Jacksonian democracy was a 19th-century political philosophy in the United States that expanded suffrage to most white men over the age of 21, and restructured a number of federal institutions. Originating with the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson and his supporters, it became the nation's dominant political worldview for a generation. The term itself was in active use by the 1830s.
|Historical leaders||Andrew Jackson|
Martin Van Buren
James K. Polk
Thomas Hart Benton
Stephen A. Douglas
|Split from||Democratic-Republican Party|
|Preceded by||Jeffersonian Republicans|
|Merged into||Democratic Party|
Universal male suffrage
• Strict constructionism
|National affiliation||Democratic Party (after 1828)|
7th President of the United States
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This era, called the Jacksonian Era (or Second Party System) by historians and political scientists, lasted roughly from Jackson's 1828 election as president until slavery became the dominant issue with the passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act in 1854 and the political repercussions of the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics. It emerged when the long-dominant Democratic-Republican Party became factionalized around the 1824 United States presidential election. Jackson's supporters began to form the modern Democratic Party. His political rivals John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay created the National Republican Party, which would afterward combine with other anti-Jackson political groups to form the Whig Party.
Broadly speaking, the era was characterized by a democratic spirit. It built upon Jackson's equal political policy, subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government by elites. Even before the Jacksonian era began, suffrage had been extended to a majority of white male adult citizens, a result which the Jacksonians celebrated. Jacksonian democracy also promoted the strength of the presidency and the executive branch at the expense of the United States Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. The Jacksonians demanded elected (not appointed) judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms, they favored geographical expansionism, justifying it in terms of manifest destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided.
Jackson's expansion of democracy was largely limited to European Americans, and voting rights were extended to adult white males only. There was little or no progress (and in many cases, a regression) for the rights of African Americans and Native Americans during the extensive period of Jacksonian Democracy, spanning from 1829 to 1860.