Friday, March 27, 2009

Jackson Don’t Wear No Whigs

Part 3 of 12: Jackson to Polk

I think American History can be defined, in eras, by two great men fighting over ideology. Before 1829, it was Adams and Jefferson, two men with immense respect for each other, but who thought the other’s ideologies would destroy the country. The next era brought us, General Andrew Jackson and Speaker of the House Henry Clay who fucking hated each other. Historians call it the Age of Jackson, but Henry Clay’s role of keeping Jacksonians in check is just as important.

Andrew Jackson (general, Democrat) 1829-1837 (re-elected) VP: John C. Calhoun (resigned), Martin Van Buren; FL: niece Emily, daughter-in-law Sarah

Jackson believed that in a Democracy, nothing was more important than the will of the people, by which he meant every crazy thing he did was, in fact, the will of the people. Working under this delusion, he expanded the West by killing lots and lots of Indians, destroyed the Bank of the United States (after firing four Secs. of Treasury who wouldn’t do it), created the institution of states deciding presidential candidates, and extended states rights while threatening to declare war on South Carolina if they didn’t follow federal tariffs,. As a result, then-Senator Clay formed the Whig Party, whose basic tenets were that Jackson was scary.

Martin Van Buren (VP, Democrat) 1837-1841 (just 1 term) VP: Richard Johnson; FL: daughter-in-law Angelica

Jackson liked to reward those who blindly followed him high political jobs, like making the head of his Democratic Party, Martin Van Buren, Sec. of State then VP. Van Buren was a great party leader, but an abysmal president. He ran under the “Jackson hasn’t killed all the Indians yet” platform, and that’s basically all he got done.

William Henry Harrison (general, Whig) 1841 (died) VP: John Tyler; FL: wife Anna, daughter-in-law Jane

Van Buren didn’t look or act like Jackson, so Clay’s Whigs raised up a guy who looked and acted like Jackson. Unfortunately, Harrison was so Jackson, he liked to prove his manhood by giving himself pneumonia and dying.

John Tyler (VP, Whig) 1841-1845 (never elected) VP: none; FL: wife Letitia (died), daughter-in-law Priscilla, wife Julia

Tyler didn’t actually get elected, so he spent most of his time in office raising his gazillion kids, mourning his wife, then falling in love with his new wife. Next!

James Knox Polk (fmr Speaker of the House, Democrat) 1845-1849 (just 1 term) VP: George Dallas; FL: wife Sarah

I guess realizing his Whig party kinda sucked, Henry Clay just nominated himself in 1844, and lost to Polk, who quite possibly was more Jackson than Jackson. Lots of people, myself included, thought Polk was one of the more useless Presidents, like Tyler. More recently, we’re realizing this guy was up there with the greats. Where Jackson forced his will with a stick, Polk connived the country into prosperity. You know how we have a Federal Department of the Interior, yeah that was Polk. You know that big flat border with Canada from Washington to Minnesota, yeah that was Polk. You know how our country stretches from the Atlantic to Pacific, Canada to Mexico, yeah that was Polk. You know how our country condoned slavery until the 1860’s, yeah that was Polk. Wait.

Next Up – Taylor to Buchanan: Wait, I Got Elected What?

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