The Revolution of 1828: John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and the Origins of American Democracy

Author: ORCID icon
Syck, Jeffery Tyler , Government - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Milkis, Sidney, Politics, University of Virginia
Ceaser, James, Politics, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the origins of American democracy in the political contests between John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. The project uses these two statesmen's conception of republican government to launch its analysis. Adams wished to save a collapsing republican order by injecting the nation with classical virtue, while Jackson preferred to scrap republicanism altogether and transform America into a majoritarian democracy. This seemingly theoretical debate had a large impact on the early American state. Until this point, the state was used largely to promote commerce and foster regional harmony. Under Jackson, the state started to enforce the political will of a majority of male white voters who happily used their increased power to systematically oppress racial minorities. I argue that this series of events teaches us a great deal about the potential weaknesses in our democratic system and that Adams’ emphasis on public-spirited republicanism could do much to strengthen the best aspects of the American regime.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Democratic Theory, Origins of Democracy , Indian Removal, Election of 1828, Election of 1824
Issued Date: