Jacksonian Misconceptions

Proponents of Andrew Jackson’s policies cite his… veto of the rechartering of the Second National Bank as a victory for the ‘little guy.’  Old Hickory was defending the interests of  States and the common man against the wicked monopoly held by the ‘monstrous’ bank.  A closer examination of his storied veto message reveals  inconsistencies in Jackson’s motive.

“these polices(of the Second US Bank) created of bond of union among the banking establishments of the nation erecting them into an interest separate from that of the people.” 

Trivializing the momentous

Trivializing the momentous

Was Jackson opposed to the Second National Bank… or banks in general? The veto message is not clear, and his advisers didn’t discriminate in their policy making.  It is difficult to imagine that educated politicians of any era could have such a rudimentary understanding of finance-  cash is good, credit is bad…. The political motivations for killing the Second National Bank far outweighed any economic or egalitarian rhetoric put forward by Jackson and his cronies.

Jackson's nemesis was a banker- Nicholas Biddle

Jackson’s nemesis was a banker- Nicholas Biddle

The antebellum economy was built upon credit… 80% of all transactions and transfer of goods involved extensions of credit- banks were vital to this financial system.  Jackson’s political gamble to win reelection was that the reduction of available credit would not have much effect on American commerce.  The Second National Bank was at the center of a complicated web of notes, loans, credit, and specie… Jackson’s policies were about to tear it apart.

 

 

 

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