Assess the successes and failures of Andrew Jackson's presidency

Essay by spickwickUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, April 2004

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When Jackson came to power in 1829 he promised much, advocating equality, democratic change, morality in government and true representation. However Jackson's success or failure as a president is shown by what he actually did. The thesis of this essay is that despite the variety of issues faced by Jackson he didn't actually bring about much change. This could be interpreted as failure but his legacy as a strong president, as a symbol of US democracy, and also the devotion of the people to him, does perhaps counter the failings. Failure might constitute not meeting one's promises but Jackson's ambiguity and inconsistency on many issues make it hard to judge his performance. I would not say he was completely successful or unsuccessful but rather advocate a mixture of both.

The first issue to be evaluated in Jackson's presidency is the policy of "rotation in office" and also the cabinet reorganisation in 1831.

Jackson began by rewarding his supporters with Cabinet positions and removing those against him. Rotation soon became the official policy and was used to "prevent the growth of an entrenched bureaucracy" . Although some historians like Robert Remini have argued that the aim of this was honest, to be rid of "the problem of corruption and concentration of order to protect American freedom" , it is hard to believe that this was Jackson's sole belief. The need to have a co-operative, and loyal bureaucracy was crucial to Jackson's success. It also has to be noted that rewarding the party faithful, though unofficial, was common in all administrations. And Jackson's appointments on the whole (with the exception of Samuel Swartwout) were honest and well deserving. Some historians such as James Parton never forgave Jackson for "rotation" saying that "instead of reform he had introduced one of the worst...