United States History I & II
United States History I & II

United States History I & II

Lead Author(s): Sara Eskridge

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Sara Eskridge, U.S. History I or II, Only One Edition Needed

Norton

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 5th Edition

MacMillan

Roark, Johnson, Furstenberg, Stage, and Igo, The American Promise, 2 Volumes, 8th Edition

Pearson

Keene, Cornell, and O’Donnell, Visions of America, 2013

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Constantly revised and updated by a community of professors with the latest content

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Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Customizable

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Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

Top Hat

Sara Eskridge, U.S. History I or II, Only One Edition Needed

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device

Norton

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 5th Edition

$63.90

Hardcover print text only

MacMillan

Roark, Johnson, Furstenberg, Stage, and Igo, The American Promise, 2 Volumes, 8th Edition

$87.99

Per volume

Pearson

Keene, Cornell, and O’Donnell, Visions of America, 2013

$79.60

Digital only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Content meets standard for Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology course, and is updated with the latest content

Top Hat

Sara Eskridge, U.S. History I or II, Only One Edition Needed

Norton

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 5th Edition

MacMillan

Case, Fair, Oster, The American Promise, 2 Volumes

McGraw-Hill

McConnell et al., Visions of America, 2nd Edition

In-book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Top Hat

Sara Eskridge, U.S. History I or II, Only One Edition Needed

Norton

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 5th Edition

MacMillan

Case, Fair, Oster, The American Promise, 2 Volumes

McGraw-Hill

McConnell et al., Visions of America, 2nd Edition

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

Top Hat

Sara Eskridge, U.S. History I or II, Only One Edition Needed

Norton

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 5th Edition

MacMillan

Case, Fair, Oster, The American Promise, 2 Volumes

McGraw-Hill

McConnell et al., Visions of America, 2nd Edition

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Top Hat

Sara Eskridge, U.S. History I or II, Only One Edition Needed

Norton

Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 5th Edition

MacMillan

Case, Fair, Oster, The American Promise, 2 Volumes

McGraw-Hill

McConnell et al., Visions of America, 2nd Edition

About this textbook

Lead Authors

Sara Eskridge, Ph.DRandolph-Macon College, VA

Dr. Eskridge is a Professor of History at Western Governors University. She specializes in Civil Rights, Cold War, Southern, and Cultural History. She is the author of Rube Tube: CBS as Rural Comedy in the Sixties (University of Missouri Press, 2019) as well as several articles and book chapters on southern mediated images during the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War.

Contributing Authors

Andrew WegmannLoyola University

Michael CarverCalifornia Polytechnic State University

Michael FrawleyUniversity of Texas of the Permian Basin

Linda ClemmonsIllinois State University

Angela HessCameron University

Sam NelsonRidgewater College

Volker JanssenCalifornia State University

Lance JandaCameron University

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Chapter 11: Growing Democracy, 1820-1840

Chapter Overview

On the surface, the 1820s found a United States coasting on smooth waters. The Panic of 1819, though devastating to many American farmers and investors, was stabilizing and the national politics had largely fallen under a single, all-encompassing Republican Party. James Monroe, the standard-bearer of moderate politics, had spent the last four years trying to bridge the gap between Jeffersonian Republicans and the former Federalists who quickly made their ways to the Republican camp after the Hartford Convention. The decade, however, harbored deep cultural and political wounds beneath the calm façade. While introducing new notions of democracy and equality amongst those deemed worthy of citizenship and participation, the 1820s and the two decades that followed likewise introduced a series of issues that would eventually divide the nation in two and spark a civil war.

The issue of slavery, long slumbering beneath the political shifts of the Federalist Era and Jefferson’s “Revolution of 1800,” came to a head in the Missouri Crisis of 1820-1821, and created a discussion no one, especially politicians in the South, was expecting—whether or not slavery actually had a future in the United States. The tragic irony, perhaps, is that we can look at the period between 1820 and 1840 as a time of increased opportunity, economic growth, and intense political discourse; yet we can also see it as the time in which the problem of slavery took its most recognizable form and entered the political realm as a serious and consistent issue. Likewise, the very definition of democracy, and the attached question of who deserved representation in the body politic, expanded in a way that actually cut out significant portions of the population, most notably free people of color and Native Americans. In many ways, the United States was becoming a more unified nation. But that unity existed on a level not everyone could achieve, and the problems that arose continued to grow unchecked under a banner of Jacksonian democracy. 

Chapter Objectives

  • Follow the development of the Second American Party System from Monroe to Jackson
  • Note and understand the importance and legacy of the Missouri Crisis and Compromise
  • Investigate the “Corrupt Bargain” and the changes that accompanied John Quincy Adams’s election
  • Study meaning of the “Jacksonian Era” and the complex, one-sided definition of mid-19th century “democracy”
  • Understand the horror and betrayal of Indian Removal and the “Trail of Tears”

Monroe's Waltz  

James Monroe easily won reelection in 1820 (Figure 11.1), winning 228 of 231 electoral votes. He ran against no one in particular. Because the Federalist Party had stopped functioning on a national level, and Madison and Monroe had worked within the Republican Party to open it to former Federalists, only a few diehard supporters remained in the oldest Federalist strongholds. In fact, Monroe’s victory seemed so certain that many Americans decided not to vote at all. Compared to the 111,332 votes from 19 states cast in 1816, just 97,465 legitimate votes were cast in 24 states in 1820. It was the lowest turnout and the most unanimous popular presidential election in United States history. 

Question 11.01

11.01 - Level 2

What happened to the Federalists? Why did they cease to function as a national party? (Revisit the previous chapter for context if necessary.)

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.01.

Figure 11.1: Map of the 1820 election

Monroe’s legacy was that of a dedicated moderate. Because the federal political system had become solidified in spite of Republican dominance and the market revolution had brought the nation together both physically and ideologically, Monroe served as the bridge between two worlds. Forced to wait longer than any of his contemporaries to serve as president, his approach, though seemingly moderate, gave rise to future conflict.

11.02 - Level 1

How many electoral votes went against James Monroe in his bid for reelection in 1820?


In 1820, however, things began to look up from a lull. The Panic of 1819 devastated the once booming post-War of 1812 economy. Speculative farmers, merchants, and traders defaulted on mortgages and loans following a downturn in European markets and currency regulations from the Second Bank of the United States. Within a year, however, Monroe introduced new solutions. New regulations on mortgages and large loans, as well as restrictions on state banks printing their own currencies, required speculators to prove they had the ability to repay the loans they requested. Monroe cut federal expenses and effectively abandoned internal improvement projects, even those already underway. His ideas allowed the market to right itself by providing a loose regulatory structure. 

Figure 11.2: Portrait of James Monroe by Gilbert Stuart [1]

Although the aftershocks of the Panic of 1819 remained for nearly three more years, the American economy soon returned to normal. Technology, now largely independent of governmental sponsorship, continued to advance; roads grew; canals appeared; and steamboats became even more ubiquitous on America’s waterways. The Panic erased little of what came before it, instead giving rise to a new dimension in the American national character, one that called for self-reliance, personal moderation, and accountability from both individuals and corporations. 

Most Americans got excited about the new technologies and opportunities that flourished in the wake of the War of 1812. With Monroe’s help, the American public became more tempered and inclusive. Social classes shifted, and people became more extroverted, looking to become members of a body politic they had only ever heard about but had never experienced. This was the start of an era of democratic expansion, a time the definition of “American” came to encompass many more backgrounds and experiences than ever before.

11.03 - Level 2

Which of the following statements best explains why James Monroe won reelection so easily in 1820?

A

He temporarily suspended popular elections due to the Panic of 1819.

B

The Federalist Party had recently collapsed, producing something of a power void into which Monroe, a moderate Republican, easily stepped and attracted many former Federalists under a single party.

C

The powerful Federalist Party refused to field candidates due to a disagreement over Monroe’s appointment of a Republican to head the Bank of the United States.

D

He did not win easily. In 1853, it was discovered that the Monroe administration literally hid thousands of ballots for John Quincy Adams, who would have won had the ballot been counted.


Monroe's Second Term and the Missouri Crisis

Monroe’s presidential legacy is often connected with his foreign policy—his creation of an American “sphere of influence” in North America and the Caribbean to protect American interests from predatory European empires. Although Monroe, along with three of his four predecessors had owned slaves their entire lives, the issue rarely complicates his legacy, at least in the public imagination. His near unanimous reelection in 1820 implies that the divisions of previous decades had subsided, and that the United States was more united than ever. Beneath a united, Republican surface, however, the definitive crisis of the age developed. 

On February 13, 1819, the Missouri Territory west of the Mississippi River applied to Congress for admission to the Union. Missouri sent a bill proposing statehood along with a copy of the proposed constitution for the future state to the House of Representatives. The vote should have been straightforward. In the Fifteenth Congress of the United States, Republicans held an 85% majority, enough to pass any bill or amendment in a single vote. The United States was practically a single party state, yet political rifts remained. With the collapse of the Federalist Party in 1816 and the Panic of 1819, politics quickly became sectionalized. 

