THE POLITICAL RESPONSE to the banking issue after 1837 followed a similar pattern in all the northwestern states. As in Ohio, the hardmoney men dominated the various Democratic parties and sought either to impose strict reforms upon the banking systems or to abolish note-issuing banks entirely. But, also reflecting the Ohio experience, the Jacksonian leaders were often frustrated in their efforts by a few ever-present soft-money Democrats who defected from the party on crucial banking votes and, in combination with a virtually solid front of Whig opposition, were able to override, limit, or at least modify Democratic objectives. As in Ohio, the Democrats in other northwestern states failed to take positive or effective action to meet the crisis until after the second nationwide bank suspension in 1839. Vigorous Democratic attacks on the banking system from 1839 to the mid-1840s precipitated sharp entrepreneurial counterattacks, and these led to the passage of several free-banking laws. Finally, in response to the tremendous popular desire for more banking facilities, Democrats turned to constitutional solutions.
While the general contours of the political conflicts in the northwestern states were the same, there were some significant variations. These were the result of dissimilar economic and political levels of maturity in the states, contrasting relative strengths of Democratic and Whig parties and differing degrees and types of state involvement in the banking systems. The scope, timing, and intensity of political battles, as well as the degree of militancy reached by the hard-money Democrats, depended in large part on these factors.