Jackson and the National Bank

November 15, 2010

An Early Dispute over Federal Involvement in American Finance: Andrew Jackson Vetoes Re-Chartering the Bank of the United States

Andrew JacksonAndrew Jackson despised debt, banks, and the paper notes that banks issued with all the passion and fury for which he was justifiably renowned and feared. He had nearly been financially ruined early in his career in land speculation ventures that were a tangled web of dubious deeds, bad paper notes, and shady partners. Now, in July 1832, the Congress had passed a re-charter of the Bank of the United States, four years before its expiration, clearly at the behest of the Bank’s president, Nicholas Biddle, and his political confidant and supporter, Henry Clay, both of whom hoped to use the Bank as an issue against Jackson in the 1832 presidential campaign. Jackson could veto the popular Bank and risk his re-election, or he could accept an institution he loathed as only he could hate.

Jackson chose to veto the bill, and presidential historians consider his action crucial to the growth of executive power. Jackson vetoed more than all his predecessors combined, not solely because of constitutional objections, but for other reasons, including sheer spite. “The bank… is trying to kill me,” he told Martin Van Buren, “but I will kill it.” In his veto message, Jackson sounded the class warfare tocsin in an effort to excite the resentment and envy of the American people against those whom he alleged received exclusive privileges from the Bank. “When the laws… make the rich richer and the potent more powerful,” the President wrote, “the humble members of society” had every right to protest. He complained that foreigners owned Bank stock and consequently had a potentially menacing power over the national economy. He also argued that presidents, no less than the Supreme Court and the Congress, had a duty to determine the constitutionality of legislation and act accordingly. With a stroke of his pen and an eruption of his legendary temper, Jackson immeasurably strengthened the power of the executive branch and condemned the developing American economy to almost a century without a stable banking system.

Dan Monroe, John C. Griswold Distinguished Professor of History, Millikin University

Read the documents:

Veto Message of the Bill on the Bank of the United States
Andrew Jackson
July 10, 1832

Read Senator Henry Clay’s response to Jackson’s action:
Speech on President Jackson’s Veto of the Bank Bill in Senate
Henry Clay
July 10, 1832

2011 Ohio History Teacher of the Year Award

The Ashbrook Center at Ashland University is proud to announce the 2011 Ohio History Teacher of the Year award. Part of the National History Teacher of the Year program sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, HISTORY, and Preserve America, the 2011 Ohio History Teacher of the Year award recognizes outstanding teachers of American history in Ohio’s elementary schools. This year’s winner will be recognized with a $1000 award, a certificate of recognition, the opportunity to attend a Gilder Lehrman summer seminar, and the presentation of a collection of historical and educational materials for the winner’s school. The winner will become a finalist for the National History Teacher of the Year Award.

This year’s award is for teachers of Kindergarten through Grade 6. Nominees should be full-time elementary educators who teach social studies with a major focus on American history (including state and local history); they should have at least three years of elementary school classroom experience in this field. Nominees may be from public or private schools.

Nominations must be received by Tuesday, February 1, 2011. Nominations may be made by a department or division head, social studies curriculum director, principal, superintendent, student, parent, colleague, or another education professional familiar with the teacher’s work.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute, in cooperation with history education groups in each of the fifty states, coordinates the national History Teacher of the Year program. Whether you wish to nominate an outstanding teacher from Ohio or from any other state, please visit the National History Teacher of the Year website. Nominations MUST be made via the website. Please DO NOT submit written nominations to the Ashbrook Center or to the Gilder Lehrman office.

Master of American History and Government at Ashland University

Ashland University’s master’s program in American History and Government is designed with high school teachers in mind. Courses are offered only during the summers, and you may earn the degree in as little as three summers of intensive coursework. If you already have a Masters degree or would simply like to obtain additional CEU’s, you may also attend specific courses for continuing education credit. Uniquely, the program engages in the substantive study of history and government. All courses emphasize the use of primary historical documents. Learn more about the program.

A sample course in the MAHG program: Political Parties

This course focuses on the development of the American Party System from its origins in the 1830’s up to the present day. It describes the critical transformations that the parties have undergone and the challenging political circumstances they currently face. The instructors are Marc Landy, Professor of Political Science at Boston College, and Stephen Thomas, Associate Professor of Political Science at Ohio Dominican University.

