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Democrats, Whigs, and the Second Party System

  • Since Jackson does not seek a third term, Van Buren runs as the Democratic candidate and wins; the Whig strategy of nominating 4 candidates from different regions so that the election could be thrown to the House failed.
  • The Panic of 1837 threw the U.S. economy into disarray and resulted because of Jackson’s policies (killing Bank of U.S.) & business cycle: the boom of 1836 caused a budget surplus, so then the issue was what to do with the money
  • Laissez-faireeconomic policy was dominant during this ear and so the fed. govt didn’t intervene during the Panic; the only thing that was created was the “independent treasury” system
  • Although Working Men’s parties became popular in the Jacksonian era, the labor movement was attacked by employers who brought lawsuits against unions to overturn closed shop agreements
  • The Log Cabin Campaign involved William Henry Harrison (Whig) v. Martin Van Buren (Dem) and Harrison, also known as “Old Tippecanoe,” who in actuality was a wealthy member of the frontier elite, was portrayed as a man of the people who loved log cabins & hard cider

Democrats, Whigs, and the Second Party System

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • Overview 0:06
  • Taney Appointed to the Court 1:32
    • Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge
    • Promote General Happiness
    • Exercising a Monopoly
    • Expansion of Economic Opportunity
  • The Whigs Respond to the Democrats 4:03
    • Second Party System
    • Laissez-Faire Capitalism
    • Irish and German Catholics
  • Whig Ideology 6:52
    • Expanding the Power of the Federal Government
    • Supporters of Legislation
    • Anti-Mason Movement
  • The “Great Triumvirate” 8:20
    • Henry Clay
    • Daniel Webster
    • John Calhoun
  • Election of 1836 9:28
    • Van Buren
    • Nominating Four Candidates From Different Regions
  • An Affecting Scene in Kentucky 10:35
  • 1836 Election Cartoon 12:48
  • Divided Leadership Affects 1836 Election 14:51
    • Martin Van Buren and Democrats
    • Individual Rights
    • The Failed Plan
  • The Panic of 1837 15:49
    • Distribution Act
    • Land Speculative Fever Resulted
    • Independent Treasury System
    • Image of the Panic of 1837
  • Depression of 1837 21:25
    • The Ideology of Artisan Republicanism
    • Unions to Bargain for Higher Wages
    • Closed Shops Agreements
  • Effects of the Depression 23:09
    • Prohibited “Conspiracies” in Restraint of Trade
    • The Democratic Party
  • Commonwealth v. Hunt in 1842 24:35
    • Peaceful Unions
    • Upheld the Rights of Workers
    • Ten-Hour Day for Federal Employees
  • Log Cabin Campaign of 1840 25:50
    • Penny Press
    • The Party of the Common People
    • William Henry Harrison
  • Log Cabin Campaign 28:02
  • Harrison Wins 28:24
    • 234 V.S. 60 Electoral Votes
    • Re-Charter bank
    • Preemption Act of 1841
  • Foreign Policy Highlights 30:09
    • Caroline
    • Aroostook war
    • Creole
    • Webster-Ashburton Treaty
    • Extraterritoriality
  • Example 1 33:05
  • Example 2 35:36

Transcription: Democrats, Whigs, and the Second Party System

Welcome back to

This lesson is on democrats, Whigs, and the second party system.0002

In this lesson, we are going to talk about the Taney court.0008

We will see this important switch in the Supreme Court0013

is going to be a very significant alteration in philosophy from John Marshall's vision of the court.0019

We are also going to get into the second party system, the focus on the Whigs, particularly in this lesson.0031

Although, we are going to do some comparing and contrasting between the democrats and Whigs.0037

And then, we will get into in much more depth the Whig political philosophy.0043

Then, we are also going to talk about Martin Van Buren who will come after Andrew Jackson.0049

And then, get into the effects of all the banking policies under Andrew Jackson, that resulted in the panic of 1837.0057

Then, we will talk about some of the continuing themes that grew out of the Jacksonian era, such as the labor movement.0068

And then, we will conclude our lesson talking about the log cabin campaign and the successful win for William Henry Harrison.0076

