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changes, the significance of which was not appreciated by contemporary observers, but which were destined to give an entirely new direction to American political life. These great changes were connected with the conquest and settlement of the Great Northwest, and the transformation of slavery from a domestic to a capitalistic institution by the extension of cotton culturẻ into the Southwest. The balance of power was being shifted from the seaboard states to the West, and within the eastern states industries were rising which were destined to overthrow the landed aristocracy. Kentucky was admitted to the Union in 1792, Tennessee in 1796, Ohio in 1802, Louisiana in 1812, Indiana in 1816, Illinois in 1818, Mississippi in 1817, Alabama in 1819 and Missouri in 1821.
In these western states there existed a type of economic society such as had never before appeared in the history of the world and never can exist again, at least on a large scale. They were settled by hardy and restless pioneers who crossed the mountains, cut down the forests, built their log cabins, and founded homes. In the possession of this world's goods they were, for the most part, substantially equal; it was easy to acquire land, and any thrifty and industrious pioneer with his family could readily secure the comforts of a rude but healthful and independent life. In the log cabins of these pioneers were developed political ideas fundamentally different from those entertained by the rich merchants of the East or the aristocratic landholders in their manors along the Hudson.
Here in the West there existed a substantial economic equality, and it seemed at last that the levelling theories of Jefferson were being realized on a large scale. Owing to the simple life which they lived, government was to them a simple thing; any one could hold the office of sheriff, county clerk, road supervisor, state auditor, or governor. As the duties of the offices were slight and easily understood, and the emoluments connected with them attractive, especially to men who earned their bread with the axe and plough, the western settlers seized with eagerness upon the doctrine of short terms and rotation in office.1
These western communities, moreover, needed capital to develop their latent resources, to complete highways and con
See above, p. 94.
struct canals, and to rear industries; and for this capital they were compelled to look principally to the accumulations of the East. This necessity made them dependent largely upon eastern financiers, and they determined if possible to rid themselves of this dependence by the establishment of state banks, issuing paper money in large quantities with but slight basis for redemption. It is easy to ridicule western theories as to fiat money, but when one appreciates the grinding necessities of the frontier life he can understand, even if he does not approve, its financial devices.
The industrial revolution in England and the invention of the cotton gin created an enormous demand for raw cotton, which brought about a revolution in the agricultural system of the South. In the place of the old plantations, where masters and slaves dwelled side by side from generation to generation, thus mitigating the bondage of slavery by a somewhat patriarchal relation, there came a new type of plantation, on which slaves bred in the older states, or snatched away from Africa, in spite of the law, were herded together and worked with less regard for human considerations than in older states. With the demand for cotton came the demand for more territory. The bonds of the old South were burst asunder, and an irresistible pressure for the extension of the soil available for cotton culture set in, and swept everything before it. The slave population increased rapidly; the lust for money seized the dominant class as it seized the mill-owners in England. Thus slavery, once condemned or merely condoned, became intrenched, and it thereupon inevitably drew to its defence the best intellectual strength of the South.
East, as well as West and South, a revolution was going on. The industries of New England and the middle states, which had been begun in colonial times and had been fostered under the protective tariff after Independence and especially after the War of 1812, began to take on a new life. Mechanics from England came in large numbers, bringing with them the designs of machines which had so recently wrought the revolution in English industry. In 1807, Fulton inaugurated steam navigation on the Hudson; and far and wide hamlets were transformed into manufacturing centres through the magic of steam. The tide of immigration from Europe steadily increased, and most immi
grants found their homes in the growing cities of the East. In the twenty years from 1800 to 1820 the population of Boston almost doubled, while that of New York rose from 60,000 in 1800 to 123,700 in 1820. Owing to the property qualifications placed on the suffrage by the constitutions of the eastern states, most of these immigrants and the native workers in the factories were excluded from the right to vote; but before the first quarter of the nineteenth century had elapsed, the restrictions on the suffrage began to be relaxed.
