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What was Andrew Jackson’s war with the second Bank of the United States?

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lindabella85 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) eNoter

Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:16 AM via web

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What was Andrew Jackson’s war with the second Bank of the United States?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:23 AM (Answer #1)

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This was an incident that started in 1829.

Basically, what was going on is that Andrew Jackson did not trust the Bank of the United States.  He did not trust banks in general, and especially not that one because it was a national bank and he thought it had too much power over the lives of the "little people."

Because of this, he vetoed the bill that would have renewed the charter of the bank.  He later took all federal money out of the bank and distributed that money among smaller banks that are referred to as "pet banks."

Jackson portrayed all of this as an effort to take power from the rich bankers of the East and give it to the regular people.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2010 at 5:30 AM (Answer #2)

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The Second Bank of the United States was chartered in 1816, following the loss of its charter by the First Bank of the United States. Although it was not a national bank but a private corporation, it held great power. President Andrew Jackson based his entire reelection campaign of 1836 around the dissolution of the Second Bank. Jackson particularly denounced its president, Nicholas Biddle. Jackson believed that the bank had become to powerful and that it added to the inflation of the times. In 1833, President Jackson issued an executive order prohibiting government funds from being deposited in the bank.

By the early 1830s, President Jackson had come to thoroughly dislike the Second Bank of the United States because of its fraud and corruption. Jackson then had an investigation done on the Bank which he said established “beyond question that this great and powerful institution had been actively engaged in attempting to influence the elections of the public officers by means of its money.” Although its charter was bound to run out in 1836, Jackson wanted to "kill" the Second Bank of the United States even earlier. Jackson is considered primarily responsible for its demise, seeing it as an instrument of political corruption and a threat to American liberties.

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geosc | College Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted May 31, 2010 at 11:18 PM (Answer #3)

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Andrew Jackson's war with the Second Bank of the United States:  Jackson viewed the B.U.S. as an institution that empowered the few against the many, and as a concentration of power that could not help but become corrupt.  Jackson's veto message (to veto the act to recharter the B.U.S.) was a strong statement of democratic philosophy.  Here is part of that message:

It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.  Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government.  Equality of talents, of education, or of weath can not be produced by human institutions.  In the full enjoyment of the gifts of Heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers--who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government.  There are no necessary evils in government.  Its evils exist only in its abuses.  If it would confine itself to equal protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and the low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing.  In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just prindiples.  (See Daniel Feller, The Jacksonian Promise (1995), p. 169-174.)

Jackson believed that government policies (the B.U.S. was chartered by the U.S. Government) should not harm the chances of the common man in order to benefit the privileged men.

At that time, the U.S. was being developed really fast.  A lot of people in the Democratic Party (of which Jackson was a member) wanted access to capital so as to finance new plantations and factories and other enterprises; but, through the B.U.S., most access to most capital was controlled by men who were already rich.  By destroying the B.U.S. and placing its deposits of money in the state banks, Jackson was making capital available to a lot more people (from Charles M. Wiltse, The New Nation, 1800-1845 [1961], p. 142-146).

See also Harry L. Watson, Liberty and Power (1990), p. 138-159.

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