32 James Buchanan

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

James Buchanan started his presidency under the shadow of the impending Dred Scott decision. The Dred Scott case involved a slave who had been brought to the free Wisconsin territory. Scott argued that he became free upon entering free states and territories. Buchanan stated that the territorial question was “happily, a matter of but little practical importance” since the Supreme Court was about to settle it “speedily and finally”, and proclaimed that when the decision came he would “cheerfully submit, whatever this may be”. Why was Buchanan so willing to accept the courts decision in the Dred Scott case? Because Buchanan had interfered in the decision as president elect. He had wrote Justice  John Carton in January inquiring about the case, and suggesting that a broader decision should be returned. Carton had responded to Buchanan that the decision would be against Dred Scott, but it would be a narrow decision without northern support. Buchanan then went on to convince fellow Pennsylvanian Justice Robert Cooper Grier to allow the court to leverage the case into a much broader decision that would repeal the Missouri Compromise. Clearly Buchanan thought that by agreeing with the cases decision before it was handed down, would help to garner public support. This was very disingenuous, since Buchanan himself actually changed the scope of the case.

On the issue of slavery, and it’s extension, Buchanan believed in “popular sovereignty”, which would allow residents of a territory to decide for themselves whether a territory would become a free state or slave state by popular vote. While popular sovereignty may have sounded like the fairest way to decide the issue, it was basically a ruse by pro slavery forces as a way of spreading slavery. Having already filled up all the territory where slavery was allowed under the Missouri Compromise with existing states, popular sovereignty, or the introduction of new territory was the only way slavery could be expanded. New territory had been already added to the nation with the annexation of Texas, which expanded slavery, and the lands gained through the Mexican-American war, which ended up being unsuitable. There were a few attempts at adding Cuba, but those had been blocked. Seeing that territorial expansion had run it’s course, pro slavery forces had now turned to popular sovereignty as their only hope. In affect popular sovereignty would only apply to areas where slavery had been barred, making proslavery forces the only potential winners.

Buchanan showed his pro-slavery colors during the Kansas crisis. Ever since the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the territory of Kansas had become a battleground between pro-slavery forces and abolitionist. Pro slavery forces felt that the Kansas-Nebraska act was passed with the idea that Kansas would enter the union as a slave state and Nebraska would enter as a free state. They saw this as a 50-50 compromise, and the abolitionist push into Kansas as an attack on their rights. The abolitionist seen slavery as a moral injustice that shouldn’t be allowed to spread, they in fact wanted it to be outlawed. Buchanan felt that sectional tensions would be eased if Kansas entered the union as a slave state brining back the 50-50 balance that had been upset when California became a state. The problem is that such a balance would not last long, eventually the larger numbers of people in Free states would have eventually settled more states. If Kansas had entered the union as a slave state, the free soil residents could have simply moved north to Nebraska and re-upset the balance. Once the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution was submitted to congress, Buchanan whole heartedly pursued his  50-50 policy. He made every effort to secure Congressional approval, offering favors, patronage appointments and even cash for votes. The fact that the Lecompton constitution had been approved through widespread voter fraud and against Buchanan’s beloved principle of popular sovereignty didn’t seem to bother him at all.

With the impending election of Abraham Lincoln as President, secession of southern states became a real possibility. As current president, James Buchanan sat idly by and did nothing. Once Lincoln was elected, and states stared to secede, Buchanan sent a message to congress stating, that secession was illegal, but that the government couldn’t do anything to stop them. Had Buchanan actually acted, as Milliard Fillmore did in 1850, by strengthening southern forts and moving military forces where they could be used to stop secession, war might have been averted. Instead Buchanan allowed the rebels time to strengthen their government and defenses, helping to lead to the bloodiest war in American history.

Oddly enough, in the face of another rebellion of sorts, Buchanan had no trouble with flexing military muscles, even though he had incomplete information. In March of 1857 Buchanan received conflicting information from federal judges, that Mormons had been disrupting their offices. Buchanan accepted the wildest rumors and sent the Army in, and disposed Brigham Young as governor replacing him with a non Mormon. Buchanan obviously had no trouble squashing a rebellion in Utah on scant, conflicting reports and little to no evidence. This is in direct opposition to his non reaction to southern secession, shows that his understanding of the office seems to have been molded by personal prejudices more than the law.

