Jacksonian Democracy: Myth or Reality?

By James L. Bugg Jr. | Go to book overview

CHARLES M. WILTSE ( 1907- ), in his three-volume biography of Calhoun, wrote one of the more complete and impressive analyses of the Jackson era. Like Abernethy, he is a meticulous and scholarly historian whose work is both thorough and profound. In his pages Calhoun becomes the far-seeing statesman, strong in character and steadfast in principle. Jackson assumes the role of a popular but indiscreet and quick tempered authoritarian, while his political lieutenants are not infrequently placemen more interested in power and spoil than in maintaining constitutional government or in consistency to announced policies.*


King Andrew

1

When Congress assembled on December 3, 1832, the Senate was again under the necessity of electing a President pro tempore. [Littleton W.] Tazewell [senator from Virginia] had resigned his seat late in October, on the ground that as part of a hopeless minority he could accomplish nothing for his state. Calhoun was still in South Carolina; but it was already known in Washington, and pretty generally over the country, that he was to replace [Robert Y.] Hayne as Senator and so would not return to the chair of the Senate. The President pro tempore, therefore, would be the permanent presiding officer for the remainder of the Congress; and whoever held that post would be automatically barred from taking more than a nominal part in the stormy debates over the tariff and nullification that were anticipated. It was for that reason that George Poindexter [of Mississippi], who had been Tazewell's closest competitor for the honor at the previous session, withdrew his own name before the balloting started.

The voting quickly concentrated on Hugh Lawson White of Tennessee and John Tyler of Virginia, with Tyler throwing his own strength to White on the fifth ballot. The arrangement meant that the President and the acting Vice President would be from the same state,

____________________
*
From Charles M. Wiltse, John C. Calhoun, Nullifier, 1829- 1839. Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1949. Reprinted without footnotes by permission of the author.

-62-

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