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55 2 We Claim Our Rights THE ADVENT OF ABOLITIONISM As America approached its fiftieth birthday, the ‘‘triumphal’’ 1824–25 tour of Revolutionary War hero the Marquis de Lafayette served as the occasion for a public outpouring of pride and optimism—and of praise for the inestimable benefits of the glorious Union. Albert Gallatin, former secretary of the treasury and U.S. minister to France, welcomed Lafayette to Uniontown, New York, with a speech proclaiming that America could now boast ‘‘a distinguished rank amongst the nations of the earth.’’ The nation had ‘‘attained a height of prosperity unequalled, within so short a period, in the annals of mankind. Her villages are now populous cities; her ships cover the Ocean; new states have, as by magic, arisen out of the wilderness; her progress in manufactures, in arts, in internal improvements, latterly in science and literature , has kept apace with that of her wealth.’’ Gallatin concluded that ‘‘the present generation has proved worthy of their fathers.’’∞ Americans had much cause to wonder at their progress; ‘‘since the Revolution , the nation’s population and territorial expanse had more than doubled ,’’ Eric Foner notes. But as Gallatin, a battle-scarred veteran of the partisan warfare of the early republic, knew all too well, Americans also had much cause for anxiety. His notion that the present generation had ‘‘proved worthy’’ was as much a wish as an assessment, for that generation was 56 Δ 1789–1836 experiencing a contentious political realignment. In the wake of the War of 1812, leaving the Federalist Party in shambles, the ruling DemocraticRepublicans had split. So-called National Republicans, led by John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay, supported the ‘‘continuation of many old Federalist policies under Republican auspices and without the elitist tone of Federalist discourse.’’ Clay elaborated plans for an ‘‘American System’’ of governmentsubsidized ‘‘internal improvements’’ (such as canals, turnpikes, and railroads ) that, together with high protective tari√s on imports, would stimulate U.S. manufacturing and ‘‘encourage the virtues of hard work, thrift, sobriety, education, and self-control.’’ For National Republicans, the issue of ‘‘protection ’’ had a mystique that went beyond the revenues and productivity that tari√s would generate—they held that only commercial independence could insulate their new nation from the age-old conflicts of Europe’s rival states.≤ Repudiating this agenda as a betrayal of the ‘‘pure’’ agrarian principles of Je√erson (and believing that Adams and Clay ‘‘stole’’ the presidential election of 1824 by manipulating Congress), the other wing of the Republican Party rallied under Andrew Jackson, the renowned hero of the War of 1812, and began to call themselves ‘‘Democrats.’’ The Jacksonians built a broad coalition of elements united by their opposition to the alleged aristocratic pretensions and corruption of the Adams administration. In Democratic campaign propaganda, Adams was fully complicit in the New England Federalists’ disunionism—their attempts to ‘‘arouse the North against the South,’’ as a New Hampshire Democratic pamphlet put it, by agitating the issue of ‘‘slave representation.’’ Jackson’s message—that he would champion the rights of the many against the privileges of the few—was carried to the country by an intricate new party machinery, designed by virtuoso politician Martin Van Buren of New York. The message resonated broadly, among groups as distinct as urban workers and artisans in the North who felt threatened by industrialization, and Southerners and Westerners who counted on Jackson, a famous ‘‘Indian fighter,’’ to pursue the ‘‘removal’’ of Native Americans and thereby open up new lands for white farmers. Beneficiaries of a national trend toward democratization (the most important element of which was the removal of property qualifications for voting), Jackson and his vice president, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, exacted their electoral revenge in 1828, winning 178 of 261 electoral votes.≥ South Carolina’s elite initially hoped that Jackson’s election in 1828 would The Advent of Abolitionism Δ 57 inaugurate a ‘‘Je√ersonian revival’’—and that Jackson would strongly repudiate the neo-Federalist economic agenda of the National Republicans, symbolized by the high protective tari√ on British imports that Adams had approved late in his administration. South Carolinians, who had superseded Virginians as the staunchest defenders of states’ rights, declared the measure a ‘‘tari√ of abominations,’’ reasoning that it favored the interests of the industrializing Northern states over those of the staple-producing Southern states—if the British could not sell their manufactured goods in America, they would be less willing and able to purchase American exports such...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469606200
Related ISBN
9780807832325
MARC Record
OCLC
405097257
Pages
472
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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