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Erik Carlson

Professor Pit
Final Essay
5/5/2014
Question #1: Compare the presidencies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
How were these presidents political ideals similar?
My first thought when posed with the task of comparing these two presidencies is that
they would be relatively similar because both were in the same time period (early 19th century)
and they were both democratic-republicans. Although after thinking about it for a while I
realized this was not a good way to look at it, because I got to thinking about 2 other presidents
from the same political party whos tenures were even closer together than Jacksons and
Jeffersons 20 years (1809-1829). Those 2 other presidents were not hard to think of considering
one of them is the current President. Barak Obama and Bill Clinton are both democrats and both
were/are president for 2 terms, their tenures are separated by a measly 8 years, less than half of
what Jacksons and Jeffersons were and their presidencies are not similar at all and the country
and world they were the leaders of were very different also. Granted the 19th century wasnt
exactly the technological renaissance that the early 21st is and has been, but after looking at the
difference 8 years can make Im really interested in seeing what difference 20 years makes, and
how different Jeffersons and Jacksons presidencies really were.
The logical place to start when answering a question like this would be Thomas Jefferson,
the older of the two

, the first 3rd man (Secretary of State), the second 2nd man (Vice President),

and the third 1st man (President). You could in theory make a case for him being more important

to the United States of America simply based on the fact that his name is on the Declaration of
Independence and Jacksons is nowhere to be seen (who was 10 years old at the time of the
signing).
You could say Jeffersons beginnings were humble, and you would mostly be right.
Third of 10 children born to a painter in Virginia on April 13th 1743, he would stay in Virginia
and attend the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg. His political career began with the
country he served. In 1775 when he started serving as a delegate for the continental congress,
less than 2 months after the battle of Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the
revolutionary war. His long journey to the oval office continued with stints as Virginia state
legislator and Governor, Minister to France, Secretary of State, Vice President, and finally
President in 1800.
Jefferson ran as a Democratic-Republic, a party that he actually founded in 1791 with
James Madison, which was a response to the then Federalist party. Jefferson was actually the first
Democratic-Republican President. The Party supported things like Westward expansion, foreign
relations with France (remember Jefferson was the Minister to France not so long ago), and a
small centralized government. Originally the anti-federalists and now simply the Democratic
Party.
Jefferson was elected in thanks to two parties. African Americans who at the time were
worth 3/5th of an American citizen, most of whom voted for Jefferson leading to one of his
nicknames The Negro President and Alexander Hamilton who helped swing the House of
Representatives vote to break the Electoral College tie. As expected he let the Federalist policies
and cabinet members live (figuratively) until they expired in 1801 and he then replaced them
with his own, he also repealed many federalist taxes. He also believed that the United States

could run on exclusively customs revenue instead of direct taxation (this was initially successful
but did not last long). As I stated before Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans were in favor
of westward expansion which leads me to Jeffersons lasting gift to the United States and the
single thing that he is most likely remembered for which is the Louisiana Purchase which
famously doubled the size of the country (828,000 square miles) at an outrageously low price of
$15 million. This did however go against one of his core beliefs that America should cut down
on its foreign debt because he had to borrow the money from England to pay Napoleon for the
land because the deal was just too good to pass up. Native Americans were also a hot topic in
the early 19th century so its interesting to see how Jefferson and Jackson dealt with them during
their presidencies. Jefferson has been noted as one who studied and even admired the Native
American people but when he came to power they were raiding and harassing American settlers
who were moving west, and he simply could not let that happen.
So in a word Thomas Jeffersons presidency could be described as eventful, if you count
doubling the nations landmass as an event. The Louisiana Purchase is without a doubt his most
memorable move as president and will sadly overshadow all the other things that he did similar
to what abolishing slavery did to Abe Lincoln.
American-style political democracy a broad franchise, a disciplined political party,
and policies favoring specific interest groups ushered Andrew Jackson into office (Henretta,
Edwards, and Self 310). You could say that Andrew Jackson was the complete opposite of
Thomas Jefferson when he was president and you wouldnt be totally wrong. Jacksons
Agenda: Rotation and Decentralization (Henretta, Edwards, and Self 310). Jackson was
however a Democrat like Jefferson was (or would become). He also shared Jeffersons
enthusiasm for paying off the national debt, a task that he actually accomplished in 1835, even if

only for a short while until the depression of 1837 raised the debt to $3.3 million. He also
opposed the national bank and banks in general as Jefferson did.
The biggest and arguably most important piece of legislation Jackson passed during his
tenure was the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Which in a nutshell forces all the remaining Native
Americans west of the Mississippi and into current day Oklahoma and Nebraska, from places as
far away as New York, By the late 1820s white voices throughout the South and Midwest were
calling for Indian peoples to be resettled west of the Mississippi river. Many eastern supporters
of the Native Americans also favored resettlement. Removal to the West seemed the only way to
protect the Indians from alcoholism, financial chicanery, and cultural decline (Henretta,
Edwards, and Self 315). This was the biggest and most memorable thing to happen during
Jacksons presidency for a reason, it was highly controversial even back then, and some would
go as far as to call it an ethnic cleansing.
In one word I guess I would describe Andrew Jacksons presidency as action-packed.
Jackson and Jefferson both shared similar views on the national debt and banks, Jackson did
something about it by paying off the debt. They both also believed westward relocation was the
best plan regarding Native Americans, Jackons actually did something about it by passing the
Indian Removal Act of 1830. So the main difference between these two presidencies was that
Jackson got things done, at least more than Jefferson because its not like he did nothing during
his tenure.