Buchanan also presided over the panic of 1857, which was brought on, in part by the Tariff of 1857. The revised tariff law lowered rates on manufactured goods, lowering demand for American built goods leading to a depression in the manufacturing sector. Buchanan further exuberated the problem by reducing the money supply, creating a credit crunch. Buchanan’s poor handling of the economy caused this recession to last until the outbreak of the civil war, and led to massive debt increases during his term.

33 Martin Van Buren

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

Martin Van Buren was the 8th president of the United States. He was Andrew Jackson’s hand-picked successor. Van Buren continued Andrew Jackson’s programs, most of which were bad.

Van Buren’s term was consumed by the Panic of 1837, which was the Great depression of its day. While the panic was created by Andrew Jackson’s bank war and specie circular, Van Buren does desrve some of the blame for his mishandling of the economy. First of all, Van Buren was unwilling to rescind the specie circular, he then followed that decision up with his creation of the Independent Treasury. The specie circular and independent treasury both create a credit crunch, which prolonged and deepened the recession. In the end, the panic of 1837 ended Van Buren’s  presidency in the election of 1840.

Van Buren’s  Indian policy was basically an extension of Andrew Jackson’s. Van Buren oversaw the completion of Jackson’s Indian removal policy, which would be termed ethnic cleansing by todays standards. Van Buren also continued the Second Seminole War, which was the longest and costliest indian war ever. Unfortunately Van Buren didn’t have the foresight of John Tyler, who simply ended the war.

The Amistad case was a major occurence during Van Buren’s term. The Amistad was a Spanish vessel that was transporting slaves that were captured in Africa. During the voyage, the African captors took over the ship and directed the remaining crew to take them back to Africa. The crew tricked the Africans, and sailed north at night, where they were captured by an American ship. Van Buren wanted the Africans to be returned to the Spanish to become slaves, even though the Spanish had broken international treaties against the slave trade. Van Buren even ordered his Secretary of state, John Forsythe, to direct the US Attorney to keep the matter out of the courts and under executive control. In the end the US Supreme court ruled that the Africans should be freed and returned to Africa.

1938 Mormon war and “extermination” order forced the Mormons from Missouri. Van Buren refused to help the Mormons for political reasons, as he didn’t want to lose Missouri vote in the upcoming 1840 election. Because of this, President Van Buren holds a place of particular disrepute in the Mormon consciousness. In the fall of 1839 Joseph Smith and a small party traveled to Washington D.C. to meet with as many influential politicians as they could to seek redress for the Mormons being driven from the state of Missouri. The President meet with Smith twice, and on his second visit gave this famous replay to the Saint’s request: “Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you. If I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri.”

Under Van Buren a boundary dispute disrupted between Maine and New Brunswick that came to be termed the Aroostook War. While both sides sent militia to the area, hostilities never ensued. Van Buren should be given some credit for avoiding war, but he basically kicked the can down the road by not actually settling the disputed border.

Another incident where Van Buren kicked the can down the road was the Texas issue. After winning independence from Mexico, Texas wanted to be annexed into the United States. Considering the make up of Texas’s citizenry, and it’s desire to be a part of the United States, annexation was a forgone conclusion. Van Buren further forgave Mexican debts for seemingly no reason other than to appease Mexico. Had Van Buren been able to see the writing that was clearly on the wall and annexed Texas, he could have used the debts as a bargaining chip to a peaceful resolution of the Texas-Mexico border. Unfortunately, Van Buren decided not to act, and event eventually led to the Mexican-American War, which was a major catalyst for the civil war.

