Andrew Jackson Overview + Indian Removal ActFor three days, we learned about the life and career of Andrew Jackson. Jackson was elected for President of the US in 1829. He was elected through a democratic process but concentrated most power in the executives. The essential question we had to figure out was; Is Andrew Jackson's long-standing reputation as "the people's president" deserved?. Jackson was involved in the Bank War, The Indian Removal Act, and the Spoils System. My group focused on the Indian Removal Act. Jackson wanted to remove the Indians to the west, so him and the settlers had more land. About 100,000 Eastern Indians were moved off of their homeland to make room for white settlers. Jackson wants Indian Tribes to move out west, he says each tribe will have their own land if they leave, and if they choose to stay they have to abide by the laws set for Americans. Indians wanted to stay because the territory Jackson provided was unknown and there weren't enough resources for them to support themselves. All of this information, found here, made it clear to my group that Jackson was the people's president to his own fellow Americans, but not to the Indians. He cared a lot for his own people, but didn't seem to pay much attention to what the original Indian tribes wanted and needed. To help teach this to the class, we made the following Google Presentation on Jackson's Indian Removal Act, and the effect it had.
Bank War & Spoils System
In terms of the Bank War and Spoils System, the essential question seemed to be answered in similar ways. First, the Bank War. Jackson tried to re-establish or eliminate the bank so that the lower classes have more say on loans. He only supported the lower classes for votes, he wanted to get rid of stock holders. Because of this, Jackson thinks he is indeed the people's president, just because he is looking out for the middle and low class economic groups & feels the bank has only supported upper class and corporations. The issue with all of this is that the upper class is filled with people, too. Andrew Jackson wants to be seen as the nice guy supporting lower classes, yet seems to be going against the upper class. This leaves the essential question almost up to opinion, and whether or not one thinks that he truly cared about all his people.
The Spoils System is when a president promises people jobs if they vote for him. Jackson 'spoiled' those who voted for him. The qualification for getting a job was loyalty rather than intelligence. The ironic part about all of this was he didn't think government officials should be in position too long, yet was attempting extend his run. He ended up giving about 10% of jobs to people. This also answers the essential question in a weird way. Sure, Jackson cared about the general population of the U.S., but did he care about those who didn't vote for him or support his beliefs? Also, was his way of getting votes necessarily a positive strategy? For these reasons, I believe the Spoils System proved Jackson was not exactly a people's president, unless you voted for him.