Andrew Jackson – Key Events and Major Issues

There were several issues that occured while President Andrew Jackson was in office. One major debate during this time was the Webster-Hayne debate of 1829-1830, in which there were opposing views about westward expansion and its affect on the country. There were many who felt that it was a good idea; however, there were also those who felt that the manufacturing industry would be weakened while also gaining a new political rival. Another issue occurred in 1830 when Jackson vetoed a bill to build a road in Kentucky. While many questioned Jackson’s motives for this (due to his opposition to Henry Clay), both the Northerners and Southerners were ultimately happy with Jackson’s decision. The North didn’t want easier access to the West, and the South felt that it was the state’s responsibility to pay for the road. Another issue that occurred during Jackson’s presidency was the issue of Native American relocation. Jackson wanted to relocate all Native Americans so that he could take over the west. There were several Americans who opposed this, but ultimately were unable to stop the slow and steady progression of Jackson. Another major issue that the Americans faced during this time were tariffs. In order to appease the Southerners, Jackson offered the Tariff of 1832 as a milder alternative to the Tariff of 1828. However, the Southerners still believed that the tariffs outlined in this were too high. Eventually, this led to Henry Clay drafting up the Compromise Tariff of 1833, which would lower tariffs from 35% to 20-25% for ten years. This compromise was able to settle disputes with the Southerners, as they accepted these rates.


Major Issues Under Andrew Jackson
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Major Issues under Andrew Jackson


During Andrew Jackson’s presidency, he had to face a lot of big issues. One major event during Jackson’s term was the Webster-Hayne debate of 1829 and 1830. This was held to debate Western expansion. There were differing opinions on Western expansion. Andrew Jackson was very much in favor of Western expansion. However, the senators of the Northeast were opposed to Western migration, mainly because they felt it would weaken manufacturing and create a new political rival.


The Northeast didn’t want these problems to come up. They didn’t want their manufacturing to be weakened. They didn’t want a new political rival. At this point, it was pretty much North vs. South whenever they were talking about sectional divisions. If you now started expanding into the West, you would have North issues, West issues, and South issues, and you have a new political rival at least as far as sections within the United States.


The Northeast was against western expansion, but Andrew Jackson really pushed for it during his presidency. In 1830, Jackson set a precedent by vetoing the funding of a road that was to be built entirely within one state (Kentucky). Many believed that Jackson vetoed the bill to spite Henry Clay, but the move had some positive political consequences as well. Jackson vetoed this bill to fund the road that was going to be built entirely within Kentucky.


This was because if the Federal Government is funding something it should be helping all of the states, or at least more than one specific state. Since this road was only going to be within Kentucky, it wasn’t going to be an interstate route that would be connecting one state to another, Jackson didn’t think that they should pay for this road. He vetoed funding for it. Many believe he vetoed the bill to spite Henry Clay.


In the election of 1824, Jackson and John Quincy Adams had a very close race. Jackson had more electoral votes originally, but he didn’t have the majority. When it went to a revote in the House of Representatives, like the runoff election, Henry Clay persuaded people to vote for John Quincy Adams and he was able to win the presidency in 1824, even though in the original election Andrew Jackson had had more electoral votes, just not the majority.


He felt like the presidency had been stolen from him in 1824 and he blamed Henry Clay. That’s why people thought that he was just trying to veto the bill to spite Henry Clay, since Henry Clay wanted it, but there were some positive political consequences of his vetoing this bill. The Southerners appreciated the idea that states should tend to their own business. The South was more sectionalist and had more ties to their state than they were nationalist.


They liked the idea that states should tend to their own business. Keep the federal government out of it. The Northerners liked it, because the road would have given people easier access to the West. Even though Jackson did push for Westward expansion, he didn’t think it was right to fund this road that was entirely within one state, even though it would have given people easier access to the West. He didn’t just do anything he could.


He still tried to be fair about getting Western expansion accomplished. In vetoing this bill, he made Southerners happy and Northerners happy. Jackson’s attempts at relocating Native Americans were less successful. This is one of the big negatives that people often look back on about Andrew Jackson’s presidency. The passage of the Indian Resettlement Act of 1830 was the first attempt by the national government to force migration.


They would be forcing the Native Americans to leave their home where they were settled and resettle somewhere else, to relocate somewhere else. In the case of Worchester vs. Georgia in 1832, the Supreme Court ruled against those who sought to grab Native American lands. John Marshall asserted that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign. It was a nation within itself, just within U.S. borders. It was a ward of the United States.


It was its own nation separate from the United States, but it was a ward of the United States. The United States was supposed to take care of it and handle its affairs politically for the most part. Despite Marshall’s assertion of the Cherokees rights, Jackson supported the slow and steady conquest of lands in the South and West.


While he didn’t do everything possible in passing certain legislation that would help with Western expansion, he did keep pushing the Native Americans out of their land, trying to get them to resettle, so Americans could keep pushing further West and South and settling those lands themselves. The Tariff of 1832, a milder version of the Tariff of 1828, was offered by Jackson to appease the South and John C. Calhoun, who was one of its major posers.


