Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Louisiana in the Age of Jackson: A Clash of Cultures and Personalities

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Louisiana in the Age of Jackson: A Clash of Cultures and Personalities

Article excerpt

Louisiana in the Age of Jackson: A Clash of Cultures and Personalities. By Joseph G. Tregle Jr. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1999. Pp. xiv, 369. $37.50, ISBN 0-8071-2292-0.)

Louisiana in the Age of Jackson is a revised version of Joseph G. Tregle Jr.'s 1954 Ph.D. dissertation. In the first five chapters, Tregle presents as background rich descriptions of Louisiana's geography, early constitutional and political history, and the origins and characteristics of its diverse creole, American, and "foreign French" cultures. A sixth chapter offers insightful biographical sketches of the Jacksonian era's principal figures. In the remaining two-thirds of the text, Tregle provides an "old-fashioned narrative" (p. x) of state politics from Andrew Jackson's emergence as a contender for the presidency through the election of Martin Van Buren as Jackson's heir apparent in 1836.

Tregle rejects Roger W. Shugg's presentation of Louisiana as a state riven by sharp class conflict (Origins of Class Struggle in Louisiana [Baton Rouge, 1968]), and he challenges Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.'s interpretation of Jacksonian democracy as a "wage-earner" (p. 193) movement (The Age of Jackson [Boston, 1945]). Instead, personal ties within the state to Jackson and his chief rival, Henry Clay, along with "the deep and divisive antagonisms pitting creole versus American" (p. 79), offer the keys to understanding Louisiana in the Jacksonian era. Most American inhabitants regarded the hero of New Orleans as the state's savior, but creoles continued to resent his imposition of martial law in 1814. Clay frequently visited relatives and friends in the Crescent City, while his advocacy of the American System made him "a favorite" (p. 143) with its commercial community. Friends and associates initiated efforts to organize the candidates' presidential campaigns in the state in 1824, and the rivalry between these groups moved into the electorate when the legislature first granted to voters the right to choose electors in the election of 1828. …

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