Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Highly recommended...............

      Shortly after Jackson's death, one unforgiving New York Whig damned the General as "the undisputed head of a violent, proscriptive party . . . He did more to break down the republican principles of the government and enslave the minds of the people than all the rulers who went before him."  Here reigned a virtual dictator, he continued, a master of "that pernicious popular homage called popularity."  Fifteen yeas later, however, in the perilous secession winter of 1860, another Yankee, a New Hampshire Democrat, thought that only an indomitable Jackson-like leader could save the nation.  "Would to Heaven," he wrote, "we had another Andrew Jackson . . .  at the head of this Government . . . instead of James Buchanan."  Both of these observers anticipated, in their divergent views, a sharp and seemingly endless debate over the meaning of power and populism in Jackson's America.  The notion of the people preventing social elites and financial aristocrats from bullying, bestriding. or otherwise buying Congress is altogether attractive.  And yet common man democracy's erratic energy collaterally legitimized Indian removal, slavery's expansion, and the troubling growth of presidential fiat.  In important moments, as when Jackson ignored the Supreme Court in the Cherokee case or refused to honor the government's obligation to deposit public monies in the National Bank, the rule of law itself appeared imperiled.

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