Northern, largely non-slaveholding states blamed the South and its zealous, loan friendly banks for causing the economic tumult evident in 1817 and 1818. They also distrusted the Virginia Dynasty, claiming that Southern interests had silenced Northern industry and urban growth. The South, much more dedicated to agriculture and slavery, claimed that the North hoarded government contracts and subsidies, especially related to internal improvements such as roads and canals. They saw Northern industry as a corrupt, exploitative interest group dedicated to out maneuvering and outsourcing Southern production. 

Figure 11.3: Map of States and Territories in 1820

In large part, this growing sectional divide caused President Monroe to step back from government subsidized projects. Whatever he did, regardless of value, cost, or location, one group invariably cast accusations of favoritism and corruption. The Panic of 1819 only exacerbated the issue of sectional jealousies, which had existed for years. Only now, under a single party system, it had no filter, nor party behind which to hide.

By the time Missouri applied for statehood in early 1819, slavery had not become a national political issue just yet. Of course, people talked about it and noticed it. Many had formulated well thought out opinions on the matter, and some had even written tracts and pamphlets for public consumption. For most, however, slavery was either a fact of life, or something that happened far away in the rural South. There was dispute over its viability, especially as cotton began to flow across the South, and transportation networks expanded to include every region of the country. However, few politicians ran for office with slavery in mind. Beyond a small community of abolitionists in Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the moral, economic, and political gravity of slavery was not an active platform of any prominent group. 

One of the ways in which political thinkers separated Northern and Southern interests, however, was the slavery test. Since the end of the Revolution, states in the northeast had moved actively away from slavery. Beginning with Vermont, which in 1777 banned the practice within its borders, the New England and Middle Atlantic states slowly passed legislation gradually outlawing slavery in the area. By 1800, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont all had systems in place to rid the states of slavery by 1820. These legislative acts, known as the Gradual Emancipation Acts, granted freedom to all slaves born after a certain date, but maintaining the practice until the last of the remaining slaves died.

11.04 - Level 2

Slavery was legal in every state in the nation by 1820, with only a handful of states considering outlawing the practice.

A

True

B

False


In 1819, the 22 United States split evenly between slavery and freedom. South of Maryland, every state actively practiced and legally protected slavery as fundamental to the local and national economies. North and west of Maryland, law universally prohibited its growth. In applying for statehood that year, Missouri stood in the middle. Bordered by the free state of Illinois and the slave states of Kentucky and Tennessee, Missouri had no clear regional allegiance. It practiced slavery, but only in relatively small patches along the Mississippi. Culturally, it was similar to Illinois—largely French, Catholic, and rural. The mad westward dash of the 1800s and 1810s, however, brought a new, entrepreneurial agricultural population to Missouri, one wedded to both slavery and its proliferation. As a result, the constitution Missouri sent to Congress on February 13 contained a provision protecting and upholding slavery in the future state. 

In the House of Representatives, Missouri’s application met immediate opposition. Although the House remained clearly in the hands of the more populous North, Northern representatives feared a Southern—and pro-slavery—takeover of the equally divided Senate if Missouri was to become a state as was. At the height of the debate, New York Congressman James Tallmadge proposed an amendment to Missouri’s constitution. Known as the Tallmadge Amendment, the proposed change would ban the importation of slaves into the new state and free all slaves born after the state’s admission upon reaching the age of 25 years. The debate surrounding the Tallmadge Amendment, although it later failed in the Senate, provided one of the first examples of slavery entering political discourse on the national level. Supporters of the amendment openly questioned the morality of slavery on the whole, even going so far as to call it “anti-Christian”—an accusation that did not sit well with the increasingly evangelical South. They questioned its economic viability, and even challenged its constitutional standing. 

11.05 - Level 3

Click on all the states that did not adopt the “Gradual Emancipation Acts”?


11.06 - Level 1

At the time of Missouri’s application for statehood, how many states were in the Union?


Figure 11.4: Portrait of James Tallmadge, Jr. [2] ​

Question 11.07

11.07 - Level 5

Your text lists several reasons that led to the standoff over Missouri’s admission into the Union in 1819. Consider each one and point to the one you think is most important. Explain why.

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.07.

Southern representatives, an embittered minority in the House, likewise pulled religion into the argument, claiming that the Bible not only supported the practice but also justified it historically. The “Curse of Ham,” explained as the curse of servitude placed upon Noah’s son Ham in the book of Genesis for seeing his drunken father naked one night, proved the cursed and wretched nature of Africans, whose dark skin, many believed, represented the continued effect of the curse on the “children of Canaan in Ethiopia.” Southerners likewise defended the practice as morally uplifting to slaves, who by living with honorable, up right Americans, they argued, learned the enlightened ways of Christianity and western culture. 

11.08 - Level 1

The so-called “Curse of Ham,” a justification for the practice of chattel slavery, was taken from which book of the Bible?

A

Genesis

B

Psalms

C

The Gospel of John

D

Paul’s Letter to the Romans


Question 11.09

11.09 - Level 4

What was the Tallmadge Amendment? Why was it so controversial? What do you think the purpose of introducing it into the debate over Missouri's statehood?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.09.

The debate went on for days, and even Tallmadge’s allies recognized the proverbial Pandora’s box the congressman had opened. A representative from Georgia famously chided the New Yorker: “You have kindled a fire which all the waters of the ocean cannot put out.” Tallmadge responded with an eerie foretelling. “If a dissolution of the Union must take place,” he asserted, “let it be so!” Though it would take more than four decades to realize, Tallmadge eventually got his wish. 

With a Northern majority at its back, the Tallmadge Amendment passed the House, but got held up in the divided Senate. There, Southern interests had exactly half the vote, blocking the passage of the controversial legislation. The debate, however, continued. “Missouri engulfs everything,” wrote Alabama Senator John Walker to a friend. The famed John Randolph of Roanoke, among the most influential Southern politicians of his era, argued that any federal restriction of slavery was not only unconstitutional but also an act of tyranny against the “inalienable liberties” of the Southern people. After just a day’s debate, the Senate voted down Missouri’s application as a result of the Tallmadge Amendment, and the entire process started over. 

Figure 11.5: Map of the Missouri Compromise

In the following session, Missouri again applied for statehood, this time on January 26, 1820. Wary of the heated debate that occurred the previous year, the House was prepared. Having accepted the application of Maine as a free state on January 3, Northern representatives were more willing to accept Missouri’s application as a slave state, as long as Missouri was the last slave state to enter the Union above the 36°30' parallel—the southern border of Missouri. Following a quick vote in the House, the application bill passed the Senate by four votes. Congress had struck the First Missouri Compromise.

It took a full year for Missouri to construct a constitution it believed would satisfy both Northern and Southern interests. At the start of the next congressional session in January 1821, the House received a constitution that protected slavery and prevented “free negroes and mulattoes from coming to and settling in this state.” Realizing that such an exclusionary clause would doom the constitution in the Northern dominated House, Speaker Henry Clay negotiated a new compromise accepting the constitution “as is” with one exception. Known as the Second Missouri Compromise, Clay added an amendment that specifically protected the so-called “comity clause” of the United States Constitution. The Clay Resolution declared that Missouri’s constitution: 

shall never be construed to authorize the passage of any law, and that no law shall be passed in conformity thereto, by which any citizen of either of the States of this Union shall be excluded from the enjoyment of any of the privileges and immunities to which such citizen is entitled under the Constitution of the United States.

In protecting the constitutional “privileges and immunities” of “any citizen,” Clay implied that the “free negroes and mulattoes” banned from settlement in Missouri fell under that designation and deserved protection from exclusion. He never said as much, but he did imply it strongly enough to win over Northern votes and push Missouri’s statehood through Congress once again. After two years of debate, five separate votes, and the clear division of the United States along sectional and slave based lines, Missouri entered the Union on August 10, 1821, as the 24th state.

11.10 - Level 1

The _______\_\_\_\_\_\_\_, derived from the Bible, was a theory many Americans used to explain the difference in skin color between Africans and Europeans.


Question 11.11

11.11 - Level 4

Describe the difference between the first and second Missouri compromises.

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.11.

Question 11.12

11.12 - Level 5

Beyond admitting Missouri in the Union, what did the Missouri Compromise do? Why is it so important to the course of United States history prior to the Civil War?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.12.

The Original "Team of Rivals" and the Unlikely Heir

In a famous effort to unify a rapidly dividing nation, Abraham Lincoln put together a cabinet of rival politicians from across the political spectrum. Historians have termed this diverse group “The Team of Rivals,” noting that most previous presidential cabinets consisted of close allies and political benefactors of the president. More than 40 years before Lincoln’s “Team of Rivals,” Monroe sought advice from an equally varied group of former Federalists, “New” Republicans, and Jeffersonian allies. Beginning with his vice president, Daniel D. Tompkins of New York, Monroe surrounded himself with the best minds the United States had to offer, regardless of true ideological unity. Because everyone at the time was a Republican, Monroe had his pick of both Northerners and Southerners without the worry of party allegiance and political exigency. 

