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Jackson and the Common People 1812-1833

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ALTHOUGH THE Federalists continued as a party for some years after their defeat in 1801, they would never again be strong enough to threaten American democracy. Jefferson’s party remained the only strong party in the country during and after Jefferson’s two terms in office as President. Still many citizens were not satisfied. They felt that they should have the right to vote even though they were poor and did not own property. Some of them won the right to vote by moving westward, into one of the new western states. All the new states gave every white man the right to vote whether he was rich or poor. This was so because in the frontier states no one was very rich and everyone wanted as much opportunity as possible to get ahead. Six western states entered the Union between 1812 and 1821, during the same period four of the older states did away with the requirement that men had to be property owners in order to vote. By the time Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1828, only five of the original thirteen states still limited the right to vote to those who owned property. Jackson owed his election to the rising strength of the common people, who looked on him as one of their own. He first won fame as an Indian fighter and he became the nation’s hero when he turned back the British in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. That war helped draw Americans closer together and to strengthen their feeling of nationalism. Jackson won the support of both the workers in large eastern cities and the settlers in the new western states and his election was regarded as a victory for democracy. So, in the United States, democracy and nationalism continued …

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