Two opposing parties had once again been formed, fueled by Jackson’s controversial presidency, following the era of one-party rule. The two parties that took the political stage during the 1830s were the Democrats, supporters of
President Jackson, and the Whigs, opponents of Jackson. The Whigs named themselves after the Revolutionary
Americans who were against British monarchs, showing their disapproval of many of Jackson’s decisions which they perceived as monarchical. The fiery competition between the two parties only hinted towards the much larger divisive issue. The obvious and major issue that divided the Americans during the time was slavery and territorial expansion the two causes for the division of the U.S. into North and South. The term correlated with the territorial expansion of the U.S. is Manifest Destiny. It was proclaimed by many Americans at the time that the United States’ Manifest
Destiny was to expand its borders across the continent, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The presidents in office from 1830 to 1850 were encouraged by Manifest Destiny and hoped to accomplish the goal. Decisions in the time periods involving Native Indians, Canada, Oregon, Texas, and Mexico display that the concept of Manifest
Destiny was a very aggressive form of imperialism, and highly contributed to sectional problems between the North and South over the issue of slavery. Numerous propositions by the U.S. to buy new land and go to war provide evidence for the extreme aggressiveness of imperialism that Manifest Destiny encouraged.
The Second Party System of the Democrats and Whigs provided the roots of political and sectional division in
America. One of Andrew Jackson’s most opposed plans involved the dissolution of the national bank. The Whig party, led by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, was clearly opposed to the destruction of the bank. Nevertheless, Jackson successfully carried out death of the bank, receiving much contempt from the Whigs. The Whig party sought to dismantle Jackson and the Democrats in the presidential election of 1836 but failed to do so. Martin Van Buren,
Jackson’s chosen successor, was elected president by collecting the majority of the electoral votes. During Van
Buren’s presidency a large event known as the Amistad Affair occurred which involved a revolt by 52 African captives in the ship known as the Amistad. The Amistad Affair brought in disaster for Van Buren’s administration. The Affair was settled by John Forsyth, the secretary of the state, in 1839 and stunned Van Buren because it stated that the
Amistad rebels were to be returned to Africa. In the next election of 1840, the Whigs were able to answer back with the victory of their candidate, William Henry Harrison. Unfortunately for the Whigs, Harrison died of pneumonia only one month after his inauguration giving way to vice president John Tyler, a Democrat at heart.
The most important issue that was brought up many times during these presidencies pertained to slavery. Antislavery societies in the North were very active in opposing slavery and had been handing out petitions in the 1830s.
The claims of some of these petitions were highlighted by John Quincy Adams in his letter to the editor of the Quincy
Patriot. The important points which Adams states in the letter involve abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia and the prohibition of the slave trade. As a counter against these petitions, the House formulated the “gag rule” which demanded that petitions dealing with slavery were to be completely ignored. Adams was opposed to the gag rule, arguing that it violated the constitutional right to petition. In his letter to the inhabitants of the 12 th Congressional
District, Adams shows his discontent and opposition to the gag rule. The northern anti-slavery people also founded the
Liberty Party in 1840 that sought to abolish slavery. Gerrith Smith, a leading abolitionist, displays