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Andrew Jackson was the president of the common man because he greatly improved the economic aspect of life for white men during his presidency. However, some might argue that Jackson was not president of the common man because he continued to allow and encourage the mistreatment of marginalized groups like American Indians. Nevertheless, during his time as president, Jackson vetoed the renewal of the national bank, giving more power to the common man through state banks. In addition, he created the spoils system, giving less wealthy men the opportunity for government jobs, something very uncommon at the time. Jackson also extended the opportunity to vote to property owning white men as it became easier to buy property due to westward expansion. These changes made by Jackson created more economic opportunity and the potential for social climbing out of the lower class. The common, white man benefited greatly from Jackson, supporting the idea of him being the president for the common man.
Jackson eliminated the national bank, giving the state banks more power, benefitting the common man economically. When it came time to renew the charter for the National Bank, the president vetoed the renewal. Jackson believed the bank took money away from the common man as it was run by the wealthier portion of the population, looking to benefit themselves and not the majority of the population. The semi-private bank had investors coming from exclusively the richest class as few commoners could afford to invest in the bank. Jackson saw this consolidation of power in the wealthy as corrupt and dangerous for the common man, the bank and its investors wanted to make money, only benefitting a small fraction of the population (Document B). Shortly before the veto, Jackson withdrew money from the national bank and deposited the money into state banks, also known as “pet banks”. Pet banks were more apt to loan money to the lower class citizens that needed it, farmers in particular. Once Jackson decided to kill the national bank, declaring it unconstitutional (O’Donnell). This worked to the advantage of the commoners because they were able to take out loans as they needed them, controversially whether they could pay them back or not.
Through employing people of lower classes in different federal jobs, it not only limited the amount of elites in power but also gave the lower class the chance to earn more money. On the road to Jackson’s presidency, he received help and support from many people and assured them that their support would not go without appreciation. Once Jackson was elected, he removed many elites from their positions in office, only to fill those jobs with the commoners that helped him achieve presidency. Jackson referred to this action as the Spoils System as he distributed his spoils of victory. (O’Donnell). Many of his supporters lacked education and money, as he appealed to the “common man”, attracting many farmers and other members of the lower class. However, Jackson believed the jobs were easy enough for the common man to carry out. By giving people from the lower class these jobs instead of those from the upper crust of society, he was giving them the chance to earn more money than they would as a farmer or even most merchants. This also provided the opportunity for them to move to a slightly higher social class because federal jobs were held to a much higher standard than most other jobs. The lives of many white men benefited economically and in some cases socially from the Spoils System.
Some might argue that Jackson was not president of the common man because he continued to allow and prompt the terrible treatment of American Indians. By forcing them to leave Georgia and Michigan with the Indian removal act of 1830, the American Indians had no choice but to move to Oklahoma; they had no say in this matter. The trek that they made is famously known as the Trail of Tears. While the supreme court did not support Jackson’s decision, he continued with the plan anyways (O’Donnell). Although the American Indians were the group of people being directly affected by the Indian removal act, they did not have the right to vote on this matter or any affair until 1924. Jackson did not improve the quality of life of the American Indians by any standards, if anything, he contributed to the preexisting, unjust treatment they received. However, by obtaining the land in Georgia and Michigan, more white Americans were able to move there and be given an opportunity to own land, something that was difficult in places like the northeast, where land was not as easy to acquire. In many states, white men were allowed to vote if they owned land, and with this expansion, many “common men” throughout the United States were able to gain voting rights. While this privilege came at the expense of the American Indians homes and lives, Jackson did, in fact, improve the quality of life for what was considered to be the “common man”.
Jackson’s changes to the U.S. during his presidency impacted many people but really only the common, white man profited from these changes. By liquidating the national bank, Jackson was able to put money into pet banks which greatly benefitted the lower class by allowing them to take out loans more frequently than they could have with the national bank. He further benefited the common man by supplying jobs to some of his supporters that helped him become president. By offering these jobs to people in a much lower class than the wealthy that used to hold those jobs, the common men had the chance to not only earn more money but to move to a slightly higher social class as well. Unfortunately, the American Indians did not gain nearly as much as many white men did from the Indian removal act. However, the vacant land provided the opportunities to vote to the common man. The changes made by Jackson that economically improved the lives of numerous common men support the theory that Andrew Jackson was the president of the common man.
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