34 John Adams

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/

John Adams was the second President of the United States. The major defining issue of Adams term was whether the United States went to war with France

In 1797 Adams sent a diplomatic commission to France. The commission was approached through back channels demanding
bribes and loans before negotiations could commence. Though such demands weren’t uncommon in Europe at the time Adams took offense. Adams released the dispactches with the names of French officials changed to X, Y & Z, leading to the name of “the XYZ affair”. The release of the documents led to congress annulling the 1778 Treaty of Alliance with France. The Release of the XYZ affair documents also led to the naval “Quasi-War” with France.

Another outgrowth of the XYZ affair was the enactment of the Alien and Sedition Acts. These laws increased the residency requirement from 5 to 14 years, authorized the President to imprison or deport any aliens considered “dangerous” to the United States and restricted speech “critical” of the government. The critical speech law didn’t cover speech against the vice president, Thomas Jefferson as he was a political rival of Adams. The acts served to eventually destroy the Federalist part, and were among the worst violations of the constitution.

Adams spent about half his presidency in Quincy Mass, and would leave major policy decisions to his cabinet. Adams also kept on cabinet members even those that undermined his policies and criticized him. His absence and inability to remove cabinet members were definitely signs of an incapability to operate as an executive.

35 Theodore Roosevelt

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/ 

Theodore Roosevelt became president upon the assassination of William McKinley. This happened shortly after the turn of the century at the beginning of the progressive movement.

Generally considered Roosevelt’s biggest accomplishment was the building of the Panama  Canal. An isthmus canal had long been a dream of the United States, but the Spanish-American war showed the need for the canal, making it’s building a certainty. There were two proposed routes, one through Panama and one through Nicaragua. Roosevelt was bent on Panama, and when Columbia wanted what Roosevelt thought was too much money, he decided to foment rebellion in Panama. Basically, Roosevelt disgraced the United States to save a few million dollars .

Roosevelt also extended the Monroe Doctrine by adding his corollary to it. The Roosevelt corollary basically states that the US could “intervene” in other countries to keep Europeans out. This is very hypocritical. Basically the US would invade and occupy neighboring countries to keep others from invading and occupying those countries. I’m sure that those countries seen very little difference between American or European occupiers. Also, the Monroe Doctrine isn’t international law. Roosevelt even recklessly courted war with both Germany and Britain in defense of Venezuela, when Venezuela wasn’t paying it’s debts.

Roosevelt also oversaw the Philippines insurrection and ordered military commanders to end the guerrilla war anyway necessary. This included the burning of entire villages, torture and killing all Filipinos down to age 10. TR tried to whitewash the whole incident, but the blood was clearly on his hands.

Roosevelt passed several reforms through Congress, some were good like The Meat Inspection Act of 1906 & Pure Food and Drug Act. Others were very bad. Two of these dealt directly with railroads. The first was the Elkins Act – banned railroad rebates to large companies, outlawed bulk rates. It’s practical that railroads would give discounts to secure large customers, as it would allow for better planning of route, and larger cargoes can be hauled for lower incremental costs. The other The Hepburn Act, gave the ICC the power to set “just and reasonable” rates. Who is to decide what is “just and reasonable”? This act helped to trigger the panic of 1907

The worse thing TR did was to continuously disregard the constitution and congress in many of his actions, by stating he could do anything he wanted “for the greater good”. The idea that the president is above the law and has unlimited powers is a very dangerous one.

Roosevelt ingrained federal coercion by intervening in a coal strike, mainly for political purposes. He threatened both sides by saying he would use the army to seize the mines if they didn’t accept arbitration. TR was known as the “trust buster” for the many anti-trust cases during his term. Unfortunately, the law was applied using Roosevelt’s “greater good” argument. Companies were sued not based on whether they broke the law, but based on if they were “good” companies. The inconsistent application of the law wasn’t only unfair and unconstitutional, it also caused uncertainty within the economy.

Roosevelt is greatly hailed for his environmental conservation. Whereas environmental conservation is a good thing, Many times TR took lands out of public use through executive orders against the will of Congress and without any reguard to private citizens rights.



This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/ 

Lyndon Johnson became president upon the assassination of John F Kennedy. This happened in the middle of the civil rights movement and as the war in Viet Nam was heating up.