Then, we will also touch upon foreign policy of the Whigs.0088

First, we are going to talk about Roger Taney.0094

He will gradually modify Marshall’s vigorous nationalism to a great extent.0098

We are going to see that because he is not going to have this strong federalist,0107

Taney, that is, is not going to have the strong federalist influence like Marshall.0114

If you remember, Marshall was very much staunch federalist, and oftentimes advocating on behalf of the Federal government,0119

and certainly strengthening the Supreme Court, as well as strengthening business and upheld the rights of contracts.0129

In this significant court case, the Charles River Bridge vs. Warren Bridge case of 1837.0139

It involved dispute between two bridge companies, are very similar issue as to Dartmouth case regarding the following of charters.0145

But this case is a bit different and very significant because the court supported Massachusetts to award a second charter.0155

And ultimately, what was decided is that the government had the right to promote, this is the keyword here,0165

the general happiness, instead of protecting the rights of the contract and charter.0172

Here we see a different approach to dealing with charters.0179

In this age of Jacksonian democracy, there is an emphasis on making the general populace much more content.0185

Essentially, ruled against the corporation that was choking out competition by exercising a monopoly,0199

and therefore, not allowing general happiness.0206

The decision will reflect one of the cornerstones of the Jacksonian ideal,0211

that the key to democracy was an expansion of economic opportunity which would not occur if older corporations could maintain monopolies,0215

and choke off competition from newer companies.0226

That is a very interesting perspective on contracts and also a different approach to regulating business.0231

Pretty significant switch.0244

If you recall from our lesson on Jackson, the Whigs actually emerged in response to Jackson's policies, and that Jackson was in the White House.0248

The Federalist Party, as far as being a viable party in terms of the presidential politics,0261

they have really faded from being an active party and divided after the War of 1812.0271

We are going to see the emergence of this other important party in the early 19th century.0280

We will see that Jacksonian policies will ultimately galvanize this opposition, in the form of the Whig party.0288

They were really trying to limit the power of the so called King Jackson,0296

whom they believed had too much power and was abusing his position as president.0301

Killing the bank that they believed was very dangerous for our economy.0308

And ultimately, with this new competition between Democrats and the Whigs,0314

we are going to see the creation of the next stage in party politics, history of parties in the United States, the second party system.0320

The Democrats emphasized opportunity, economic opportunity, political opportunity.0331

They envision a future of economic expansion, increased opportunities for white males.0337

Not completely inclusive at this point but chipping away, including more people.0344

And that is a significant difference.0350

They also advocate for limited government, and Laissez-Faire capitalism, a very hands off approach that government should be efficient.0353

It should be limited and not intervene in the economy, that they should obviously defend the union.0365

They certainly had an assault on privilege and focused more on the common people.0375

Supporters included smaller merchants, New England working men,0382

southern planters suspicious of industrial growth, westerners who favored developing an agrarian economy.0385

And culturally speaking, we will also see Irish and German Catholic supporting Democrats.0394

We will see ethno-cultural politics being a factor, in terms of political parties too.0403

The Whigs advocate for the ideology, this philosophy that favored expanding the power of the Federal government.0413

Not a limited government.0426

And encouraging industrial and commercial development, and a consolidated economic system.0429

You could say that, they perhaps, absorbed a lot of the platform of the former Federalist Party, with some other minor differences.0436

They were cautious about westward expansion and fearful that this would lead to instability.0450

They were supporters of legislation that established banks, corporations, and other modernizing institutions.0457

Supporters tended to be from New England, substantial New England merchants, manufacturers,0466

ambitious farmers, devising commercial class of the west, and wealthy southern planters, as well as evangelical protestants.0472

We are also seeing the ethno-cultural divide, some regional differences as well.0482

The Whigs were also associated with the Anti-Mason movement to gain support against the Democrats, many of whom were freemasons.0489

Whigs were most successful at defining their political goals and attracting supporters much more than the Democrats.0502

We will see three major Whig leaders that will become known as the great triumvirate.0512

We have seen them before, Henry Clay from Kentucky who advocated for the American System.0520

