More broadly, the term refers to the era of the Second Party System characterized by a democratic spirit. It can be contrasted with the characteristics of Jeffersonian democracy. Jackson's equal political policy became known as "Jacksonian Democracy", subsequent to ending what he termed a "monopoly" of government by elites. Jeffersonians opposed inherited elites but favored educated men while the Jacksonians gave little weight to education. The Whigs were the inheritors of Jeffersonian Democracy in terms of promoting schools and colleges. During the Jacksonian era, suffrage was extended to all white male adult citizens.
In contrast to the Jeffersonian era, Jacksonian democracy promoted the strength of the presidency and executive branch at the expense of Congress, while also seeking to broaden the public's participation in government. They demanded elected judges and rewrote many state constitutions to reflect the new values. In national terms the Jacksonians favored geographical expansion, justifying it in terms of Manifest Destiny. There was usually a consensus among both Jacksonians and Whigs that battles over slavery should be avoided. The Jacksonian Era lasted roughly from Jackson's 1828 election until the slavery issue became dominant after 1850 and the American Civil War dramatically reshaped American politics as the Third Party System emerged.
Jackson's biographer Robert V. Remini argues that Jacksonian Democracy,
Jacksonian democracy was built on the following general principles:
; Strict Constructionism: Like the Jeffersonians who strongly believed in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions, Jacksonians initially favored a federal government of limited powers. Jackson said that he would guard against "all encroachments upon the legitimate sphere of State sovereignty." However, he was not a states' rights extremist; indeed, the Nullification Crisis would find Jackson fighting against what he perceived as state encroachments on the proper sphere of federal influence. This position was one basis for the Jacksonians' opposition to the Second Bank of the United States. As the Jacksonians consolidated power, they more often advocated expanding federal power, presidential power in particular.
; Laissez-faire Economics: Complementing a strict construction of the Constitution, the Jacksonians generally favored a hands-off approach to the economy, as opposed to the Whig program sponsoring modernization, railroads, banking, and economic growth. The leader was William Leggett of the Locofocos in New York City.
; Banking: In particular, the Jacksonians opposed government-granted monopolies to banks, especially the national bank, a central bank known as the Second Bank of the United States. Jackson said, "The bank is trying to kill me, but I will kill it!" And he did so. The Whigs, who strongly supported the Bank, were led by Daniel Webster and Nicholas Biddle, the bank chairman. Jackson himself was opposed to all banks because he believed they were devices to cheat common people; he and many followers believed that only gold and silver should be money.
Election by the "Common Man"
An important movement in the period from 1800 to 1830—before the Jacksonians were organized—was the expansion of the right to vote to include all white men. Older states with property restrictions all dropped them; no new states had them. The process was peaceful, and widely supported, except in the state of Rhode Island. In…