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The Age of Andrew Jackson

Edited by Brian D. McKnight and James S. Humphreys

Publication Year: 2011

The inaugural volume in a new historiography series

Historians possess the power to shape the view of history for those who come after them. Their efforts to illuminate significant events of the past often result in new interpretations, which frequently conflict with ideas proposed by earlier historians. Invariably, this divergence of thoughts creates a dissonance between historians about the causes and meanings of prior events. The Kent State University Press’s new Interpreting American History Series aims to help readers learn how truth emerges from the clash of interpretations present in the study of history.

In the series’s first volume, Interpreting American History: The Age of Andrew Jackson, experts on Jacksonian America address the changing views of historians over the past century on a watershed era in U.S. history. A two-term president of the United States, Jackson was a powerful leader who widened constitutional boundaries on the presidency, shaping policy himself instead of deferring to the wishes of Congress.

The essayists in this volume review the most important issues of the period—including the Corrupt Bargain, Nullification Crisis, Indian Removal Act, and Jacksonian democracy, economics, and reform—and discuss their interpretation over the last hundred years by such historians as Frederick Jackson Turner, Richard Hofstadter, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Sean Wilentz, Robert V. Remini, Daniel Feller, and David Walker Howe.

An insightful compilation of essays, Interpreting American History: The Age of Andrew Jackson will acquaint readers with the nineteenth-century world of Andrew Jackson and the ways in which historians have interpreted his life and times.

Published by: The Kent State University Press

Title Page

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p. i-i

Copyright Page

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pp. ii-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Of all the history courses taught on college campuses, historiography is one of the most challenging. The historiographic essays most often available are frequently too specialized for broad teaching and sometimes too rigorous for the average undergraduate student. Every day, frustrated scholars and students search for writings that offer both breadth and depth in their approach to...

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pp. ix-xii

“History will be kind to me,” British prime minister Winston Churchill reportedly declared, “for I intend to write it.”1 Churchill’s remark demonstrates that he understood the enormous power historians possess in shaping how history is viewed by both their generation and those who come after them. Like Churchill, scholars feel a burden to illuminate the meaning of the past. To meet this...

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Chapter One: “The Shape of Democracy”

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pp. 1-21

Alexis de Tocqueville, that renowned observer of American society during the 1830s, wrote that when he visited the United States, “I saw in America more than America; it was the shape of democracy itself which I sought, its inclination, character, prejudices, and passions; I wanted to understand it so as at least to know what we have to fear or hope therefrom.” For decades, students...

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Chapter Two: The Corrupt Bargain and the Rise of the Jacksonian Movement, 1825–1828

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pp. 22-35

Andrew Jackson was anxious in January 1825. He had surprised many in the previous fall’s presidential election by garnering a plurality of the popular vote. No candidate won an electoral majority, however, which meant that the election would be decided by the House of Representatives. Jackson and his supporters expected to win the House runoff, but by late January rumors were...

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Chapter Three: Historians and the Nature of Party Politics in Jacksonian America

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pp. 36-50

The origins of the modern American political system can be traced to the events of the 1830s and 1840s. Strict party discipline, the spoils system, political nominating conventions, elaborate electioneering, and the presidential ticket all originated with the second party system. It should not be surprising, then, that historians...

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Chapter Four: The South Carolina Nullification Crisis, 1828–1833

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pp. 51-63

The Nullification Crisis of 1828–33, which saw South Carolina and the federal government come dangerously near armed conflict over the state’s refusal to recognize the legality of federal tariff legislation, was the most fully developed confrontation over the nature of federal authority, the Constitution, and union that occurred in the antebellum United States. Yet many historical accounts...

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Chapter Five: Seeking the Mainstream

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pp. 64-78

During the whole of the nineteenth century, historians showed little or no interest in exploring Indian removal, despite the fact that Andrew Jackson considered it the most difficult of his presidential duties, and numerous congressmen serving with him thought it the most important question they faced. Guided by Manifest Destiny and social Darwinism, nineteenth-century historians...

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Chapter Six: The Age of Association

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pp. 79-102

On a summer day in July 1848, more than two hundred women and forty men gathered in a small town in upstate New York near the Erie Canal. They sat in the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Seneca Falls and listened to a thirty-two-year-old mother of three read a stirring Declaration of Rights and Sentiments. Elizabeth Cady Stanton had drawn from the example of the Declaration of Independence...

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Chapter Seven: “The Few at the Expense of the Many”

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pp. 103-119

“If we can not at once . . . make our Government what it ought to be, we can at least take a stand against all new grants of monopolies and exclusive privileges, against any prostitution of our Government to the advancement of the few at the expense of the many,” declared Andrew Jackson in his 1832 veto message. Jackson’s veto spelled the beginning of the end for the Second Bank of the United...


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pp. 120-133


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pp. 134-135


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pp. 136-140

E-ISBN-13: 9781612775272
E-ISBN-10: 1612775276
Print-ISBN-13: 9781606350980

Page Count: 160
Publication Year: 2011