On July 4, 1826, less than two years before Jackson took the oath of office, the New Englander John Adams and the aristocratic Virginian Thomas Jefferson both passed away. It was 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and America’s Revolutionary generation was gone. With them went the last vestiges of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican Parties. This helped to bring about a new balance of political power, and with it two new political parties. The 1828 election was portrayed by Jackson’s Democrats as proof of the common people’s right to pick a president. No longer were Virginia Presidents and northern moneymen calling the shots. Class systems were breaking down and established political traditions crumbled as Jackson and his followers implemented the spoils system.
With the passing of past political ideas, also came the passing of old ideas about society. Women advocated for suffrage and temperance societies emerged. Education changed, as did industry, transportation, communication, commerce and the face of America as waves of new Irish and German immigrants arrived in Northeastern and Midwestern cities.
Religious revivals and Transcendentalist philosophers gave Americans new ways of thinking about life, and a few brave utopianists struck out to perfect society.
The Jacksonian Era was nothing short of another revolution. The Revolution of the 1770s produced a new nation and gave us high-minded documents espousing Enlightenment ideals, but produced few changes for most Americans. Women, slaves, and the poor saw little, if any change.
What do you think? Were the early 1800s more revolutionary than the Revolution?