Although, this was a very popular program, his image was not well liked.0525

He was not the best candidate.0532

Daniel Webster, he was a great orator but his connection to the bank and wealthy man inhibited his ability to win support.0534

And lastly, John Calhoun from South Carolina, even though the nullification controversy died,0542

he was not the strongest candidate who gains the most support as well.0551

Even though these are very influential, strong leaders, they were not really at the level to have such a widespread following.0557

In the election of 1836, we will see since Jackson does not seek a third term,0571

Van Buren, his old friend and ally and Vice President, ran on the Democratic ticket.0578

He had a very long political career in New York, and really knew how to embrace patronage and knew how to work the spoils system.0585

Very skilled politician.0602

We will see that in this election, he is also called the little magician because he could worked behind scenes to gain support.0605

The Whigs, even though, there are definitely were people in the Whig corner,0614

they adopt the unusual strategy of nominating four candidates from different regions,0620

so that the election could be thrown to the house.0626

This was kind of a risky tactic.0628

Yet, we are going to see that this ends up being a failure.0632

This is a cartoon, I just want to say a little bit about this.0640

This is called an affecting scene in Kentucky.0655

This was actually a racist attack on Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Richard M. Johnson.0659

The Kentucky congressman's nomination in 1835, as Van Buren's running mate for the 1836 election raised eyebrows even among party faithful,0666

because of Johnson's common law marriage to a mulatto woman Julia Chinn, by whom he father two daughters.0678

The artist ridicules Johnson's domestic situation and the Democrats’ constituency as well.0686

Seated in the chair, with his hand over his face, a visibly distraught Johnson reads a copy of James Watson's webs,0692

New York courier and inquirer, fall to the floor and moans.0702

When I read the scurrilous attacks on the newspapers on the mother of my children, pardon me my friends, if I gave way to my feelings.0706

My dear girls, please bring me your mother's picture that I may show it to my friends here.0715

Then, one of the daughter is saying, here it is papa, do not take on so.0723

The second daughter says, poor dear pa, how much he is affected.0730

Then there is this whole conversation, but just for the sake of time to point out0736

how politics were getting kind of dirty and race is getting thrown into this and racism.0742

They are trying to smear Van Buren's running mate and tarnish his reputation for political gain.0749

That is not going to end, as we know, in U.S. politics.0761

But something to certainly point out at this point in time.0764

Here is another one from the political race course, Union Track, fall races of 1836.0770

This is a figurative portrayal, clearly sympathetic to the Whig party of the 1836 presidential election.0778

It is being depicted as a horse race between four candidates.0789

The four identified in the legend, left to right, old Tippecanoe.0793

Left to right here, Old Tippecanoe, William Henry Harrison.0801

The Kinderhook pony, Martin Van Buren.0806

Black Dan of Massachusetts, Daniel Webster.0811

And Tennessee white, Tennessee Senator Hugh Lawson White.0814

The horses with the Whigs candidates heads are ridden by figures representing the various sectional interests of the country.0817

Harrison is ridden by a frontiersman in buckskins.0825

Webster by a Jack Downing Uncle Sam figure symbolizing Yankee New England.0828

And White, by a jockey representing Southern agrarian interests.0833

Van Buren, the Democratic candidate is ridden by his advocate Andrew Jackson.0838

Crowd cheers them on.0843

This had probably appeared early in 1836, when Webster and White’s respective hopes for the Whig nomination were still considered realistic.0845

Again, you should look this up and read the dialog in much more depth.0855

Just to illustrate that cartoons were becoming more and more a part of the political experience,0861

and the conversations and reflections on these different races, and the personalities involved.0870

And they became a very effective tactic in bringing humor into the competition of the election,0879

it was part entertainment as well but certainly also portrayed biases.0888

More about the 1836 election, Martin Van Buren ends up winning with 170 electoral votes.0896

He emphasized his opposition to the American System and his support for individual rights.0905

Along with that, his overall Laissez-Faire approach.0911

The Whigs ran four regional candidates in hopes of throwing the presidential contest to the house which they controlled,0916

but the plan failed, and Van Buren won.0922

As you can see the map here, that Van Buren was successful in getting the amount of electoral votes that were required for the presidency.0928