 The success of Monroe’s second term fell upon the shoulders of his mixed cabinet. Alongside Treasury Secretary William H. Crawford, a native Virginian and long time Republican, Monroe appointed John Quincy Adams, the son of President John Adams raised in Federalist political circles in Massachusetts, as Secretary of State. To this motley crew Monroe added Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, an increasingly radical “New” Republican from South Carolina who saw the potential of tyranny in nearly every federal act. Making up one half of the cabinet, Crawford, Adams, and Calhoun worked surprisingly well together, all of them serving the full eight years of Monroe’s two terms, and producing some of the most definitive ideas and actions of the Monroe presidency. Indeed, it was through them that James Monroe vicariously established his legacy.

Figure 11.6: Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford by John Wesley Jarvis [3] ​


Figure 11.7: Secretary of War John C. Calhoun by George Peter Alexander Healy [4]​

Hardly the most intellectual or versatile member of the executive branch, Monroe relied heavily on his cabinet for major decisions, especially in the foreign policy arena. At the beginning of his second term, in the wake of the Panic of 1819 and the Missouri Compromise, the United States was at odds with itself. The North and South appeared more split along sectional lines than ever before. The South was bitter over the North’s opposition to Missouri’s statehood, while the North effectively blamed the South for the Panic. In an effort to unify the nation, Monroe asked his cabinet for suggestions concerning America’s international standing. Victorious in the War of 1812, at general peace with the powers of Europe, the reputation of the United States within the international community stood at an all time high. Vice President John Quincy Adams suggested that Monroe state the American position on New World colonization in his first annual address to Congress at the opening of the 1823 congressional session.

11.13 - Level 1

Unlike the vast majority of other presidents, James Monroe appointed a diverse group of politicians to his cabinet, welcoming former Federalists alongside fellow Republicans from both the North and the South.

A

True

B

False


11.14 - Level 2

Which of the following men was not a member of James Monroe’s “Team of Rivals”?

A

John Quincy Adams

B

John C. Calhoun

C

Andrew Jackson

D

William H. Crawford


With the help of Adams, Monroe formulated a direct statement to the colonial powers in Europe. The message, later termed “The Monroe Doctrine,” made clear that the United States would consider any attempt by a European nation to “extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety.” The so-called “doctrine” covered only those Central American and Caribbean nations “who have declared their independence,” but it effectively established what many historians have called “an American sphere of influence” over the entire western hemisphere. In asserting America’s interest in the independence of its neighbors, Monroe challenged the very basis upon which many European nations had organized their foreign policies for more than two centuries. The United States, having already thrown off the yoke of their own colonization and stood up to an aggressive Great Britain twice, would not allow the expansion of European colonization in North or South America beyond where it already existed. 

 Created by Adams in a callback to Hamilton’s plans to establish the United States as world power, the “Monroe Doctrine” defined American foreign policy for more than 150 years. Using the isolation of North America as a root of influence, the doctrine made sure that the United States stood as the central power in the hemisphere. For protecting them from potential invasion and colonization from lurking European interests, the independent nations of Central America and the Caribbean owed the United States their allegiance, whether in the form of trade agreements, treaties, or military aid. Internally, the doctrine gave Americans a shared sense of pride and purpose in their nation. Suddenly, a broad international statement became meaningful to Americans who saw themselves as members of this protectorate, this force for good in a region of peace. Likewise, good relations with Mexico and the newly independent United Provinces of Central America helped merchants, traders, and farmers across the nation, especially in international ports like New Orleans and New York.

Figure 11.8: Original document of the Monroe Doctrine. [5]​


Although publicly attributed to Monroe, the “Monroe Doctrine” established John Quincy Adams as a frontrunner for the presidency once Monroe’s second term ended in 1825. Largely in a political duel with William Crawford, who likewise ran for president in 1824, Adams’ involvement in the “Monroe Doctrine” proved that he did not adhere to either Old Republican or flatline Federalist principles. Instead, the broad nature of the Doctrine, which established the United States as both an international force and a domestic unifier, painted Adams as a “man for all seasons,” a career politician built for the White House yet in touch with the greater good. When combined with the famed Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, the “Monroe Doctrine” solidified Adams’s reputation as the next major contender for the presidency. 

Question 11.15

11.15 - Level 5

What did the Monroe Doctrine accomplish? Do you think its legacy has continue to today? How?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.15.

11.16 - Level 1

Who actually developed the Monroe Doctrine?

A

James Monroe

B

John C. Calhoun

C

William H. Crawford

D

John Quincy Adams


A Dividing Nation 

By the time the next presidential election became an issue of popular interest, the political climate within the nation had changed quite a bit from the heyday of the so-called “Era of Good Feelings.” Still reeling from the mortgage collapse of the Panic of 1819 and the bitter divide it brought between moneyed interests in the North and debtors in the South, the emerging middle class in both regions looked with marked distrust at those above them in the social order. To many skilled and unskilled laborers, the class divide of the Revolutionary Era—namely, the existence of a lower working class and a upper political class of landowners and employers—threatened to return in the laissez-faire economic system of Monroe’s second term. Much to the chagrin of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who saw internal improvements as paramount to national integration, Monroe vetoed a bill dedicated to repairing the Cumberland Road in 1822, effectively ending federal subsidies for internal improvements during his presidency. 

Wage earners and unskilled laborers in both the North and South protested the move, claiming that private investment only benefitted those with established capital and credit. Because the Panic of 1819 had effectively closed off the lending and mortgage market to people with poor credit or a steady, contracted income, this middling class of workers and laborers had little hope in investment and stood to amass increased expenses by moving whatever goods they could produce on privately owned toll roads and canals. 

This distrust of the urban elite fueled a new movement within the Republican Party to attract this potentially large electorate. Taking up the banner of federally funded internal improvements for the benefit of “regular Americans,” this new branch opened the door to a younger breed of politicians, especially those who had lost their luster with the collapse of the Federalist Party in the mid-1810s. Led by John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, and Henry Clay, these “New Republicans” called for an expanded federal network of support, challenging monopolies created by misguided regulation and a reliance on untamed markets. Specifically attacking Madison rather than Monroe, in whose administration a number of these men served, these New Republicans claimed that the federal government had abandoned the “real” producers of the nation by selling its soul to “privileged” groups such the Freemasons and other “elitist bands” dedicated to political and social control. 


11.17 - Level 1

Match the politicians’ names with their political affiliations by the 1820s and 1830s.

Premise
Response
1

John Quincy Adams

A

“New Republicans”

2

William Wirt

B

Anti-Masonic Party

3

James Monroe

C

Moderate/Nominal Republican

4

James Madison

D

“Old Republicans”


 Although an Anti-Masonic Party did evolve from this movement and eventually nominated William Wirt as a candidate for the presidency in 1832, the larger movement adopted a more mainstream platform, addressing problems that seemed to affect the nation in real-time. Still relatively young and remarkably successful for his age, Henry Clay proposed the “American System” of internal improvements, high tariffs, and a national bank to regulate the lending market in favor of those ruined by the Panic of 1819, which he blamed on the Second Bank of the United States. Supported by the more well-known and influential John Quincy Adams, the American System looked to create a strong federal government to ensure unity and promote self-reliance. Because so many Americans felt cheated by the Northern industrial and merchant elite, a regulatory system that worked to level the odds, rather than provide direct aid, for the middling classes, especially in rural areas, would produce an engaged electorate willing and able to profit from and invest directly in their own labor. 

This new approach, which crested in the run up to the presidential election of 1824, found most of its support in the Border States—those slave states least dedicated to slavery, those free states least dedicated to industry, and that population most separated from commercial and industrial centers. The odds for success in the upcoming elections looked good at first, too. With Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams taking the lead, the “New Republican” faction had a solid base—the Border States as well as Adams’s former Federalist territories in New England. The message resonated with a diverse population, and promised a new sense of unity if enough Americans would participate in its plans. Its leaders had the perfect mix of youth, experience, and influence to win over a large majority of voters and change to direction of the nation. 

 There was a problem, however. At the same time that the “New Republicans” made their move at national legitimacy, Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans and a former senator from Tennessee, became interested in the nation’s highest office. Ever reluctant to delve too deeply into politics, Jackson had served as a congressman and senator from Tennessee in the 1790s, took a break for 20 years to serve as a major general in the Tennessee militia, and again ran for the senate in the early 1820s. By then, Jackson had become a household name, especially in the South, where “New Republicans” like Clay and Adams had little support. 

Figure 11.9: Major General Andrew Jackson by Ralph Eleaser Whiteside Earl [6]​

Jackson’s victory at New Orleans in 1815 had elevated him to the status of national hero. In the years following the battle, Jackson toured the nation to much fanfare. Stories of his duels, frontier upbringing, rebellion against the British as a child, and irascible sense of personal and national pride, won over nearly every American who felt cheated by a system they saw as stacked against them. He preached a message eerily similar to Adams and Clay, but from a different perspective. Instead of federally funded improvements and a regulatory national bank, Jackson advocated the deregulation of currency, banking, and improvements. When it came to improvements and individual investment, Jackson believed that the federal government stood only to defend the common man from monopolistic interests, the bulk of which, he claimed, came from the northeast. 

