How much of the split between Democrats and Whigs was caused by the dynamic personality of Andrew Jackson and reactions to him among his political rivals?

Expert Answers
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The personality of Andrew Jackson and was a substantial factor in the split among the Democratic party which ultimately led to the founding of the Whig party.

Andrew Jackson is credited with the founding of the modern Democratic Party together with Martin van Buren. Although he held himself out as a man of the common people, Jackson was strong willed and determined, and did not compromise on issues which he considered matters of principle. Jackson never forgave Henry Clay for the "corrupt bargain" which Jackson believed had cost him the Presidency in 1824. As a result, he vetoed the Mayesville Road Bill which provided for a national road through Clay's state of Kentucky. Jackson's image among his detractors was not helped by his opposition to renewal of the charter of the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson did not like banks; in fact he once told Nicholas Biddle, President of the B.U.S.

I feel it right to be perfectly frank with you. I do not dislike your bank any more than all banks.

The Bank was represented by Clay and Daniel Webster, who had advised Biddle to seek a recharter early. Jackson's veto further entrenched the bad blood between himself, Clay and Webster. Jackson was also anathema to John Quincy Adams, whom he defeated in the election of 1828 and who refused to attend when Jackson was awarded an honorary degree by Adam's alma mater, Harvard. At that time he referred to Jackson as a "barbarian."

Clay, Webster and Quincy Adams were instrumental in founding the Whig party, formed in opposition to the policies of the man they described as "King Andrew I."  The Whigs adopted that name in hopes of linking themselves to those who opposed George III in the American Revolution and thus appearing as true patriots.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rise of the Whig Party was almost solely caused by Jackson's personality and the reaction to it.  

The fact that Jackson's personality was the major cause of the rise of the Whigs can be seen in the choice of the "Whig" name for the party.  English Whigs were those who wanted to limit the power of the king.  Choosing this as their name showed that the American Whigs felt Jackson had made himself into "King Andrew I."

Other than their dislike of Jackson, the Whigs had very little in common with one another.  This was one reason that their party did not last very long.