KC Johnson

Jefferson and Jackson

Wilentz, The Rise of American Democracy, pp. 3-12, 312-520.

Study questions (which were done by me for this week) are posted below, in the comments section.

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  1. kcjohnson9 said, on January 27, 2009 at 1.05pm

    Study Questions–Wilentz, pp. 3-12, 312-520

    1.) How does Wilentz interpret Andrew Jackson? If he too inclined to give Jackson the benefit of the doubt regarding the political struggles of the era? Is there, in the end, a “Jacksonian” philosophy?

    2.) How was political power wielded in this era–a time when the federal government was relatively weak, and remote from the day-to-day lives of most Americans? Did voting or more abstract political participation really matter?

    3.) What role did Indian affairs play in understanding the politics of the Jacksonian period–and how does Wilentz fit Indian issues into his argument?

    4.) How does Wilentz see the Whigs? Would US history have been different had WH Harrison lived?

    5.) Given his centrality on issues from the formation of the Whigs to the question of abolition, can a case be made that it’s better to understand this period as the “Age of JQ Adams” rather than the age of Jackson?

    6.) Why did abolitionism emerge during this period–and not more strongly immediately after the Revolution, given the strong freedom-oriented rhetoric of the time?

    7.) Wilentz is very interested in issues of class–but is there anything like a “working” class or a lower class in the society he describes? If so, what political role does it play?

    8.) Wilentz spends a good deal of time on the BUS fight–what is its significance in his argument?

    9.) In the preface, Wilentz promises a “different interpretation” than what we’ve seen in recent years in US history, with “a greater emphasis on the vagaries of politics, high and low,” rather than simply “submerg[ing] the history of politics in the history of social change, reducing politics and democracy to by-products of various social forces.” Exactly what is he saying here, and does the section of the book we read deliver on this promise?

    Pay particular attention to pp. 507-518.

  2. Ivette V. Peña Martinez said, on February 3, 2009 at 6.23pm

    Wilentz interprets Andrew Jackson as a democrat who was burden with financial difficulties he was also very influential during his time. Jackson is also interpreted by Wilentz as a man who does not retreat from his opponents. Wilentz does give Andrew Jackson the benefit of the doubt because he states that the Jacksonian democracy was a “coalition Produced chiefly by… crucial developments.” Therefore if this was party was produce by the political struggles of the time then it was made to resolve the problems that were occurring. According to Wilentz Jacksonian Philosophy has an end because it has been tested through business forces private corruption schemes and so on and it has proven to be unwieldy and ineffective.
    Jackson was not concerned with the right treatment for Native Americans. Wilentz says that Jackson thought his treatment of Native Americans was “Just and humane” compared to other politicians. The Native Americans, Jackson believed, would live better under federal jurisdiction than state law. According to Wilentz northern humanitarians saw Jackson position as convenient. The Cherokees demanded full tribal sovereignty; Jackson saw this to be unconstitutional as well as unrealistic.
    During the revolution to much was going on while the colonials were preparing to fight for their own rights. Also many benefitted from slave labor and did not care to help the slaves they had been thought that these people were inferior and that this is the way God meant it. The abolition movement also had to start in the same manner that the American Revolution started with small movements until it has enough potential to change society. The people who actually did care and wanted to finish slavery had no real chance because they had no influence. The Quakers had a big influence with the abolition movement. They started to put out this believe not only here in America but also in Great Britain


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