The Jacksonian era (1815-1848) is commonly associated with the widening of political participation, the expansion of economic opportunity, and the explosion of reform movements to improve American society. At the same time, this era witnessed the early industrial revolution and the rise of new class conflicts, the entrenchment and expansion of slavery, and the decimation and forced relocation of many American Indian peoples. Through an exploration of both recent scholarship and primary documents, the participants in this seminar will assess the usefulness of the term “Jacksonian democracy” – its nature, extent, contested meanings, and conflicted legacies – to describe this pivotal period in US history. We will also try to gain a better understanding of the relationship of Andrew Jackson – as general, president, party leader, and folk hero – to democracy as both an ideal and a reality.
Seminar led by Daniel Graff, University of Notre Dame