The Age of Jackson (1824–1848) has been celebrated as the era of the “common man.” To what extent do you think the period lives up to this description? Discuss at least two specific developments in economics, politics, and society in your response.

At least two specific developments in politics and society support the notion that the Age of Jackson was the era of the “common man” were land grants to everyday people and the expansion of voting rights. However, much of the land was seized from Native Americans who were forcibly relocated. Thus, Jackson's treatment of Native Americans and personal ownership of slaves argue against this period as the era of the “common man.”

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With a new sense of independence that helped imbue America with a can do spirit, during the Jacksonian Era the country embarked on a period of growth following independence from Britain. However, the East Coast elites continued to dominate politics, with land ownership an important factor in enfranchisement. In fact,...

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With a new sense of independence that helped imbue America with a can do spirit, during the Jacksonian Era the country embarked on a period of growth following independence from Britain. However, the East Coast elites continued to dominate politics, with land ownership an important factor in enfranchisement. In fact, early presidents including Washington, Adams, and Jefferson advocated land ownership as a requirement to gaining voting rights.

Through the administration of John Quincy Adams, the government remained in the hands of an elite group of East Coast men born to privileged and established families. By comparison, Andrew Jackson conducted a presidential campaign championing the common man during the 1828 election. When he defeated incumbent John Quincy Adams, son of one of the nation’s founding fathers, it ushered in a shift to what has been called Jacksonian democracy.

Jackson was seen as a success story of how a man born to humble beginnings could rise to prominence and attain financial wealth attain in the new America. He became a symbol of hope for upwardly aspiring lower classes. Jackson was the first non–East Coast president. He gained fame as a war hero an economically successful man who believed that people who did not inherit wealth should be afforded the opportunity to achieve financial success.

The general shift in American demographics that accompanied the move westward also created a positive tailwind to support greater opportunities for the common man. Land was more available in newly incorporated western states, and the requirement that all people contribute and work hard created a more level playing field than in the more established East Coast states. Jackson’s policies also made it easier for all people to purchase land.

While earlier presidents, including Washington and Jefferson, viewed land ownership as a requirement of voting rights, white men who did not own land were granted voting rights under Jackson and thereby gained political voice.

Thus, Jackson is largely credited with opening up the prospect of land ownership to the masses and extending voting rights to a greater number of white men than under any prior presidential administration. However, his treatment of Native Americans and ownership of slaves would argue against his egalitarian view of the American population.

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