Johnson’s legacy rest mainly on his support of civil rights legislation. Whereas Johnson does deserve some credit for moving civil rights laws forward, he is given far too much credit. The civil rights movement had been picking up steam since the end of world war II. In 1948 Truman issued an executive order to desegregate the military, which was completed by Eisenhower. Eisenhower further finished desegregating the US government. Eisenhower also sent troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to uphold the Supreme Courts ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, and supervised the passage of the civil rights Acts of 1957 & 1960. The first civil rights laws since reconstruction. When Kennedy was assassinated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had already passed the house and was making it through the Senate. Many historians believe the law would have passed had Kennedy not been assassinated. There should also be more credit given to civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King and brave citizens like Rosa Parks. Television coverage of violent attacks against peaceful demonstrators played a vital role as well. By brining the ugly truths of Jim Crow laws into American homes, it made Americans have to face the facts of racial oppression. As can easily be seen the civil rights movement was well on its way long before Johnson became president. His support certainly helped, but I don’t believe he could have stopped events, only slowed them down.

poll tax laws. He also softened the Civil Rights Act of 1957 as Senate majority leader. Johnson’s support of civil rights was also western states. Courting black votes in northern states was his best chance at victory, even if it meant losing southern states that voted election in 1948 even after the “Dixiecrats” bolted the party and unified behind the candidacy of Strom Thurmond in 1948, over Truman’s pro civil rights stance. 

Opposing civil rights would have also undermined Johnson’s beloved Great Society programs. It would be hard to argue for economic “rights and equality” while squelching basic human rights and equality of African Americans. If it was acceptable for the government to stand aside and do nothing as basic, constitutional rights were stripped away, how could the government then turn around and introduce expensive programs to promote economic equality? Not only that, the major cornerstone of the Great Society was federal funding of education. Southerners had long fought any federal involvement in education in fear that the government would desegregate public schools. In order to get his education bills through congress he would definitely need every northern vote he could get, opposing civil rights would have definitely hampered his efforts.

The Great Society was Lyndon Johnsons program to remake American Society. It consisted of over 100 laws that promoted civil rights, fought a “war on poverty”, introduced federal funding for education along with many other programs.

While Johnson’s War on Poverty promised much, to complete eradication of poverty, it delivered little. After World War II, the poverty rate was in steady decline until 1966, since 1966 poverty has stabilized. Basically Johnson’s programs changed an economy that was seeing a steady decrease in poverty and turned it into one in which poverty merely fluctuates. The problem is, that the anti-poverty programs are set up in such a way that it keeps people in the programs, by incentivizing them not to better their situation in life. The programs also incentivize single parent homes, as it is much easier for them to get benefits than it is for a married couple. A good example of a “great Society” program was the Job Corps, which was set up in 1964.  Studies have shown that finish job corps training have no more success in the job market than those who drop out of the system, even though the training cost as much as a Harvard education. The National Welfare Rights Organization was set up in 1966 to increase welfare recipients, basically encouraging government dependence rather than self reliance. Basically the “Great society” was a set of poorly planned and poorly executed laws that blindly threw money at social problems and created a huge expensive bureaucracy that did little to help the poor and a lot to increase the debt. Not only that, Johnson deliberately understated the continuing costs of his programs to aid in their passage

Lyndon Johnson introduced the federal government into public education. This intrusion started with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, and has grown ever since. Before Johnson became president, public education was purely administered by state and local governments. In the 1950s the United States ranked 2nd in education, today it ranks 17th, clearly a failure of top down federal education programs.

No failure during Johnson’s term was bigger than his handling of the war in Viet Nam. He inherited a minor war from Kennedy in which 16,000 troops were fighting and expanded it to a major war in which over 500,000 soldiers were fighting. Even though He felt the war was unwinnable, and he never even tried to formulate a winning strategy, Johnson persevered in greatly expanding the war. Believing he would be attacked for “losing Viet Nam, and it hurting his re-election chances in 1968. To fight a war for purely political purposes in which over 58,000 American died is one of the most despicable things any American president has ever done. Not only that, he dumped the entire mess  onto his successor.

