The Reign of Andrew Jackson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 183 pages of information about The Reign of Andrew Jackson.

The struggle thus brought to a triumphant close was one of the severest in American political history.  In 1836 the Bank obtained a charter from Pennsylvania, under the name of the Bank of the United States of Pennsylvania, and all connection between it and the Federal Government ceased.  The institution and the controversies centering about it left, however, a deep impress upon the financial and political history of our fifth and sixth decades.  It was the bank issue, more than anything else, that consolidated the new political parties of the period.  It was that issue that proved most conclusively the hold of Jackson upon public opinion.  And it was the destruction of the Bank that capped the mid-century reaction against the rampant nationalism of the decade succeeding the War of 1812.  The Bank itself had been well managed, sound, and of great service to the country.  But it had also showed strong monopolistic tendencies, and as a powerful capitalistic organization it ran counter to the principles and prejudices which formed the very warp and woof of Jacksonian democracy.

For more than a decade after the Bank was destroyed the United States had a troubled financial history.  The payment of the last dollar of the national debt in 1834 gave point to a suggestion which Clay had repeatedly offered that, as a means of avoiding an embarrassing surplus, the proceeds of the sales of public lands should be distributed according to population among the States.  One bill on this subject was killed by a veto in 1832, but another was finally approved in 1836.  Before distribution could be carried far, however, the country was overtaken by the panic of 1837; and never again was there a surplus to distribute.  For seven years the funds of the Government continued to be kept in state banks, until, in 1840, President Van Buren prevailed upon Congress to pass a measure setting up an independent treasury system, thereby realizing the ultimate purpose of the Jacksonians to divorce the Government from banks of every sort.  When the Whigs came into power in 1841, they promptly abolished the independent Treasury with a view to resurrecting the United States Bank.  Tyler’s vetoes, however, frustrated their designs, and it remained for the Democrats in 1846 to revive the independent Treasury and to organize it substantially as it operates today.



It was not by chance that the Jacksonian period made large contribution to the working out of the ultimate relations of the red man with his white rival and conqueror.  Jackson was himself an old frontier soldier, who never doubted that it was part of the natural order of things that conflict between the two peoples should go on until the weaker was dispossessed or exterminated.  The era was one in which the West guided public policy; and it was the West that was chiefly interested in further circumscribing Indian lands, trade, and influence.  In Jackson’s day, too, the people ruled; and it was the adventurous, pushing, land-hungry common folk who decreed that the red man had lingered long enough in the Middle West and must now move on.

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The Reign of Andrew Jackson from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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