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"Our Federal Union: it must be preserved." -- PRESIDENT JACKSON'S toast at Jefferson's birthday banquet in Washington, April 30, 1830.
THE NEW DEMOCRACY
ANDREW JACKSON (DEMOCRAT)1
259. Jackson's Administration (Seventh President, Two Terms, 1829-1837); Character of the New President. Up to this date all the Presidents had been chosen from Virginia or from Massachusetts, and all were known to the country as statesmen of a high order. General Jackson 2 "the People's President," came from Tennessee. He had unbounded popularity in all Western communities. His military services, and especially his victory over the British at New Orleans (§ 233), had made him famous throughout the United States.
1 Reference Books (Jackson to Buchanan, inclusive). W. Wilson's "Division and Reunion," ch. 1-8; W. C. Bryant and Gay's "United States" (revised edition), IV, 291-434; W. Macdonald's "Jacksonian Democracy"; A. B. Hart's "Slavery and Abolition"; G. P. Garrison's "Westward Extension"; T. C. Clarke's "Parties and Slavery"; F. E. Chadwick's "Causes of the Civil War," ch. 1-17; J. B. McMaster's "United States," V, 523-556, VI; A. B. Hart's "American History by Contemporaries," III, ch. 24-29; IV, ch. 2-7; A. B. Hart's Source Book, ch. 15-17; J. Schouler's "United States," III, ch. 13; IV, V. See also the classified List of Books in the Appendix.
2 Andrew Jackson was of Scotch-Irish descent (§ 92). He was born in 1767, in the Waxhaw Settlement, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, close to the South Carolina boundary line. In his will and elsewhere he speaks of himself as a native of the latter state. He died in 1845. He got his early education rather from the hard, rough, dangerous life of the backwoods than from books and schools. No one could excel him in handling a rifle, or in breaking and riding a wild or vicious horse.
During the Revolution, Jackson, then a lad of fourteen, was taken prisoner by the British, and was nearly starved to death by them. Once the commanding officer ordered him to clean his boots. Young Jackson refused, saying that he was a prisoner of war, and therefore not obliged to perform such acts of drudgery for his captors. The officer, in a rage, struck him with his sword, cutting a gash on the boy's head and another on his hand. Jackson carried the scars of this brutal treatment to his grave.
In 1784 he began the study of law in Salisbury, North Carolina. Four years later he emigrated to Nashville, Tennessee, where he opened a law office. In 1797 he was elected
JACKSON'S "POLITICAL REVOLUTION"
In character Jackson was headstrong, absolutely honest, and utterly fearless. When he was roused, there was a flash in his gray eyes that startled one like the gleam of a drawn sword. His blunt speech and decided action made many bitter enemies, but he had also many devoted friends. They knew him to be a warmhearted, true-hearted, high-minded man.
260. President Jackson's "Political Revolution." The new President began his administration with what his Secretary of the Treasury called "a great political revolution." The President's friends demanded government offices. In a short time he turned out about 2000 men from their positions, and gave their places and salaries to those who had voted for him.
Jackson believed the change would be an advantage to the country; but such removals by wholesale had never been made before. During the forty years which had passed since the adoption of the Constitution, the six Presidents who had governed the country had dismissed, at the most, only about 140 persons holding office, and of this small number five were removed because they had stolen public money.
261. Jefferson's Removal of Government Officers; the "Spoils System." Jefferson had removed more persons than any previous President (§ 212). His object was to give each political party an equal share of offices. When he had made that division he said that he should ask only three questions respecting an applicant: "Is
United States senator, but soon resigned the office, "partly," says Parton, "because he felt himself out of place in so slow and dignified a body, but chiefly for pecuniary reasons." He was again elected in 1823.
During the War of 1812 Jackson was appointed a general in the regular army, and served the country with distinguished ability. When he fought the British, they found, to their cost, that he had not forgotten how they used him in the Revolution. He also gained great popularity with his men in his battles with the Indians, and his wonderful endurance of hardships got for him the affectionate nickname of "Old Hickory."
In 1828 General Jackson (with John C. Calhoun, of South Carolina, for Vice President) was elected President of the United States by the Democratic party, by a large majority over John Quincy Adams, who had then become the National Republican or Whig candidate. In 1832 he was again elected (Martin Van Buren of New York, Vice President) over Henry Clay, the Whig candidate.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
he honest? Is he capable? Is he faithful to the Constitution? If the answer was "Yes," that was enough.
