Pretend that it is June 8, 1845 – former President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) has just kicked the old hickory bucket. You’ve been tasked with writing a eulogy for Andrew Jackson. Nowadays, speakers tend to be pretty polite in eulogies, but back then, people weren’t afraid to speak ill of the dead. Even Andrew Jackson’s pet parrot, Polly, had to be ejected from his funeral for swearing. No joke.
Make sure to address the significance of (1) annexation of Florida from Spain, (2) the Trail of Tears, (3) the fight over the National Bank, and (4) one other life event of your choosing. Your job is to explain these key accomplishments of his career – and why they are/were controversial. You must then summarize your position – is this man one of our greatest presidents, worthy of bronze statues and twenty dollar bills, or one of our worst, worthy of quiet obscurity and George Bushes?
As a starting point for your research, you can use:
The end result should be a short (3-5 minute) funeral oration addressing the above topics using specific facts and figures to advance your argument – to be recited aloud to stirring effect! Feel free to include period appropriate curse words to make your point, as a tribute to his parrot.
The American System was an economic plan that played an important role in American policy during the first half of the 19th century. Rooted in the “American School” ideas of Alexander Hamilton, the plan “consisted of three mutually reinforcing parts: a tariff to protect and promote American industry; a national bank to foster commerce; and federal subsidies for roads, canals, and other ‘internal improvements’ to develop profitable markets for agriculture.” Congressman Henry Clay was the plan’s foremost proponent and the first to refer to it as the “American System.”
Use this map to plan infrastructure improvements to 19th Century United States. Link different regions to improve economic connections between different regions – remember, you have to sell your plan to Congress, so you need to make it profitable to as many states as possible in order to secure their votes.
the borders of the United States circa 1840
The most important big cities circa 1840: New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Boston, Atlanta, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Charleston, New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh
The rivers: Mississippi, Ohio, Missouri, Potomac
The mountain ranges
The Great Lakes (by name)
Proposals for the routes of at least three canals linking various regions (naming at least one commodity that will travel in each direction – find out what resources/products come from the cities you’re linking)
Proposals for the routes of at least three railroads linking various regions (name the commodities)
Proposals for the routes of three toll roads (name the commodities)
The Bottom Line
Compare and Contrast: Consider factors like cost, weather, topography, efficiency — what are the relative advantages and disadvantages of toll roads, railroads, and canals?
Why is it important for the government to invest in these kinds of infrastructure? In what ways does it impact your daily life?
We often refer to the United States as a capitalistic country, successful because the government’s lack of intervention in the economy. Does the existence of the American System support or refute this label?