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A HISTORY OF

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

DOCUMENTARY EDITION

PART I.

A HISTORY

OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE

CHAPTER I

THE DEMOCRATIC REVOLUTION

GENERAL JACKSON'S friends had reason to be satisfied. The effect they had wrought was indeed dramatic, revolutionary. They had cut a line of cleavage between epoch and epoch in the history of the country. They had broken, once for all, the “Virginian dynasty," "the succession of Secretaries,” the leadership of trained and trusted men; had set aside every tradition of national politics; and had begun the administration of the executive office of the Union afresh upon their own plan. They had not, indeed, won secure control of either house of Congress. Parties were not fixed enough as yet for that. There were not a few “Democrats” who still retained a covert liking for the liberal construction their opponents put upon the constitution, and who upon occasion wavered in their votes, or incontinently went over to the ranks of the “National Republicans," whom Mr. Clay led. In the Senate there couid be found, upon most questions, a majority against the new President. But the whole

atmosphere of affairs, the whole tone of the government changed, nevertheless, with the coming in of General Jackson. The new nation, its quality subtly

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altered, its point of view insensibly shifted by the movement into the West, had smiled with some degree of patient complacency upon Mr. Monroe, and had endured John Quincy Adams, but now for the first time chose after its own kind and preferred General Jackson

It was a second democratization of the government. And yet it differed radically from the first, which Mr. Jefferson had so shrewdly contrived. There was no kinship either in spirit or in method between Mr. Jefferson and this new hero of democracy. Mr. Jefferson had, indeed, expressed the greatest alarm “at the prospect of seeing General Jackson President." "He is," he said, “one of the most unfit men I know of for the place. He has had very little respect for laws or constitutions, and is, in fact, an able military chief. His passions are terrible. He has been much tried since I knew him, but he is a dangerous man,” And had Mr. Jefferson lived to witness the result, he would hardly have altered his judgment. He had stood, for all he was so full of democratic doctrine, for conservative ways of political growth. General Jackson stood, it turned out, for personal government, party proscriptions, and the self-willed choices of personal power.

General Jackson professed to be of the school of Mr. Jefferson himself; and what he professed he believed. There was no touch of the charlatan or the demagogue about him. The action of his mind was as direct, as sincere, as unsophisticated as the action of the mind of an ingenuous child, though it exhibited also the sustained intensity and the range of the mature man. The difference between Mr. Jefferson and General Jackson was not a difference of moral quality so much as a difference in social stock and breeding. Mr. Jefferson, an aristocrat and yet a philosophical radical, deliberately practised the arts of the politician and exhibited oftentimes the sort of insincerity which subtle natures yield to without loss of essential integrity. General Jackson was incapable of arts or deceptions of any kind. He

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