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Jeffersonian vs. Jacksonian Democracy

Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson were two influential political figures in two very different eras. Each formed their own democracy that helped shape the way people think about American government. Consequently, they had their differences, yet they also had their similarities. Viewpoints between the two democracies will be analyzed in political, economic, social, and religious aspects.

Foremost, the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracies contrasted and compared to each other in the area of politics and economics. First, the conditions in which a citizen was considered eligible for office holding was similar. In the Jeffersonian Democracy, an eligible citizen was one that was average rather than rich and well born. Likewise, Jackson declared all ordinary and intelligent (white) citizens equally qualified to serve. However, he eventually started what is known as the ?spoils system? in which long-term officeholders were removed for rotation. Next, how the candidates for President were chosen was done differently. For example, in Jefferson?s time the two highest voted candidates became the President and the Vice-President of the United States. On the contrary, in the age of Jackson, a candidate was chosen by a nominating convention and the President and Vice-President ran for their offices separately. Last, each man?s attitude toward the Bank of the United States was comparable. Jefferson encouraged State banks and was originally opposed to the national bank. Similarly, Jackson and his followers strongly opposed the Second Bank of America. He won the ?Bank War? by having federal income deposited in state banks, while he continued to draw money out of the national bank. In summary, the political and economic conditions of the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracies were equally related and different.

Furthermore, the comparisons and distinctions between social and religious aspects were quite clear. First of all, each man?s attitude toward minorities (including slaves, women, and Native Americans) closely related to each other. For instance, Jefferson doubted that white civilization and Indian ?savagery? could coexist and although he said that men were born to freedom, not to slavery, he still held many slaves. He felt strongly that women had a single purpose in life: marriage and subordination to a

husband. Jefferson saw no reason to let them vote since women were never called upon to discuss politics. In the same manner, Jackson veered away from extending egalitarian

policies to slaves and women received little betterment, although many reforms were taking place in the time of the Jacksonian Democracy. On the concern of Native Americans, Jackson, who in addition to leading an expedition against the Seminoles in Spanish Florida in 1818, forced thousands of Native Americans to march from Georgia to Oklahoma on the infamous ?Trail of Tears.? Moreover, each man viewed education in opposite opinions. One of the many bills Jefferson proposed was the Bill for General Education, which ?allowed everyone, without regard to birth or wealth, to have as much free education as each person was fitted for.? On the other hand, Jackson and his followers opposed programs such as educational reform and the establishment of public education. He believed that schools restricted individual liberty by interfering with parental responsibility and undermined freedom of religion by replacing church schools. Finally, the extent in which separation of church and state was accomplished was unrelated. Jefferson proposed the Statute for Religious Freedom, separating church and state and removing the private right of religious belief from control by public law. However, Jackson believed that a strong federal government restricted individual freedom and he was against religious reform. In brief, the social and religious viewpoints of Jefferson and Jackson had their likes and differences.

To conclude, it is quite clear to see how sharp and distinct the similarities and differences were between the Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracies. More specifically, they are shown in the areas of politics, economics, social life, and religion. Indeed, their viewpoints, opinions, and ideas all helped establish the strong democracy that America has today.


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