Jackson Essay

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Jackson entered the White House with an uncertain policy agenda beyond a vague craving for "reform" (or revenge) and a determination to extinguish Indian claim to lands east of the Mississippi River and relocate the tribes west of the Mississippi. On these two matters he moved quickly and decisively. During the campaign, Jackson had charged the Adams bureaucracy with fraud and with working against his election. As president, he initiated sweeping removals among highranking government officials–the Washington bureau chiefs, land and customs officers, and federal marshals and attorneys. Jackson claimed to be purging the corruption, laxity, and arrogance that came with long tenure, and restoring the opportunity for government service to the citizenry at large through "rotation in office." But haste and gullibility did much to confuse his purpose. Under the guise of reform, many offices were doled out as rewards for political services. Newspaper editors who had championed Jackson's cause, some of them very unsavory characters, came in for special favor. His most appalling appointee was an old army comrade and political sycophant named Samuel Swartwout. Against all advice, Jackson made him collector of the New York City customhouse, where the government collected nearly half its annual revenue. Swartwout absconded with more than $1 million–a staggering sum for that day–in 1838. Jackson denied that political criteria motivated his appointments, claiming honesty and efficiency as his only goals. Yet he accepted an officeholder's support for Adams as evidence of unfitness, and in choosing replacements he relied exclusively on recommendations from his own partisans. A Jackson senator from New York, William L. Marcy, defended Jackson's removals by proclaiming frankly in 1832 that in politics as in war, "to the victor belong the spoils of the enemy." Jackson was never so

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