Exam preparation materials

Chapter 10: Jacksonian Democracy, 1824–1836



John Quincy Adams wins in a disputed presidential election


South Carolina Exposition and Protest written in protest of Tariff of Abominations


Indian Removal Act passed  •  Webster v. Hayne debate takes place  •  Trail of Tears begins with Choctaws


Worcester v. Georgia decided  •  South Carolina nullifies Tariff of 1832  •  Jackson vetoes Bank Bill


Specie circular issued  •  Martin van Buren elected president


Panic of 1837 begins


John Quincy Adams

Henry Clay

Force Bill

Nullification Crisis

South Carolina Exposition and Protest

Daniel Webster

American Plan

Compromise of 1833

Robert Y. Hayne

Nullification Proclamation

Tariff of 1832


Bank War

corrupt bargain

Indian Removal Act

Ordinance of Nullification

Tariff of Abominations

John C. Calhoun

disputed election of 1824

Andrew Jackson

Panic of 1837

Trail of Tears

“Our white brethren have more knowledge than we and they are better skilled in traveling and commencing new settlements. Why then do they not go and possess that good land for themselves?”

Cherokee Phoenix, 1830


Andrew Jackson—hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Indian fighter, duelist, and owner of hundreds of slaves—has been proclaimed as the defender of the common man. Both John Quincy Adams and Daniel Webster, two of Jackson’s biggest rivals, were antislavery, opposed unlimited expansion to the West, and supported government aid to build industry and transportation. They were proclaimed as aristocrats who favored the rich. The three major issues of the time—the National Bank, Native American rights, and the Constitutional nature of federal power—found these major players on surprising sides.


John Quincy Adams, James Monroe’s Secretary of State, assumed he would be the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1824. Three other candidates gained the support of their states, however: Kentuckian Henry Clay, former speaker of the House; a Georgian, William H. Crawford, Monroe’s Secretary of the Treasury; and Andrew Jackson, “Old Hickory,” from Tennessee. Jackson won a plurality of both the popular vote and the electoral vote, throwing the disputed election of 1824 into the House of Representatives. Adams came in second to Jackson with about one-third fewer popular votes, and Crawford was third. Since only the top three could compete according to the 12th Amendment, Clay supported Adams. Each state received one vote, and Adams won by one vote. There had been earlier rumors that Adams was making a deal for Clay to be Secretary of State, so when Adams appointed Clay after the election, the Jacksonians accused them of conducting a corrupt bargain. Adams agreed with Clay’s American Plan, which would provide government aid for internal improvements like roads and canals, supported by tariffs. Adams’s supporters could have disagreed with the Jacksonians this way: Was it corrupt to get the support of someone who agrees with you?


General Andrew Jackson won the election of 1828 with 56 percent of the popular vote. The bitter campaign focused on the 1825 “corrupt bargain,” along with Adams’s inability to relate to the voters, Jackson’s killing of six deserters in 1815 during an unsanctioned attack on the Creek Indians, and the revelation that Jackson married before his bride was divorced. Jackson opened up the White House to Western supporters who streamed in unannounced throughout his terms of office. Unlike Adams, he gave them jobs. Thus was born what is now known as the spoils system.


Claiming he wanted to preserve their culture, Andrew Jackson supported the Indian Removal Act of 1830, which required the deportation of the Native Americans beyond the Mississippi River into present-day Oklahoma. Seventeen thousand Cherokee who knew how to argue against their “white brethren” brought a key case, Worcester v. Georgia, to the Supreme Court in 1832. They had adopted white dress, created a constitution, published a newspaper (the Phoenix), and kept black slaves. Chief Justice Marshall ruled that the Cherokees were an independent nation over which the laws of Georgia could “have no force” and that the federal government should protect the Cherokee land from Georgia because it was a “domestic dependent nation.” The president challenged Marshall to “enforce” his ruling. Georgia removed the Cherokee in 1838 with federal troops. Beginning with the Choctaws in 1831, Native Americans were forced to trek 1,200 miles, burying their dead along this Trail of Tears. The Seminoles in northern Florida waged a seven-year war into the 1840s before removal, fighting alongside runaway slaves.


State power versus federal power was once again a key issue when Andrew Jackson attacked the “monster” Second Bank of the United States. Chartered for 30 years in 1816, the Second Bank was funded by the national government in combination with a private corporation. The bank kept the currency stable and issued loans to entrepreneurs. In 1832, Bank president Nicholas Biddle, along with Senators Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, supported an early recharter of the Bank to undercut Jackson’s opposition to it in the 1832 election. The Bank charter renewal passed the Congress with considerable Democratic (Jacksonian) support, but Jackson vetoed the Bank Bill, claiming it was an economic monopoly and an unconstitutional aggrandizement of federal power. Jackson’s veto escalated the Bank War, sustaining his already high popular support.

“King Andrew”

Since 1828, those in opposition to Jacksonian Democrats had been calling themselves “National Republicans.” Soon after the veto, however, Webster and Clay began calling themselves Whigs, recalling the revolutionary opposition to King George III. “King Andrew” (Jackson) defeated Clay in the 1832 election with 55 percent of the popular vote.

Panic of 1837

Upon his return to office in 1833, Jackson began to take the federal deposits out of the Bank, placing them in “pet” state banks. Without the stabilizing weight of the Second Bank of the United States, interest rates soared, and worthless paper notes were everywhere. To curb the inflation, Jackson issued a specie circular, which required that all Western lands be paid for with precious metal, but hard currency could not cover the overheated market in the West. The lack of sound money combined with the inflation and an international crisis produced a five-year depression called the Panic of 1837.


