Sunday, April 26, 2009

Andrew Jackson, Champion of Internal Improvements and the American System

Andrew Jackson has come down to us as a fierce opponent of federal funding of internal improvements (epitomized by the Maysville Road veto) and of banks (exemplified by his campaign to kill the Monster Bank).

It is pretty well known, I think, that Jackson presented a much less clear message concerning these issues when he ran for president in 1824 and 1828. Some political insiders and men who knew Jackson well may have known of Jackson's views on these issues, but the electorate as a whole was far less certain.

I mention this because, in looking for a Jackson-related illustration for my last post, I ran across some Jackson election tickets from 1828 that dramatically demonstrate the point. Three are included here. As you will see, all at least imply support for commercial development, manufacturing and transportation. One specifically touts "internal improvement," and another (the most startling of all, in my view) identifies Jackson with the "American System" -- the term used by Henry Clay as early as 1824 (not 1829, as the Wikipedia entry incorrectly states) to describe his high-tariff, pro-Bank and pro-internal improvements program designed to protect domestic manufactures and spur industrial development.

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