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American History 1--HIST 2111 (OER): Chapter 9: Democracy in American

American Yawp Chapter Summary

On May 30, 1806, Andrew Jackson, a thirty-nine-year-old Tennessee lawyer, came within inches of death. A duelist’s bullet struck him in the chest, just shy of his heart (the man who fired the gun was purportedly the best shot in Tennessee). But the wounded Jackson remained standing. Bleeding, he slowly steadied his aim and returned fire, and the other man dropped to the ground, mortally wounded. Jackson—still carrying the bullet in his chest—later boasted, “I should have hit him, if he had shot me through the brain.”1

The duel in Logan County, Kentucky, was one of many that Jackson fought during the course of his long and highly controversial career. And the tenacity, toughness and vengefulness that carried Jackson alive out of that duel–and the mythology and symbolism that would be attached to it–would also characterize many of his later dealings on the battlefield and in politics. By the time of his death almost forty years later, Andrew Jackson would become an enduring and controversial symbol, a kind of cipher to gauge the ways that various Americans thought about their country. Read the rest of Chapter 9 from the American Yawp.

Things to Consider

Questions to be thinking about as you move through the content of this chapter

  1. How did many of the Founding Fathers view the idea of democracy? How did that change between 1820 and 1840?
  2. How did ordinary men come to participate more in politics between 1820 and 1840? What trends showed that ordinary Americans were often critical of elites during this period?
  3. Describe the Missouri Compromise. How was it a compromise on slavery and westward expansion? In what ways did it leave disagreements between the North and South unresolved?
  4. What transpired in the 1824 election? Why did Andrew Jackson and his supporters consider John Quincy Adam’s victory the result of a “corrupt bargain”?
  5. In what ways was the election of 1828 a contentious election? Why was Jackson’s victory seen as a victory for the common man?
  6. In his view, how did Andrew Jackson defend the interests of common people as president in controversies such as the Nullification Crisis, the Eaton Affair and the debate over the Second Bank of the United States?
  7. How did the Eaton Affair show that women could play an important role in politics? Why did Andrew Jackson side with Peggy Eaton and what were the political results?
  8. Why did the Nullification Crisis occur? What were the main issues involved? How did Andrew Jackson resolve this crisis peacefully and preserve the Union?
  9. How did Andrew Jackson play a key role in both the rise of the Democratic party and the Whig party?
  10. Why did the Panic of 1837 take place? What impact did it have on the American economy?
  11. How did the Whigs win the election of 1840? Why were the unable to implement much of their political agenda in the aftermath of the election?
  12. What sorts of prejudices did African-Americans and Catholic immigrants face between 1820 and 1840? How was this reflected in the politics of this period?

Learning Objectives and Assessment

Course Outcomes:

  • Students will be able to identify issues pertaining to governmental systems & the evolution of American liberty from the Articles of Confederation to the end of the Age of Jackson.
  • Students will be able to understand the relationship between events connected to Manifest Destiny & the causes of sectionalism & the Civil War.

Student Learning Outcomes:

  • Students will demonstrate their ability to read, analyze, and comprehend college level written texts.
  • Students will be able to recognize differing perspectives and points of view.
  • Students will demonstrate an understanding of diversity among cultures.
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