He supported the expansion of voting rights to all “true citizens”—white men above the age of 21 years. He spoke a message of inclusion and liberty similar to that which Jefferson had established in the “Revolution of 1800.” He, like Jefferson, referred to the “New Republicans” as masked Federalists set to resurrect Hamilton’s vision of “federal tyranny” and political elites. He pointed to Adams’s early career under his Federalist father and the Federalist ideas behind Clay’s American System to prove his point. The South ran to Jackson’s side as a national, or at least regional, savior dedicated to the common man, the luckless farmer, and the agricultural magnate. He promised to equalize society, and stood as a political outsider against two proven insiders—the sitting speaker of the House and the Secretary of State whose father had served as president 25 years earlier. He drank, shot, got angry, killed Britons and duelists, and promised to take that verve to the White House. He had no “American System” or lengthy experience in politics. And that was exactly what made him stand out.

Question 11.18

11.18 - Level 2

What was the “American System”? Who was its chief advocate?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.18.

11.19 - Level 2

Which of the following was not a prominent feature of Henry Clay’s “American System”?

A

Expansion of suffrage

B

Federal infrastructure projects

C

Trade protectionism

D

Centralized banking


Question 11.20

11.20 - Level 4

How did Andrew Jackson’s political platform/views differ from those of his opponents in 1824? Based on those views, which area of the country do you think supported him the most?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.20.

The Election of 1824 and the "Corrupt Bargain" 

Jackson’s popularity drove him to seek the presidency at the same time that three other men likewise sought the seat. Along with Jackson, Adams, and Clay, William H. Crawford, the sitting Secretary of the Treasury and a former senator and ambassador to France, joined the mix. A disciple of the “Old Republican” ideals set forth by Jefferson and sustained by Madison and, in part, Monroe, Crawford drew away from Jackson’s base, but only slightly. A native of Virginia and a friend of Thomas Jefferson, Crawford represented both his home state of Virginia and his adopted state of Georgia, for which he served as senator in the early 1810s. Naturally, then, Jeffersonian pedigree and home field advantage earned him the assured support for those two states. It remained, however, that the rest of the South sat firmly behind Jackson while the North was split between Adams and Clay.

Figure 11.10: Lithograph of Speaker of the House Henry Clay by “Lafosse” [7] ​

The Election of 1824 was unusual because of the number of candidates running under a single of party banner. The Republican Party had enjoyed a singular existence since the mid-1810s, but by 1824, it had all but split apart, although none of the factions formalized the separation. The result was a presidential election with one party and four legitimate candidates who controlled large portions of the electorate. The younger states west of Pennsylvania supported Henry Clay, while old New England placed its latent Federalist sympathies behind Adams. Crawford easily controlled Virginia and Georgia, and Jackson swept the rest of the South. 

There was no clear unifier in the bunch. Each candidate had a different vision. Clay and Adams, the two most similar candidates, had very different reputations. Clay, the youthful Speaker of the House and architect of the Missouri Compromise, ran on his American System, selling himself as “new blood” in an old regime. Although his ideas were similar to Clay’s, Adams seemed old, a product of a failed party from the last generation. On paper, however, he was clearly the most qualified of the candidates. 

Before Election Day, Crawford fell ill and effectively withdrew from the race, but his name remained on the ballot, complicating Jackson’s potential for victory. As results of the popular vote came in in late December 1824, Jackson had the most, but no one had earned a majority. With 153,544 votes, Jackson commanded just 43% of the popular vote, a plurality but not a majority. No one earned the 133 electoral votes required to win the presidency, which, according to the Constitution, meant the House of Representatives would decide the election. 

Figure 11.11: Map of the 1824 election


11.21 - Level 4

Sort the following presidential candidates in the Election of 1824 by the strength of their electoral support in states below the 36˚30’ parallel.

A

William Crawford

B

Henry Clay

C

Andrew Jackson

D

John Quincy Adams


What followed was among the most politically charged negotiations in American history, one that would inaugurate a new era of American politics. Placing fourth in the electoral vote and third in the popular vote, Henry Clay sought to use the results to his advantage, working his influence as Speaker of the House to strike a deal with one of his competitors. Since the Jefferson administration, tradition dictated that the sitting Secretary of State most often became the next president. James Madison had served as Jefferson’s Secretary of State before winning the presidency himself in 1808. James Monroe likewise held the position under Madison, and now John Quincy Adams, Monroe’s Secretary of State, stood a single House vote away from his own term in the White House. Recognizing that he had little chance of convincing enough people to win the presidency this time around, Clay looked to Adams to make his political dream come true. 

As the House prepared to vote on February 9, 1825, Clay approached Adams with an offer. If John Quincy Adams promised to appoint him Secretary of State upon election, Henry Clay would exit the presidential race and throw his entire support behind Adams. The energetic Speaker of the House held enough support to get one of the top two candidates elected, as the distance between Adams and Jackson stood at around 15 votes. Clay could promise at least 22 votes from his supporters to his chosen candidate. All he asked was a chance at the presidency next time around. 


11.22 - Level 1

Although he received only pluralities in both votes, and the election eventually went to the House of Representatives, which candidate won both the popular and the electoral votes in the 1824 presidential election.


After Clay announced that he would not stand for election, citing the 12th Amendment, which limited the House vote to the top three electoral candidates, the votes he held would decide the election. After a single ballot, John Quincy Adams was elected president, having received 87 of 212 votes. Jackson carried just 71 votes, followed by Crawford, who held 54. Clay’s votes gave Adams with victory. By endorsing Adams over Jackson, Clay brought ten votes from Ohio, eight from Kentucky, and four from New York to the Adams camp. Just four years later, all of those states would support Jackson for president. 

Having won both the popular and electoral votes, Jackson felt robbed. He had lost the presidency as a result of corrosive, undemocratic political deal making. When, five days after his victory, Adams announced that he would appoint Henry Clay as his Secretary of State, Jackson knew that Clay had effectively sold his votes to Adams in return for the appointment. There was, however, an upside. Because William Crawford had stayed in the race, the number of votes Jackson received in the House, as well as in the popular election and Electoral College, did not necessarily represent the true extent of his support. Indeed, had Crawford dropped out after the electoral vote, Jackson would most likely have received his votes and won the presidency. Although Jackson remained bothered by Crawford’s seemingly “prideful” decision to remain in the race, he also realized that they could establish a united opposition to the new Adams administration. 

Figure 11.12: Henry Clay’s appointment letter as Secretary of State, signed and dated by John Quincy Adams, March 7, 1825. [8]

Jackson’s campaign for 1828 began immediately. Upon Clay’s appointment as Secretary of State, Jackson labeled the deal a “Corrupt Bargain” wrought from undemocratic ideals. Some Jackson supporters even argued that the “Corrupt Bargain” compromised American democracy and stood to destroy the future of the nation if allowed to continue unchecked. Frustrated by Adams’s willingness to “sell” a major position in his cabinet, several well-known opponents came to Jackson’s side. Aging and ill, William Crawford refused to serve as Adams’s Secretary of the Treasury and retired from public life, sending his supporters to Jackson’s camp, where they were later joined by Vice President John C. Calhoun, who found the Adams-Clay alliance “contemptible.”

Jackson soon found himself at the head of a new political movement. Having unified the Southern and western votes under an opposition to political elitism and corruption, he had the support and the message to move against an administration already in retreat.

11.23 - Level 1

Which statement best describes the “Corrupt Bargain”?

A

The purchase of votes from House Speak Henry Clay by the Adams administration for an as yet unknown amount of money.

B

The moral corruption Andrew Jackson was sure to befall the United States after John Quincy Adams’s victory in 1824.

C

The deal struck between Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams whereby Adams would appoint Clay as Secretary of State in return for his House votes.

D

The cancellation of certain states’ electoral votes due to claims of “voter fraud” by the Adams administration, giving Adams the majority and the victory.


The Adams Presidency and a New Nationalism

John Quincy Adams admitted that he did not work well in public. “I am a man of reserved, cold, austere, and forbidding manner,” he confessed to his diary in 1819. Six years later, things had not changed much. He knew he had not won the presidency on account of popular support, but the presidency was in his blood. He had waited for nearly two decades for his chance at true leadership. Minority president or not, he planned to make the most of his time in office. 

Adams saw the federal government as a central focal point for national unity and support. The nation could not, in his mind, rely on private interests to move forward with the common good in mind. The government, then, needed to provide certain services and institutions to entice the American people in productive directions. Among his chief acts as president, Adams called for the creation of a national university, creating a public option for those incapable of breaking into the well-guarded ranks of the established private universities in the northeast. He also called for increased federal investment in internal improvements, bringing to bear the plans laid out in Clay’s American System earlier in the decade. This, he claimed, democratized commerce and production. With federally funded canals and roads, small-scale producers did not have to answer to their wealthier competitors or buyers. In theory, with the help of the federal government, average Americans could compete with established, wealthy interests. The government would serve as a great equalizer. 

 Adams invested more on internal federal projects than all of his predecessors combined, and at first it went over quite well. Trying to tap into the optimism of the post-War of 1812 era, the new presidents coded his extremely expensive plans in the language of what historians have called a “New Nationalism”—a sense of preordained growth set beneath the noble collaboration between an empathic government and a virtuous populace. Adams’s message of economic expansion and universal support struck a chord with many Americans, especially among the luckless, impoverished, and exploited. Without a powerful, centralized regulatory system, the United States could never achieve the heights of its European colleagues. He wanted to open government up so that all Americans felt aided, supported, and recognized at the top. 

