Whig success proved short-lived. Immediately upon assuming office, Harrison contracted pneumonia. He died a month later, and John Tyler succeeded him. When the Whig majority in Congress tried to enact the American System into law, Tyler vetoed nearly every measure, including a new national bank and higher tariff. Most of the cabinet resigned, and his party repudiated him. Whig newspapers were soon calling the president His Accidency and The Executive Ass.

Tyler’s four years in office were nearly devoid of accomplishment. If the campaign that resulted in the election of Harrison and Tyler demonstrated how a flourishing system of democratic politics had come into existence, Tyler’s lack of success showed that political parties had become central to American government. Without a party behind him, a president could not govern. But a storm was now gathering that would test the stability of American democracy and the statesmanship of its political leaders.


1. John Quincy Adams was an ardent expansionist. What actions did he support to help the United States become the “firsl and mightiest nation in the world”?

2. How did Andrew Jackson represent all of the major developments of the era: a self-made man, the westward movement, the market revolution, and the growth of democracy?

3. How did the expansion of white male democracy run counter to the ideals of the founders, who believed government should be sheltered from excessive influence by ordinary people?

4. What were the components of the American System, and how were they designed to promote the national economy under the guidance of the federal government?

5. How did the Missouri Compromise and the nullification crisis demonstrate increasing sectional competition and disagreements over slavery?

6. According to Martin Van Buren, why were political parties a desirable element of public life?

7. What were the major economic, humanitarian, political, and social arguments for and against Indian removal?

8. What actions by Andrew Jackson prompted charges of tyranny and led to the growth of the Whig Party?

9. Explain the causes and effects of the Panic of 1817.


1. How did freedom become more democratic in the period, and what were the limits to that development?

2. How did the three-fifths clause of the Constitution enter into the debates over the expansion of slavery into Missouri?

3. Considering economic policies and the balance of power between national and local authority, how did Whigs and Democrats differ in their definitions of American freedom and its relationship to government authority?

4. Whigs denounced Andrew Jackson as a tyrant. What actions did they see as a threat to American freedom and why?

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