Johnson wasn’t above using the office of the president to punish his enemies. Lyndon B. Johnson used the I.R.S. to harass and put pressure on groups opposing the Vietnam War. He also had the FBI plant operatives into anti war groups to spy on them and incite violence. Johnson made wide use of illegal wiretaps against civil rights leaders, anti war protesters and Barry Goldwater during the 1964 campaign.

Johnson’s programs wreaked havoc upon the economy. His massive Great Society programs, escalation of the Viet Nam war, and encouraging the Federal Reserve to have a loose monetary policy led to inflation in 1965. To combat inflation Johnson implemented a 10% tax increase on June 28 1968. The economy went into a recession in 1969, and stagflation was born. Johnson also diverted money from social security, which was in a seperate fund,to the general revenue fund to hide debts.


This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/ 

Andrew Johnson became president upon the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. With the Civil War over and Congress out of session until December (Congress met much less often then) Johnson had a decision to make on what to do about the former Confederate States of America. He could either commence reconstruction unilaterally, wait for Congress to reconvene in December or call a special session of congress. Johnson chose to act unilaterally without congress to reconstruct the union. This was the worst possible of the three choices, by not working with congress Johnson seriously undermined any chance congress would agree with his proposals. Johnson’ s reconstruction goals was speedy restoration of the states, with the states deciding on voting rights for freed slaves. Johnson also wanted to secure election in his own right in 1868, this would require a unified south under democratic control.

Johnson’s leniency led to southern arrogance. Southerners seen they could get what they wanted without giving any concessions to freed slaves. This led to the enactment of “black codes”, a series of laws which severely restricted African American rights forcing them into a slave labor class. When Congress reconvened in December of 1865, most men elected to congress from the south were former confederates. Northerners were outraged at the idea of unrepentant confederate leaders rejoining the federal government at a time when emotional wounds from the war remained raw. They saw the Black Codes placing African-Americans in a position barely above slavery. Because of these abuses, Congress decided not to seat members from the former confederate states. Johnson’s reconstruction policies led to Jim Crow laws and white supremacist groups, most notably the Ku Klux Klan, holding power in the south until the civil right era of the 1950s & 1960s. 

In early 1866 Johnson made a series of decisions that pushed Congress into the hands of the radical republicans. On February 18, 1866 Johnson vetoed bill extending  the freedmen’s bureau, which was created to assist former slaves after the civil war. On February 22, 1866 Johnson gave speech condemning Pennsylvania Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner, and abolitionist Wendell Phillips, and accused them, among other things,  of plotting his assassination. finally on March 27 1966 vetoed Civil Rights Bill In his veto message, he objected to the measure because it conferred citizenship on the freedmen. The veto was overridden 3 weeks later, the first veto overridden in US history. Many moderate Republicans saw the Freedmen’s Bureau and the Civil Rights Act of 1866 as the minimum needed to protect former slaves. Had Johnson been willing to sign these two laws and work with moderates, he wouldn’t have lost complete control of the situation. Instead his actions guaranteed that the Radical Republicans would dominate congress. Many former confederates, including Robert E Lee, stated that if Johnson could have made guaranteeing freed slaves rights part of the settlement of the war, but Johnson refused. He did this because he wanted to retain the presidency after 1868 election, and he needed the south to vote Democrat. If former slaves were allowed to vote, they would likely vote Republican, which would jeopardize the Democrats winning a solid south.

Johnson continued vetoing nearly everything congress passed stating that any laws passed without southern representation in congress were unconstitutional. As Johnson’s overly obstructionist vetoes were getting overturned more frequently, Congress started to get bolder. Eventually congress passed the Tenure of Office Act over Johnson’s veto. This law stated that the President couldn’t remove any executive officer who had been appointed by the president, that required Senate approval, unless the Senate approved the removal during the next full session of Congress. Rather than trying to eliminate the law through judicial means, by bringing suit against the law in court, Johnson decided to break the law by removing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. By doing this he created a constitutional crisis, in which he was impeached, and narrowly missed being removed from office. Had Johnson’s gamble not paid off, a precedent may have been set for the removal of “obstructionist” or “unfit” Presidents, of which Johnson was both.