This was a shift in political power to the Whigs, that had previously been won by republicans.0940

As soon as Martin Van Buren becomes president, we are going see the effects of Jackson's policies take shape, and set in.0951

The end of the Bank of the United States along with what economists often call the business cycle within the capitalist system,0969

where it is considered normal for there to be booms and busts,0980

that this is just part of the natural business cycle in capitalism due to several different factors.0985

A lot of different economic factors were involved.0995

The boom of 1836 caused a budget surplus.0999

The issue was what to do with the money.1002

The Distribution Act was passed.1006

This requires the Federal government pay its surplus to the states.1009

We are also going to see land speculative fever resulted.1013

People were buying up land, taking advantage of the easy credit.1018

Hundreds of banks failed as a result because they were not able to call in a lot of those loans.1023

And then, unemployment grew, bread riots started to break out, you can see the snowball effect.1030

Prices fell and there was a global panic at the same time.1036

All of these things are interrelated in causing major financial problems.1040

Investors starts withdrawing funds from U.S. banks which makes the banks even more unstable and causes huge strain overall.1046

At this point in history, we do not have any regulations or safeguards for our banks.1056

The approach up until the end of the 19th century is a Laissez-Faire approach, such as the case in this panic.1064

Federal government does not intervene.1075

The only thing that was created was the independent treasury system.1077

This is where we are going to see that Martin Van Buren is going to advocate to remove funds from state banks.1084

The Federal government would avoid association with institution’s instrumental in bringing on the panic.1093

And ultimately, with these, the government could collect, store, and disburse public revenue through treasury agents and postal employees,1103

and not be open to the charge that these funds are the basis for unchecked speculation.1113

It did have many pitfalls though.1120

We will see that eventually that many people are going to be very critical of this system as well.1124

A famous cartoon of the panic of 1837.1133

If you can take a look at some of the people involved to see what is happening here, to see that he has gin,1140

people are on the floor, on the ground.1148

this says new specie, payments made here, there is a lot of details.1153

Take a good look at the cartoon here.1159

I’m just going to give you a little bit of information about this cartoon, things to point out.1162

This is clearly a commentary on the depressed state of the American economy because of the panic of 1837, particularly in New York.1169

Again, the blame is laid on the treasury policies of Andrew Jackson, whose hat, spectacles,1181

this is up here, hat, spectacles, and clay pipe with the word glory appear in the sky overhead.1190

Clay illustrates some of the effects of the depression in a fanciful street scene,1200

with emphasis on the plight of the working class, in this area.1206

A panorama of offices, rooming houses, and shops reflects the hard times.1214

The Customs House, carrying a sign all bonds must be paid in specie, is idle.1218

In contrast, the Mechanics Bank next door, which displays a sign no specie payments made here, is mobbed by frantic customers.1225

Principal figures are, from left to right, a mother with an infant sprawled on a straw mat, an intoxicated Bowery tough,1234

a militiaman seated, smoking, a banker or landlord encountering a begging widow with child, a barefoot sailor,1244

a driver or a husbandman, a Scots mason sitting on the ground, and a carpenter.1255

These are in contrast to the prosperous attorney Peter Pillage, who is collected by an elegant carriage at the far right, over here.1262

This is a bit hard to see.1272

Anyway, very critical commentary of the economic policies of the time and the hard times that people were facing.1274

Eventually, the United States’ economy is going to fall into a depression.1287

As a result, people are going to be angry, workingman's parties are mobilized and formed, and embrace the ideology of partisan republicanism.1292

Their vision was to lead them to join the Jacksonians in demanding equal rights, and attacking charter corporations and monopolistic banks.1305

They did not go after the Democratic leadership but they are looking at the elite institutions, economic institutions.1315

But even as they campaign for more egalitarian society, workers formed unions to bargain for higher wages for themselves.1327

