Van Buren in Office
Van Buren in Office
Martin Van Buren was the “Crown Prince” to Jackson’s “King Andrew I”and won the 1836 election largely because of Jackson’s support. Unable to escape from the shadow of his charismatic predecessor, Van Buren ruled mostly in obscurity, simply continuing the Jacksonian tradition.
The Panic of 1837
Van Buren assumed office in the midst of a severe economic depression. During 1835 and 1836, Andrew Jackson’s policy of removing federal deposits from the Second Bank of the United States and placing them in state banks promoted an economy of speculative buying, risky lending, and unregulated banking practices. Prices increased and land sales multiplied rapidly from 1835 to 1837. In an attempt to stabilize the currency, Jackson issued the Specie Circular in 1836, which required that land payments be made in gold and silver rather than in paper money or on credit. This move caused prices to drop and left speculators with enormous debt. Many banks failed and the economy fell into a depression called the Panic of 1837. Unemployment spread and wages dropped by one-third between 1836 and 1842.
Van Buren spent his time in office trying to solve the nation’s economic woes. He called for the creation of an Independent Treasury, which would hold public funds in reserve and prevent excessive lending by state banks, thereby guarding against inflation. Van Buren and his Democrat supporters hailed the Independent Treasury Bill, signed in 1840, as a second Declaration of Independence, using it as a rallying call to battle against the entire banking system. In Louisiana and Arkansas, Democrats succeeded in prohibiting banks altogether. By 1840, the Democrats had firmly established themselves as an anti-bank party.
Help | Feedback | Make a request | Report an error