Figure 11.13: President John Quincy Adams by George P.A. Healy [9] ​​


Through this message, Adams revealed his Federalist origins, and much like his father before him, he met with considerable resistance once he tried to implement his plans. Following the rough blueprint of the American System, Adams proposed an increased tariff on imports and the reduction of federal land sales and expansion to promote internal exchange and a more internally focused economic vision. He completed the same repairs and extension of the Cumberland Road that Monroe had vetoed just a few years before. He funded four major canal projects, using tolls and contracts to fund them in some of the first public-private split investments in American history. He had no interest in sending the United States into debt to complete these projects, so many Americans saw his funding schemes as overly aggressive and imposing, especially when coming from the federal government. 

The earliest inclinations of pro-slavery politics and the fears it engendered, arose during John Quincy Adams’s administration, especially in Southern political circles where federal expansion equated to a form of tyranny. With cotton beginning to spread across the South, and making up an increasingly large portion of its agricultural economy, rural Southerners came rely more and more heavily on slave labor to eke out the most profits from the land. The Missouri Crisis of 1820 convinced many Southern farmers and politicians that slavery was no longer safe. Adams’s aggressive federal improvements, tax levies, and tariffs emboldened this fear. After more than 20 years of southern-born, pro-slavery Republicans in the White House, Adams’s stood as Northern callback to Federalism, expanding the federal authority and imposing the government’s will on the free market. For many southerners, the implications were nothing short of foreboding. If the government could change direction so sharply, especially at the will of a northern president elected by a minority of the American people, slavery’s future looked particularly grim. 

The basic numbers of Adams’s presidency hold up to most scrutiny. His financial plan decreased the national debt by more than $21 million, spurred Northern industry to new heights, and added thousands of miles of public road and water ways that produced both revenue for the government and employment for thousands of unskilled American and immigrant laborers. After much debate, he finally decided to sell off public lands in the south and west, but he did so at prices far below market value. For many people, this was the democratic promise of “New Nationalism.” “Let us not be unmindful that liberty is power,” Adams announced to Congress in 1825, “that the nation blessed with the largest portion of liberty must in proportion to its members be the most powerful nation upon earth.” The government, Adams believed, provided that liberty and thus that power. It was, in his words, “countenance by the patronage of our Government.” Unlike Jefferson and Madison, Adams saw virtue in the regulatory and supportive power of the federal structure. 

11.24 - Level 2

Which of the following was not a major goal of John Quincy Adams’ presidency?

A

Boost infrastructure spending

B

Strengthen industrial production in the northeast

C

Create more jobs for low- and unskilled workers

D

Open up more “free trade” with Europe


Question 11.25

11.25 - Level 5

What were some of the major accomplishments of John Quincy Adams’s presidency? Do you think they betrayed his political party identity? Why or why not?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.25.

The Resurrection of Jackson and a Party for Democracy

Adams’s view of federal power worried his opposition, especially in the areas carried by Jackson in the election of 1824. Unfortunately for the South, many of the internal improvements Adams supported rested in the North—the Cumberland Road, Cleveland and Akron Canal, and Louisville and Portland Canal to name a few. Only the Dismal Swamp Canal in North Carolina sat below the 36° 30' parallel. To make things worse, beyond the concern over the future of slavery under a strong and imposing federal government, the tariff of 1828, passed shortly before the end of Adams’s presidency, restricted imports to such lows that the British refused to purchase American cotton, threatening the bankrupt the entire Southern economy. The tariff met such virulent opposition in the South that it became universally known as the “Tariff of Abominations.” 

As Adams quickly proved himself the most Federalist of the “New Republicans,” gaining support only in the former Federalist states of New England, Andrew Jackson mobilized. Immediately following the “Corrupt Bargain” of 1825, Jackson and his myriad supporters waited for Adams to show his hand. At the first example of federal expansion and increased federal expenditures, the Jacksonians attacked the president’s minority election. They claimed that only a man disconnected from the majority American experience would see increased federal action as a form of liberation and empowerment. The Second Bank of the United States, what many Jacksonians called the “National Bank,” had caused the Panic of 1819 and bankrupted the South, yet Adams sought a strong national banking system to regulate both public and private investment. Few of the paved roads Adams claimed would produce both liberty and power stretched beyond the industrialized sections of the North, and little of the National Bank’s hard currency ever made it beyond the roads’ endpoints. To many Americans, it seemed as though Adams was repaying the minority of the electorate that supported him in 1824 and punishing the majority who did not.

Figure 11.14: “General Jackson Slaying the Many Headed Monster,” unknown artist, published by Henry R. Robinson, 1833. [10]


11.26 - Level 4

Click on the figure representing John Quincy Adams in this political cartoon.


11.27 - Level 1

Opponents in the South gave what foreboding name to the Adams-led tariff of 1828?

A

The Tariff of Adams’ Scare

B

The Tariff of Jackson’s Hope

C

The Tariff of Abominations

D

The Tariff of Tyranny


Jackson had the political ammunition necessary for another run at the White House. More than ever, he could paint himself as the common man’s candidate, challenging the elitist, careerist approach of a second generation president. He claimed that Adams did not care about “true democracy,” which he defined as the expansion of liberties through a decreased federal presence in the everyday life. Jackson saw the federal government as a tool for the exploitable and impoverished only in its ability to regulate the growth of big business, especially in the industrial North. This did not include common regulations supported by New Republicans, such as increased tariffs, direct federal funding, and a national bank. Instead, it focused on avoiding what Jackson called “monopolistic policy,” or advantages given to large producers and merchants by federal legislation, contracts, and funds. Internal improvements, to Jackson, stood as the chief examples of these advantages. Through government contracts, and public-private investment, the government favored larger trading and construction firms rather than allowing the market itself to dictate who needed improvements and who could pay for it. 

Perhaps most importantly, like Jefferson and Madison before him, Jackson believed in the virtue of a truly representative republican government. Liberty to Jackson, unlike Adams, rested upon personal success and self-reliance, the triumph of the underdog. Jackson viewed the United States as a victim of British colonialism who had defied all odds and risen to dominance in North America. Like himself, the average American had the ability to define himself by this definition of success. Indeed, to do so stood as the single most virtuous act an American could commit. To allow the federal government to force the political and social “liberation” of one individual over another, Jackson believed, was tyranny. Jackson’s own rise from a frontier washout to a senator, lawyer, war hero, and presidential candidate served as an example of the possibilities of democracy. His success, whether in the past or in the upcoming election in 1828, would nourish and inspire the same success in the American people. 

The political party that evolved from this belief, however, did not originate with Jackson himself. Originally a supporter of William Crawford in 1824, Martin Van Buren proved an odd fit in the political system. A native of New York, Van Buren was a Jeffersonian Republican who abhorred Federalism. Having served as both state and federal senator, he believed that the recent wave of “New Republicans” threatened the future of the country. He represented upstate New York and dedicated himself to combating the industrialists and urbanites in New York City, claiming that their values were distinct and incompatible with the standards of American life. Van Buren threw his weight behind Jackson, who took up the common man’s banner against the same interests Van Buren had spent his life opposing. 

Van Buren appreciated Jackson’s dedication to the message of so-called “true democracy” and pure republican governance. Because men like John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay had retained the Republican Party tag upon victory in 1824, Van Buren worked with his and Jackson’s allies to form a new party. With the help of Adams’s rebellious and frenetic vice president, John C. Calhoun, Van Buren tried to merge the interests and concerns of the Middle Atlantic with the rural South. By adopting a consistent vision of “government limited by democracy” and individual liberty, Van Buren and Calhoun organized a party centered upon Jackson’s persona that had a real political foundation. They used Jackson’s belief in himself as the embodiment of American virtue to popularize the ideological roots of a political party dedicated to opposing centralization. The party would be named for principle it represented: democracy. And when Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, he did so as a member of the new Democratic Party

11.28 - Level 2

Although Andrew Jackson stood as the key figure in the creation of the new Democratic Party in the late 1820s, his ally, ______\_\_\_\_\_\_, served as the true founder of the group.


The Election of 1828 and the Jacksonian Era

Jackson and his supporters worked to paint Adams as a detached elite fundamentally out-of-line with the needs of the average American. Jackson’s policies stood starkly at odds with those of Adams, but his persona won him the most votes. The true American success story, Jackson also embodied the virtuous victim, both of British oppression during the Revolutionary Era and of elitist backroom politics in 1824. Support from men like John C. Calhoun, William Crawford, and Martin Van Buren likewise guaranteed him widespread support outside of New England. 

Figure 11.15: Map of the 1828 election

As results came in on December 2, 1828, Jackson, just like four years before, was the clear victor; only this time he held the majority. Of the popular vote, Jackson commanded 642,553 votes, enough to earn him 56% of the total. In the Electoral College, held the following day, Jackson received 178 votes and carried 15 of 24 states. Sweeping every state south of Maryland, Jackson proved the point he been trying to make for four years—that Adams’s neo-Federalism did not attract the majority of Americans. Tellingly, Adams won only those states with a history of Federalist support, receiving votes from all of New England, New Jersey, and Delaware, and portions of New York and Maryland. Adams’s presidency, inaugurated on a so-called “Corrupt Bargain” and a losing vote in both the popular election and the Electoral College, was over. The Age of Jackson had begun. 

