|The extension of the ballot
In the early years of the Republic, only White men who owned land were allowed to vote. As the western states joined the Union, they allowed more universal suffrage. Some of the new states used the lure of the vote to attract settlers. Once the western states began expanding the ballot, it forced the original states to expand their ballots as well. The same was true for the method of electing the electors. Initially, the electors were appointed by a number of the states and not elected by popular vote. By the time of the Jackson's election, all of the electors were selected based on the popular vote in a state. Thus, the election of Jackson represented a near revolution in voting; not only was the popular vote crucial in deciding the outcome of the election, but for many, this was the first time they were allowed to vote.
The inauguration of Andrew Jackson, as the 7th President of the United States, was the first time the US elected a President who was born outside of Virginia or Massachusetts. Jackson's inauguration also marked the first time a President had come from a western state. Thousands packed into Washington for the Presidential inauguration of an American Hero. For many, the election of Jackson represented a new beginning for the United States.
Jackson was the first self-made man to be elected to the US Presidency. His election marked a long series of many "firsts". He was the first President not to come from one of the original colonies, and the first President not to come from one of the “founding families” of the United States. Jackson's election was the first in which there was near universal suffrage for white males throughout the United States. Jackson's election was also the first in which states selected their electors through direct election.
The inauguration of President Jackson was greeted with unprecedented enthusiasm by large parts of the population. That enthusiasm was not shared by the defeated incumbent, President John Quincy Adams, who left Washington the night before. Adams' slight was a response to Jackson’s unwillingness to call on the outgoing President, who he held responsible for the personal attacks on his recently deceased wife Rachel.
As inaugural day in Washington dawned, the sun came out. The day began with the swearing in of Vice President John Calhoun. Then it was Jackson's turn. Jackson took his oath of office and turned to speak to the crowd. As Margaret Bay Smith, a socialite heavily connected to the earlier president, wrote: “thousands and thousands of people, without distinction of rank, collected in an immense mass around the Capital. Silent, orderly and tranquil, with their eyes fixed in front of that edifice, waiting for the appearance of the President in the portico."
President Jackson gave a very general speech, promising to uphold his oath of office. He made very few specific promises. The President ended his speech with a prayer for order and guidance for himself and the Union. Thousands followed the President in a procession back to White House. The White House was opened for all to celebrate. Unfortunately, what resulted was a near riot. Thousands of people descended on the house, which was ill prepared to receive such throngs of visitors. The rioters caused thousands of dollars of damage. Much of the furniture and carpets were destroyed.
The Legacy of Jackson
Jackson's presidency is considered by many historians to be the beginning of the modern presidency, a presidency in which the power of the President increased immensely. Jackson was the first President to introduce the spoils system to national government, appointing individuals to position based on political support. This made the patronage that existed
on the state level predominate on a national level. While Jackson did appoint many of his supporters to office, no more then 1/4 of the federal officers were replaced by Jackson.
Jackson used the presidential power of the veto extensively. He vetoed more bills in his term of office than all the previous Presidents put together. Jackson was also the first to use the
"pocket veto." The pocket veto goes into effect when the President does not sign a bill within ten days of the end of the Congressional term. As a result, the bill does not become law.
Jackson used his function as the head of the party to enhance both his power and the power of the presidency.