South Carolina Exposition and Protest

The drama over the power of the federal government continued. John C. Calhoun, vice president under Jackson until 1832, wrote the South Carolina Exposition and Protest against the Tariff of 1828. The tariff’s rates were so high that Southerners called it theTariff of Abominations. The government raised so much money that it had the first surplus ever (and the last one until 2000). Calhoun, the former nationalist and supporter of the American Plan who had believed that tariffs and internal improvements would bind the country together, turned sectionalist. In an argument similar to Jefferson’s 1798 Kentucky Resolution, the Exposition stated that since the states had made a compact, the states could dissolve it, or make “null and void” any federal law that was contrary to their interests. The Exposition argued that the Tariff of Abominations favored the North and threatened South Carolina by forcing it to pay high prices for imports. Following this Compact Theory, South Carolina could declare the tariff unconstitutional and not collect it.

The Webster-Hayne Debate

Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster forced Senator Robert Y. Hayne, protégé of John C. Calhoun, to debate over slavery and nullification. Hayne argued for the Compact Theory, claiming that South Carolina could decide when to follow a federal law on the tariff. Webster proved that the controversy over the tariff and nullification was a stand-in for a debate over slavery and secession. In his Second Reply to Hayne, Webster denounced slavery and argued that the Union was formed by the whole people in conventions(see Article VII of the Constitution) and, therefore, the state governments were actually not parties to a compact. Sovereignty resided in the people, and armed defense of secession was treason. His summary was on the lips of many a Northern soldier during the Civil War: “Liberty and Union now and forever, one and inseparable.” These questions were resolved only on Civil War battlefields.

Nullification Crisis

When the state of South Carolina passed an Ordinance of Nullification of the new Tariff of 1832, Jackson responded with a Nullification Proclamation (1833), denouncing it as secession and treason. In the Force Bill, Jackson threatened to send troops and arranged to collect the tariff in the sea, but Henry Clay sponsored a substitute tariff that provided for gradual reduction in the rates. South Carolina accepted this Compromise of 1833.


The Whigs and Democrats had supporters in both the North and South. Whigs supported the U.S. Bank and internal improvements, and the Democrats favored state, not federal, economic power. Complications arose around slavery. Clay, a Whig slaveholder, arranged the Compromise of 1833, while Webster, also a Whig, fought relentlessly against nullification. For the Democrats, John C. Calhoun threatened nullification to defend the interests of the “peculiar institution.” Democratic President Jackson, also a slaveholder, defended federal power against nullification but arranged the dispossession of the Indians and destroyed the Bank—both actions against the rulings of the (federal) Supreme Court. How long could the parties hold together, North and South, if their members disagreed?


•  Compact Theory: The idea that the Constitution was created by the states and so the states could dissolve it; this was advocated first by Madison and Jefferson in 1798 in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions and later by Robert Y. Hayne in his debate with Daniel Webster in 1830. John C. Calhoun, in the Carolina Exposition and Protest (1828) and the South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification (1832), was also a proponent of the Compact Theory. The Confederate states also supported the Compact Theory.

•  Internal improvements: The building of canals, railroads, and turnpikes at state or federal expense; these were part of the American Plan, which became an important part of the Whig program of the 1830s. Internal improvements were also supported by the National Republicans and the Republicans under Lincoln. Proposals for federal financing of internal improvements generally called for funding these with tariffs.

•  Specie circular: Coins or gold and silver money, also called “hard money”

•  Spoils system: The practice of victorious candidates distributing government jobs to friends and supporters rather than to the most qualified people; Andrew Jackson gave his supporters the spoils of victory, whereas John Quincy Adams by and large did not.


1.   The Whigs were

(A)    a Northern party.

(B)    a Southern party.

(C)    a pro-Bank party.

(D)    a pro-nullification party.

(E)    a pro-Indian removal party.

2.   Who accused John Quincy Adams of making a “corrupt bargain”?

(A)    Henry Clay

(B)    Daniel Webster

(C)    William Crawford

(D)    Andrew Jackson

(E)    James Monroe

3.   Who did not support the idea of nullification?

(A)    John C. Calhoun

(B)    Thomas Jefferson

(C)    James Madison

(D)    Robert Hayne

(E)    Daniel Webster

4.   A tariff would protect

(A)    cloth made in New England.

(B)    cloth made in England.

(C)    cotton grown in the South.

(D)    wheat grown in the West.

(E)    corn grown in New England.


1.    C

The Whigs formed out of the fight over the Bank, which they supported along with internal improvements. The Whigs and the Democrats were both North and South parties, so nullification does not apply. Indian Removal favored those wanting land in the West, something the Whigs were opposed to, but most congressmen favored it.

2.    D

The controversy arose when the election of 1824 was thrown into the House of Representatives because neither Jackson, Adams, nor Crawford had a majority of electoral votes. Jackson thought he deserved to be president and accused Clay and Adams of making a deal: Clay would support Adams for president if Adams would appoint Clay Secretary of State. Webster and Clay favored Adams. Crawford had had a stroke, and Monroe is never mentioned in this controversy.

3.    E

Nullification was the doctrine that a state could declare a federal law unconstitutional and not obey it, making it “null and void.” Anti-nullification Daniel Webster debated Hayne, who supported Calhoun’s resurrection of the nullification doctrines of ’98. The idea originated in 1798 when Madison and Jefferson first wrote the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, asking other states to support them in nullifying the Alien and Sedition Acts.

4.    A

A tariff is a tax on imports that protects domestic products. The key domestic industry was New England cloth manufacturing. To protect New England cloth, British cloth was taxed so that Americans would buy cheaper New England cloth. American wheat, corn, and cotton needed no protection.

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