Andrew Jackson’s presidency, like that of Jefferson before him, ushered in a new political era in American history. For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Republican Party did not control the White House—although Jackson’s policies mirrored those of the “Old Republicans” he admired. Adams’s dedication to an expansive federal government had ripped the Republican Party apart, and by 1828, the party itself had faded from serious view. Although Adams ran in 1828 as a so-called “National Republican,” the party no longer functioned outside of Adams’s political circle, and with his defeat it all but disappeared. A new, more approachable voice took the lead in former Republican circles, led in part by Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, William Henry Harrison, and John Tyler. Rebranding themselves as the Whig Party, this new group adopted the same rhetoric that Clay and Adams had made popular in the run up to the 1824 election. This time, however, they had a new name, a new face, and a new oppositional approach. 

11.29 - Level 2

On the map below, locate the states that Jackson won in 1828 but lost in 1824.


The emergence of two brand new parties preaching messages adapted to the times initiated what historians called the “Second American Party System.” Since James Monroe’s election in 1816, American voters had little choice in party affiliation. The Republican Party had majorities in both houses of Congress and controlled the presidency with ease. Jackson’s election opened the political system up to differing views and allowed voters to join parties that represented their specific beliefs. Although the new party system came as an unintended consequence of Jackson’s defeat in 1824 and victory in 1828, it fell in line with one of his principle campaign issues: the democratization of the American political system. 

Figure 11.16: “King Andrew the First,” unknown artist, 1833 [11] ​

An organized opposition party, especially one as rooted and experienced as the Whigs, was the proverbial thorn in Jackson’s side. As the leader of an internecine opposition for past four years, he knew what damage a strong dissenting voice could do to a politician’s reputation and message in areas of weak support. In the late 1820s and early 1830s, however, the development of a strong two-party system actually helped Jackson’s message. Because the Whigs had evolved from what he called “corrupted schism” in the Republican Party and stood upon a foundation laid decades ago by the Federalists, Jackson could use the power of “democracy”—that code word for progress and liberty since Jefferson made it famous in his revolution of 1800—to rail against the hierarchical elitism of an ideology long since discredited as counterproductive to an egalitarian society. 

The timing was perfect. In 1826, the United States had celebrated its National Jubilee, the 50th anniversary of its independence from Britain. That same day, July 4, 1826, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died. By defeating John Quincy Adams two years later, Jackson could adopt Jefferson’s legacy. Thomas Jefferson had founded the Republican Party in opposition to Adams’s Federalists. By winning the presidency as a Democrat against the son of the first true Federalist, Jackson could paint himself as the true successor to the Revolutionary generation, whose memory weighed heavily on the minds of most Americans in 1828. 

Question 11.30

11.30 - Level 4

How did Andrew Jackson’s inevitable election in 1828 introduce drastic changes to the American political system? Was it entirely unique, or did it mirror another earlier political shift?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.30.

11.31 - Level 2

One of Andrew Jackson’s major goals was to decrease the amount of federal spending on infrastructure projects.

A

True

B

False


Nullification and the Question of Power

Jackson made the most of his time in office, but not always on his own terms. In a move reminiscent of his father, Adams pushed the 1828 Tariff of Abominations through Congress less than a year before leaving office. Intended to boost both the popularity and financial viability of the American System, the tariff strongly favored Northern industry over Southern agriculture. Astonished by Adams’s willingness to pass a law that clearly favored the North at the expense of the South, his vice president John C. Calhoun of South Carolina anonymously published a pamphlet entitled the South Carolina Exposition and Protest, also known simply as Calhoun’s Exposition. In the pamphlet, Calhoun advanced the idea that states had the constitutional right to reject and nullify any piece of federal legislation within its own borders, claiming that laws that injure the people or government of a state are “infractions of [the states’] powers” of self-government.

Calhoun’s ideas came to be known as the power of nullification, and following Jackson’s election, the issue seemed to go away. In 1832, however, the tariff issue reappeared as Jackson sought a compromise over the strict provisions of the 1828 law. The only way Jackson could win over support from Northern congressmen was to allow for a new tariff to replace parts of the previous law. Naturally, the South, now led by rollover Vice President Calhoun, sought nothing less than a complete repeal. In the end, the compromise tariff of 1832, which reduced nearly every 1828 duty by a third, passed both houses of Congress with support from half the South and a majority of the North. Jackson signed it into law on July 14 of that year.

Spotlight on Primary Source

The South Carolina Exposition and Protest, Reported by the Special Committee of the House of Representatives, on the Tariff

Because the good people of this Commonwealth believe, that the powers of Congress were delegated to it, in trust for the accomplishment of certain specific objects which limit and control them, and that every exercise of them, for any other purposes, is a violation of the Constitution as unwarrantable as the undisguised assumption of substantive, independent powers not granted or expressly withheld…

(“Calhoun’s Exposition,” December 19, 1828)


Figure 11.17: Portrait of John C. Calhoun by Rembrandt Peale, 1834 [12]



Calhoun, serving as Jackson’s vice president due to their shared views on state power, felt betrayed on a fundamental level. Not only did Jackson ignore his opposition to the tariff, he also actively sought out support from the North, who Calhoun believed had already benefitted greatly over the South due to the previous tariff. On November 24, 1832, at the behest of Calhoun, a convention of state delegates in South Carolina accepted and published the Ordinance of Nullification stating that both the tariff of 1828 and the recent tariff of 1832 had no legitimate standing in the state. The ordinance further argued that the tariffs were unconstitutional and stood as paramount examples of federal favoritism for the North and tyranny over the sovereign and self-governing people of South Carolina. As of February 1, 1833, the state would pay no duties imposed by the tariffs, and would refuse to acknowledge the validity of the laws within the state. 

Figure 11.18: “Democracy. 1832. 1864.” Published by Louis Prang & Co., 1864. The image on the left depicts Jackson’s powerful response to Calhoun’s nullification theory. The image on the right depicts the contrarian response to Jefferson Davis and the Southern states’ secession, and how few considered them “traitors” to the union. [13]


Jackson’s reaction to the so-called Nullification Crisis reinforced his reputation as a quick-tempered duelist. Jackson believed the Union was sacred, describing it as the single most important aspect of the nation itself. Without the Union and the peaceful, virtuous relationship between the states and the federal government, the United States could not exist. Shocked and dismayed by Calhoun’s seemingly radical stance, Jackson wrote him a letter. “I had a right to believe that you were my sincere friend,” he wrote, “and until now, never expected to have occasion to say to you, in the language of Caesar, Et tu Brute.” 

On March 2, 1833, Jackson and his supporters pushed the Force Bill through Congress, giving the president the right to use the military force against any state refusing to pay duties and taxes dictated by the tariff. Jackson would not allow Calhoun’s betrayal to stand unopposed. The Force Bill was the epitome of federal supremacy over the states, but Jackson saw South Carolina’s actions as a danger to the principles upon which a republican government was built, and it was his obligation to protect both the Union and himself from dishonor. 

On the same day as the Force Bill, Henry Clay pushed through a new compromise tariff of 1833 based on discussions he had with Calhoun, who promised to support the tariff if it passed. Although some of its provisions did not kick in until 1842, the new tariff, along with the Force Bill, gave Calhoun and his supporters little grounds to continue their nullification crusade. They had a tariff they supported and ran the risk of federal invasion if they remained on the same political path. The fight was over, and it was time to move on. Calhoun, however, was a changed man. Effectively blacklisted from the Jackson administration, Calhoun resigned as vice president, switched to the Whig Party, and teamed up with Daniel Webster and Henry Clay as chiefs of the anti-Jackson opposition movement. Andrew Jackson had won the confrontation with Calhoun, but he had earned himself a new, loud, and highly influential opponent in the process .

11.32 - Level 3

Andrew Jackson used the famous historical expression “Et tu Brute!” in his letter to John C. Calhoun as a way of accusing his vice president of which of the following?

A

Treachery

B

Ignorance

C

Jealousy

D

Hypocrisy


11.33 - Level 1

Place the following events in chronological order.

A

“Tariff of Abominations”

B

Tariff of 1832

C

Force Bill

D

Ordinance of Nullification


Question 11.34

11.34 - Level 3

What was the principle and logic behind John C. Calhoun’s nullification theory? In what work did he first express these theories?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.34.

A "True" White Democracy

Despite the Nullification Crisis, Jackson continued to work. In just under four years, he lowered the national debt by more than $7 million, bringing it to its lowest levels in more than 20 years. He destroyed the Bank of the United States after a miserable and ultimately successful “Bank War” with Nicholas Biddle, the Bank’s final and most competent president. Lobbying for renewal of the Bank’s charter in 1832, Biddle ran afoul of Jackson, who saw the Bank as the single most oppressive relic of the post-War of 1812 era. Passed by Congress, Jackson vetoed the Bank’s charter, causing Biddle to privatize the institution in hopes of maintaining its standing influence as the chief proprietor of federal funds. Jackson, however, had other ideas, and in 1833 removed all governmental funds from the Bank by way of an executive order and placed them in seven so-called Pet Banks of his choosing. By 1841, the Second Bank of the United States was bankrupt and soon fell apart. 

