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Current time:0:00Total duration:5:50

Jacksonian Democracy - background and introduction

KC‑4.1.I.C (KC)
PCE (Theme)
Unit 4: Learning Objective H

Video transcript

when we talk about the big social movements of the early 19th century in the United States you can't deny that the emergence of jacksonian democracy is one of the most influential aspects of early 19th century culture so what was jacksonian democracy and why do we care so much about it well I want to make the argument to you that jacksonian democracy was really the birth of modern American political culture and by that I mean that during this time lots of practices emerged that are still with us today for example the two-party system the spoils system even some aspects of American political character that are still with us today emerged in this time period and by that I mean the kinds of traits that we like to see in our politicians to consider them electable so in this series on jacksonian democracy I'm gonna take you on a journey from the earlier American political culture some of the major changes that came about in the Jacksonian period and then just discuss some of the ways that this still influences us today all right so if jacksonian democracy was a new thing what came before it I'm a very early era of American political life and I'm talking here from approximately 1792 about 1820 American politics was very aristocratic you know there were a couple of families that tended to dominate politics the Adams family for example George Washington Thomas Jefferson and these men were kind of considered to be maybe a higher character of man they were the quintessential citizens of a republic and along with that came you know a certain amount of wealth and status and education you know in between George Washington and Andrew Jackson every single person who served as president had a college degree many of them were Virginians and particularly Virginian planters you see a lot of Virginians and a lot of people from Massachusetts and the the first couple of years of the Republic and many of them kind of shared a concern that there could be too much democracy shall we say that even though the United States was a democracy many of the founders of the United States worried about the tyranny of the majority the tyranny of the mob that they had set up this democratic experiment where many people could vote but they were afraid of having just too many people voting because they looked down on lower classes of society in that time period they they worried that if you didn't have a stake in the country usually shown by property ownership either in terms of land or in terms of wealth then you wouldn't have the proper investment in the fate of the nation in order to make a rational decision about what sort of policies should be enacted so in the early years in the United States many states had voting laws that restricted the franchise to just propertied men so really a quite small proportion of the overall population united states could vote interestingly this actually meant that in some northern states both free people of color free black men and women could vote because they met the requirements for property ownership but in the early 1800s eighteen tens these ideals of democracy began to catch on more and more among the common people and as new states joined the Union like Ohio and Illinois they came in with state constitutions saying that all white male citizens could vote regardless of whether or not they owned property or they pay taxes so in this time period white male citizenship became associated with voting and some of the other states began to rewrite their state constitutions to grant the vote to all white males and it probably won't surprise you that when they rewrote those laws they managed to take out that little loophole for free people of color and women with certain amounts of property so by the end of this period in the 1850s all property requirements for voting had been eliminated and any white male above the age of 21 in the United States had the right to vote and we'll get to what that meant for American politics in the next video