Here were the changed social conditions which made the United States of 1825 as different from the United States of Washington's day as the England of Cobden and Bright was different from the England of Bolingbroke and Walpole. The landed, financial, and industrial interests of New England and the middle states had now aligned against them the diverse interests of the laboring classes, the frontiersmen of the West, and the slaveowning cotton producers. In 1828, there was found a standardbearer who, curiously enough, seemed to represent all of these diverse elements as against the older ruling aristocracy of the East. This standard-bearer was Andrew Jackson, a resident of Tennessee, a bold frontiersman, immensely popular on account of his triumph over the English at New Orleans and his unqualified championship of what he called "the rights of the people." Triumphantly elected, and feeling behind him the irresistible pressure of popular support, he began an executive policy which seemed for a time to transfer the seat of government from the capitol to the White House. He adopted the most novel notions on the rights of the President under the Constitution; 1 he ousted the old office-holding aristocracy without regard to appearances and circumstances, and placed his friends and supporters in office; he destroyed the United States Bank, the stronghold of powerful financial interests, in spite of the opposition raised up against him in Congress; and when nullification appeared in South Carolina he issued a ringing proclamation which showed that he was a stanch defender of nationalism as against states' rights.
For a time it looked as if Jackson was destined to sweep everything before him, and his second election seemed to confirm him in his opinion that he was opposed only by malignant minority
1 See Readings, p. 190.
factions. Nevertheless, the elements of opposition to Jackson's policy steadily gained in strength. The members of the old ruling aristocracy dreaded the dominance of a man whom they regarded as an ignorant and violent military chieftain backed by the vehement passions of the populace. The banking and financial interests of the East had every reason to fear that a calamity would inevitably follow the destruction of the United States Bank and the flooding of the country with paper money through the state banks; many southern Democrats, who sympathized with the nullification policy of South Carolina, turned against Jackson for his determined stand against the action of that state. Furthermore, there was a well-organized group of eastern manufacturers who wanted to extend the system of protective tariff beyond the point Jackson was willing to go. Naturally Jackson raised up against himself many disappointed office-seekers, as well as the old office-holders whom he turned out. There was also in the West a growing number who wanted to secure larger federal grants for internal improvements than he was willing to concede.1
These elements of opposition were brought together in the National Republican or Whig party, which numbered among its famous leaders J. Q. Adams, Webster, and Clay. It would be wrong, however, to attribute the rise of this new party wholly to Jackson's personal policy. Even before his advent to power, the political factions into which the nation seemed divided were beginning to segregate into two fairly distinct groups - one under the leadership of Adams and Clay and the other composed of the Jackson-Calhoun-Crawford groups. The first of these two aggregations was inclined toward a broadly nationalist policy with regard to internal improvements and the protective tariff, and the second took the more particularist or states' rights view which would restrict the activities of the federal government to the narrowest limits.
Jackson's high-handed policy in destroying the Bank, and his fondness for "strong executive government," simply helped to consolidate more effectively certain of the nationalist elements into the National Republican party, which soon received the
1 For Horace Greeley's description of the Whig party, see Readings, p. 94. 2 Burgess, Middle Period, p. 146.
name "Whig" - a title, taken from English politics, which signified "opposition to high executive prerogative and approval of congressional control over the President." As the contest with Jackson widened, the term Whig gradually supplanted the official title National Republican.
This party lasted nominally from 1828 to 1852. It put forward Clay as its candidate in 1832, only to meet certain defeat; and it enjoyed only two brief triumphs. In 1840 it elected William Henry Harrison, a popular hero, without having made any declaration of principles at all; and after the second defeat of its candidate, Clay, in 1844, it again had recourse, at the succeeding election, to a military hero, General Taylor, and was victorious. The Whigs, finding it impossible to agree among themselves on the impending question of slavery, tried to evade the real issue by nominating, in 1852, another military man, General Scott; but his overwhelming defeat was an evidence that the doom of the party had come.
The Rise and Growth of the Republican Party
Great events were forcing a new alignment of parties. Though the abolitionists were few in number, they carried on such a vigorous agitation that the slavery question was forced to the front, in spite of the best efforts of the politicians to obscure it. The abolitionists, however, did not constitute a political party of any weight. The opponents of slavery organized a convention at Buffalo in 1843, and nominated James G. Birney as candidate for President on "the principles of 1776," but Birney polled only about 62,000 out of some 2,600,000 votes in the election of the following year. Four years later another antislavery convention, held at Buffalo, nominated Van Buren on a platform of opposition to slavery in the territories; but this party, known as the "Free Soil" party, only polled about 290,000 votes. In the campaign of 1852, the Free Soil party declared: "No more slave states, no slave territory, no nationalized slavery, and no national legislation for the extradition of slaves"; but its candidate, Hale of New Hampshire, received only 156,000 votes.
Events, as well as agitation, however, were making slavery the issue. The war with Mexico had added to the territory of