 Jackson’s victory in the “Bank War” stood as a totem of his democratic vision. By freeing the American people of financial tyranny, as he saw it, Jackson enacted a new era of equality uninhibited by federal elitism and favoritism in the economic realm. This, Jackson believed, was the first step toward a more open political and financial system in which the “common man” could finally have an interest and a voice in politics. Although the final legislation opening the franchise to property-less white men did not pass until the mid-1850s, it was Jackson who first popularized the issue at the federal level, claiming that the nation would never realize true equality and democracy without a certain “broadened suffrage.” Colored by conflict and stubborn insistence on political expedience, the Jacksonian Era was off to a promising start. Behind every action, however aggressive, came a message of democratic justice and popular empowerment. To many, Jackson’s dream had come true. 

Figure 11.19: Map on Indian removal route

On May 28, 1830, Andrew Jackson signed a bill that defined the limits of Jacksonian “democracy” and “liberty” in the mid-19th century. Called the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the law allowed the President to set aside western federal lands for the relocation of Native Americans inhabiting large portions of the southern Florida and northern Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas. Although the act sanctioned “negotiations” with the Indians, the discussion hardly allowed for compromise. From his first experiences in the early 1800s fighting Seminoles in then Spanish Florida, Jackson saw Native Americans as a “degraded…ill-fated race” fundamentally incapable of recognizing the “influence of civilization and government over the human powers.” To him, Indians fell just short of humanity, never mind civilized humanity. They could not, and did not deserve to, live amongst the cultured, enlightened heirs to the North American continent. 

Indian removal, ironically, reinforced the spread and strength of democracy in Jackson’s mind. Supported widely in the South, the act promised to open fertile lands to honest, virtuous Americans dedicated to self-reliance, personal enrichment, and national empowerment. Founded upon Jackson’s understanding of Jefferson’s yeoman idyll, the removal of uncivilized “Others” from the heart of the South, Jackson believed, gave a voice to those silenced by Adams’s expansive federal structure. It also freed white Southerners from the “burden” of Indian raids and constant confrontation over land. 

The Indian Removal Act and the numerous “treaties” that followed did have a legal foundation. They did not simply arise from Jackson’s prejudice. In 1823, the Supreme Court decided in Johnson v. M’Intosh (pronounced “McIntosh”) that Native Americans could not claim “sovereign ownership” of their ancestral land. Instead, they maintained a “right of occupancy” granted by the federal government, whose laws superseded the Indians’ claims to proper ownership. Eight years later, Chief Justice John Marshall went even further in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), a case that evolved directly from the Indian Removal Act of the previous year. Writing the majority opinion, Marshall declared that the “relationship of the [Native American] tribes to the United States resembles that of a ‘ward to its guardian.’” Indians could not live civilized lives by themselves and needed to the cultured influence of the United States government and its people to survive. 

11.35 - Level 1

To which of the following groups did Andrew Jackson hope to extend the right to vote?

A

White women

B

Property-less white men

C

Freed slaves

D

Native Americans


Question 11.36

11.36 - Level 5

Explain how the Supreme Court cases mentioned in the preceding paragraph affected plans for Indian removal. What was the legal argument and how did it bolster the case for those bent on taking Indian lands? How would a different ruling have helped Native Americans?

Click here to see the answer to Question 11.36.

What followed was forced migration at best and genocide at worst. Over the course of the 1830s and early 1840s, the federal government signed aggressive, lop-sided “treaties” with several Indian tribes in the South, promising free land and federal protection in the West in return for the eastern lands they had called home for generations. Jackson did not hesitate to use military force if “negotiations” went sour, however, and almost immediately began selling off former Indian lands to eager white farmers at remarkably low prices. Between 1836 and 1838, armed federal troops uprooted more than 18,000 men, women, and children from the Cherokee lands of Georgia and marched them to the new “Indian Lands” more than 800 miles west. More than 4,500 individuals fell dead on this Trail of Tears, and countless families evaporated and fractured in the forced chaos. By 1840, those whom the government had not yet forced out were besieged by thousands of speculators, farmers, and investors waiting for the opportunity to pounce. The United States had become a democracy for white men only. 

11.37 - Level 2

About what percentage of Native American who walked the “Trail of Tears” died on this long and arduous journey?


11.38 - Level 1

About how many Cherokee men, women, and children experienced the misery of the “Trail of Tears,” marching nearly 800 miles between Georgia’s Cherokee lands and the new “Indian Lands” of the West?


Conclusion

Indian removal served to define the nature of citizenship and belonging in the new, more democratic Jacksonian America. By removing Native Americans from eastern lands, Jackson and his supporters made manifest the claim that North America belonged to the European settlers and their descendants who “discovered” and “civilized” the land. Nationalism, to Jackson, brought with it a culture that defined membership in the American body politic. The so-called “Civilized Tribes” of the colonial era could not avoid Jackson’s cultural plan. They were not, and potentially could not become, civilized enough to fit into the accepted American mold. Adopting the manners, names, religion, and language of their American “guardians” did not bring them out of the “wardship” and “dependency” their very nature produced. Democracy required cultural and ethnic uniformity, at least in the eyes of those in power. 

Figure 11.20: Portrait of Sequoyah, a Cherokee intellectual and member of one the so-called “Civilized Tribes,” by Charles Bird King, 1836 [14]

The irony of Andrew Jackson, then, is the message itself. He came to office following a “Corrupt Bargain,” championing the plight and experience of the oppressed, exploited common man. He rallied the South and Border States against an elitist, controlling, tyrannical federal system run by an aristocratic careerist beholden only to the moneyed interests of “Old New England.” He harked on democracy and liberty, tapping into Jeffersonian rhetoric of liberation, virtue, and empathy. He stood tall as a physical example of the limitless potential of an open, democratic system. He promised a voice to the silent masses, strength to the weak, power to the exploited. He waltzed to victory in 1828 and again in 1832 on the backs of those men he promised to free and empower. To support Jackson, it seemed, was to join a true democracy, become a member of a united front for good and equality. 

Jackson’s democracy, however, did not include people of color, Native Americans, women, or those who opposed his administration. Democracy, to Jackson, could only exist if everyone looked, sounded, and thought alike. It likewise required the removal of “savages” and the enslavement of “negroes,” and the resulting land and profit belonged, by right, to those virtuous white men dedicated to the same bright but specific future Jackson had in mind. The exploitative structure Jackson so strongly opposed did not go away. It simply shifted its focus. The liberation of one group begot the exploitation and abuse of another. With Indian removal the South became whiter, more dedicated to slavery, and less willing to negotiate the terms of their newfound democratic freedom. Jackson, though one of the most popular and successful presidents to that point in United States history, rooted the political and social system that promised to tear the nation apart. 

Pre-Class Discussion Questions

Class Discussion 11.01

Class Discussion 11.01 - Level 3

How did James Monroe manage to win re-election with all but four electoral votes and just about 100% of the popular vote? What does that tell us about the American political landscape at the time?

Click here to see the answer to Class Discussion 11.01.

Class Discussion 11.02

Class Discussion 11.02 - Level 3

What does it mean that Monroe appointed a “team of rivals” to his cabinet? How did this differ from those before him?

Click here to see the answer to Class Discussion 11.02.

Class Discussion 11.03

Class Discussion 11.03 - Level 4

Who were the “New Republicans” and what did they advocate at the national level? Based on what you know from previous chapters, was this a marked shift from previous mainstream approaches?

Click here to see the answer to Class Discussion 11.03.

Class Discussion 11.04

Class Discussion 11.04 - Level 5

Do you think the “Corrupt Bargain” was a work of political genius, or does it exemplify everything that is wrong with the political system?

Click here to see the answer to Class Discussion 11.04.

Class Discussion 11.05

Class Discussion 11.05 - Level 3

What was John Quincy Adams’s “New Nationalism?” What did he want to accomplish through it?

Click here to see the answer to Class Discussion 11.05.



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Suggested Additional Material

  • Burstein, Andrew. America’s Jubilee: A Generation Remembers the Revolution After Fifty Years of Independence. New York: Vintage. 2002.
  • Dorsey, Bruce. Reforming Men and Women: Gender in the Antebellum City. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. 2002.
  • Earle, Jonathan H. Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 2004.
  • Forbes, Robert Pierce. The Missouri Compromise and Its Aftermath: Slavery and the Meaning of America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 2007.
  • Freehling, William G. Prelude to Civil War: The Nullification Controversy in South Carolina, 1816-1836. New York: Oxford University Press. 1966.
  • Greenberg, Amy S. Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2005.
  • Guyatt, Nicholas. Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation. New York: Basic Books. 2016.
  • Isenberg, Nancy. Sex and Citizenship in Antebellum America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press. 1997.
  • Perdue, Theda, and Michael D. Green. The Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears. New York: Viking. 2007.
  • Wilentz, Sean. Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850. New York: Oxford University Press. 20th Anniversary Edition, 2004.


