Guest Author - Rebecca Graf
The election for president in 1828 was a new venture into the unknown for most of the political world. Jackson and his supports took politics from the hands of the elite and made it accessible to everyone of voting age and requirements. Politics became more complicated as it became more common and “rudimentary” in campaigns that was more military in style as it come from several different fronts: “coordinated media, fund-raising, organized rallies, opinion polling, campaign paraphernalia” as well as “ethnic voting blocs, image making, even opposition research, smear tactics, and dirty tricks.” This was something politics had never seen before. As America was changing from the new country led by Washington and Jefferson to a new generation, the “tectonic plates that lay beneath the political landscape” was shifting into a whole new dimension.
Jackson was man for a new age. He was one that was from common origins as was the case for most of the voters. He was one that had to fight for what he had which was similar to most of those that made up America. Andrew Jackson was an American hero who gave everything he had to tell the British once and for all that America was an independent nation of courage and determination. Despite all his scandals and political and social missteps, he was loved by the masses and welcomed as one of them. That made his election one of image; the “Hero of New Orleans” who was not one of those raised in the dubious clutches of Washington and seen as the “defender of true republicanism.”
America wanted a change, and it got it. Jackson changed the presidency in a way that is still felt today. He was elected though most of his actions in life would have kept him out of the running for such a high office. He left scandal after scandal in his path and made many controversial decisions that today have many spit on his name. Yet he was the answer to America’s prayers during a time when the government appeared to be going down a path that was not desired based on the heart and passion of the Revolutionary War. Everything America had fought against seemed to be what the government was turning into. America cried out for more truer representation which was found in Jackson as their candidate. What they got was a government with even more control than they had originally wanted. Jackson left office having “both the presidency and American politics …. permanently changed.” The need for change revealed a much more menacing giant that was a man of the people.
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Parsons, Lynn H. Birth of Modern Politics: Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams, and the Election of 1828. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.
Sellers, Charles. The Market Revolution: Jacksonian America, 1815-1846. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.