The one positive of Johnson’s term was the purchase of Alaska from Russia, often referred to as Seward’s Folly. Due to his extreme racism, and his boldening of the south against the federal authority, Andrew Johnson severely hurt the lot of African Americans for over a century. This combined with his uncompromising obstructionists ways qualifies him as our third worst president. The only thing that saves him from last place  is that two others had a more negative impact.

38 Andrew Jackson

This is a post in My Presidential Rankings series, linked here: http://sdu754.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/presidential-rankings/ 

Andrew Jackson rose to power by building a coalition of Southern and Western states. This coalition controlled the politics of Jackson and his democratic party, creating the pro-south, pro-slavery antebellum Democratic party. The main tenants of the party were as follows:

1) Lower Tariffs – This would benefit the south, as most tariffs were on manufactured goods that were produced in the northeast. The biggest benefit would go to rich southern plantation owners, who had the most money to purchase the resulting cheaper goods from a lower tariff. The biggest losers would be northern factory workers whose jobs would be threatened by the new competition.

2) Selling of Public Lands – by selling public lands rather than giving them away, as done under the homestead act, Jackson was protecting land values for plantation owners. If free lands were available to the west, it certainly would have deflated the value of lands in the east. Selling of public lands also made it harder for poorer people to lift themselves up through their own labor.

3) Opposition to Internal Improvements – Internal Improvements at the time were the proposed government building of roads and other means of transportation. A better road network would have made both poorer citizens and run away slaves more mobile. This would help to protect southern plantation owners other “property”, slaves. Internal Impovements would also make the poorer southern citizens less dependent on rich plantation owners.  

4) Indian Removal – The removal of Indians would help both westerners and southerners, by removing the threat of attacks and opening up Indian property to white settlers.

Andrew Jackson was definitely the first pro-slavery president. When abolitionist started sending  anti-slavery mailings into the south, Jackson’s  postmaster general, Amos Kendall, allowed the burning and destruction of these mailings. When Jackson learned of the anti-slavery mailings, He denounced the abolitionists as “monsters” and wanted their names recorded and released to newspapers, as a way of “outing” them. Jackson even recommended to congress to pass an act prohibiting abolitionists papers in the south, a clear attack on the freedoms of speech and press. Jackson also pushed through the House of Representatives the famous “gag rule”, that made bringing any anti-slavery petitions illegal.

Jackson’s policy towards Native Americans was far harsher than that towards slaves. Jackson’s Indian Removal Policy would be termed as ethnic cleansing today. The basic policy was to force all Native Americans as far west as possible, resettling them in what today makes up the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Kansas & Nebraska. To accomplish this goal Jackson got congress to pass the Indian Removal Act, which allowed the president to negotiate with Indians east of the Mississippi to withdraw from their lands, it was supposed to be voluntary. Jackson’s application of the law was to forcibly remove the Native Americans who wouldn’t do so voluntarily. When the state of Georgia tried to forcibly remove the Cherokees, they sued the state in court. In the supreme court case Cherokee Nation v Georgia the supreme court ruled that the Cherokees couldn’t be forcibly removed from their lands. In response Jackson said “Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it”. Jackson then started forcibly removing the 5 civilized tribes along the “Trail of Tears”. First were the Choctaw in 1831, the Seminoles in 1832, the Creek in 1834, the Chickasaw in 1837 (under Van Buren) & then the Cherokee in 1838 (again under Van Buren). Between 1/3 & 1/4 of tribe members lost their lives along the trail of tears.

Many Seminoles, however, stayed behind in Florida. Jackson sent the army to enforce the treaty. Thus began the second Seminole war (1835-1842), the longest Indian war in US history. The Seminoles utilized guerrilla tactics and killed as many as 2000 troops, and costs the government $40 million, a huge sum at the time.

