Welcome to THE MAKING OF A NATION -- American history
in VOA Special English.
Andrew Jackson was elected president in eighteen twenty-eight.
He was popular with voters. But he was not sure he wanted to run for
re-election in eighteen thirty-two. He was getting old. He suffered from health
problems. Yet he wanted to give voters a chance to show their approval of his
So Jackson made a decision. He would run again. If he
won, however, he would resign after the first or second year. He would leave
the job to his vice president.
Now, this week in our series, Rich Kleinfeldt and
Sarah Long continue the story of Andrew Jackson and his presidency.
Jackson spoke of this plan to the man he wanted as his vice president, Martin Van
Buren. He made the offer in eighteen thirty, when Van Buren was still his
secretary of state. Van Buren thanked Jackson for the offer. However, he
rejected it. Van Buren said it would be politically dangerous. He did not want
anyone to say that he had been brought into the presidency in secret.
did not give up his idea. For more than a year, he continued to urge Van Buren
to accept the offer. Van Buren continued to say no. He agreed to be Jackson's
vice presidential candidate in eighteen thirty-two. But he said he did not want
to become president without being elected by the people.
election got closer, Jackson's health began to improve. He began to think about
serving a second full term.
that helped was an operation to remove a bullet from his arm. He had received
the wound during a gun fight with another man about twenty years earlier. It
troubled him so badly that sometimes he could not use the arm. Doctors were
afraid to remove the bullet. They thought it might cause a terrible shock to
the election year, a doctor said he believed the bullet could be removed
easily. He told the president that it was poisoning his whole body. Jackson
asked the doctor to cut out the bullet at once. The operation was over in a few
minutes. Jackson's health quickly became much better.
little story was told about that bullet. Someone reportedly said Jackson should
give it to the family of the man who shot him. One family member rejected the
offer. He said Jackson had possessed the bullet for twenty years. So, he said,
under the law, Jackson had clear ownership to it. "Only nineteen
years," someone noted. "Oh," the man said, "that is all
right. Since Jackson took good care of it, I will forget the extra year."
presidential election campaign of eighteen thirty-two was bitter. President
Jackson was, once again, the candidate of the Democratic Party. Henry Clay was
the candidate of the National Republican Party.
the support of Nicholas Biddle, who was head of the Bank of the United States.
He also had the support of about two-thirds of the nation's newspapers. This
was because most of them owed money to the bank. Most wealthy people supported
and laborers supported Jackson. They showed their support by marching in
parades and holding big, noisy public meetings.
election day, the people showed that Jackson was still their president. There
was a much bigger difference in popular votes between Jackson and Clay than
between Jackson and John Quincy Adams four years earlier. As the votes were
counted, one of Clay's supporters said: "The news blows over us like a
great cold storm."
received about six hundred eighty-eight thousand popular votes. Clay received
about four hundred seventy-three thousand votes. In the electoral college,
Jackson got more than four times the number of votes than Clay got. Jackson's
vice president would be Martin Van Buren.
Jackson saw his re-election as proof that the American people approved of his
policies. This included his policy to close the Bank of the United States when
its charter ended in eighteen thirty-six.
second term, Jackson decided on a plan to reduce the bank's economic power. He
would stop putting federal money into the bank. Instead, he would put it into
state banks. This would greatly reduce the amount of money the Bank of the
United States could use.
was not as easy as it seemed. The charter for the bank said federal money had
to be kept there unless the secretary of the treasury ordered it put someplace
else. President Jackson's treasury secretary was friendly to the bank. He would
not give the order.
would have to dismiss the man and appoint someone who supported his plan. But
the treasury secretary was a powerful politician. Jackson could not push him
out of the job. He had to find another way. So he decided to reorganize his
named his secretary of state to be minister to France. He named his treasury
secretary to be secretary of state. Then he brought in someone new as secretary
of the treasury. That turned out to be a mistake.
treasury secretary refused to put federal money anywhere but in the Bank of the
United States. He also refused to resign when Jackson asked him to resign. So
Jackson dismissed him and named yet another new treasury secretary.
immediately ordered that after October first, eighteen thirty-three, all
federal money was to be put into twenty-three state banks. He did not withdraw
the government money already in the Bank of the United States. He said this
money could be used to make payments until it was all gone.
Biddle, the head of the bank, fought back. He ordered the immediate repayment
of all bank loans. He also withdrew from public use large numbers of bank
notes. People had been using the notes as money.
actions caused serious economic difficulties throughout the country. Many
businesses failed. They could not pay back their loans or borrow the money they
needed. As businesses failed, workers lost their jobs.
Biddle said the Jackson administration was responsible for all the trouble. He
said the bank was forced to take firm measures, because it was losing
government money. He told people to protest to the administration. Critics of
President Jackson's bank policy called him "King Andrew the First."
businessmen called on the president at the White House. They urged him to put
government money back into the bank. Jackson told one group: "I will never
restore the money. I will never renew the charter of the Bank of the United
States. If you want help, go to Nicholas Biddle. "
president's actions worried even some of his supporters. There could be serious
long-term effects of closing the Bank of the United States. Some of his
supporters in Congress went to see him. They warned him of reports that a mob
was forming to march on Washington. They told him that the mob planned to seize
the Capitol building until Congress returned government money to the bank.
Jackson said, "I will be glad to see this mob on Capitol Hill. I will hang
its leaders high. That should stop forever all attempts to control Congress by
continue our story of Andrew Jackson's second term as president next week.
program was written by Frank Beardsley. The narrators were Rich Kleinfeldt and
Transcripts, MP3s and
podcasts of our programs can be found along with historical images at
voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for THE MAKING OF A NATION, an
American history series in VOA Special English.
half-hour of VOA Special English can be found every day, on radio or online. We
start with the latest world news, followed by a short feature and then a
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Americans on PEOPLE IN AMERICA.
program #61 of THE
MAKING OF A NATION