When Jackson became President he began, as we have seen, by making sweeping dismissals of the men who did not agree with him in politics. He filled their places with those -- and those only -- who voted as he thought right. In doing this he intended, as he said, to effect a great "reform"; but his action established the "spoils system,"1 which Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, and other eminent statesmen denounced.
262. William Lloyd Garrison; Dr. Channing; the Anti-Slavery Movement. The question about filling government offices was pushed out of sight by the greater question about slavery. On New Year's Day, 1831, William Lloyd Garrison, then a "poor, unlearned young man," 2 published in Boston the first number of his paper called the Liberator. Mr. Garrison was its editor, owner, publisher, printer, and carrier. The Liberator demanded the "immediate and unconditional emancipation of every slave held in the United States." Mr. Garrison was resolved to free the negro, even if he had to destroy the Union to do it.3
The Southern planters believed the editor of the new paper had lost his reason; most people at the North agreed with them.4 Even many warm friends of the negro thought Mr. Garrison was wholly wrong in his methods. They felt as Dr. Charming did.
1 "Spoils System": so called because, in 1832, Senator Marcy of New York declared that "to the victors belong the spoils"; or, in other words, that the successful political party in an election has the right to make all it can out of it in the way of offices and salaries.
2 See James Russell Lowell's poem "To W. L. Garrison," beginning
In a small chamber, friendless and unseen,
Toiled o'er his types one poor, unlearned young man."
3 After laboring many years in the cause of emancipation, Mr. Garrison finally came to the conclusion that the Constitution of the United States upheld slavery, and that the dissolution of the Union, by depriving the South of the support of the North, would hasten the liberation of the slaves. In consequence of this conviction, he violently denounced the Constitution (in words taken from Isaiah xxviii. 15) as" a covenant with death and an agreement with hell." These words were then regularly printed at the top of the Liberator until the outbreak of the Civil War, when they were dropped.
4 Mr. Garrison said that he found the prejudice and contempt of Northern men harder to deal with than that of the slaveholders. In an address to the public in the first number of the Liberator he used these words: "I am in earnest -- I will not equivocate -- I will not excuse -- I will not retreat a single inch -- and I will be heard." See Life of W. L. Garrison, by his children.
INSURRECTION OF SLAVES
That eminent man wrote to Daniel Webster, declaring that we should say to the South, "We consider slavery as your calamity, not your crime; and we will share with you the burden of putting an end to it."1
263. Insurrection of Slaves in Virginia; Mr. Garrison mobbed in Boston. It so happened that in the summer following the publication of the Liberator, a terrible negro insurrection broke out in Virginia. The slaves engaged in it massacred over sixty white men, women, and children. Many Southern people believed that Mr. Garrison's object was to stir up the negroes to rise and murder their masters. There was no truth in the belief, but it powerfully increased the excitement at the South.
In the North, Mr. Garrison's appeals in behalf of the freedom of the blacks roused almost equal excitement. Gangs of "roughs" broke up meetings held to discuss emancipation, and on one occasion a howling mob dragged the editor of the Liberator through the streets of Boston with a rope round his body.
These violent outbreaks were not made out of hatred to the negro, but out of fear that Mr. Garrison was putting the country in peril. Many thoughtful men who were opposed to slavery believed that, on the whole, it was better to save the Union with slavery than to deliberately destroy it for the sake of liberating the negro. Daniel Webster held that idea, and so, as we shall see later, did Abraham Lincoln (§ 319 and note to the Proclamation of Emancipation, facing page 303).
264. Formation of Abolition Societies; Petitions to Congress about Slavery; what John Quincy Adams did. Mr. Garrison believed that he was right, and persisted in demanding the emancipation of the slaves, Union or no Union. His influence spread. In a few years nearly 2000 societies had been formed in the North for the abolition of slavery. Then many people began to petition Congress to set free all slaves held in the District of Columbia.
1 See Dr. W. E. Charming's letter to Daniel Webster (Webster's Works), May 14,1829. Dr. Charming proposed that the United States should appropriate the money from the sale of the public lands, buy the slaves from their owners, and set them free. Could that have been done, it would have saved us four years of civil war. England bought her West India slaves, and freed them, in 1833, at a cost of one hundred million dollars.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
Congress finally resolved not to receive such petitions. Ex-President John Quincy Adams (§ 249), then a member of the House of Representatives, denounced these resolutions as "gag rules," which forbade debate and were contrary to the Constitution.1 He insisted on presenting every petition that was sent to him, and sometimes offered 200 or more in a single day, amid cries of, "Treason!" and yells of "Put him out!" From this period the discussion of slavery never ceased until the North and the South took up arms to settle it on the battlefield.
