History Standard 3 Resource
Jacksonian Democracy

Benchmark Addressed: History 3 (Interpretation)
Suggested Task 1: Read each paragraph and summarize (paraphrase) each thesis.

Thesis 1

The Jacksonians were barbarians who turned the government over to the "rabble" of American society. By embracing the spoils system, President Jackson paved the way for the widespread corruption of government in later years.

From Life of Andrew Jackson (1860)
By James Parton

Thesis 2

President Jackson brought a healthy democratic influence to American politics and the time during which he served as President was one of expanding political opportunity.  Jacksonian Democracy was an effort to control the power of the capitalist groups - predominantly from the East, for the benefit of the non capitalist groups - predominantly farmers and laboring men.  The urban working classes who participated in the Jacksonian movement laid the grounds for later reform efforts to restrain the power of the business community.

From The Age of Jackson (1945)
By Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

Thesis 3

The ideological appeal of the Jeffersonian heritage is important in understanding the Jacksonians. Jackson and his followers looked with mistrust on the new industrial society emerging around them and yearned instead for the restoration of the agrarian, republican virtues of earlier times. In destroying the Bank of the United States, limiting federal economic activities, and emphasizing state's rights, they attempted to restore a simpler, more decentralized world. Ironically, their actions contributed to the expansion of unregulated capitalism. 

From The Jacksonian Persuasion (1957)
By Marvin Meyers

    Suggested Task 2: List and explain possible reasons for the differences in the interpretations that appear above.

Grades 4-5: relate answers to "the evidence presented or the point of view of the author."

Grade 6-8: relate answers to the historians "choice of questions and use of sources."

Grades 9-12: relate answers to the historians' "choice of questions, use and choice of sources, perspectives, beliefs, and points of view."


*Adapted from Current, Richard N., et al. (1987). American History: A Survey. Seventh Edition. Alfred A. Knopf. New York

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