conclusion: unsolved problems and new directions
Clearly, as historians of Jacksonian America systematically collect vast quantities of numerical data and employ new methods to order and elaborate their evidence, our perspective of the age must change. It is too early to suggest that an all-encompassing new synthesis has emerged, but some of its elements are discernible. First, to many voters Jackson and his party were an ambiguous symbol of democratic practice and ideology. More to the point, class divisions were usually not central to the political conflicts of the time. Voting behavior may not be explained by any single one-to-one relationship between material well-being (or social status) and party choice. The mass of men at the grass roots who surged to the polls in the mid-nineteenth century political world were more influenced by a set of values rising out of deep-seated ethnocultural tensions than they were by economic issues and class consciousness. These hostilities affected party formation, the conduct of politics, perceptions of issues, parties, and political leaders, and actual voting behavior.
The "rediscovery of complexity" in mass political behavior, to use Richard Hofstadter's apt phrase, has been the major consequence of the application of interdisciplinary methods to Jacksonian era politics.1 Nevertheless, the work of the historians using these methods has only____________________