The labor movement was attacked.1336

This happens often times when the economy is in a crisis.1338

Employers attacked the union movement and brought law suits to overturn1344

close shop agreements that require them to hire only union members.1348

They also used blacklists to prevent unionized workers from been hired by other companies.1356

If you were a part of a union, you can be put on this blacklist and it was just like the do not hire list.1362

And ultimately, you would lose your chances for getting a job.1371

This was a detrimental effect on the labor movement, as they were being backed into a corner1376

and were being disempowered because of this backlash.1385

Our employers will continue to argue that close shop agreements violated both the common law and legislated statutes,1392

that prohibited conspiracies in restraint of trade.1398

This is going to be a theme up until we start to see the Federal government to take a new direction,1402

in terms of regulation and allowing more unions to have a voice, and allow them to exist, and allow people to mobilize.1410

For many years, we will see the law was really not on the union side.1423

The message was that they are inhibiting trade and commerce.1430

They are restraining trade and this was unlawful.1435

That is going to hold back many of these political movements that are trying to change their economic situation.1441

In essence, the panic of 1837 threw the U.S. economy into a disarray1452

and curtail the flow of credit from England to the United States.1456

This one has international implications.1460

Eventually, we will see many workers end up joining the Democratic Party.1464

As you could see, eventually, get into a depression.1471

There was another significant court case that I would like to highlight, Commonwealth vs. Hunt.1477

As I always said previously, Federal law was mostly hostile toward labor unions, as their activities were interpreted as restraining trade.1484

There was one notable exception in 1842.1491

This landmark legal decision, when Massachusetts’ Supreme Court ruled that1494

peaceful unions have the right to negotiate labor contracts with employers.1498

Within this case, it upheld the rights of workers to form unions and enforce a closed shop.1506

Which again, closed shop agreement is when companies, businesses, agree to only hire union members.1513

This was a major gain for laborers and a step in the right direction.1524

In 1840, Van Buren also established a 10 hour work day for Federal employees.1534

We are starting to see slowly the labor movement is having a positive impact on workers' rights and laws that are being put into place.1544

We will see mainly because of the panic, and eventually depression,1556

that is going to have a detrimental effect on the political career of Martin Van Buren.1563

There is a campaign in 1840, and William Henry Harrison, who was the Whig challenger of the Democrat1570

Martin Van Buren, is going to run this log cabin campaign and try to portray himself as this ordinary man.1580

This American who has lived in a log cabin and drank hard cider.1590

He is going to glorify and emphasize his military experience, and try to use a lot of propaganda and influence to try to gain support.1597

The penny press was used during this campaign.1611

No CNN at this point, no Facebook.1616

The penny press was used to carry news of the candidates to large audiences, trades people, and workers.1622

They are trying to chip away at the Democratic party's usual constituency and usual audience and supporters.1629

This will ultimately exemplify party competition, the importance of emphasizing immediate political needs.1640

We are going to see the Whigs, even though, they represented moneyed interests,1649

they present themselves as the party of the common people.1655

They learn from the Democrats and try to make this work for their political campaign.1659

Harrison, an actual ally, was a wealthy member of the frontier elite.1668

He was portrayed as a man of the people who loved log cabins and hard cider.1673

And you know, what American did not love that in the 1840’s.1678

This is an image that exemplifies that.1684

Here is this log cabin and here is the hard cider.1690

Very American, you get the flag, very patriotic.1695

He was a military hero, Tippecanoe and Tyler too, this was a famous slogan that they use during this election.1700

Eventually, old Tippecanoe, for his efforts in the battle of Tippecanoe, in the old northwest.1711

He eventually wins this race, pretty decisively, to a 134 electoral votes.1721

There is only 60 for Van Buren.1727

This is not going to go well, as you could see.1732

The Whigs will become frustrated because old Tippecanoe died of pneumonia, one month after taking office.1734

Tyler succeeds him, and politically speaking, we are going to see that Tyler is not going to live up to the hopes of most of the Whigs at the time.1743

He is more of a Democrat than a Whig, specially in terms of economic issues.1754

Tyler will support abolishing the independent treasury system, raising tariff rates,1760

but he refuses to support Clay’s attempt to recharter the bank.1767

He was also in favor of the common man and the rapid settlement of the west.1772

He approved the Preemption Act of 1841, which enabled settlers short on cash to state claims to Federal land.1776

