution in the political development of America. It is surprising that this type of negative criticism never existed six decades ago.
This implies that even though Andrew Jackson was a powerful figure in the cultural advancement of Americans, the contemporary historians have attempted to degrade him. One of the social ills that Jackson has been accused of by the modern historians is that he did not fight for the basic rights of the minorities such as Indians. Nonetheless, some historians have remained impartial when giving account of Jackson’s contribution in the cultural and democratic growth of the American society during the 19th century.
During the 1830s, white suffrage was heavily expanded in the northern states. This was also the time when the black males were finding their way into the political process through voting. These were the same years when Andrew Jackson was on the forefront campaigning for a higher political office. He even gave a lot of attention to white aliens who had become American citizens. In other words, Andrew Jackson merged all the diverse cultures by making sure that they were not disenfranchised.
Wiebe, Robert. Self-Rule: A Cultural History of American Democracy, Part 4. London: University of Chicago Press, 1996.
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- Robert Wiebe, Self-Rule: A Cultural History of American Democracy, Part 4. (London: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 17.
- Ibid, 28
- Ibid, 29
- Ibid, 33