Instead, Southern politicians said that this was not enough. Calhoun resigned from Congress in order to organize the opposition to all tariffs. He felt so strongly about it that whenever the tariff of 1832 was offered, it was not enough for him and he resigned and went about organizing opposition to all tariffs. Now, the tariff of 1828 had placed a tax on goods coming into the United States from foreign markets.


This tax was up to 45%, which is a crazy amount for a tax for foreign products coming in. This was to help protect Northern goods. Northern markets weren’t able to make their goods and sell them for cheaper than foreign goods coming in, so people were buying more foreign goods because they were cheaper. This way, the foreign goods would have to raise their prices to accommodate that 45% or less tax. The tax was going to be up to 45%.


Some items were different. Each item had a set tax rate on it. This tariff was in place just for goods being imported into the United States. The Northern markets could keep their prices the same and still be less than foreign markets now, because the foreign markets had to raise their prices to accommodate these taxes. It helped the North, but there were still lower class people in the North that didn’t like this tax, because they still had to pay more for goods, and people in the South really didn’t like this, because they had to pay more for goods than they had previously been paying.


Britain was one of their primary cotton exporters. They sold a lot of their cotton to Britain. Since Britain wasn’t making as much money selling goods to America, now Britain wasn’t able to buy as much cotton, or to pay as much for it. The South was getting hit twice for this. A lot of people didn’t like the tariff of 1828. The Tariff of 1832 was supposed to be a help here.


It lowered it to up to 35% instead of up to 45%. It did lower the tax rate a little bit for goods coming in, but it was still a high tax. The South was still unhappy. They said, “This wasn’t enough.” John C. Calhoun said, “This isn’t enough,” and left Congress altogether to go organize opposition to tariffs in general. Henry Clay, who realized that Jackson could easily overpower South Carolina, was further disturbed by the Force Act of 1832, which stated that the president had the right to use military force to keep a state in the union.


If a state tried to leave the Union, the president could use military force to keep that state in the union. South Carolina was one of the primary opponents to the Tariff Act of 1828, and then of 1832. They kind of started what was known as the Nullification Crisis. South Carolina said, “You know what? I think that states should be able to nullify federal regulations if they don’t like them.”


Well, if every state felt that way and started to act on that, then each state would basically just be ruling itself and the federal government would have no control at all. If the federal government made rules and the states were just able to override them, to nullify those, then you aren’t going to have a union anymore. You were going to have a bunch of little countries, basically, within those states.


When South Carolina started talking about that idea, that a state should be able to nullify federal regulation, this started the Nullification Crisis. It was short-lived, especially with the Force Act being brought up and passed. If the president could go in and use military force to keep a state within the union, then that was a big threat to anyone who was thinking, “Oh, well maybe we’ll just leave the union if we can’t have regulations the way we want them.”


1828 to 1832 was about the time frame of this Nullification Crisis, because Clay proposed an even lower Compromise Tariff of 1833. The tariff would be lowered from 35% to 20 to 25% over the next 10 years. Both sides agreed to this compromise. This is still going to be a kind of high tax rate, but, compared to 45%, knowing that the tax was going to drop down to 20 to 25%, this was enough to appease most Southerners, at least enough not to try to leave the union and not to try to nullify federal regulation.


The Compromise Tariff of 1833, in conjunction with the Forest Act of 1832, ended the Nullification Crisis and made states think twice about trying to overrule federal regulations. Major issues under Andrew Jackson: You had the Webster-Hayne debate about Western expansion. Northerners didn’t want it, because they didn’t want manufacturing markets weakened and they didn’t want another political rival.


Andrew Jackson was for Western expansion and pushed for that throughout his presidency. The president also vetoed funding of a road that was in just one state. This was because he felt that federal government funds should not be going to pay for a road that was only within one state. If it wasn’t benefiting multiple states the federal government shouldn’t be funding it.


This made both Southerners and Northerners happy, because Southerners felt that states should tend to their own business. Northerners felt that this road not being built meant that you wouldn’t have easier access to the West. Everyone was happy with this. A big issue during Andrew Jackson’s presidency was the Native Americans. This is a negative mark on his record as a president.


It’s something that a lot of people associate him with. He passed the Indian Resettlement Act of 1830, which was the first attempt by the national government to force migration. Even when the Supreme Court ruled that the Cherokee Nation was sovereign and was supposed to be a ward of the United States, Jackson still pushed for a conquest of lands to the South and West.


He still pushed to have Native Americans moved from their homes and forced to relocate elsewhere. Then, the Tariff of 1828 had provoked a Nullification Crisis, and Andrew Jackson passed the tariff of 1832, then the Compromise Tariff of 1833 to lower that tax rate enough that everyone would be appeased.



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Last updated: 08/10/2018
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