Answers to In-Chapter Discussion Questions

Answer to Question 11.01

Following the poorly time petition sent from the Hartford Convention to the president in 1815, the Federalist Party became labeled by many Americans as radical, treasonous, and seditious. In most parts of the North, the party quickly lost its support, leaving only the old Federalist havens of upper New England, who maintained the party for close to a decade as a shadow of its former self.

Click here to return to Question 11.01.


Answer to Question 11.07

There were numerous concerns and problems that all came to a head when Missouri applied for statehood in 1819. For starters, the Union was split between an equal number of free and slave states, something that few congressmen or Americans thought about before Missouri’s application as a slave state. That would swing the Senate in favor of slave states and disallow any anti-slavery motions to see the light of day. More locally, Missouri itself was largely split on the issue. Bordered mainly by free states and only marginally by the slave states of Tennessee and Kentucky, the northern section of Missouri avoided slavery and stood more culturally aligned with Illinois while the southern section of the state practiced slavery in bits. Missouri’s application as a single state brought up the question of the limits of slavery. The North, by then, had passed gradual emancipation laws or abolished the practice altogether. Generally speaking, Northerners were not keen on admitting future slave state into their perceived region. On the other hand, many Southerners saw any restriction of the expansion of practice as antithetical to their constitutional rights.

Click here to return to Question 11.07.


Answer to Question 11.09

The Tallmadge Amendment would have disallowed the importation of any slave into the new state of Missouri and free all current slaves immediately upon reaching the age of 25. This was, in the view of Southern legislators and many Missourians, a radical and aggressive proposal that threatened their sense of property rights.

Click here to return to Question 11.09.


Answer to Question 11.11

The first Missouri compromise stated that Missouri would be allowed to enter into the Union as a slave state, but only if it was the last slave state to be admitted above the 36˚30’ parallel. The second Missouri compromise addressed the question of freed blacks entering the state. The state constitution submitted to Congress originally denied entrance to these people, but Henry Clay added a clause stating that the state could not deny the “privileges and immunities” of any citizen granted by the U.S. Constitution, which implicitly recognized the right of any citizen to settle there. 

Click here to return to Question 11.11.


Answer to Question 11.12

The Missouri Compromise likewise brought Maine into the Union as a free state and established a northern border of slavery at the 36°30' parallel. It forced the nation to confront a problem that it repeatedly refused to approach—that of slavery and its expansion as the United States moved west. It also established the first major geographical restriction on the practice.

Click here to return to Question 11.12.


Answer to Question 11.15

The Monroe Doctrine created an American “sphere of influence” that placed the United States as the so-called “protector” of the nations in its immediate geographical area. This established the United States as the primary power on the North American continent, effectively shunning Europe from westward colonial expansion.

Click here to return to Question 11.15.


Answer to Question 11.18

The “American System” was a proposed system of federally funded roads and canals promoted mainly by Henry Clay of Kentucky.

Click here to return to Question 11.18.


Answer to Question 11.20

Andrew Jackson wooed the South, claiming that Adams had favored the North and Northeast at the expense of Southern farmers. He claimed that the federal government had expanded in ways unseen since the Federalist Era, and that nearly every internal improvement had aided Northern economic growth over that of the South. He argued that the Second Bank of the United States had over extended credit, giving predatory loans to Southerners who could never pay them back, and thus exerted a stroke a tyranny on the non-industrial people of the interior of the nation. In essence, then, he was a neo-Jeffersonian, or an “Old Republican.”

Click here to return to Question 11.20.


Answer to Question 11.25

Adams’s presidency revived long-dead Federalist ideas of federal funding and governmental aid. Adams poured federal dollars into improvements and expansions of roads, canals, and even some railways that had been anathema to Madison and Monroe before him. He often matched private contributions to infrastructure and strengthened the Second Bank of the United States, providing thousands of low interest loans to prospective landowners, especially in the West. To pay for these improvements, Adams levied taxes and established tariffs on imported goods in an effort to fuel American industrial interests. 

Click here to return to Question 11.25.


Answer to Question 11.30

At its core, Jackson’s victory in 1828 initiated the “Second American Party System,” which very much mirrored its earlier incarnation following the ratification of the federal Constitution in the 1780s. For the second time in the U.S. history, politics were drawn between two drastically different visions of the future and the Constitution itself. It also established a designated opposition that had been lacking in American politics for more than a decade. 

Click here to return to Question 11.30.


Answer to Question 11.34

Calhoun believed in absolute state sovereignty over the federal government on the grounds that the states made up the federal government and granted it power rather than the other way around. As a result, the theory of nullification rested on these same beliefs. If a state felt as though its constitutional rights and powers were abridged or threatened by a piece of federal legislation, the state legislature could nullify that law within the borders of the state. He laid out this idea in Exposition and Protest (1828). 

Click here to return to Question 11.34.


Answer to Question 11.36

Both cases touched on Native Americans’ relationship with the federal government. Johnson v. M’Intosh (1823) established that Native Americans could not claim “sovereign ownership” of their ancestral lands, meaning that they could, in theory, occupy it but could not own it and run it outside the will and laws of the federal government, or even the state in which it sat. This placed Native American lands firmly in the hands of the federal government and laid the foundation of Indian Removal in the 1830s. Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831) ruled that Native Americans were “wards” of the United States government, not citizens or subjects. They existed outside the standards of citizenship and the Constitution. This, along with its predecessor, legally justified and allowed the passage and maintenance of the Indian Removal Act of 1831. Had the Court upheld Native American citizenship, Indian Removal would have become impossible as a basic abridgement of their constitutional rights.

Click here to return to Question 11.36.

Answers to Pre-Class Discussion Questions

Answer to Class Discussion 11.01

Monroe came up at the perfect time. The Federalist Party was in free-fall after the failed Hartford Convention and the Monroe administration actively sought out former Federalists to fill its ranks. Monroe stood as a moderate figure in a previous divided political system, continuing the legacy of Jefferson and Madison while also seeking common ground with the so-called “New Republicans” from the North and West. This all came to a head in 1820, when the Republican Party found itself alone atop the American political pyramid. As the nominee of the Republican Party, and a moderate one at that, Monroe easily waltzed to victory, earning only a few detractors in his bid for re-election. 

Click here to return to Class Discussion 11.01.


Answer to Class Discussion 11.02

Unlike most of his predecessors, Monroe appointed a group of opponents to his cabinet. Mixed with fellow Jeffersonians, like Daniel Tompkin and William Crawford, Monroe added the likes of John Quincy Adams and John C. Calhoun, two “New Republicans.” The technique brought the two sides together and helped bridge the gap between the Republicans and former Federalists. It likewise gave Monroe a direct line to the potential opposition. Instead of surrounding himself with “yes men,” he created a legitimate sounding board that could mimic the national debate. 

Click here to return to Class Discussion 11.02.


Answer to Class Discussion 11.03

The “New Republicans” came from the former Federalist camps of the Northeast and Border States and promoted a vision of government that expanded the reach of the federal authority. Behind Henry Clay’s “American System,” they advocated a network of federally funded internal improvements and public services. They viewed the government as a regulatory agency that could provide for the American people and stop practices, such as money lending and currency production, from getting out of control and leading to economic downturn. 

Click here to return to Class Discussion 11.03.


Answer to Class Discussion 11.04

Opinion-based. There is certainly an argument to be made for the brilliance of the “Corrupt Bargain.” Jackson had won the election but not the majority and Adams and Clay worked together to get what both of them wanted. They used the system itself to achieve their ends. That, by definition, is politics at its best. On the other hand, however, Jackson received the most votes and thus, at least in theory, was the president the American people wanted to see inaugurated. Adams’s victory in the end went against the will of the electorate. Even if Jackson did not get a majority, Adams received even fewer votes, and thus stood even further than Jackson from legitimate election.

Click here to return to Class Discussion 11.04.


Answer to Class Discussion 11.05

Similar to Jefferson, Adams had a vision of how the United States was supposed to look. Unfortunately for Adams, that vision did not always align with reality. He saw a future of collaboration between an empathetic government and virtuous, liberty loving populace. If the government could provide a cushion for the people, they would become willing to work with that government and produce a well-rounded, successful nation. The government was to regulate the passions of the common man and equalize the opportunities of all ambitious Americans

Click here to return to Class Discussion 11.05.



Image Credits

[1] Image courtesy of Metropolitan Museum of Art in the Public Domain.

[2] Image courtesy of Hunt's Merchants' Magazine and Commercial Review, Volume 23 in the Public Domain.

[3] Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in the Public Domain.

[4] Image courtesy of National Portrait Gallery in the Public Domain.

[5] Image courtesy of National Archives via ourdocuments.org in the Public Domain.

[6] Image courtesy of Tennessee Portrait Project in the Public Domain.

[7] Image courtesy of the Library of Congress in the Public Domain.

[8] Image courtesy of the Library of Congress in the Public Domain.

[9] Image courtesy of Google Arts and Culture in the Public Domain.

[10] Image courtesy of Brown University Library in the Public Domain.

[11] Image courtesy of the Library of Congress in the Public Domain.

[12] Image courtesy of The Athenaeum in the Public Domain.

[13] Image courtesy of the Library of Congress in the Public Domain.

[14] Image courtesy of the University of Washington Library in the Public Domain.