That will lead to huge waves of migrants to move to that region and will continue to expand westward.1786

But we will see Tyler was not very popular.1799

His cabinet members all resigned.1802

He ends up appointing Calhoun.1806

Calhoun is still around.1809

In terms of foreign policy, we are going to see that there are some tensions that start to arise between the Great Britain and the United States.1812

The ship Caroline, the steamship, was seized and burned by the British, killing one American.1823

And that is going to cause some problems.1830

A Canadian was arrested, Britain threaten to go to war, and McLeod was acquitted in New York Court.1833

There is also a border issue between Canada and Maine that led to the Aroostook war,1842

but eventually we will see they end up working out that border issue.1850

And lastly, Creole, the Creole, a slave ship that sailed from New Orleans and enroute,1856

the slaves mutinied and took it to the Bahamas.1862

We are going to see because the British had abolished slavery in 1833,1866

the British officials declared the slaves free and this angered a lot of the southerners.1874

That is going to cause some tensions between the British and the U.S.1878

Concerning some of those problems, we will see some of these things were figured out and rectified.1886

Eventually, in 1842, negotiations were made between Canada and the United States with the Webster Ashburton treaty,1893

that settled the boundary dispute and established a boundary between U.S. and Canada.1901

Ashburton also apologized for the Caroline Creole incidents.1908

And lastly, another diplomatic move, the treaty of Wangxia China, that established the right of extraterritoriality.1913

The right of Americans accused of crimes in China to be tried by U.S., not Chinese officials.1920

This is where we are going to see the foundation of U.S. imperialism in China, and at least reaching out to China,1927

but having a very biased approach where they are trying to protect themselves legally.1938

This idea of extraterritoriality, we will see many European countries do this as well,1947

and the foreign countries where they end up investing in economically, and having a huge influence that they make their own rules,1955

and say we only follow American motto, we do not have to follow the local ones.1966

Anyway, we are going to see more and more that the United States is going to establish relations with China.1973

And I think with that, we are done with the lesson and we are going to move on to the assessments.1980

The first part here is multiple choice.1987

We have an excerpt to read first, and this is by Martin Van Buren.1990

Against government aid for business losses.1998

The framers of our excellent constitution wisely judged that the less government interferes with private pursuits,2001

the better for the general prosperity.2009

I cannot doubt that on this as on all similar occasions, the federal government will find its agency2012

most conducive to the security and happiness of the people, when limited to the exercise of its conceded powers.2018

The difficulties and distresses of the times, though unquestionably great,2027

are limited in their extent, and cannot be regarded as affecting the permanent prosperity of the nation.2031

Arising in a great degree from the transactions of foreign and domestic commerce,2039

the great agricultural interest has in many parts of the country suffered comparatively little.2043

The proceeds of our great staples will soon furnish the means of liquidating debts at home and abroad,2051

and contribute equally to the revival of commercial activity and the restoration of commercial credit.2061

Van Buren believed that the strength of the United States economy was based on,2076

The banking system, the manufacturing sector, farmers and planters, or the specie circular?2081

The answer.2093

Number 2, which of the following people would be most critical of Van Buren's economic policy as presented in this excerpt?2096

You are probably not familiar with this guy here, I will give you a little hint about him.2109

He was actually a southern states’ rights congressmen, I thought that would help you, a states’ writer.2112

The answer.2126

Of course he was the Whig, he is the logical answer.2129

Henry Clay has come up quite a few times in some of these questions.2133

You should definitely make sure you know Henry Clay.2137

You have seen this cartoon before, the times.2142

Which of the following does the artist of the cartoon blame for the economic depression?2151

Andrew Jackson, Roger Taney, Martin Van Buren, or Henry Clay?2158

The answer.2167

Lastly, which of the following was successful in his log cabin campaign and defeated Van Buren?2171

That is it, remember, Tippecanoe and Tyler too, log cabins and hard cider.2182

Anyway, thank you for watching