The Jacksonian Period (1824-1836) has been celebrated as the era of the "common man." To what extent did this period live up to its reputation?
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The Jacksonian period had long been touted as the “Era of the Common Man” due to the economic and political changes that occurred during the presidency the era’s namesake, Andrew Jackson.
Andrew Jackson himself was considered a “common man” due to the circumstances of his birth and his frontier upbringing. Because of his simple roots, he resonated with poor farmers and western settlers, two groups who began to gain more and more political power thanks to changes in state voting laws in the 1820’s. For the first time, land ownership wasn’t a requirement for voting in many states, and as a result Jackson won the presidency in 1828.
Jackson had a style of politics all his own which helped to solidify him as the “common man’s president” He fired many federal employees who he deemed to be corrupt or incompetent and instead hired people from his own party, many of whom were commoners like himself. Also, he opened the doors of the White House to anyone who wanted to stop by going so far as to set a giant block of cheese in the foyer where people could come and snack with him whenever they pleased.
Beyond the white house, he quickly enacted several reforms, which endeared him to his allies and made him the bane of his political enemies. His most famous reform was his destruction of the Bank of the United States. Jackson felt that a government bank was corrupt and favored only the very wealthy city dwellers that were lucky enough to live next to one of its branches. Jackson decided to wreck the bank and spread the money out into state banks that ensured more equal access to the funds. The ensuing battle sent the country into depression, but Jackson’s supporters lauded his efforts on their behalf.
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