What Were Jeffersonian Democracy and Jacksonian Democracy?

Jeffersonian Democracy and Jacksonian Democracy were two political outlooks that gained significant traction during their respective eras and left lasting effects on the American political system. The two systems share many elements, but differ markedly in their views regarding the use of executive power.

According to USHistory.org, Jeffersonian Democracy places great emphasis on republicanism, the idea that citizens should cultivate civic virtue and the intellect to govern themselves. Thomas Jefferson believed in limiting the scope of the federal government and in allowing the states to exercise autonomy. Although Jefferson disliked inherited nobility, he believed that educated, economically independent men should govern. Jeffersonian Democracy is pro-agriculture, as Jefferson and his followers felt that farming allowed men the self-sufficiency necessary to govern themselves in a free society.

Jacksonian Democracy is an outgrowth of Jeffersonian Democracy that arose during the United States' Second Party System, which took place from the mid 1830s to 1854. Jacksonian Democracy places great emphasis on the common man. Andrew Jackson's favored policies that expanded suffrage and reduced the influence of elites. Jacksonian Democracy is less concerned with the states than Jeffersonian Democracy. Andrew Jackson asserted the power of the president against South Carolina when it declared a set of federal tariffs null and void in 1832. Jacksonian Democracy favored Laissez faire economics over the proactive federal investments promoted by the opposing Whig Party.