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Andrew Jackson and Political Cartoons

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Tessa Yelton

on 17 March 2014

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Transcript of Andrew Jackson and Political Cartoons

Political Cartoons
Andrew Jackson and Political Cartoons
Our Civil Service as it Was
This is an 1877 cartoon by Thomas Nast, the most famous American political cartoonist.
John C. Calhoun Reaching for Despotism
This is an 1833 that deals with a dispute over taxes that divided the North (and Jackson) and South (and Calhoun).
King Andrew the First
The Great White Father
This cartoon is from 1835. You should know the background to it from your reading
Rats Leaving a Falling House
This is from 1831, late in Jackson's first term. The faces of the rats are different people in his cabinet.
Election of 1828
Jackson tried again to beat John Quincy Adams
Jackson was supported by Vice President John C. Calhoun and future president Martin Van Buren
Van Buren organized a new political party based on the original Democratic-Republic party and named them the Democrats

The campaign was again very dirty
Jackson’s wife was criticized
Jackson found it unfair to attack his wife since she didn't have anything to do with his politics
Jackson’s opponents called him a rude word for “donkey,” so he used the animal as a mascot
This died out until political cartoonist Thomas Nast revived it decades later
Jackson was very popular with the common people
He had the first inaugural ball, and so many people came that it is said that Jackson had to escape through a window (or possibly just a side door)
Jackson's love for the common man had enough effect on American culture that we talk about this as the Jacksonian Era and his style of politics as Jacksonian Democracy
What are they?
Political cartoons are drawings that use hyperbole, symbolism, and sometimes humor to illustrate a political or social point
They can share ideas with people who can’t read well enough to understand a newspaper’s articles
They became popular at the end of the 18th century, especially around the French Revolution
They became very common and powerful by the mid-19th century

What is in cartoons
Elements of cartoons
Symbols: certain images are used to represent certain people, organizations, or ideas
Indicators: labels used to explain what each symbol represents
Caricature: exaggeration used in the symbols or people in the image
Dialogue
What you should be looking for
What do you know about this time period or the people in the cartoon that might help you understand it?
What is the cartoonist's argument?

Our Civil Service as it Was
Jackson created the "spoils system" for appointing people to office. This means he appointed people who helped him in his campaign, as a reward. His idea was to create rotation in office, since most people had the same job whoever was president, and there was very little turnover. The system created enormous corruption, and it was a problem because people were no longer chosen by how good they were at the job. This continued to be the way that things went until Thomas Nast's time, by which point it was a major problem.
John C. Calhoun Reaching for Despotism
In 1828 and 1832, tariffs were passed in order to protect Northern industry by making American manufactured goods cheaper than European ones. The South, particularly South Carolina, hated this tariff,. They called the 1828 tariff the "Tariff of Abominations."
John C. Calhoun from South Carolina strongly opposed the tariffs. He willingly gave up his vice presidency and ran for senate in 1832 so he could do more to get rid of them. He believed that states could nullify federal laws within their borders, similar to the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions that were aimed at nullifying the Alien and Sedition Acts. This was called the Nullification Crisis. In the end, the tariff was reduced. This cartoon accuses Calhoun of starting on a path to becoming a tyrant by encouraging nullification.
King Andrew the First
Early in its existence, the Second National Bank gave out too much credit, causing the Panic of 1819. One person who suffered from this was Jackson, so he wanted to get rid of the bank. Meanwhile, Henry Clay wanted to make the Bank an issue in the 1832 election against Jackson, so he asked the bank's president, Pennsylvanian Nicholas Biddle, to apply to renew the charter early. Jackson vetoed the renewal bill. This was thought to be abuse of the veto power.
The other time Jackson was accused of abusing his power, more seriously, was when he went ahead with Indian removal despite the decision of the Supreme Court.
General Jackson Slaying the Many-Headed Monster
When Jackson won the election while a major issue was the bank, he decided this was a mandate to get rid of it. He secretly transferred money to "pet" state banks run by people who supported him.
(In the end, this went badly. It ended up triggering a depression in 1837 worse than the Panic of 1819.)
The Great White Father
This cartoon is about Jackson's policy towards the Native Americans. It shows him as a father to the childlike Native Americans. (While many people did think of Native Americans as children, the cartoonist is making fun of it.) Jackson explained his policy of Indian removal as being good for the Native Americans, who couldn't help themselves. Considering how much he hated Native Americans, his concern was probably fake.
General Jackson Slaying the Many-Headed Monster
Rats Leaving a Falling House
Jackson was having problems with people who served him under his administration, and he was in the process of breaking from his vice president, Calhoun. Most of his cabinet left in 1831, even Van Buren, whose tail he is stepping on in this image (as if to keep him there). Van Buren was only leaving for the sake of public opinion, not because he disagreed, and he became part of Jackson's "Kitchen Cabinet," an informal group of advisers, and his vice president in the 1832 election. There was also a lot of corruption in Jackson's administration, though he was claiming to reform the presidency in a positive way. This is why the Altar of Reform is falling over.
This cartoon is from 1832 and is about Jackson using and possibly abusing his veto power.
This 1836 political cartoon about the bank war is the most famous cartoon of Jackson. Jackson is on the left carrying a cane titled "veto", and Van Buren is helping him. Nicholas Biddle (labeled Penn. for Pennsylvania) is the largest head of the bank.
Full transcript