Following the War of 1812 the voting franchise expanded to include most white men, not just wealthy property owners. Andrew Jackson was elected to the presidency in 1828 as a result in this seachange in voting rights. That Jackson was “a man of the people” was left in no doubt following the raucous inauguration day festivities. Washington socialite, Margaret Bayard Smith described the event:
“Ladies fainted, men were seen with bloody noses and such a scene of confusion took place as is impossible to describe. But it was the people’s day, and the people’s president, and the people would rule.”
Jackson was a figure of great contradictions. The self-styled “champion of the poor” was, in fact,
a wealthy, slave-owning cotton planter. The prime benefactor of popular democracy denied the right to vote to women, American Indians, and African-Americans. The self-proclaimed defender of the Constitution challenged the authority of the Supreme Court. Yet, whatever its shortcomings, the Jackson presidency was ground-breaking. Whether “Old Hickory’s executive style, inspired and inflamed by fierce personal loyalties or hatreds, helped or hurt his efforts to achieve the goals of his political philosophy, remains a question of great debate.
Cold War is the critically-acclaimed ninth installment in the landmark educational series America in the 20th Century. More than two-hours in length, the program provides a comprehensive survey of the great geopolitical conflict of the twentieth century—from its the end of World War II through the collapse of the Soviet Union.
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