The Jacksonian Era and the “Common Man” Essay
The Jacksonian period, nicknamed the era of the “common man,” lived up to its characterization.
President Andrew Jackson influenced the life of the common man forever. He brought politics to the common man by expanding voting rights, once a topic only discussed by the wealth elite. He partook in movements that reformed the nation, and bettered life for American citizens.
Also, Jackson developed the economy in such a way that he gave reassurance to the common man, that he was economically safe; during this time, many Americans did not feel that they were in a state of economic stability, but Jackson gave them their piece of mind.This time period was a turning point in the history of America because Andrew Jackson recognized the nation’s problems, addressed the issues of the common man, and bettered the lives of most, if not all Americans. Jeffersonian Democracy was a new view brought to American politics during the early 19th century. American voting was revolutionized because direct voting methods, such as voting by voice were eliminated, and replaced by indirect voting methods, such as ballots.During this transformation, voter participation skyrocketed. By 1840, nearly 80 percent of adult white males journeyed to the polls. Voting popularity increased when property qualifications for voting and office holding were abolished.
Under the new constitution, adopted in 1821, all adult white males were allowed to vote as long as they paid their taxes or had served their country. Years later, taxpaying qualifications were eliminated creating universal manhood suffrage for the first time, in America.Much of the economics of the United States in the years before Jacksonian Democracy centered around meeting the needs of the rich more than planters and farmers. For example, tariffs of the time particularly favored the industrial arena. Farmers, among others, had to pay duties to buy manufactured goods, which the South and West in particular had few of, from Britain.
Jackson saw the need to promote an economy that also favored farmers and other poor peoples. One of Jackson’s major acts was breaking up the National Bank.The National Bank determined the value of American currency and, as a whole, managed the country’s money. Jackson broke up the National Bank into so-called “wildcat banks”, independently run banks that were not regulated by the US government. Although the wildcat banks were not stable financially, the banks did allow the common man to attempt to prosper in speculation, which involved buying lands in the west in the hopes of offering them to railroad companies for a profit.In promoting speculation through the forming of wildcat banks, Jackson gave all white males the opportunity to prosper financially.
The Jacksonian Period was a unique time in American history in that a particular emphasis was placed on the “common man”. Up to the time period, politicians and businesses ignored the common man and considered them unimportant. However, Jackson valued the common man, likely because he was one a “common man” himself, and stressed their importance in the American economy and American politics.