Thomas Jefferson was one of the founding fathers of the United States (Library of Congress. 1). He wrote the Declaration of Independence and ruled the nation as the president since 1801 and died in 1826. On the other hand, Andrew Jackson introduced electoral reforms after winning the presidency in 1829 (Freidel & Sidey 1). Jefferson democracy was very popular before the 1820s and highly emphasized by Thomas Jefferson (Cameron 1). It recognized property ownership and wealth as a prerequisite condition for one to exercise suffrage rights. On the other hand, Andrew Jackson introduced and promoted electoral reforms that allowed only white males regardless of whether or not they had property and formal education to exercise their suffrage rights in the 1830s. Both Jefferson and Jacksonian democracies, however, shared similarities; for instance, they denied women, slaves, and Native Americans an opportunity to practice suffrage rights.
Both Jefferson and Jacksonian Democracies did not recognize the importance of granting freedom to the slaves (Cameron 1). They did not introduce constitutional reforms that would abolish slavery. In fact, both Jefferson and Jackson owned slaves who worked for them. The Jefferson democracy recognized material ownership as a preliminary to granting freedom to white males. Similarly, the Bill of Rights in the 1830s failed to end slavery and instead recognized the voting rights for white males only. Apart from slaves, both Jefferson and Jacksonian democracies failed to grant women the suffrage rights (Smithsonian American Art Academy 1).
Both Jefferson and Jacksonian democracies failed to recognize the natives as their equals. Jackson particularly treated the natives with contempt. He advocated the displacement of the Indians from their land. Jackson forced the removal of Cherokees from their ancestral land and forced them to migrate to Oklahoma despite legal objections from the court (Cameron 1). By going against the decision of the Supreme Court, Jackson showed that he was exercising aristocracy. Jefferson was also harsh to the Indians. He forced them to either integrate with the white people and abandon their hunting practices or be forced to move in the west.
Both Jefferson and Jackson democracies opposed the suppression of the state banks by the central bank. Jefferson and Jackson had a strong conviction that fought the attempts of the elites to dominate the common man through the central bank. Jackson failed to re-charter the central bank since he felt that doing so would undermine the democracy (Brands 1). He termed extension of the charter as unconstitutional. He withdrew all the government finances and deposited the money into the state banks. Jackson claimed that the central bank went against the idea of creating an equal opportunity to all including the common man. The central bank tried to induce a recession in order to blame it on Jackson but the attempt failed. The Congress became concerned, however, by Jackson’s attempts to destroy the central bank through withdrawing of government financial resources thus costing him the support of the Senate. The Senate feared that Jackson was beginning to show traits of a dictator.
During the era of Jefferson, Hamilton supported the presence of a strong national bank over state banks (Library of Congress 1). A strong central bank failed to overcome financial shocks created by wars in France and Britain and oversupply of cotton in the market. In addition, the reduction in prices of cotton made farmers to accumulate bad loans that were difficult to service thus leading to the panic experienced in 1819 (Cameron 1). The farmers closed their farms due to the recession. They ended up blaming the central bank for their financial woes and difficulties. The Democratic-Republicans led by Jefferson developed distrust to the presence of the central bank since it was oriented towards financing huge businesses at the expense of the common man.
Jefferson Democracy was opposed to industrialization since it was believed that Yeoman farmers were actually the chosen class (Cameron 1). Any attempt at industrialization threatened the progress of the Yeoman farmers. One of the critics of Jacksonian democracy was Daniel La Motte (Cameron 1). He was a Jeffersonian democrat and believed that if industrialization was to take place, then the Yeoman farmers should be given priority in the society. On the other hand, Jacksonian democracy believed that for industrialization to be a success, then the planters, farmers, laborers, writers, and painters needed to be given a chance. In essence, Jackson knew that for industrialization to be a success, it required the output of everyone including the common man.
Jacksonian democracy introduced voting rights to all people except the slaves (Cameron 1). All males of the white race were allowed to vote without any restrictions tied to material possessions. Jackson introduced these electoral reforms during the 1830s (Cameron 1). The introduction of Bill of Rights into the constitution created suffrage for all white males. This increased the number of voters who participated in the elections conducted in 1828 relative to the one held in 1824 (Smithsonian American Art Academy 2).
The recognition of white suffrage by Jacksonian democracy motivated the 13 states to abolish property ownership as the main requirement for white people to be allowed to exercise their suffrage rights (Cameron 1). Some of the states like Pennsylvania and Georgia which discriminated white males based on property ownership scrapped off this requirement since they feared people would migrate to western states that had introduced suffrage rights to all white males.
On the other hand, Jefferson democracy prohibited voting liberties if they did not possess substantial property. All the states denied the poor people including the white males, a chance to vote (Cameron 1). The land was a coveted resource and it was compulsory for the citizens to own it in order to be allowed to vote or possess suffrage rights (Smithsonian American Art Academy 1). Ownership of land elevated the social and political status of people during the era of Thomas Jefferson.
Jefferson democracy was opposed to a powerful executive while Jackson favored a powerful executive relative to the Congress, states, and courts. Jackson wanted a consolidated executive that would promote business in the country (Cameron 1). In addition, Jackson felt that the states should rally behind the federal government. He used his vetoes often to challenge the Congress. Jackson, for instance, used his veto powers to block central bank from being granted a re-charter in 1832 after the voting in the Congress (Freidel & Sidey 1). Throughout his entire time as the president, Jackson used 12 vetoes to block legislation that he opposed (Cameron 1). Jefferson prevented the Federalists from changing the constitution to form a powerful centralized form of government since this would create excessive power to the executive government in comparison to the states (Library of Congress. 1). Jefferson believed that a true democracy was based on the will of the governed. The citizens, therefore, determined the course of both central and state governments.
Jefferson democracy allowed only one political party: the Democratic Republic while Jacksonian democracy had two parties, the first one was the Democratic Party while the other one was called Whigs (Freidel & Sidey 1). This proves Jackson was not opposed to a multiparty political system. The Whigs as a political party wanted a powerful central government relative to state banks (Cameron 1). Jefferson formed the Democratic Republic in order to promote an agrarian economy under a decentralized form of government (Smithsonian American Art Academy 4). The party was also proved to counter the attempts by Federalists to ratify the constitution in order to form a powerful government.
Jefferson democracy put emphasis on education and elites were highly respected and esteemed (Cameron 1). Jeffersonian Democrats favored the wealthy, elites and privileged in the society over the poor and uneducated folks. In contrast, Jackson was not highly educated and therefore did not believe that people should be respected based on the wealth they possessed through inheritance. He believed that common man whether educated or not should be given a chance and motivated to transform through hard work. Jackson was self-taught and worked diligently by teaching himself how to read and write and eventually became a country lawyer (Freidel & Sidey 1). Similarly, he believed the poor and uneducated should have a chance to pursue their goals.
Jefferson and Jackson’s democracies shared similarities and differences. Jefferson and Jackson did not believe in the equality of natives thus supported their displacement from their land. Jefferson believed that Yeoman Farmer should be given priority in the society while Jackson felt that the common man in the society should be given a chance to transform the society through industrialization. Although both presidents ruled at different periods of time, they played an important role in the promotion of representative and participatory democracy.
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