265. President Jackson puts an End to the Second United States Bank; Removal of the Deposits. While the great question of emancipation was being hotly debated, Jackson was attacking the United States Bank (§ 202), which had been reëstablished (1816). He believed, as did Senator Benton of Missouri,2 that it was badly managed and unsafe. For these reasons he refused to sign a bill3 (1832) to renew the right of the bank to continue business. This refusal put an end to the bank in 1836.
Next (1833) the President removed nearly $10,000,000 of the public money which the government had in the bank. This amount, with about $40,000,000 more, was deposited later in some ninety so-called "pet banks" in different states. Speculators borrowed large sums of paper money from these banks, with others, to buy government land, and many people started wild schemes for "getting rich quick." Jackson checked this business by demanding specie4 for land, when specie was hard to find (§ 276, No. 3).
266. South Carolina resists the Tariff taxing Imported Goods. The South was at this time strongly opposed to having heavy duties or taxes imposed on goods brought into the United States. We have seen (§ 241) that the reason for this opposition was
1 On the right of the people to petition the government, see Amendments to the Constitution, Article I; but compare the right of Congress to make rules for its proceedings (Constitution, Article I, Section 5).
2 Colonel Thomas H. Benton was one of the most decided opponents of the bank. He thought paper money was unsafe, and urged Congress to adopt gold and silver currency instead of bank bills. His able speeches on this subject of "hard money" got for him the nickname of "Old Bullion."
3 Bill: a law proposed by Congress; except in certain cases, it requires the President's signature to make it complete. When he returns a bill unsigned he is said to veto it. See the Constitution, Article 1, Section 7.
4 Specie (spe'she): gold or silver money.
PREPARATIONS FOR WAR
that the people of the South had never established manufactories in any number, and therefore had to buy their woolen and cotton cloth either from the northern states, where large quantities were made, or from Europe. As labor was cheaper in Europe than in this country, the wealthy mill owners in England could afford to make cloth, send it to the United States, and sell it at a much lower price than it could be made here. Henry Clay, a member of Congress from Kentucky (§ 243), was particularly anxious to make the American producers and manufacturers independent of Europe. He succeeded in establishing high protective tariffs (1824, 1828, 1832). These tariffs levied a heavy duty or tax on many imported goods and so protected the American manufacturer of cotton, woolen, iron, and other goods against all foreign competitors.1 Finally, South Carolina resolved to resist these duties.
267. John C. Calhoun; Nullification; Preparations for War. John C. Calhoun2 of South Carolina, who was then Vice President, protested against this "Tariff of Abominations," as he called it. He asserted that it compelled the South to pay such a price for cloth and other goods that the people were constantly growing poorer, while the Northern manufacturers, on the other hand, were getting rich at their expense. He therefore demanded free trade. To this the North answered that free trade would ruin the factory
I From the outset a division of opinion existed in regard to the power of the government to levy duties. The Democrats generally contended that, strictly interpreted, the Constitution did not give Congress authority to impose duties beyond what would be sufficient to defray the expenses of the government and furnish money for the payment of the national debt. This party demanded simply a Revenue Tariff. The Federalists and Whigs generally held that the Constitution gave Congress the right to levy duties not only for revenue but also to encourage the production of goods at home, as opposed to their purchase from foreign producers. These two parties (and later the Republican party) advocated a Protective Tariff. Such a tariff was imposed in 1816, 1824, 1828, 1832, and 1842. In 1846, and until the beginning of the Civil War, we maintained what was practically a Revenue Tariff. During the war heavy duties became the rule. Later, they were considerably reduced, but in 1890 and 1897 the Republicans enacted very high Protective Tariffs.
2 John C. Calhoun, born in Abbeville district, South Carolina, 1782; died 1850. Like Jackson, he was of Scotch-Irish descent (§ 92). He entered Congress in 1810. He was elected Vice President in 1824 and in 1828. In 1832 he resigned his office, and was chosen United States senator. He was at first a supporter of a protective tariff, but later became a strong. advocate of free trade. He was one of the few leading men who taught that slavery is "a positive good," an advantage alike to the negro and to his owner. His nature was "as great as it was pure." Webster, his chief political opponent, said of him that nothing "low or meanly selfish came near the head or the heart of Mr. Calhoun."