The Black Hawk war (1832) started when the Sauk & Fox tribes tried to resettle land taken from them under the disputed treaty of 1804. In a non aggressive move, chief Black Hawk moved the tribes across the Mississippi. The war broke out when soldiers fired upon a delegation from the Native Americans. The tribes were defeated at the battle of Bad Ax River, sometimes referred to the Massacre at Bad Ax. This resulted in most Native Americans fleeing what is today the Midwest.

Jackson also created the spoils system to further cement his political power. The idea of the system was to replace all governmental employees with loyal Democrats. Those who received jobs would also be required to campaign for or give political donations to the Democratic party. Jackson stated “If you have a job in your department that can’t be done by a Democrat, then abolish the job.” and “to the victor goes the spoils”. The system inevitably led to corruption in every department within the government.

In 1832 South Carolina passed an Ordinance of Nullification in response to the “tariff of Abominations” (Federal Tariff of 1828). South Carolina basically stated that it could say a law was unconstitutional and therefor “null and void” within its borders. Jackson’s response to the initial crisis was to push through congress the Tariff of 1832 to placate southerners. In November of 1832 South Carolina sensing weakness and willing to push it’s advantage now declared bot the tariffs of 1828 & 1832 “null & void” within their borders after February 1, 1833. Jackson then passed through Congress the “Compromise Tariff of 1833″, which put rates back where they were before the Tariff of 1828. Congress also passed the “force Bill” to stop any further pressure from nullifiers. Jackson’s buckling in to South Carolina during the nullification crisis, giving South Carolina exactly what it wanted in a greatly reduced tariff, fostered future rebellion. It should also be noted he lowered the tariff before he sent troops. The compromise tariff was basically the same as the parent who gives into a petulant child who throws a tantrum, and the force bill was like saying “you better behave now” once the child gets what it wanted all along. It only teaches the child to throw a tantrum the next time.

Andrew Jackson, purely for political reasons, decided to star a war on the Second Bank of America. The bank was a cornerstone of his main political rivals, Henry Clays, American plan. He also seen the attempt at an early re-chartering of the bank in 1832 as a personal attack on him. Jackson went relentlessly after the bank like a mad man, especially after his re-election. Jackson sought to have the federal deposits illegally removed from the bank, but he ran into a roadblock. His secretary of the Treasury, Louis McClain, refused to break the law by removing the deposits. Jackson then replaced McClain with William J. Duane , who also refused, and was dismissed. Jackson then used a recess appointment to name Roger Taney as treasury secretary, who then removed the deposits and put them into corrupt pet banks. When the senate refused to confirm him, Jackson appointed Taney chief justice of the supreme court. The senate censured Jackson for his actions in the bank war.

The corrupt pet banks that Jackson used in place of the Second Bank of the United States irresponsibly issued paper currency. This worthless paper money started to flood the market causing rampant inflation. To remedy the situation, on July 11, 1836 Jackson ordered the treasury to issue the “specie circular” which required that all federal land purchases were made in gold. This combined with the bank war threw the economy into a tailspin that resulted in the panic of 1837, the worst recession in American History until the great depression.

The Peggy Eaton Affair was another major occurrence during Jackson’s term. Peggy Eaton was a widow who married Jackson’s secretary of War John Eaton soon after her husband John Timberlake died. It was rumored that the Eaton’s had an affair before Timberlake had died. When several cabinet members wives snubbed Peggy Eaton, Jackson took the side of the Eaton’s. This wouldn’t matter accept that Jackson allowed the affair to interfere with official government business for over two years. In April of 1831, both Van Buren & Eaton resigned their cabinet posts so Jackson could clean out the rest of the cabinet.

Jackson supervised several unconstitutional Acts during his presidency. His outright defiance of the Supreme Courts decision in Cherokee Nation v Georgia was an impeachable offense. Jackson also had the federal deposits illegally removed from the Second Bank of America and supervised the destruction of the US mail, a federal offense. He even broke his own Indian Removal Act, when he forcibly removed Native Americans when the law allowed for only voluntary removal. Jackson also allowed personal prejudiced and political vendettas to get in the way of being president. He even stated “My only two regrets in life are that I did not hang Calhoun and shoot Clay”.






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