Landy is the co-author (with Sidney Milkis) of Presidential Greatness, a study of five presidents who, he argues, exhibited a “democratic leadership” that involves, among other skills, the use of political party to leave a lasting impact. Landy also co-authored American Government: Balancing Democracy and Rights, an introductory government textbook that is the first to take an “American Political Development” approach, a field that emphasizes the shaping effect of political culture, ideology, governing structures, and structures of political linkage–such as political parties–on political conflict and public policy. Professor Thomas collaborated with Landy on a study of the EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency: Asking the Wrong Questions, from Nixon to Clinton.

This course will explain the role of parties in maintaining the decentralized political system of the 19th Century and in building the administrative state of the 20th Century. Because Congress is the arena for so much of the interplay between parties at the national level, special attention will be paid to the relationship between Congress and the parties, especially in the past few decades. Finally, the seminar will consider the recent rise of the “Tea Party” movement and the effect it may have on party realignments.

Featured This Month at EDSITEment

November is Native American Heritage Month. The recent PBS series We Shall Remain (partially funded by NEH) depicted American history through Native American experience. Now EDSITEment has made the entire series viewable online and offers an accompanying transcript and teachers guide for those who wish to use the series in class. This month’s EDSITEment newsletter also suggests ways of pairing the first three episodes with lesson plans already available at the site. Part One, After the Mayflower, covers the encounter between British settlers and Native Americans during the colonial period. Part Two, Tecumseh’s Vision, focuses on the Shawnee warrior who grew up in the midst of the American Revolution and led Shawnee troops to fight in support of the British against the American revolutionaries. Part Three, Trail of Tears, deals with the forced removal of thousands of Cherokee from their homes in south-eastern United States in 1838, during the presidency of Andrew Jackson. the Mayflower to the Wounded Knee occupation of 1973. For more details, visit

When Worlds Collide: The Untold Story of the Americas After Columbus

A new PBS documentary offers a broad historical perspective on the complex heritage and ethnic identity of those Americans who first encountered Europeans in the Spanish exploration and conquest of Central and South America. Focusing on the first century after explorers from the Old World encountered inhabitants of the New World, it describes not only the power and scope of the Spanish Empire and Spain’s attempts to control that empire through social stratification, but also the great cultures that thrived in the New World before 1492. Connecting this history to contemporary life, it explores the experience of growing up “mestizo” in modern America, the international influence of New World foods, and the roots of Christianity in the Americas. Eight lesson plans have been prepared to accompany the series.

EDSITEment Lesson Plans on the Conflict that Led to the Civil War

Henry ClayThe Ashbrook Center has partnered with the National Endowment for the Humanities to prepare a broad selection of lesson plans on American history. Teachers currently covering the period of nineteenth century territorial expansion will find helpful resources in the set of lesson plans called “A House Dividing: The Growing Crisis of Sectionalism in Antebellum America.” There are four lessons:

“The Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the Nullification Crisis”

“Slavery’s Opponents and Defenders”

“The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854”

“Abraham Lincoln, the 1860 Election, and the Future of the American Union and Slavery”

Partner with the Ashbrook Center on a Teaching American History Grant

Each year, the Ashbrook Center works closely with a few school districts and local education agencies to develop customized Teaching American History Grant partnerships. These grants support professional development projects that aim to raise student achievement by improving teachers’ knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional American history.

The Ashbrook Center can provide assistance to local education agencies in writing their Teaching American History Grant applications and in planning and identifying educational opportunities for teachers served by the grant. Grant funds can be used to facilitate high-quality in-service or pre-service professional development activities to improve American history content knowledge of teachers, collaboration between teachers and history experts, and mentoring and coaching of teachers. They may be designed to combine study at Ashbrook’s intensive week-long summer institutes with training and enrichment programs, offered by other grant partners, through one- or two-day workshops held during the school year.

Grant applications are usually prepared in the fall and due in the early spring. For more information about partnering with Ashbrook, contact Christian Pascarella at

Constitution Booklets Available

A pocket-sized booklet that holds key texts of the American founding, including the Declaration of Independence and the entire text of the US Constitution and its amendments, as well as key primary texts interpreting these. Copies of the booklet are available for $1.00 each. A 10% discount is available for purchases of 25 or more.

To order, call (877) 289-5411 or visit


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