The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837

The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837

The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837

The Jacksonians Versus the Banks: Politics in the States after the Panic of 1837

Excerpt

Although most historians agree that banking was a central issue of the Jacksonian period, there is considerable argument among scholars as to the nature of the relationship between the banking question and the Jacksonians and, thus, as to the nature of Jacksonian Democracy itself.

Almost a quarter of a century ago, Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in an ambitious reinterpretation of the period, cast the Jacksonians as liberal reformers attempting to impose a check upon a selfish and aggressive business community. He found the theme of politics in the Jacksonian period, as well as throughout American history, to have been "the irrepressible conflict of capitalism: the struggle on the part of the business community to dominate the state, and on the part of the rest of society, under the leadership of the 'liberals,' to check the political ambitions of business."

Since the publication of Schlesinger's ground-breaking work, much of Jacksonian historiography has been a reaction to The Age of Jackson. Perhaps the most effective challenge to Schlesinger's work and the interpretation that enjoys the widest currency today is the entrepreneurial thesis, brilliantly argued by Bray Hammond in his Banks and Politics in America, published over a decade ago. In contrast to Schles inger . . .

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